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Wisdom and Understanding: The Menorah and the Table of the Showbread

So far our model (partzuf) has been relatively straightforward with a single word, phrase, or verse corresponding to each part of the sefirah of crown. But, as we now go downwards in the chart of the sefirot, we will see a more complex relationship between the sefirot and the phrases that equal 771. One of the requirements relating to the layout of the sanctuary in the Tabernacle (and later in the Temple in Jerusalem) is that, the Menorah [must be] facing the Table of the Showbread9 ( ;) the value of this phrase is 771. Note that in the original Hebrew these 3 words have a symmetric structure: 5, 3, and 5 letters, respectively. Their initials spell the word behold ( ,) an expression of revelation whose numerical value is 60, alluding to the 60 letters of the Priestly Blessing.10 The gematria of the middle word, facing ( ) is 78, which is 3 times the value of Gods essential Name, Havayah ( ,) alluding to the three instances of Havayah found in the Priestly Blessing. What do the Menorah and the Table represent in terms of the sefirot? Usually, the Menorah is related to loving-kindness, as it is placed in the southern part of the sanctuary, referred to in the Torah as the right side, or loving-kindness. Following the same reasoning, the Table, placed near the northern wall of the sanctuary, the left side, corresponds to might. However, the sages explain that the Menorah and the Table are sources of wisdom and wealth. In their words, One who wants to grow wise should go south, one who wants to grow wealthy should go north.11 The Menorah, from which emanates the light of wisdom to the sanctuary and from there to the entire world is placed in the south, thereby linking the south (this includes the south of the Land of Israel as well) with wisdom. In the same vein, the Table of the Showbread is considered the source of all physical sustenance and wealth. It is the table of the Almighty from which the priests ate the bread once a week on the Shabbat and through whom Divine sustenance for the rest of the world flows.12 Thus, this particular verse centers not merely on the physical location of the Menorah and the Table of Showbread, but on the revelation that emanates out of the space that lies between them, as implied also in the two allusions to the Priestly Blessing. In other words, this phrase describes a state of balance between the sources of wisdom and wealth. What this tells us is that in the coming year we should strive to balance the revelation of the physical and spiritual in our lives. We should work to attain a state of harmony between our spiritual and physical wealth.

Sometimes, spiritual and physical effluence are described metaphorically as light and sustenance ( ,) respectively, which themselves correspond to the two intellectual sefirot of wisdom and understanding, or the father and mother principles. Looking for instance at chapter 31 of the Book of Proverbs, we clearly see that the father/husbands role is to provide for spirituality and wisdom and the mother/wifes role is to cultivate the familys physical wealth. Of course, the balance between wisdom and understanding, located on opposite sides (right and left) of the sefirot chart, is struck by the sefirah of knowledge, located on the middle axis between them. In our phrase, knowledge corresponds to the word facing ( ,) which as we mentioned is equal to 78, also the gematria of the word bread ( ,) the primary source of knowledge and consciousness in reality.