In discussing the dynamics of the spiritual dimension of reality, the Ari”zal makes frequent use of the male-female metaphor. This is because the basic concept of creation is duality, beginning with the fundamental duality of the Creator and His creation. G-d is one, but He has created a world that appears to exist outside of Him, and this automatically sets up a tension between the existential consciousness of creation as being a separate, independent reality and its consciousness (or lack of consciousness) of its origin in and dependence upon Him. G-d and creation yearn to reunite with each other since this reunion expresses the original, perfect state that existed prior to creation. Yet both G-d and creation are conscious of the fact the world was created for a purpose, and the “business” of this situation must be attended to in order for the ultimate union of G-d and creation to occur on an even deeper level than existed originally. Along the way, however, besides the underlying yearning for ultimate fulfillment that informs the entire process of life, there are the ups and downs of periods of partial reunion followed by renewed enforced estrangement. Thus, the underlying dynamic of life is one of yearning, passion, and romance. In the dynamic of duality, G-d assumes the role of the male and creation that of the female. The male is “trapped” in His consciousness of the ideal, original state of reality. His challenge in working toward the reunion is “get out of his head,” to realize and yearn for the superior fulfillment that is possible only through uniting with what the female represents. The female, in contrast, is “trapped” in her consciousness of perfecting created reality. Her challenge is to remember the goal towards which she is working, to reveal the subconscious yearnings of her heart to transcend created reality. Although, as we said, G-d is generally assigned the role of the male and creation that of the female, the male-female dynamic is replayed throughout all levels of created reality. In other words, every level of creation has its male and female aspects—the part of it that represents the orientation towards abstract perfection and the part of it that represents the orientation towards concretizing and manifesting perfection in reality. The final, lowest manifestation of this duality is, of course, man and woman in our physical world.
This metaphor is “replicated” in the Mishkan/Tabernacle, which was built (to be likened) to the physical body. In the same way as a person’s consciousness (literally “brain”) influences from within its encasing, so too the holy spirit is made within a body. This is the secret of the holy Shechina that contains the Above and Below, the secret of the holy spirit, that is connected in the spiritual world and revealed in the physical world. The Shechina is always drawn down from the spiritual to manifest in the physical; this is the secret of the Tabernacle as a “body” built to receive the “brain” within its shell. This was all done in accordance with Moses’ vision. The holy spirit of the Shechina, became dressed, as it were, in the body of the Tabernacle. This was in order that a different spirit would be infused in it – a higher finer brightness – the light from the name Havayah, the “masculine aspect” of G‑d. All was united together and included one within the other, entering and dressing each within the other, until the Shechina united with this world, which is the outermost shell from the spiritual world. This “dressing” represents the drawing down of the Infinite into the finite through a series of layers such as those that were the skins over the Tabernacle.
The shell of This World is the most physically manifested of all [the three shells that are the contraction of the spiritual light which seem to create entities separate from their source. These shells, or klipot, are) like the shells of the walnut growing on its tree. The outer, green shell, is not the hardest shell (it is soft and damp), whereas the shell beneath it is hard (like wood); this is like the negative spirit (i.e. tendencies) that govern the physical body. Beneath this shell is another, finer, shell – the membrane which covers the brain [the source of the spirit and consciousness in man.
There is so much more, but for now, this will suffice.
Baruch Ad-nai Amen v’Amen