112. The Three Angels

I heard on Vayera, October, 1942


  1. The matter of the three angels that came to visit Abraham during the circumcision.

  2. The matter of the Creator coming to visit him and what He had told him during the visit.

  3. That our sages said that the visitor takes the sixtieth part of the sickness.

  4. The separation from Lot.

  5. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

  6. Abraham’s request not to destroy Sodom.

  7. The matter of Lot’s wife looking back and becoming a pillar of salt.

  8. The matter of Shimon and Levi’s deceit of the people of Shechem concerning the circumcision, when they said, “for that were a reproach unto us.”

  9. The matter of the two separations that came out of Lot, which were erased in the days of David and Solomon, which are opposite to one another.

To understand the above, we should first say that we know that we discern Olam (world), Shanna (year), and Nefesh (soul) in everything. Hence, concerning the circumcision, too, which is the making of the covenant of the skin, applies the matter of Olam, Shanna, Nefesh. (There are four covenants: eyes, tongue, heart, and skin; and the skin includes them all.)

The skin, considered the foreskin, is the Behina Dalet (Phase Four), which should be removed to its place, meaning to the dust. This is considered Malchut in her place, that is, lowering Malchut to a state of dust. This follows the words, “ Abba (father) gives the whiteness,” meaning lowering Malchut from all thirty-two paths into its place. And you find that the Sefirot have been whitened from the Aviut of Malchut of the quality of judgment that was in them, since the breaking occurred because of this Malchut.

Afterwards, Ima (mother) gives the redness when she receives the Malchut that is sweetened in Bina, called “earth,” and not “dust.” This is so because we make two discernments in Malchut: 1) earth; 2) dust.

Earth is Malchut that is sweetened in Bina, called “Malchut that has risen to Bina.” Dust is called “Malchut in the place of Malchut,” which is Midat ha Din (the quality of judgment).

When Abraham had to beget Isaac, which is discerned as the whole of Israel, he had to purify himself with the circumcision, so that Israel would emerge pure. The circumcision, with respect to its Nefesh (souls), is called “circumcision” and concerns the removal of the foreskin and throwing it to a place of dust.

The Olam (world) in the circumcision is called the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The integration of the souls in the world (a world means integration of many souls) is called “Lot,” and the circumcision in the world is called “the destruction of Sodom.” The healing of the circumcision-pain is called “the saving of Lot.” Lot comes from the word “cursed land,” called Behina Dalet.

We should know that when one has been awarded Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator, when one has equivalence of form, and his only wish is to bestow and not receive anything for his own benefit, he comes to a state where he has no room to work. This is because that person does not need anything for himself; and for the Creator, one sees that the Creator has no deficiencies. Hence, he remains standing, without work. And this causes him the great pain of the circumcision, since the circumcision gave him room to work, as circumcision is the removal of the desire to receive for oneself.

It turns out that by removing the will to receive, when it no longer controls him, he has nothing more to add to his work. And there is a correction for that: even after one has been rewarded with circumcising oneself from the will to receive, there still remain sparks of Behina Dalet in him, and they, too, are awaiting correction. They are sweetened only by extending Lights of Gadlut (greatness), and thus one has room for work.

This is the meaning of Abraham the Patriarch’s pains after the circumcision, and the Creator coming to visit him. And this is the meaning of the angel Raphael healing his pain (and we cannot say that since with the four angels, the order is that Michael is on the right, Gabriel is on the left, and Uriel is at the front, and behind, which is Malchut, implied in the west, it is Raphael. This is because he heals Malchut after the removal of the foreskin, so there will be more room for work).

And the second angel came to destroy Sodom. This means that when the removal of the foreskin in considered Nefesh, it is called “circumcision,” and when it is discerned as Olam, it is called “the destruction of Sodom.” And as they said, after the removal of the foreskin there remains pain, and then we need to heal that pain. Similarly, in the destruction of Sodom, the healing is called “Lot’s salvation,” due to two good separations that were about to unfold.

It is seemingly difficult to understand the matter of the good separation. If it is separation, how can it be good? Rather, following the removal of the foreskin, there is pain. This is because one has no room for work. And those separations, the sparks that remain of Behina Dalet, give one room for work, with his need to correct them.

They cannot be corrected prior to the removal of the foreskin, since first the 248 sparks must be elevated and corrected. Subsequently, the thirty-two sparks, called “the stony heart,” are corrected. Hence, first the foreskin must be completely removed.

This is the meaning of the necessity of having a secret, that one should know ahead of time, that they should remain in the form of Reshimo. And this is the meaning of Sod (secret): through the correction of the circumcision, which is the disruption of the Yesod (foundation), meaning disrupting the Yod (the first letter in Yesod). Then, the Sod is turned into Yesod.

This is the meaning of the angel, Raphael, subsequently going to save Lot because of the “good separations.” This is the meaning of Ruth and Naomi, considered mind and heart. Ruth comes from the word Re’uia (worthy), when the Aleph is unpronounced. And Naomi is from the word Noam (pleasantness), something that is pleasant to the heart, which were then sweetened in David and Solomon.

However, previously, the angel said, “look not behind thee,” since “Lot” is Behina Dalet, but she is still connected to Abraham. However, “behind thee,” past Behina Dalet, there is only raw Behina Dalet, without sweetening. This is the meaning of the great sea-monsters, of which our sages said that it is a Leviathan (whale) and his spouse, which killed the Nukva and salted her for the righteous in the future. The future means after all the corrections.

This is the meaning of Lot’s wife looking behind her, as it is written, “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” However, she first had to be killed, which is the destruction of Sodom. But Lot, who is considered the Leviathan (the connection between Behina Dalet and Abraham) had to be saved.

This explains a question the world asks, “How could the angel that healed Abraham save Lot? After all, there is a rule: one angle does not perform two missions.” However, this is a single issue, since there has to remain a Reshimo from Behina Dalet. But it must be a secret.

This means that before he circumcised himself, there was no need to know anything of it. Rather, she had to be put to death. And the Creator salted her for the righteous in the future, when the Sod was made into Yesod.

This is the meaning of the strife between the herdsmen of Abraham’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle (Mikneh (cattle) means spiritual Kinyanim (possessions)). This is because Abraham’s cattle was for the purpose of increasing the aspect of Abraham—faith. This means that in this manner he took for himself greater forces to go above reason, since he saw that specifically in this way of faith above reason, one is awarded all the possessions.

It follows that the reason he wanted the possessions was that these possessions would testify to the way, called “faith above reason,” which is a true path. The evidence of that is that since he is given spiritual possessions from Above, through the possessions, he strains to go only by way of faith above reason. But he does not want the spiritual possessions because they are great degrees and attainments.

This means that it is not that he believes in the Creator in order to achieve great attainments through faith. Rather, he needs great attainments so as to know that he is treading a true path. Thus, after all the Gadlut, he wants specifically to walk in the path of faith, since through it he sees that he is doing something.

However, the only intention of the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle was to achieve great possessions and attainments. This is called “increasing the discernment of Lot.” Lot is called “the cursed land,” which is one’s will to receive, called Behina Dalet, whether in mind or in heart. This is why Abraham said, “separate thyself, I pray thee, from me,” that is, that Behina Dalet would be separated from him, from the Behina of Olam- Shanna- Nefesh.

This is the meaning of the removal of the foreskin. The removal of the Behina Dalet in Nefesh is called “circumcision.” In the Behina of Olam, the removal of the foreskin is called “the destruction of Sodom”; and from the Behina of Shanna, it is the Hitkalelut (integration) of many souls, and it is called Shanna (year). This is the Behina (discernment) of Lot, from the word “curse,” called “the cursed land.”

Hence, when Abraham said to Lot, “separate thyself, I pray thee, from me,” still, Lot was still the son of Haran, referring to the second restriction, called “a river that flows out of Eden to water the garden.” And there is the discernment of “beyond the River,” being outside the river, meaning the first Tzimtzum (restriction), and there is a difference between the first Tzimtzum and the second Tzimtzum.

In the first Tzimtzum, the Dinim (judgments) stand below all the Sefirot of Kedusha (Sanctity), as they had come out in the beginning, by the order of the hanging down of the worlds. In the second Tzimtzum, however, they rose to the place of Kedusha and already have a hold of Kedusha. Hence, in this respect, they are worse than the first Tzimtzum; they have no further expansion.

The “land of Canaan” is from the second Tzimtzum, which are very bad because they have a hold of Kedusha. This is why it is written concerning them, “thou shalt save alive nothing that breathes.” The Behinat Lot, however, Behina Dalet, should be salvaged. Hence, the three angels came as one: one for the blessing of the seed, considered the whole of Israel, which implies the multiplication in the Torah, too. This is the meaning of disclosing the secrets of Torah, called Banim (sons), from the word Havanah (understanding). And all this can only be attained after the correction of the circumcision.

This is the meaning of the Lord’s words: “Shall I hide from Abraham that which I am doing?” Abraham was afraid of Sodom’s destruction, lest he would lose all the vessels of reception. This is why he said, “Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city?” because a complete Partzuf is fifty degrees. And afterwards he asked, “Perhaps there are forty-five righteous?” meaning Aviut of Behina Gimel, which is forty, and the Dalet de Hitlabshut (clothing), which is Vak, half a degree, being five Sefirot, etc.. Finally, he asked, “Suppose there are ten righteous?” meaning the level of Malchut, only ten. Hence, when Abraham saw that even the level of Malchut could not emerge from there, he agreed to the destruction of Sodom.

It turns out that when the Creator came to visit him, he prayed for Sodom, as it is written, “according to the cry of it,” meaning that they were all immersed in the will to receive. “Altogether… and if not, I will know.” This means that there are discernments of bestowal in them, then we will know. This is the meaning of bonding, meaning He will bond them with the Kedusha (Sanctity). And since Abraham saw that no good would come from them, he agreed to the destruction of Sodom.

This is why after Lot’s separation from Abraham, it is written, “and moved his tent as far as Sodom,” the dwelling place of the will to receive, with respect to himself. And this is only in the land of Israel.

However, beyond the River, which is the first Tzimtzum, the domination of Behina Dalet, there is no room for work. This is because it rules and prevails in its own place. Only in the land of Israel, considered the second Tzimtzum. There is all the work. This is the meaning of Abraham’s name Be Hey Bera’am (created them with the Hey). This means that the Yod that was there was divided into two Heys—the lower Hey and the Upper Hey—and Abraham took form the Hitkalelut of the lower Hey with the Upper Hey.

Now we can understand Simeon and Levi, who deceived the men of Shechem. Since Shechem wanted Dinah, since his whole intention was in the will to receive, they said that they had to be circumcised, meaning cancel the vessels of reception. And since their only aim was in the will to receive, they were killed by the circumcision, by losing the will to receive through the circumcision. For them, this was considered death.

It therefore follows that they themselves deceived, since their whole intention was in Dinah, their sister. They thought that they could receive Dinah in the vessels of reception. Hence, once they were circumcised, and then wanted to receive Dinah, they could only use the vessels of bestowal, and they had lost the vessels of reception by the circumcision. But since they lacked the spark of bestowal, since Shechem was the son of Hamor, who knows nothing but the vessels of reception, they could not receive Dinah in the vessels of bestowal, which is against their root. Their root is only Hamor, the will to receive, and hence they came out losing either way. This is considered that Simeon and Levi caused their death. But actually, it was their own fault, not Simeon’s and Levi’s.

This is the meaning of the words of our sages: “If you come across a villain, draw him to the seminary.” We must understand what “If you come across” means. It means that the villain, meaning the will to receive, is not always found. Rather, it means that not every one consider their will to receive “a villain.” But if there is someone who feels the will to receive as a villain and wants to be rid of it, as it is written, “Always will one move the good inclination over the evil inclination.” If he prevails, good; and if not, he shall engage in the Torah; and if not, he shall read the Shema prayer; and if not, he shall remind him of the day of his death” (Berachot, p.5). In that state he has three counsels together, and one without the others is incomplete.

And now we can understand the question, which the Gemarah ends. If the first advice—“pull him to the seminary”—does not help, then “read the Shema prayer.” And if that does not help, “remind him of the day of his death.” Thus, if he is doubtful of their help, why does he need the first two counsels? Why should he not take the last advice right away, meaning reminding him of the day of his death? He answers that this does not mean that one counsel will help, but that it requires all three counsels together.

And this means:

  1. Pull him to the seminary, meaning the Torah.

  2. Read the Shema prayer, meaning the Creator and Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator.

  3. Reminding him of the day of his death, meaning devotion. This is considered Israel, who are likened unto a dove that stretches out its neck. In other words, all three discernments are one unity, called “the Torah and Israel and the Creator are one.”

One can receive assistance from a Rav for the discernment of the Torah and the reading of Shema. However, for the discernment of Israel, which is the circumcision, which is devotion, one has to work alone. And even though there is help from Above for that, too, as our sages said, “and madest a covenant with him,” meaning that the Creator helped him, still man must begin. This is the meaning of “remind him of the day of his death.” We must always remember and never forget, since this is the essence of man’s work.

And concerning the Reshimot that we must leave, by way of Lot’s salvation, it is because of two good separations, which is the meaning of Haman and Mordecai. Mordecai wants only to bestow; he has no need to extend Lights of Gadlut. But through Haman, who wants to swallow all the Lights into his authority, through him, he is the cause that evokes man to draw the Lights of Gadlut.

Yet, after he has already extended the Lights, it is forbidden to receive them in Haman’s vessels, called “vessels of reception,” but only in the vessels of bestowal. This is the meaning of what is written, that the King told Haman, “and do so to Mordecai the Jew.” This is considered the Lights of Haman shining in the vessels of Mordecai.

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