This week's Torah reading begins: "G‑d spoke to Moses, and said, 'I am Havayah. But I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as "G‑d Almighty", and did not make known to them My Name Havayah." (Ex. 6:2)

Based on this contrast between the revelation of G‑d to the forefathers vs. that which will soon be experienced by Moses, the Arizal discusses the difference in the various levels of prophecy amongst the prophets.

We will now explain the different levels of the prophets regarding the level that they held and from which they were suspended above and from what level each of their prophecies were manifest.

It is explained in the Zohar that the prophets were [rooted] in netzach and hod. This is mentioned throughout the Zohar, particularly in parashat Pekudei in the discussion of the Palace of the Essence of Heaven. (Zohar II:247b) Whatever [manifestations there were] from the levels above, these are not classified as prophecy.

Samuel prophesied only from netzach, but not hod….

We also find that Moses prophesied through the "clear lens" ["Aspaklaria D'meira"] while the rest of the prophets prophesied through the "opaque lens" ["Aspaklaria D'eina Meira"]. (Yevamot 49b, and throughout the Zohar) It is known that these two terms refer to tiferet and malchut, respectively. But if this is so, it appears to be a contradiction, for it is explained that prophecy issues only from netzach and hod, whereas what issues from malchut or yesod is [just] Divine Inspiration [Ruach Hakodesh]. So how can [those whose revelation issued from tiferet, yesod, or malchut] be called "prophets"?

Furthermore, we find in the Zohar (I:21b) with regard to Moses himself, that Moses was on the level of netzach and Aaron was on the level of hod. We also find that [hod] is called "Moses' hod".

Rabbi Shmuel [ben Rabbi Chaim] Vital adds here: "As is written, 'and you shall place some of your hod on him.'" (Num. 27) This verse describes G‑d's commandment to Moses to appoint Joshua as his successor.

We further find that Samuel prophesied from netzach, as it is written, "And the Eternal One of Israel [Netzach Yisrael] does not lie." (Samuel I 15:29)

Since Samuel referred to G‑d as "Netzach Yisrael", it implies that his prophecy issued from the sefira of netzach.

So how are we to reconcile all the above statements?

The explanation is as follows:

It is known that the netzach-hod-yesod of Zeir Anpin span the entire stature of the partzuf of Rachel, the Nukva of Zeir Anpin.

In general there are two feminine partzufim opposite the male partzuf of Zeir Anpin: Rachel and Leah. Leah is situated opposite the upper half of Zeir Anpin and Rachel opposite its lower half.

The upper three segments of netzach-hod-yesod of Zeir Anpin are [opposite] her keter-chochma-bina, the three middle segments [of these] are [opposite] her chesed-gevura-tiferet, and the three lower segments [of these] are [opposite] her netzach-hod-yesod.

Rabbi Shmuel Vital points out that, surprisingly, no mention is made here of the lower third of tiferet of Zeir Anpin, which, as we have seen, is also included in the part of Zeir Anpin that is opposite Rachel.

Moses, the chief of all prophets, prophesied from the two upper segments of netzach and hod of Zeir Anpin, specifically, from their front. Samuel prophesied [only] from the front of the upper segment of netzach of Zeir Anpin. This was half of the level of prophecy attained by Moses.

Since Samuel prophesied only from netzach, but not hod, of Zeir Anpin, while Moses prophesied from both.

Nonetheless, [Samuel's prophecy] was [parallel to] the upper half [of Moses' prophecy], i.e. netzach, and it includes hod within it, so therefore [the quality of] Samuel['s prophecy] was equated with [that of] Moses, even though there was a difference between them, in that Moses prophesied from both [netzach and hod].

It is written, "Moses and Aaron with his priests, and Samuel with those who called upon his name, call out to G‑d and He answers them." (Psalms 99:6) We see here that Samuel is equated with Moses and Aaron.

Achiya the Shilonite prophesied from the back of the two upper segments of netzach and hod of Zeir Anpin. Insofar as he prophesied from the two thighs [of Zeir Anpin], he was greater than Samuel. But insofar as he [prophesied] from the back [of these segments], he was lesser than Samuel.

Achiya the Shilonite (Kings I 11:29 ff.) was a prophet contemporary with King Solomon and his successors. He was the mentor of the prophet Elijah.

Netzach and hod correspond anatomically to the two thighs. Thus, whereas Samuel prophesied only from one "thigh", Achiya prophesied from both. On the other hand, Samuel prophesied from the front of the one thigh he accessed, while Achiya prophesied from the back of the two that he accessed.

Elijah the prophet, who was the disciple of Achiya the Shilonite, prophesied from the back of the supper segment of hod of Zeir Anpin.

His prophecy was thus similar to his master Achiya's, except that Achiya's originated from the back of netzach, while Elijah's originated from the back of hod.

The rest of the prophets [prophesied from] the two middle segments and two lower segments of netzach and hod [of Zeir Anpin], as well as from the entire extent of yesod of Zeir Anpin.

The front of the two upper mentalities of Nukva are 'reserved' for Aaron….

Know that the two upper segments of netzach and hod are higher than yesod. This is similar to the way chochma and bina are higher than daat.

There is yet another level [from which prophecy issues], in Nukva itself, which is called "the opaque lens" ["Aspaklaria D'meira"]. Sometimes, the back of Zeir Anpin is also called "the opaque lens", because Nukva derives [its life-force] from that level.

Now, Aaron the priest is called "the escort of the Queen" (Zohar III:20a, etc.), and his prophecy is derived from that level. Aaron['s level of prophecy] in the Queen [i.e. on the feminine side] was as great as Moses' was on the masculine side. It is in this respect that Aaron is considered on a par with Moses, (Megilla 11a; Vayikra Rabbah 36:1) as the Sages said concerning the verses "It was Aaron and Moses" (Ex. 6:26) and "It was Moses and Aaron". (Ex. 6:27)

The fact that sometimes the Torah gives precedence to Moses and at other times to Aaron is understood to indicate that in some respect they were equal.

For just as Moses prophesied from the front of the two upper segments of netzach and hod of the male, Aaron prophesied from the front of the two mentalities - chochma and bina - of the female, which are situated opposite the two upper segments of netzach and hod of Zeir Anpin, the male, as we have mentioned.

Now, just as there are many levels [of prophecy] amongst the other prophets, within the two middle segments and the two lower segments of netzach and hod, and within the entire span of yesod of Zeir Anpin, throughout their front and back, so are there a number of other prophets, [whose prophecy derives] from [various levels along] the entire partzuf of Nukva - except for the front of her two upper mentalities. But in all [her] other levels there are many levels of prophets.

The front of the two upper mentalities of Nukva are "reserved" for Aaron.

The moon reflects the light of the sun and is therefore the female relative to the male sun….

With regard to the prophetic level of Joshua, I am not sure what I heard from my master [the Arizal, i.e.] if he prophesied from the yesod of Zeir Anpin, since he was from the tribe of Joseph, or from the back of the two mentalities of Nukva. [The latter is possible] since we find that the Sages said that "the face of Joshua was like the face of the moon", (Bava Batra 75a) which is the female.

In comparison to Moses' prophecy, Joshua's prophecy was like that of the moon compared with that of the sun [and therefore their faces were also compared to the sun and the moon]. The moon reflects the light of the sun and is therefore the female relative to the male sun.

It is with regard to these two possibilities that I am in doubt.

[This passage was taken from Sha'ar Ruach HaKodesh. The following, more cryptic passage, is from Sefer HaLikutim.]


The Palace of Sapphire Brickwork is called "the opaque lens" ["Aspaklaria D'meira"], and it is from there that most of the prophets prophesied.

The Zohar (II:244b ff.) enumerates 7 "palaces" in Zeir Anpin of Beriya. These palaces serve as levels through which we elevate the sparks of holiness from the lower worlds during the morning prayers, until reaching Atzilut in the Standing Prayer.





The Sapphire Brickwork
(Livnat Hasapir)

From "Blessed are You…who forms light" until "Shield of our deliverance, a Refuge for us"


The Essence of Heaven
(Etzem Hashamayim)

From "The blessed G‑d, great in knowledge" until "Blessed be the glory of G‑d from its place"


Luminence (Noga)

From "They chant sweet melodies to the blessed G‑d" until "He is awesome in praise, master of wonders"


Merit (Zechut)

From "Who in His goodness renews each day" until "Blessed are You…who creates the luminaries"


Love (Ahava)

From "…You have loved us with everlasting love" to "I am G‑d, your G‑d"


Will (Ratzon)

From "True and certain" to "Blessed are You…who delivered Israel"

keter, chochma, bina

The Holy of Holies
(Kodesh Hakedoshim)

From "My L-rd, open my lips" to the end of the Standing Prayer

The two terms "Sapphire Brickwork" and "Essence of Heaven" are taken from the description of how the spiritual worlds were revealed to the Jewish people at the Giving of the Torah. (Ex. 24:10) The consciousness of Atzilut is manifest in the "Holy of Holies" of Beriya, and thus we are considered to be connecting to the world of Atzilut during the Standing Prayer. [It is beyond the context of the present discussion to explain why tiferet follows gevura and chesed rather than precedes it.]

So we see that in this passage, the Arizal asserts that most prophecy occurs from yesod of Zeir Anpin.

All of Moses' visions were from bina….

Moses' prophecy, in contrast, was from the Palace of the Holy of Holies of Beriya, which is where the keter-chochma-bina of Beriya are manifest.

This is in contrast to what was said in the passage quoted above, in which Moses' prophecy is stated to originate in netzach and hod of Zeir Anpin.

Regarding Moses, the Sages said that he attained bina (Zohar II:114b, 115a; cf. Rosh Hashanah 21b) which refers to Arich Anpin of Beriya, which includes within it all the rest as part of the Holy of Holies.

Presumably, this is to be understood in light of the correspondence between the Four Worlds and the ten sefirot, in which chochma is associated with Atzilut, bina with Beriya, the midot with Yetzira, and Malchut with Asiya. Thus, the idea that Moses attained bina would mean that he attained the entire world of Beriya, i.e. up to its highest partzuf, Arich Anpin, while the other prophets only attained the level of yesod of Zeir Anpin of Beriya - the Palace of the Sapphire Brickwork, as stated above.

The phrase "Holy of Holies" refers to the three partzufim of Arich Anpin, Abba, and Imma. Arich Anpin is the "holy", and Abba and Imma are the "holies".

The phrase "And Elokim spoke to Moses" refers to bina, while the phrase "And Havayah spoke to Moses" refers to chochma-bina-daat, and the phrase "And G‑d said…" refers to keter. Nonetheless, all of [Moses'] visions were from bina.

Since all these levels were within Beriya, they may be conceived of as being sub-levels within bina, as above.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sha'ar Ruach HaKodesh and Sefer HaLikutim; 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.