The above teaching will allow us to understand why the boards of which the Mishkan was constructed are called Krashim, as in the verse, — "And you shall make upright boards for the Mishkan of acacia wood."

This may be understood by way of the Introduction to the Zohar, which describes the nature of the letters that constitute the alphabet of the Holy Tongue:

"When G‑d came to create the world, all the letters presented themselves in turn before Him" [in the hope that He would begin the creation with them].

The Zohar goes on to say that the letters kuf and reish belong to the evil side of the universe.

In order to ensure their continued existence, they place the letter shin between themselves, together forming a bond [for the Hebrew word for "bond" is spelled kesher].

Earlier on, the Zohar gives the Creator's reply to the letter shin in these words: "Since the letters of falsehood take you as a companion [for shin and kuf and reish together spell sheker, which means `falsehood'], I do not want to begin creating the world with you, in order that falsehood should not be maintained."

The Zohar concludes: "From this we learn that whoever wants to lie should first base himself on an element of truth [as with the initial letter shin of sheker] so that his lie can be maintained.

For shin is a letter of truth, the letter of truth with which our forefathers communed."

The letters kuf and reish [which the Zohar describes as evil letters] correspond to the letters daled and heh [that are holy letters], (for reish resembles daled and kuf resembles heh).

In fact daled and reish are similar not only in their form but also in their meaning.

The letter daled is related to the word daloot, which means "poverty".

In the spiritual realms it refers to the Sefirah of Malchus, "that has nothing (d'les lah) of its own" [i.e., it merely receives and transmits the downward flow of Divine beneficence].

In the realm of the soul, this state [of poverty] is reflected in the power of speech, that merely receives and articulates [lit., "enclothes"] the spiritual faculties that are above it.

For example, in the expression of intellect or emotion [speech contributes nothing].

The letter reish is similarly related to the state of poverty, as is evident from the verse that says (Mishlei 10:15), — "The ruin of the poor is their poverty." Likewise, — "[Give me neither] poverty nor riches."

Yet despite their similarity of meaning, the two letters are distinct.

Indeed, if one substitutes one for the other one can destroy worlds.

Thus our Sages teach: "Whoever prolongs the pronunciation of the word Echad [when reciting the "Shema"] will have his days and years prolonged."

This only applies "if he clearly enunciates the final letter Daled."

If, however, he were to substitute a reish [thereby producing the word acher ("other"), and thus declaring his faith in another god], he would be "destroying worlds."

Likewise [in the reverse situation] in the verse, --"Do not bow down to another god." Here, too, "the final letter reish must be clearly enunciated, for if he were to substitute a daled [thereby producing the word echad (`one'), and thus making this prohibition refer to the One G‑d], he would be destroying worlds."

Thus, though daled and reish have resemblances in form and meaning, they are still far apart: daled is a holy letter, while reish belongs to the evil side of the universe.

The difference in appearance between them consists of the appended letter yud (י) at the back of the daled (ד).

The letter yud reflects the quality of self-nullification and self- diminishment.

In the spiritual realms, [the letter daled] refers to the Sefirah called Malchus in the World of Atzilus, "that has nothing of its own" for [including, as it does, the letter yud,] it represents the ultimate state of self-nullification and humility.

The Sefirah of Malchus in the World of Atzilus thus becomes a point [i.e., it retracts all self-expression] below the Sefirah of Yesod.

In this it reflects an approach of self-negation and selflessness in relation to the other Sefiros.

This quality enables it to become a capacious vessel, for, as our Sages express it, "an empty vessel can contain, a full vessel cannot."

If, by way of analogy, a disciple is to become a vessel capable of receiving the teachings of his master in full measure, he must first attain the ultimate in self-nullification and humility. He must do more than forgo his awareness of self; he must attain a level of self- nullification and self-negation.

Indeed, the more he contracts himself in self-nullification, the more will he be able to receive.

Likewise, no preparation is needed before one lifts a light burden.

If the burden is heavy, however, the more one concentrates one's efforts in preparation, the more readily will he be able to lift even a heavy burden.

[Speaking of self-nullification as a precondition to the study of the Torah, the Sages declare that] "it cannot be found among the arrogant" nor among "those who are as full of self-esteem as the sea." It goes without saying that an arrogant person, who is utterly lacking in self-nullification, is no fit vessel for receiving the Torah. But neither is the "one who is full of self-esteem."

This phrase refers to a student who in the course of his study has not attained total self-nullification; he is still unduly aware of his own personality.

A student who ponders over his master's teachings while they are being delivered, for example, would do better to simply listen, and only thereafter to concentrate on deepening his grasp of them.

Otherwise he will absorb them [only] according to the dictates of his own understanding, because he is still lacking in self-nullification.

The true disciple, by contrast, having internalized the dictates of holiness, has totally negated his individual existence.

This state is the goal of all divine service, and it is epitomized by the self-nullification of the above-mentioned attribute of Malchus.

Hence all revelations of Divine light are elicited by the humility and self-nullification represented by this attribute.

This concept grants us an insight into the verse, (Tefila L'David) — "A prayer of David: G‑d, incline Your ear and answer me, for I am poor and needy."

[The first word (tefila — "prayer") also signifies connection.]

The "prayer of [King] David" thus alludes to the process of connection and self-nullification of the attribute of Malchus - "sovereignty"].

Indeed, the request ("incline Your ear and answer me") gains force for the very reason that the supplicant is poor and needy: he has attained the self-nullification that characterizes the attribute of Malchus.

This state of mind is expressed by the self-effacing letter daled.

The letter reish, by contrast, is not supplemented by the self- nullifying letter yud.

On the contrary, it represents self-centered arrogance, for which reason it is "one of the letters that belong to the evil side [of the universe]."

[If it is filled with selfishness, how can it be described as poor?]

The forces of evil are poor in that they have no [direct] connection with G‑d.

And in turn, this very state of poverty and severance inflates their self-centered perception of their own identity.


Both the letters daled and reish represent a state of poverty.

The letter daled is holy by virtue of the fact that at its back it has an appended letter yud, signifying self-nullification.

This is the attribute that enables one to become a recipient; a disciple, for example, ought to negate his sense of personal identity while he is receiving his master's teachings.

The letter reish represents the opposite frame of mind.