Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ("RaMChaL"):
138 Openings of Wisdom
Completion of Zeir Anpin during Pregnancy, Suckling and Maturity
From the outset Zeir Anpin was built as Ten Sefirot through the binding together of the Mental Powers over the Six Directions - for they did not radiate in this way in the World of Desolation. Zeir Anpin is then described as being in fixed possession of Netzach-Hod-Yesod, while the others still need to be revealed in actuality. The entire period of Pregnancy is a process of gradual preparation little by little to enable Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet to be revealed. Immediately on coming forth from Imma, Zeir Anpin is in fixed possession of Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet, and we say that Chochmah-Binah-Daat are in the process of coming.
To repair Netzach-Hod-Yesod so that Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet can be revealed over them requires the entire period of Pregnancy. And to repair Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet so that Chochmah-Binah-Daat may be revealed over them requires the entire period of Suckling, for this way they are steadily drawn down in stages in the necessary way. Yet even so, the first purification is not truly complete until the elapse of twenty-four months of the period of Suckling, because the purification of Hod-Yesod-Malchut is not complete until that time.
We will now embark on a fuller discussion of the three periods of Pregnancy, Suckling and Mental Maturity.
The proposition divides into three parts. Part 1: From the outset. This presents the concepts of Pregnancy, Suckling and Mental Maturity. Part 2: To repair. This explains the duration of the periods of Pregnancy and Suckling. Part 3: Yet even so the initial purification. Significance of the twenty-four months of Suckling.
Part 1: From the outset Zeir Anpin was built as Ten Sefirot.
Two apparently contradictory teachings are found in the writings of the ARI of blessed memory. In one place it states that during Pregnancy Netzach-Hod-Yesod are repaired, while Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet are repaired during Suckling (Etz Chayim, Shaar Pirkey Hatzelem ch's 1-3). Elsewhere, however, it states that during the Pregnancy it is Chochmah-Binah-Daat, Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet and Netzach that are repaired - leaving Hod-Yesod-Malchut still to be cleansed (Etz Chayim, Shaar RaPaCh ch's 5-6).
To resolve this apparent contradiction, it must be understood that two things had to happen with respect to Zeir Anpin. The first is that Zeir Anpin had to be built on all his levels - i.e. as a structure of Ten Sefirot - through the process of sorting and purification (Heb. birur) from the World of Desolation, as explained in the preceding Opening. (The second thing that had to happen - the successive revelation of these already-built levels in the course of Pregnancy, Suckling and Maturity - will be addressed presently.)
Thus having initially in the World of Desolation consisted of only the Six Directions, Zeir Anpin was now from the very outset of the repair - the beginning of the Pregnancy - built as Ten Sefirot .through the binding together of the Mental Powers over the Six Directions - for they did not did radiate in this way in the World of Desolation. It is now that Zeir Anpin becomes complete with the full complement of Ten Sefirot, because the Mental Powers are bound up with the body, which was not the case at first.
Nevertheless, what is revealed of his Sefirot during the Pregnancy is not what has been repaired. All the Ten Sefirot are repaired from the effects of the desolation, although Hod, Yesod and Malchut still remain to be repaired completely. However, what is revealed in Zeir Anpin during the Pregnancy is only Netzach-Hod-Yesod.
This is clearly the case, because it must be that all the Sefirot are sorted and purified during the Pregnancy. We cannot resolve the contradiction by saying that although Hod-Yesod-Malchut of the overall Netzach-Hod-Yesod still remain to be purified thereafter, it is the rest of the Sefirot of the overall Netzach-Hod-Yesod that were purified during the nine months of Pregnancy. For if so, when does the purification of the other Sefirot - i.e. the overall Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet and Chochmah-Binah-Daat of Zeir Anpin - take place? And indeed we see with our own eyes here in the world below that the entire building of the human body is completed during pregnancy.
Rather, as we have said, the sifting and selection of all the Ten Sefirot of Zeir Anpin takes place during the Pregnancy, but what is revealed in that period is a different matter. For Netzach-Hod-Yesod are revealed during the Pregnancy, while the rest still remain to be revealed.
(Summary: The sorting and purification of all the Ten Sefirot is carried out during the Pregnancy, except that the repair of Hod-Yesod-Malchut is deficient. Nevertheless, only Netzach-Hod-Yesod are revealed during Pregnancy - for the embryo is "like a folded tablet, with only his legs visible" - Niddah 30b, "three within three".)
Zeir Anpin is then described as being in fixed possession of Netzach-Hod-Yesod, while the others still need to be revealed in actuality. This should be clear in the light of what I have written.
The entire period of Pregnancy is a process of gradual preparation little by little to enable Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet to be revealed. Zeir Anpin has Netzach-Hod-Yesod immediately but this is not to say that they are complete, for to be complete they must have Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet revealed over them. The entire period of the Pregnancy is a process of preparation towards this. The reason is because it is impossible for there to be any less than Netzach-Hod-Yesod, and we must therefore say that Netzach-Hod-Yesod are present from the start of the Pregnancy, even though they are not complete until its end. During the Pregnancy, Netzach-Hod-Yesod are steadily prepared to receive Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet at the time of birth.
This enables us to resolve an apparent problem in the teachings of the ARI of blessed memory. For the full period of Suckling (Heb. yenikah) is defined as continuing until the age of thirteen years - only then is Zeir Anpin called mature (Heb. gadol). But that is the time when Chochmah-Binah-Daat complete their entry, not when they start to come. If so it would seem that Zeir Anpin should be called mature immediately after the first twenty-four months of Suckling, for that is when Chochmah-Binah-Daat start to enter.
However we cannot say that this is the correct order - that "Pregnancy" applies to the entire period from the beginning of Netzach-Hod-Yesod until their completion while "Suckling" lasts only from the start of Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet until their completion (i.e. from birth until the conclusion of the first twenty-four months of Suckling), with "Maturity" being from the start of Chochmah-Binah-Daat - at twenty-four months - until their completion at thirteen years.
We cannot define Suckling and Maturity in this way for three reasons:
(1) If Maturity is defined as beginning at the conclusion of twenty-four months of Suckling, which is when Chochmah-Binah-Daat start to come, there would have to be a fourth period after thirteen years, when Chochmah-Binah-Daat are complete. The period of Suckling would then be defined as lasting only for the first twenty-four months and Maturity until thirteen years, while the ensuing period would have to be called by a different name.
(2) This is not what we find in the teachings of the ARI of blessed memory. Rather the term Suckling applies until thirteen years and one day.
(3) If we were to define Suckling and Maturity as above, we would have to say that Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet begin to enter from birth and only complete their entry at twenty-four months, just as Chochmah-Binah-Daat start to enter at twenty-four months and complete their entry at thirteen years. However, here in the world below we see with our own eyes that this is not so. For the embryo is released from the bonds in which he was bent up in his mother's belly "three within three" immediately on emergence from the womb. The baby spreads his arms and legs at once, and thus we see that Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet are already complete at birth without needing the first twenty-four months of Suckling.
Rather we must say that Netzach-Hod-Yesod come at the beginning of the Pregnancy, as soon as the embryo has taken its form at the conclusion of forty days after conception. Just as we see that a person's mental powers of Chochmah-Binah-Daat develop gradually in childhood until he attains full Daat at the age of thirteen (thus becoming liable for his actions), similarly, throughout the period of Pregnancy Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet enter gradually and then, at the very moment of birth, they become revealed completely.
What was built during the Pregnancy is completed during the first twenty-four months of Suckling, this being the period of the purification of Hod-Yesod-Malchut. (As discussed below, although a child has legs at birth, he is unable to walk until later.) From the conclusion of these twenty-four months until thirteen years, Chochmah-Binah-Daat begin to enter, but the entire period from birth until thirteen years - Suckling (Heb. yenikah) and childhood (Heb. katnut) - is called that of Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet. For these are revealed at birth and during this period become increasingly ready to receive Chochmah-Binah-Daat over them. Then at Maturity, Chochmah-Binah-Daat enter completely, and accordingly the period after thirteen years is called Maturity (Heb. gadlut.) Thus the proposition goes on to state:
Immediately on coming forth from Imma, Zeir Anpin is in fixed possession of Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet, and we say that Chochmah-Binah-Daat are in the process of coming.
(Summary: The different periods are not named after what is under repair but rather after what has already been repaired. At the beginning of the Pregnancy Netzach-Hod-Yesod are complete, and accordingly the entire Pregnancy is called Netzach-Hod-Yesod. At the moment of birth, Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet are complete, and accordingly the entire period of Suckling until thirteen years is called Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet. At thirteen years the repair of Chochmah-Binah-Daat is complete, and the ensuing period is therefore called Maturity, Heb. gadlut and Chochmah-Binah-Daat.)
Part 2: To repair Netzach-Hod-Yesod so that Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet can be revealed over them requires the entire period of Pregnancy. Just as the thirteen years and one day are explained as the time needed for Chochmah-Binah-Daat to enter over Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet, similarly the nine months of Pregnancy are the time of preparation for Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet to enter over Netzach-Hod-Yesod. The two periods do not need to be of equal lengths of time, because in each case the time involved depends on the needs of the process.
And to repair Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet so that Chochmah-Binah-Daat may be revealed over them requires the entire period of Suckling. This is clear from the teachings of the ARI of blessed memory about the mystery of the thirteen years and one day. (The term Suckling here refers to the entire period of thirteen years until Maturity.)
.for this way they are steadily drawn down in stages in the necessary way. It is the gradual, stage-by-stage developmental process that determines the time period. The stages in any given case depend on factors intrinsic to that case and the time involved is measured according to that specific gradation. As a general rule, wherever we find a time period specified for some given process, we know that this is the gradation required because of the intrinsic nature of the aspect involved.
Part 3: Yet even so, the first purification is not truly complete. This refers to the actual sorting out and purification of the Sefirot of Zeir Anpin from the World of Desolation. However there is a difference between the process of purification in the Pregnancy and that during Suckling. Initially, in the World of Desolation, destruction held sway and did not allow the levels - the Sefirot - to endure. All the levels of Zeir Anpin emerged from this during the time of the Pregnancy, when he was built as Ten Sefirot, except that Hod-Yesod-Malchut did not emerge completely from ruin. Not that they remained in a literal state of ruin, but they did not complete their exit. For this reason they exist but they cannot carry out their function properly.
Likewise we see that a child has legs but he cannot walk. What is meant by saying that Hod-Yesod-Malchut were not entirely purified during Pregnancy is that these Sefirot were the most ready to become flawed and severely darkened through men's deeds, as explained in various places in connection with the verse "faint all the day" (Lamentations 1:13), where the letters of the Hebrew word for "faint", Heb. DaVaH, spell out the word HOD backwards.
Thus we see that this world has also already emerged from desolation in the sense that it has been created and is no longer "desolation and void". It is just that its "legs" have not been repaired and therefore it has no support and totters time after time. And the sages said, "Because of the nettle the cabbage is hit" (Bava Kama 92a) - which alludes to the way Netzach too becomes darkened because of the flaw in Hod. Thus the various different flaws that exist now in the world all cause a flaw in Hod and darken Netzach. The legs exist - the Torah and commandments exist - but they cannot go - there is no strength in them.
This mode of government must be understood as one in which all of the rest of the Partzuf is complete except for the supports that give it the ability to stand. For Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet are the body of the Partzuf while Netzach and Hod give it support and Yesod and Malchut channel the influence to the lower worlds. Of the two supports, one is complete but one is not. This is so that the world will not be destroyed but there will also be a place for flaws. (For this reason Hod is still not completely repaired and as a result Netzach is also subject to be flawed, because when one leg is flawed the second leg also cannot function properly.) This is also bound up with the various exiles - the main period of exile was in the fifth millennium corresponding to Hod. The flaw in Hod affects Yesod and Malchut, through which the influence is channeled. Netzach and Hod are the secret of the two Messiahs, as stated in the Zohar (Pinchas 252a). This requires a separate process of purification besides the first.
Thus indeed .the initial purification is not truly complete. Although at first sight it would appear that the entire purification was complete, nevertheless this is not so - because there is a faint trace of the desolation that has still not gone away: Hod-Yesod-Malchut have still not emerged completely from the desolation.
.until the elapse of twenty-four months of the period of Suckling. The fact that the child still suckles from his mother shows clearly that he is still in need of the flow of outside influence and still requires sorting out and purification. And thus in the world below the newborn baby has to develop his innate powers, and this he does during suckling.
.because the purification of Hod-Yesod-Malchut is not complete until that time.
138 OPENINGS OF WISDOM INDEX PAGE
by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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