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Parashat Lech Lecha

by Rabbi Yitzchok Luria

Apples from the Orchard

  

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The Wars of the Kings

It happened in the days of King Amrafel of Shinar…
Further on in this parashah, we read how an alliance of five kings rebelled against an alliance of four kings, which then waged war against the alliance of five kings, in the process abducting Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and how Abraham pursued and routed the first alliance in order rescue Lot.

Sha’ar HaPesukim and Likutei Torah, parashat Lech Lecha
As is known, the kings that ruled in the land of Edom and died were manifestations of Arich Anpin, Abba, Ima, Z’eir Anpin, and Nukva. These are the partzufim of Atzilut, while the kings that died allude to the seven sefirot that collapsed in the world of Tohu, the version of Atzilut that precedes its rectified version, Tikun. Also, there were seven kings that died, but only six partzufim are enumerated here.

They were all the feminine aspect of these partzufim, which is known as the malchut of each partzuf. That is why they are alluded to by the “kings,” being named after it. Since the kings that died were the malchut of these partzufim, they are called “kings,” for malchut means “kingship.”

It is known that malchut is expressed by the Name Havayah spelled-out such that its numerical value is 52, i.e., with the letter hei. Yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei = (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 5) + (6 + 6) + (5 + 5) = 52.

The four spellings out of the Name Havayah (72, 63, 45, and 52) are aligned with the four letters of the Name Havayah and the sefirot/partzufim they signify.

Thus, even though there are seven kings that died, they are really nine, corresponding to the nine letters in the 52-Name Havayah. The seven kings expressed or embodied the malchut’s of these partzufim in Tohu and, at the same time, the nine letters of the 52-Name.

As is known, the dross and shells—i.e., evil—were separated out of these fallen kings. Therefore, there are nine other kings corresponding to them, which are composed totally of the shells and dross of the nine aforementioned, holy kings. The nine kings (i.e., the nine malchut’s of Tohu) are extremely volatile—as is everything in that world—because the amount of light is out of proportion to the capacity of the vessels to hold it. But everything in Tohu is still in the realm of holiness. Only when the vessels of Tohu break and their “shards” descend into the lower worlds do they exist as almost lifeless “shells”—pockets of fallen consciousness possessing no holiness other than a tiny spark of Tohu-light embedded deep with each one to keep it in existence. Other than that deep kernel of holiness, the whole essence of the fallen “shell” is evil, i.e., selfhood and antithesis to Divinity. (This is what led to the Shattering of the Vessels in the first place.)

These are the kings mentioned in this episode of the parashah, Amrafel and his allies plus the king of Sodom and his allies. This is why they are divided into two groups: the four kings of Amrafel’s alliance are the dross of the four root-letters of the aforementioned Name Havayah, while the five kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, etc. are the dross of the five letters used to spell-out this Name Havayah, i.e., the 52-Name spelled-out with the letter hei. This is the mystical meaning of the verse, “…four kings against the five.” The four letters of the Name Havayah are thus depicted as waging war against the letters used to
spell them out.

The reason for this war, and why it was waged specifically at this point in history, will be understood via our sages’ statement21 that their intention was actually to capture Abraham himself. By capturing his nephew, Lot, Abraham would come to his rescue, and they would then capture him, too. The mystical significance of this is based on what we have explained in Sha’ar Ruach HaKodesh regarding the mystical significance of Lot and Abraham.

In short: Abraham personified the light of the states of chesed in Z’eir Anpin, which are represented by the Name Havayah spelled-out with the letter alef, and whose numerical value is 45. Yud-vav-dalet hei-alef vav-alef-vav hei-alef = (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 1) + (6 + 1 + 6) + (5 + 1) = 45.

Lot is positioned opposite the back of Z’eir Anpin, being the evil that sucks from Z’eir Anpin’s back. The numerical value of Lot is thus also 45. Lot: Lamed-vav-tet = 30 + 6 + 9 = 45. In order to exist, every form of evil must “suck” (i.e., derive its sustenance) from some form of good, of which it is a fallen, corrupt version.


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Torah
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G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.