In Bilam's prophesizing about the Jewish people, he says:
"I gaze and see the [Jewish] people from the top of rocks, I behold them from the hills." Our Sages comment:
"I gaze and see the [Jewish] people from the top of rocks -- this refers to the Patriarchs; I behold them from the hills -- this refers to the Matriarchs."
There is a distinct difference between the roles played by a father and mother in the creation and formation of their child:
The obvious connection between a father and his child is merely a general one -- the father is responsible for the overall aspect of the child's creation, without being responsible for the specific division into individual and particular limbs and organs. This latter aspect is more closely related to the mother, as all this is achieved through gestation.
Because of the close and intimate nine-month connection between mother and child, the mother remains closer than the father to the child even after birth. This is why a child will love his mother more than his father and fears his father more than his mother, inasmuch as love emanates from closeness and fear results from distance.
So, too, regarding the relationship of the Jewish people as a whole with their collective "parents," the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs: the connection with the Matriarchs is mainly one of love, the association with the Patriarchs is based more on awe.
This is why the term used regarding the Patriarchs is that of "gazing" from afar -- "I gaze ... from the top of rocks", as fear and awe cause one to be at a distance. In contrast, the term "I behold," which bespeaks closeness rather than distance is used when referring to the Matriarchs, as love results in a feeling of nearness and proximity.
All matters physical are rooted in their spiritual source. That is to say, the creation and birth of a physical child from its physical father and mother is rooted in the creation and birth of a spiritual "child" from its spiritual "parents" -- the creation and birth of the soul powers of emotion, from the soul powers of intellect:
Meditating upon and pondering G-d's greatness -- intellect -- inevitably creates and gives birth to feelings of love and awe of G-d. Thus, the emotive attributes, i.e., love and awe of G-d, are deemed children borne of their intellectual parents.
The intellect that gives birth to these emotions is itself divided into two parts: chochmah -- the seminal point of the concept, and binah -- the amplification, particulars and ramifications of the intellectual concept. As the seminal point, chochmah is termed the "father" of the emotions, while binah with its power to amplify and develop the nucleus of chochmah is termed the "mother" of the emotions.
These soul powers of intellect and emotion also possess a spiritual source -- the Ten Sefiros found above, from which these soul powers derive. There too, this same order exists: The emotive Sefiros -- those that serve as the vehicle for Creation -- are the progeny of the divine Sefiros of Chochmah and Binah.
Chochmah is the "father" of the emotive Sefiros, standing at a distance from the emotive Sefiros and most certainly distant from the worlds that are created through the emotive Sefiros. Binah, on the other hand, is the "mother," and like a mother is close to the emotive Sefiros, as well as to the worlds created through them.
Consequently, the view of the degree of the worlds' nullification to G-dliness varies from Chochmah to Binah: Since Binah is closer to creation, Binah's perspective only brings about within Creation a lower degree of nullification; only within Chochmah, completely removed as it is from the world, is there felt the extreme degree of nullification wherein "He alone exists -- there is nothing else aside from Him."
Since the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are the parents of all Jews, it follows that each of us possesses both levels of nullification -- the complete nullification of Chochmah emanating from our fathers, the Patriarchs, as well as the partial nullification to G-dliness of Binah, emanating from our mothers, the Matriarchs.
It is these two distinct levels that the verse speaks to when it states "I gaze and see the [Jewish] people from the top of rocks, I behold them from the hills." "I gaze" from the distance of Chochmah refers to the level of nullification of the Patriarchs; "I behold" from the nearness of Binah refers to the lesser degree of nullification of the Matriarchs.
Notwithstanding the overall supremacy of the level of the Patriarchs, there also exists a superiority in the degree of the Matriarchs:
G-d's ultimate intent is that the physical world be transformed into a dwelling for Him. This is not accomplished by transcending and wholly nullifying the world -- the level of the Patriarchs, but specifically by transforming the existing world into a vessel for G-dliness -- the level of the Matriarchs.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, pp. 1067-1069.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 23:9.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar Rabbah 20:19; Tanchuma, Balak 12; Zohar, Vol. III, p. 210b.
- (Back to text) See Tanya ch. 2.
- (Back to text) See Kiddushin 30b.
- (Back to text) See Rashi, Bamidbar 19:26.
- (Back to text) See Tanya ch. 3; Bi'urei HaZohar (Admur HaEmtzaei), Balak 103b.
- (Back to text) See Tanya, ibid.
- (Back to text) Tanya, note to ch. 35.
- (Back to text) See Torah Or, Va'eira, p. 55a.