In the realm of holiness, the letter heh is formed from the letter daled [by the addition of an inverted letter yud in the lower left corner].

Likewise, in the realm of evil, the letter kuf is formed from the letter reish [by the addition of a long descending line in the corresponding corner].

[Just as the letter daled incorporates a letter yud, by virtue of which it is included in the realm of holiness,] so too the letter heh incorporates a letter yud — in front, as its left leg.

The letter daled, by contrast, has its letter yud appended to its back.

This difference in position reflects the difference between the respective modes of union [of the spiritual spheres that these letters represent].

The letter daled receives its spiritual sustenance from the letter gimel that precedes it, thus exemplifying the [imperfect] mode of union that is called אחור באחור (lit., "back to back").

In the case of the letter heh, whose letter yud is in front, the union is of the [perfect] mode that is called פנים בפנים (lit., "face to face").

This union [with its consequent flow of life-supporting spiritual energy] is effected through the giving of tzedakah ("charity").

As is noted in the writings of the AriZal, the word Tzedakah is comprised of the word Tzedek and the letter heh: charity raises the daled [from its poor state] and turns it into a heh.

Our Sages taught a similar lesson when they observed that the names of the letters gimel and daled can be read as a phrase: gomel da-lim — "Show kindness to the poor."

[Understood in the light of the above, this means that] the letter daled receives its spiritual sustenance from the letter gimel, and this process produces [the state of completion represented by] the letter heh.

[The above process takes place in the realm of holiness.

By contrast,] the letter kuf is formed from the letter reish.

The kuf is similar in shape to the letter heh, except that while the two legs of the heh descend to the same point, the left leg of the kuf continues below.

This shaft is alluded to in the verse,-- "Her feet descend to death."

It is further alluded to in the statement of the Sages, that "Gavriel descended and implanted a shaft [or: reed] in the sea.

It gathered a bank around it on which was built a mighty city" (Rashi adds: "which harasses the Jewish people").

This is the shaft of the letter kuf that is formed in the realm of evil, and that harasses the Jewish people.

In the terms of Chassidus this may be explained as follows:

The three lines that form the letter heh stand for the three "garments" [i.e., means of expression] of the soul — thought, speech and action.

The left line is thus separate from the other two, in order to point out the distinction between action as against speech and thought.

It is true that thought is known as the garment that is connected [to the individual concerned], and is therefore perceived only by himself.

It is true too that speech [differs in that it] is known as the separate garment, for it relates to an additional individual.

Yet thought is comparable to speech, while action retains an incomparably more separate existence from the individual.

A similar pattern may be seen in the order of the spiritual realms.

A verse was quoted [above in chapter 1, alluding to each of the spiritual worlds in turn]: --"All that is called by My Name, it is for My glory that I created it, formed it, and indeed made it."

The verb berativ - (created it) refers to the World of Beriah, which is the world of thought; the following verb, yetzartiv (formed it), refers to the World of Yetzirah, which is the world of speech.

At this point, however, the flow of the verse is interrupted by the word "af" ("indeed") — in order to indicate a separation between these worlds and that signified by the final verb, asitiv; viz., the World of Asiyah, the world of action, which is represented by the left leg of the letter heh.

In the realm of holiness, the letter heh depicts someone whose three soul-garments — his thought, speech and action — are filled with the light of the Torah, with its wisdom, and with the character traits [that it extols].

Thus, with his faculty of thought he thinks Torah thoughts.

Likewise, with his power of speech he utters the words of the Torah.

Even if he lacks the sophistication and the intellectuality to understand [all the texts that he reads], he nevertheless makes a point of speaking of Torah subjects, and repeating phrases from the Torah and the prayers.

Likewise, he exercises his faculty of action in the fulfillment of the mitzvos.

Moreover, in his material affairs he implements the injunction, "Let all your deeds be for the sake of heaven."

This rule obtains in all the mundane matters that are [not mitzvos, but are] permitted by the Torah.

Concerning business, for example, the Torah states, --"Six days you shall work."

Its intention, however, is that one's profit should enable him to fulfill, observe and practice mitzvos, such as tzedakah and deeds of kindness.

Likewise, [a certain measure of success in business relaxes financial worries and] frees one's mind and heart for Torah study — so that he can learn, teach, observe and practice throughout the fixed times that he sets aside for Torah study, and for the "service of the heart," i.e., prayer.

When one conducts his life in this manner, not only does he gain his times of study and thus actually bring life to his soul, illuminating it with the light of Torah and prayer; he also sees to it that his business itself is carried out (while being directed for the sake of heaven) as it should be.

This means that he is scrupulously careful not to deceive, steal, delude or lie, for he knows that G‑d detests such behavior — and could he possibly do something that is opposed to His will?

Moreover, his heart is clearly lit up with the simple belief that is implanted in the heart of every Jew, that — "It is the blessing of G‑d that brings wealth."

Furthermore, he believes that this blessing will come only when his business is a fitting vessel for it.

His other activities, such as eating and drinking, are similarly carried out for the sake of heaven, so that with a healthy body he will be able to study and pray, and serve G‑d through the fulfillment of the mitzvos — each man according to his level and according to his spiritual metabolism.

For some men are masters of Torah; some are masters of prayer; some are masters of good deeds, of tzedakah and acts of kindness — which means that they sustain the poor and the Torah scholars, both with their personal exertion and with their contributions.

When one's intention is for the sake of heaven, it goes without saying that his activities themselves are carried out as they ought to be.

Within the realm of permitted things, for example, he will be careful not to overindulge in eating and drinking, since his intention is not to pamper himself but to maintain his health.

In other fields, too, a person who (for example) administers a charitable fund will speak gently and warmly. Even though at times he will [find it necessary to] adopt a forceful stance and to be adamant so that a particular matter will be settled in the best way possible, he will still speak in a relaxed and reasonable manner, and will do his utmost to spurn pride.

For what matters to him is the essence of the matter — [that he is occupying his position only in order] to carry out the will of G‑d.

The above describes [the course of conduct signified by] the letter heh of the holy side of the universe.

The letter kuf, by contrast, represents thought, speech and action that are motivated by the forces of evil.

It is formed from the letter reish, which represents thought and speech that derive from "the Other Side."

Hence, when a man's mind is filled with alien [i.e., unworthy] thoughts and imaginings, and when his mouth is filled with unG‑dly words — not necessarily forbidden talk, such as slander and gossip and the like, but even an excess of idle prattle — he thereby constructs the shaft of the letter kuf, that represents action.

His unworthy thoughts and speech cause him to fall into unworthy deeds, which in turn draw him, like the descending shaft of the letter kuf, down to ever-increasing depths.

This concept may be understood in terms of an interpretation of the verse, — "The pit was empty: there was no water in it."

The difference between be'er ("well") and bor ("pit") lies only in the middle letter of each.

The former word, spelled with an aleph, refers to the soul, as in the phrase, — "A spring of gardens, a well of living waters."

Well-waters spring forth from below, and thus bring an abundance of water. The soul likewise is obliged to descend into the body which is described as a deep pit, but through its involvement in Torah and mitzvos it can rise to ever loftier levels.

In this way it becomes "a spring of gardens," a wellspring that gushes forth revelations of G‑dliness, through its divine service in refining and elevating the body and the animal soul.

The term "gardens" refers to Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden, as in the verse, — "And [G‑d] planted a garden in Eden."

The plural form of the word refers to the two levels — the Higher Garden of Eden and the Lower Garden of Eden.

[This service generates] a stream of water, a brook of pleasure for the souls in Gan Eden when they ascend there.

[The above discussion refers only to a "well").]

A pit, by contrast, is empty, as in the above-quoted verse, "The pit was empty: there was no water in it."

On this the Sages comment: "If the verse states that `the pit was empty,' do I not understand `that there was no water in it'?!

These words do however appear — in order to tell us that though it contained no water, it did contain snakes and scorpions" (Shabbos 22b).

The pit refers to the animal soul: it contains no water [which is a metaphor for the Torah], but it does harbor snakes and scorpions — extraneous thoughts.

The above describes the letter kuf.

[The unholy lifestyle that it represents is a wretched] imitation of man, like the comparison of a monkey (kof in Hebrew) to a man.

For the very word adam ("man") comprises letters in the Holy Tongue that stand for thought, speech and action: the letter aleph represents thought; the letter daled is the initial letter of dibur ("speech"); and mem is the initial letter of ma'aseh ("action").

In the realm of holiness, a man's thought, speech and action are filled with the light of holiness; in the realm of evil, they are filled with alien thoughts.

We are now better able to understand the statement from the Zohar [cited in chapter 6 above], that since kuf and reish are evil letters, they take the shin [as an ally]: they appropriate a reflection of a reflection from the life-force that radiates from the holy side of the universe, and thereby ensure their continued existence.


In the realm of holiness, from the letter daled the letter heh is formed: one's thoughts and words bring one to deeds — all three soul- garments surging with the Torah and its commandments.

Correspondingly, in the unholy realm, from the letter reish the letter kuf is formed: by harboring thoughts and words spawned by "the Other Side," one falls into undesirable deeds.