איש and אשה

We are so accustomed to these words that many people do not even think about the question, what sense they have themselves. Already in the first chapter the Torah describes the creation of man as “zahar” and “nekeva” (male and female). If all gender differences in humans can be described in the words “zahar” and “nekeva,” then why did the Torah introduce the additional concepts of “ish” and “isha?” In this regard, let's recall the words of “Kuzari” (4:25). “Spoken or written words have certain advantages over each other. In some cases the name fits the object exactly; in others less so. The language created by God, which He taught Adam and placed on his tongue and in his heart, is without any doubt the most perfect and most fitted to express the things specified.” All of this pushes us to a deeper analysis of the text of the Torah.

We'll start from the differences between the two stories about the creation of man. It is said in the first chapter of the Torah, where it refers to the creation of the material world and all that fills it, “So Elohim created man in his own image, in the image of Elohim created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). The name “Elohim,” as we know, symbolizes the manifestation of God as the Creator of the laws of nature, realizing his plan in the world by means of the same laws. As the sages taught, the similarity of the gematria of the name “Elohim” and the word “הטבע” (Nature) points to this. So, the first chapter of the Torah speaks about creating humans as a biological species, that is, the human like all in the wildlife is created as a male and a female. The second chapter of the Torah, which tells of the creation of one man and his division into man and woman, has already misled many people. It is necessary to refer to the Names of God to understand the sense of this story correctly. The name “HaShem10 Elohim” already appears in this chapter. When the name “HaAhem” is used alone in the Torah, it symbolizes the supernatural aspect (for example, in the story about the burning bush), in which the manifestation of God in the world is not constrained by the laws of nature. But in this chapter the name “HaShem” is used not alone, but in combination with the name “Elohim,” which points to inseparable connection between the Supernatural and the Natural. It speaks about man in the singular, namely in this context, and the concepts of “ish” and “isha,” appearing in this regard, also speak about going beyond the biological forms.

So, what information do the words “ish” and “isha” contain? Let's turn to the text. “...she shall be called אשה, because she was taken out of איש” (Genesis 2:23). The “plain sense” raises many questions. Why אשה was taken out of איש, but the word איש appears in the text only after the word אשה? Why are two of the letters common for them, and one different? Why do different letters occupy different places in the word?

It's the time to return to “Kol Yehuda.” The author of this comment talks about identity of the אמ"ש and אש"ם concepts in “Sepher Yetzirah” and of the איש and אשה concepts in the Torah. If, in the word אמ"ש, we replace the letter מ, symbolizing Water, Cold and Belly (or, rather, underbelly) with י (yud, a symbol of masculinity), according to “Sepher Yetzirah” we'll get the word איש. If, in the word אש"ם, we replace the same letter מ with ה (hey, a symbol of the feminine), we'll get the word אשה. Using this key, we'll be able to understand what is said in the Torah with help of “Sepher Yetzirah,” and the what is said in “Sepher Yetzirah” — with help of the Torah.

If we put אמ"ש and אש"ם over the body image, we'll get:

Arrows indicate the sequence of the letters in אמ"ש and אש"ם. What does this sequence symbolize? As stated above, Maharitz calls it the אמ"ש “forces.” Hence, here the issue can be either in the sequence of the “turning on” of forces not connected with each other (like traffic lights), or in movement of forces. “Sepher Yetzirah” himself (3:2) points to the correctness of the second understanding, calling the different sequences of the three letters אמ"ש “rings.” Yechezkel also points to the circular movement in his vision, repeating twice. “...for the spirit (Ruah) of the living creature was in the wheels” (Ezekiel 1:20, 21). Under Maharitz, we can consider this movement at different levels. In this paper, we'll limit ourselves by the Nefesh level (according to the classical kabbalistic system) or the energy level (according to the scheme, described in the chapter “The Complex approach of Kind David”).

Let's proceed to the next stage. We shall join the אמ"ש and אש"ם schemes.

We see from the figure that the power contact, which began with א, has looped the energy of two beings in one circle, one energy entity. It remains to replace אמ"ש and אש"ם with איש and אשה — and then it becomes clear not only why the Torah in the second chapter speaks about the creation of man in the singular, but also the following, “Therefore shall a man (ish) leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife (ishto11): and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). “And shall cleave” in Hebrew וידבק, from the noun דבקות (Dvekut), the word used to describe the highest degree of unity. “Shall be one flesh” is a literary translation. The original in Hebrew carries a much deeper sense, “shall be to the united flesh” (לבשר אחד). On the hand, the preposition “to” indicates directed movement (of energy, emotions, etc.) and on the other hand, makes it impossible to understand this phrase in a physical sense.

So, the given scheme describes the harmony between man and woman, and puts these relationships beyond the scope of biological connections between the two sexes (male and female).

  1. This means the unutterable Four-letter Name, called the Tetragrammaton.
  2. “Ishto” is the same thing as “isha shelo,” that is, “his wife.”