Audio LecturesShoftim

Shoftim: The Seven Paths of the Tree of the Field

Summaries, Charts, Translations and aids
for recorded lectures by Rabbi Ginsburgh

The Weekly Torah Portion of: Shoftim

The image of man as the tree of the field in this week's Torah portion is the image of a potent energy field. What is this energy, and where should it be directed? In this audio meditation, Rabbi Ginsburgh guides us through a meditation on the tree of the field. When we contemplate on this image, we arrive at a deeper understanding of how to direct our potent energies, and where all the paths of our service of God should lead us – to know Him in every facet of our lives.
The following is a written summary of the audio lecture
for the Torah Portion of Shoftim (#E_032).
Click here to listen to the lecture.

The Image of the Tree

At the end of the Torah portion of Shoftim, the Torah describes the dynamics of the laws of battle. If a siege is placed on a city in the Land of Israel in order to conquer it, the Torah forbids us to destroy its fruit trees. To support this prohibition, the Torah explains (Deuteronomy 20:19):

"man is likened to the tree of the field"
Ki ha'adam eitz hasadeh

In the Torah (Genesis 1:26) we learn that God created man in His image (tzelem). Significantly, the numerical value of the Hebrew word eitz ("tree") is 160, identical to the numerical value oftzelem. The tree of the field is the image of man created in God's image.


Da'at and the Nervous System

The numerical value of the Hebrew expression eitz hasadeh ("the tree of the field") is 160 (eitz) plus 314 (hasadeh), which equals 474. 474 is the numerical value of da'at ("knowledge"). Da'atis the most central and all inclusive of the sefirot. It is knowledge or consciousness, an all-inclusive state of the soul that unites intelligence and emotion. The power of da'at creates unity within the mind, but its ultimate purpose is to unite all the mental and emotive faculties of the soul.

In Kabbalah and Chassidut, we learn that every physiological system corresponds to a supernal sefirah. The sefirah of da'at corresponds to the nervous system. More than any other physiological system, the nervous system, which conveys the electrical impulses of knowledge throughout the body, can be envisioned as a tree. The trunk is the spinal column, and the branches are the nerves.


The Energy Field

The word hasadeh ("of the field"), spelled heishindalet, hei, shares two letters, shin anddalet with God's Name, Shakai (shin, dalet, yud). The remaining two letters of hasadeh, the twohei's, each equal 5. When they are combined, they equal 10, equal to the remaining letter ofShakai, yud.

God's holy Name, Shakai, represents energy — the power to project force outward. The tree of the field, representing da'at, the nervous system in man, is an energy field.

God's Name, Shakai, also corresponds to the sefirah complementary to da'at — yesodThesefirah of yesod is the foundation of all the sexual energies of man. In Kabbalah and Chassidut we learn that there is a close interdependence between the proper function of the nervous system and the proper use of our creative energies, as represented by yesod. When we meditate on the tree of the field, we must consider the field to be an energy field, directing our potent, creative yesod energies, by the means of the force field of da'at.  


The Key to the Chambers of the Heart

As above, the phrase eitz hasadeh equals da'at, 474. When we divide 474 by the six letters ofeitz hasadeh, we see that the average value of each letter is 79. 79 is the numerical value ofdei'ah, which shares a root with da'at. Maimonides, in his Code of Jewish Law, devoted an entire section of his work to the laws of dei'ot, "the attributes of the heart." Thus, there are six expressions of dei'ah in da'atDa'at, consciousness, is the key that opens the six doors to the six chambers of the heart (dei'ot). Each chamber is an attribute of the heart, an emotive characteristic. Eitz hasadeh, the tree of the field, is the key to all of our emotive characteristics.


Serene Pleasure  

The word eitz is also equal to the word noam, (nunayinmem), which means "pleasantness" or "sublime pleasure." Thus, the phrase eitz hasadeh, our consciousness (da'at) can also be understood as noam Shakai, the "serene pleasure of the Almighty." We must see man as a tree of the field, whose nervous system directs his creative energies to manifest as Godly serenity.


The Serene Pleasure of Knowing God in all our Ways

The two words of the phrase noam Shakai have six letters, three in each word. In the Kabbalistic system called ribua prati, we multiply each letter of the first word by its counterpart in the second word. This allows us to understand deeper associations of the phrase. We will multiply the phrase noam Shakai in ribua prati as follows:

nun (=50) shin (=300) 50 x 300 = 15,000
ayin (=70) dalet (=4) 70 x 4 = 280
mem (=40) yud (=10) 40 x 10 = 400


The sum of noam Shakai in ribua prati is 15,680 — ten times 1,568, which is 2 times 28 squared.

Our sages teach that there is one verse in the Bible that succinctly expresses our service of God as it should be perfected in our consciousness. In  Proverbs 3:6  it is written:

Bchol drachecha da'eihu v'hu yeyasher orchotecha
"In all your ways, know Him,
and He will straighten your paths"
(For a deeper understanding listen to Rabbi Ginsburgh's audio lecture on this verse)

Integral to this verse is the word da'eihu ("know Him"), from the root of da'at. Our goal must be to know God in all the paths of our lives — whether at war, as in this week's Torah portion, or in times of peace and prosperity — from the summit of the sublime to the monotony of the mundane.

The verse says to know God in all your ways. God's ways are the ways of His commandments.Your ways are all the minute details that weave the fabric of our lives. Whether at work, while eating or even while we sleep, we must know God and be conscious of His presence in our lives and in our every action. If we do so, God promises that He will then straighten all our paths.


The Seven Paths

The numerical value of the verse:

Bchol drachecha da'eihu v'hu yeyasher orchotecha

is 1568 — 2 times 28 squared. The full value of noam Shakai is ten times this verse. "Bchol drachecha daéihu v'hu yeyasher orchotecha" expresses the experience of knowing God in every facet of our lives with all the ten powers of our souls.

If we divide1568 by 7 we get 224, the numerical value of derech ("path"). In Kabbalah and Chassidut it is explained that there are 7 paths in which each soul root can properly serve God. The verse "In all your ways, know Him, and He will straighten your paths" encompasses all 7 paths. When we connect to the image of man as a tree of the field, we can direct all of our creative energies to one goal — to know God in all our ways and to spread His consciousness throughout the world

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