A Woman’s Honor: The Gates of Livelihood – Rabbi Zamir Cohen

A Woman’s Status According to Kabbalah

According to Kabbalah, a woman is the secret (b’sod) of the tenth Sefirah, Malchut (kingship), which is the bechinah, or aspect of, the Divine Presence; the final hei (ה) in God’s holy Name, also known as the Tetragrammaton (Shem Havaya”h); and she is also compared to the Olam Ha’asiyah, “the world of doing.

“There are four worlds: Atzilut, Briah, Yetzirah and Asiyah (אבי”ע), and the Olam Ha’asiyah is the world we, humans, dwell in. Each of these four worlds receives its light and sustenance (bounty, or shefa) from the one above it. As such, the Sefirah of Malchut, which is the last Sefirah, receives its light from the Sefirah above it (Yesod). So too, the Olam Ha’asiyah (represented by the last hei [ה] in God’s Name), receives 
its bounty from the worlds preceding it (which stand for the other three letters in God’s Name). And as all other Sefirot and worlds also receive their light from the one above them, at the same time, they also give light to the one below them.

This is the case for the Sefirah of Malchut and for Olam Ha’asiyah, because they are the last. We find that they are likened to receivers (bechinat mekablim). All four worlds — Atzilut, Briah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah — are each made up of ten Sefirot (spheres) and four worlds, and “birthed,” so to speak, from the Sefirah of Malchut and the Olam Ha’asyiah, i.e., the bottom or last of the preceding world.

For example, Olam HaBriah is “birthed” from the Olam Ha’asiyah, and the Sefirah of Malchut from the Olam Ha’atzilut that precedes it, and the same is true for all four worlds. From here we learn that Asiyah and Malchut are likened to the soil that receives water and then “gives birth” to all that grows from it. The sky, continuing the comparison, is likened to a giver (mashpia) and the earth, a receiver (mekabel), and the sky is likened to a male and the earth to a female.

This is the mystical reason (sod) why many people say, “Leshem Yichud Kudsha Brich Hu U’Shechintei — For the sake of the unification between the Holy One Blessed be He and His Divine Presence,”to unite God and His Divine Presence, before praying or before many of the mitzvot. Through this unification, God (Who is hinted at in the first two letters of Shem Havaya”h, (see R’ Shimon Bar Yochai in Pesichat Eliyahu) sends down his bounty to the likeness (bechinat) of the Divine Presence by combining of the letters in Shem Havaya”h. This is why a woman is likened to the Divine Presence. Like the Amora R’ Yosef, when he heard his mother’s footsteps approaching, he would say, “I will get up, for the Divine Presence is coming” (Kiddushin 31b).

A Woman’s Honor: The Gates of Livelihood

Our Sages say: “A person should always be careful with his wife’s honor, because blessing does not rest in a man’s home but for his wife,” (Bava Metzia 59a). As it says (Genesis 12:15), “And He benefited Avram for her sake.” This is also what Rava told the people in Mechuza: “Honor your wives so you will become wealthy.” We also find this in the Holy Zohar (Genesis 49b): “One who honors his wife receives great bounty and is guarded from evil.”

The explanation for these sayings, according to mysticism (sod), is that the root of a woman, as we said earlier, is in the Sefirah of Malchut. She (Malchut) is the source of bounty and blessing, and is the likeness of the Divine Presence. So when a person honors his wife, refrains from speaking hurtful words, avoids hurtful behavior, praises and compliments her, listens to her attentively, and makes sure she has the clothing and jewelry that she needs or is accustomed to, he is honoring not only her, but also her root in the Sefirah of Malchut.

Through proper behavior towards his wife as delineated above, he merits a blessing in his money, which also has its root in the fertile Sefirah of Malchut.   (And because the letter nun is the root of the Sefirah of Malchut, it also has, parallel to the letter hei, the power of fertility and livelihood. And indeed, the word nun in Hebrew is from the root of nin, meaning grandchild, as well as ninei, fish in Aramaic, which multiply very rapidly). 

Many people, unfortunately unaware of this mystical concept, delay marriage for financial reasons. They never manage to set themselves up financially, and therefore miss out on marriage. They don’t realize that if they marry at the right time and honor their wives properly, the blessing of bountiful livelihood will come in its own time. Married men who are looking for a way out of their financial problems don’t realize that the problems stem from their behavior towards their wives. If they would honor them properly, their money problems would disappear.

Adapted from 'Happily Married – The Complete Guide to a Successful Jewish Marriage' For Men, by Rabbi Zamir Cohen. Click Here to Buy Now


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