We start off with a definition of terms and listing of some details. A Partzuf comes about by a single light, i.e., Sephira, expanding outward and revealing all of its aspects as a single order i.e., in human configuration, in which certain parts remain interior aspects, i.e., the Mochin (“minds”), others remain exterior, i.e., the vessels, some parts are high, and others are low. Then we determine they’re interconnected thusly: All of them are connected into a single order in order to be joined to one another and to be governed by one overarching form of governance, each part in accordance with its own function. There are 613 parts to each Partzuf all in all, each of which is then comprised of several smaller parts needed for its perfection (Petach 70).
There’s a discussion of anthropomorphism beginning with the statement that the arrangement of the lights, i.e., the Sephirot, of the Partzuf, their interconnections and everything about them are just like the arrangement of the limbs and organs of a human body. That’s to say, everything that exists in man i.e., when it comes to his organs, has a corresponding aspect in the lights in the Partzufim above (Petach 71).
And we learn that the anthropomorphism also touches on gender (and subtler-yet differences where that’s concerned), as we’re told that some of the Partzufim are “male” and others “female”. That is, some of them, the “male” ones, act as a conduit for Chessed and others i.e., the “female” ones, act as a conduit for Gevurah. But when they conjoin, both forms of conduction combine and “give birth” to the desired action, as there’s nothing that isn’t a combination of the two qualities of Chessed and Gevurah. Yet there are certain differences between the lights of “male” and “female” as well as real differences in their processes. But when it comes to differences in form, there are real differences indeed, but only in the lights that are involved in the conduction process, namely the two respective Yesods. Since they act as conduction agents, as all the different, i.e., other, parts of the Partzuf are drawn to them i.e., the respective Yesods, in order to act as conduits in keeping with their own processes (Petach 72).
Then we’re instructed in the essential role played by gender in all this, given that perfection is achieved with the conjugation of “male” and “female” aspects, and with the conduction of the Divine flow through that conjugation. As such, when “male” and “female” are close to each other, that indicates a level of perfection that requires no service on the part of the lower entities. And when they are further apart from each other, that indicates a need for i.e., or a lack of, perfection and for the need for service on the part of the lower entities (Petach 73).
We’ll explore all of this, point by point.
(c) 2014 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).