In the previous installment Fall of the City of Knowledge, we continued to explain the mystical significance of the eight kings "who ruled in the land of Edom before any king ruled the children of Israel":

And Bela ben Be'or ruled in Edom, and the name of his city was Dinhava. Bela died.
"And Yovav ben Zerach of Batzra ruled in his place. Yovav died.
"And Chusham from the south land ruled in his place. Chusham died.
"And Hadad ben Badad - who smote Midian in the field of Moab - ruled in his place, and the name of his city was Avit. Hadad died.
"And Salmah from Masreika ruled in his place. Salmah died.
"And Shaul from Rechovot HaNahar ruled in his place. Shaul died.
"And Ba'al Chanan ben Achbor ruled in his place. Ba'al Chanan ben Achbor died.
"And Hadar ruled in his place, and the name of his city was Pa'u. And his wife's name was Meheitavel bat Matreid bat Mei Zehav.
[Gen. 36:31-39; cf. 1 Chronicles 1:43-51]

We continue with the Arizal's exposition of the third king. We have seen how Chusham personified evil chesed, siphoning off for itself the holy chesed intended for Nukva.

Since coupling [between Zeir Anpin and Nukva] is dependent on the [issuance] of holy chesed - as it is written, "it is chesed," (Lev. 20:17) and "the throne is established through chesed" (Isaiah 16:5) - and coupling occurs in secret, this king is called "Chusham", from the word for "secret" [in Hebrew, "chashai"].

The word "chesed" in the first verse refers to sexual relations. In the second verse, the "throne" is the symbol of kingship and therefore of malchut.

Chesed is issued for the sake of the bride, to embrace her….

Significantly, only the first two letters of "Chusham" - chet-shin - are related to the word for "secret". The final, closed mem, as mentioned previously, denotes the blockage of the flow from Zeir Anpin to Nukva. Thus, Chusham signifies how the flow of chesed, transmitted in secret, is blocked.

[Chesed is issued] for the sake of the bride, to embrace her, as it is written, "…and his right hand embraces me." (Songs 2:6, 8:3) Therefore, the word "land" is mentioned in his [account].

Chesed is associated with the right hand, as we know. As mentioned previously, "land" (in Hebrew, "eretz") is an appelate for malchut, the feminine. The fact that Chusham's goal is to divert the divine flow away from malchut is why the word "land" is mentioned only in his regard.

It thus follows that this king, in the realm of severe judgment, is the opposite of holy chesed, whose purpose is to affect the coupling of the groom and the bride and thereby extend the supernal light to her via yesod. This [king, in contrast,] comes to channel the light for himself, and prevent her from receiving it.

[Another indication that Chusham is associated with chesed is that] the light of chesed is divided into five states of light, [corresponding to the five times "light" is] mentioned in the verse[s describing the creation of light on the first day of Creation, beginning with] "and there was light." (Gen. 1:3-5) The [letters of the] word for "five" ["chameish"] when switched around spell "Chusham".

These five states of light are the five states of chesed, which we have discussed on previous occasions. The fact that the letters of "Chusham" spell "five" indicates that he denotes a reversal or inversion of the purpose these states of chesed are meant for.

All eight kings are included in this one….

Furthermore, "Chusham" may be read as "the eight [kings] are there," i.e. that all eight kings are included in this one, just as holy chesed is called "by day" - the day that accompanies all the other days. (Etz Chaim 25:2; Pri Etz Chaim, Sukot 1; see Zohar III:103ab, 191b)

"Chusham" is spelled chet-shin-mem. The numerical value of chet is 8, and shin-mem spell the Hebrew word for "there", "sham".

In the verse "G‑d shall command His chesed by day," (Psalms 42:9) the Hebrew word for "by day" - "yomam" - literally means "their day". Thus, this verse is interpreted mystically to mean that chesed is the source of - and is therefore is present in all - the succeeding sefirot. This is because the essence of love - the inner motivation of chesed - is relationship, or caring. All the succeeding sefirot are types of relationship. Even hatred is a form of caring. Similarly, the evil midot are all rooted in evil chesed. In this context, Chusham can be considered the root of all the other kings.

Furthermore, Chusham can be understood to mean the senses inherent in each [of the kings].

The word "chush" means "sense"; "chusham" thus means "their sense".

Specifically: the sense of taste is associated with chochma, since the word "chochma" can be seen as a compound of the words for "what [does the] palate [taste]."

"Chochma" is spelled chet-chaf-mem-hei. The Hebrew word for "palate", "cheich", is spelled chet-chaf; the word for "what", "mah", is spelled mem-hei.

The sense of hearing is associated with malchut, as it is written, "…and G‑d listened, and heard." (Malachi 3:16)

The sense of touch is associated with chesed-gevura-tiferet-netzach-hod-yesod, which are manifest in the two arms, the two legs, the torso, and the procreative organ.

Smell is the subtle sense of discernment, of distinguishing between good and bad….

The two arms: chesed and gevura; the two legs: netzach and hod; the torso: tiferet; the procreative organ: yesod. The midot (intermediate six sefirot) are the emotions, the means by which we "touch" and relate to others.

The sense of smell is associated with bina. This is the mystical meaning of the verse "And G‑d smelled the savory smell." (Gen. 8:21)

The verse continues: "…and G‑d said in His heart…." The heart, the seat of understanding, is associated with bina. Smell is the subtle sense of discernment, of distinguishing between good and bad.

The sense of sight is associated with keter, the open eye.

Sight is the most direct of the senses, allowing us an immediate perception of the object we see. By virtue of this all-encompassing inclusion, it is associated with keter, the enveloping, encompassing sefira that comprises all the others.

All of these are part of malchut of chesed. This is alluded to by the words "from the land of the south".

The south is associated with chesed.

Thus, we have the following scheme of associations between the sefirot and the senses:

. keter
sight
.
bina
smell
. chochma
taste
. the midot
touch
.
. malchut
hearing
.

There are other association schemes used in other contexts.

Finally, Chusham in at-bash is samech-beit-yud, the numerical value of which is 72, the numerical value of chesed.

At-bash (the simple reflective transformation) is the substitution system in which the first letter of the alphabet is replaced with the last, the second with the second-to-the-last, and so on.1 Its name is taken from the first two substitution pairs: alef-tav and beit-shin. In this system, chet is replaced with samech, shin with beit, and mem with yud.

Samech-beit-yud: 60 + 2 + 10 = 72.

"Chesed" is spelled: chet-samech-dalet = 8 + 60 + 4 = 72.

Here again we see Chusham as being an inversion of true chesed.

Now, even though these three kings [Bela, Yovav, and Chusham] correspond to daat, tiferet, and chesed, they do not do so in the same way. [The evil] daat encompasses all the six [midot] of daat. Therefore [in the account of Bela], the name of his city is mentioned, alluding to the malchut of daat.

As was explained previously, the evil Nukva requests judgment from Bela, the evil daat.

[The evil] tiferet encompasses only gevura of tiferet. Therefore, the Torah says that [Yovav was] "from Batzra", alluding to harvested [black] grapes.

This, as was explained previously, alludes to gevura. "Batzra" means "harvest".

[The evil] chesed encompasses only malchut of chesed, as alluded to in the phrase "from the south land" - land [denoting malchut].

The Arizal now will address the issue of why in the Torah "Chusham" is written without a vav, while in the Book of Chronicles it is written with a vav.

Both the male's and the female's ability to love exists in order to be focused on their mates….

Know, that just as chesed of Zeir Anpin exists for the sake of malchut, and this [evil chesed] issued forth opposite it in order to prevent the light belonging to malchut from reaching it, so too, the chesed of Nukva of Zeir Anpin exists for the sake of the male [i.e. Zeir Anpin], in order to cause feminine water to ascend to it.

Both the male's and the female's ability to love exists in order to be focused on their mates. "Ascending feminine water" is the Zoharic idiom for "arousal from below".

This [evil] chesed of Zeir Anpin [therefore] died, since it lacked a mate, inasmuch as they had not yet coupled. Therefore, the word "Chusham" in the Torah - which describes the male dynamic - is written without a vav, alluding to the female, the lack of whose presence caused this chesed to die. In contrast, the word "Chusham" in the Book of Chronicles is written with a vav, in order to indicate that for lack of the male this chesed of Nukva of Zeir Anpin died.

This explanation, however, is not satisfactory.

Possibly [the explanation is] that this [evil] chesed issued only as an expression of its malchut, thereby expressing the feminine principle. Therefore, "Chusham" is written [in the Torah] without a vav, which indicates the male principle. In the Book of Chronicles, "Chusham" is written with a vav...(the rest of this thought is missing in the manuscript) .

The letter vav of the name Havayah indicates the midot, or Zeir Anpin. It thus signifies the male principle. (In this context, the letter hei signifies the female principle.) The fact that in the Torah, "Chusham" is written without a vav would indicate that the male element of this evil chesed is lacking in some way.

The continuation of the Arizal's exposition can be found in "APPLES FROM THE ORCHARD".


Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sha'ar Ma'amarei Rashbi, Sefer HaLikutim, and Likutei Torah; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Reprinted with permission from Chabad of California. Copyright 2004 by Chabad of California, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, without permission, in writing, from Chabad of California, Inc.