172. "And he made the Efod of gold" (Shemot 39:2), this was already explained. Rabbi Yosi said: The Efod (Eng. 'priestly garment') and the breastplate were as one. FOR THE EFOD IS THE SECRET OF MALCHUT, AND THE BREASTPLATE IS ZEIR ANPIN. It was established that in a place that maintains, NAMELY, WHERE THERE ARE WHOLE MOCHIN, are found the twelve stones, with the names of the children of Yisrael upon them. And they are the twelve high borders, NAMELY, THE TWELVE COMBINATIONS OF YUD HEI VAV HEI, THE SECRET OF CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT EACH INCLUDING THREE COLUMNS, TWELVE ALTOGETHER. All of them are in the secret of the tribes of Yisrael. FOR THE TWELVE TRIBES OF YISRAEL ARE ALSO IN THE SECRET OF THE TWELVE COMBINATIONS OF YUD HEI VAV HEI, TRANSMITTED TO MALCHUT.
173. This is the secret of the verse, "there went the tribes, the tribes of Yah, as a testimony of Yisrael, to give thanks to the Name of Hashem" (Tehilim 122:4). For "there went the tribes" refers to the supernal twelve tribes above, NAMELY THE TWELVE BORDERS OF ZEIR ANPIN, THE ROOTS OF THE TWELVE TRIBES, AS SAID. And these are the tribes of Yah, for this name YUD-HEI is a testimony of Yisrael, A TESTIMONY BEING THE SECRET OF THE FIRST THREE SFIROT.
174. Rabbi Chiya said: 'Tribes' is written twice, "...THE TRIBES, THE TRIBES OF YAH." "There went the tribes" refers to the tribes below IN MALCHUT. "The tribes of Yah" are the tribes above IN ZEIR ANPIN. "A testimony of Yisrael" is the secret of the supernal Holy Name, YAH, called 'testimony', as it is said: "and My testimony that I shall teach them" (Tehilim 132:12). THEREFORE, THERE ARE THE NAMES OF THE TWELVE TRIBES IN THE BREASTPLATE, THE COUNTERPART OF ZEIR ANPIN, AND THERE ARE THE NAMES OF THE TWELVE TRIBES IN THE EFOD, THE COUNTERPART OF MALCHUT. The twelve supernal holy tribes IN ZEIR ANPIN are the twelve holy stones IN THE BREASTPLATE. They are therefore IN THE BREASTPLATE below, as the ones above, and the names of the twelve tribes are engraved upon the stones, carried by the High Priest.
175. Come and see: When Jacob went to Charan, "he took some of the stones of the place, and put them under his head" (Beresheet 28:11). These are the twelve holy stones, CORRESPONDING TO THE TWELVE TRIBES IN MALCHUT, NAMELY CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT, EACH INCLUDING THREE COLUMNS, and all of them became one stone, as it is written, "and this stone, which I have set for a pillar" (Ibid. 22). Why does he call it a stone? Because the twelve stones became the one holy stone, superior to them, NAMELY MALCHUT CALLED 'A STONE', as it is written, "And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be Elohim's house." THEREFORE, THE ASPECT OF THE TWELVE TRIBES IN IT IS ALSO CALLED 'STONES'.
176. For that reason the High Priest carries it always on his heart, to remember them forever, as it is written, "And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Yisrael...upon his heart, for a memorial before Hashem, continually" (Shemot 28:29). Everything is in the secret of twelve. There are twelve supernal STONES, hidden above, stored in the high and holy secret, ZEIR ANPIN. They are the secret of the Torah, NAMELY, ZEIR ANPIN CALLED 'TORAH', and emanate from one thin voice, WHICH IS BINAH. This was established, there are twelve other stones, stored below, IN MALCHUT. They resemble the ones above IN ZEIR ANPIN and emanate from another voice, stone, as it is written, "the shepherd, the Stone of Yisrael" (Beresheet 49:24), NAMELY, MALCHUT.
177. The secret of this verse is explained by the scripture, "and there were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth" (Beresheet 29:3). This refers to the Shechinah called 'a tried stone', "a stone of Yisrael." It is rolled into exile, and "they...put the stone back upon the well's mouth in its place" (Ibid.), AT THE TIME OF REDEMPTION. THE GRADES ISSUING FROM IT are all named after it, stones.
178. There are many KINDS OF stones. There are stones and there are stones. Some stones are the foundation of the house, NAMELY, MALCHUT OF THE ASPECT OF CHOCHMAH CALLED 'HOUSE', THE SECRET OF THE VERSE, "THROUGH WISDOM A HOUSE IS BUILT" (MISHLEI 24:3), as it is written, "And the king commanded, and they carried great stones, costly stones to lay the foundation of the house with hewn stones" (I Melachim 5:31). THE CHOCHMAH AND BINAH IN IT ARE CALLED 'GREAT STONES', COSTLY STONES. And there are high precious stones, twelve in number, in four orders, three to each, towards the four directions. THEY ARE CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT, EACH INCLUDING THREE COLUMNS, AND ALTOGETHER TWELVE. So there were four standards marching in the desert, the twelve tribes, three to each direction of the world, TO THE EAST WERE JUDAH, YISASCHAR, AND ZEBULUN. TO THE SOUTH, REUBEN, SHIMON, AND GAD. TO THE NORTH EPHRAIM, MENASHEH, AND BENJAMIN. TO THE WEST DAN, ASHER AND NAFTALI. THE FOUR DIRECTIONS OF THE WORLD ARE THE SECRET OF CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT, AND THE THREE TRIBES ON EACH DIRECTION ARE THE THREE COLUMNS. All is one secret, and it has been explained.
179. Come and see: When the High Priest wore these twelve stones on the breastplate and on the Efod, the Shechinah dwelt upon him. The names of all the tribes were engraved upon the twelve stones. Each tribe was engraved upon one stone, and the letters were set in the stones. When the stones shone, the letters stood out and illuminated whatever was to be illuminated.
180. In all the names of the tribes there were not to be found the letters Chet, Tet, THE LETTERS OF SIN (HEB. CHET), because there was no sin to be found in them. Rabbi Chizkiyah said: If Chet causes this, FOR THE NAME 'CHET' MEANS DESCENT OR CENSER (HEB. MACHTA), it is well FOR IT NOT TO BE WITHIN THE NAMES OF THE TRIBES, but 'Tet' is a good letter. And we learned that whoever sees the letter Tet in his dream, it is a good sign, for the Torah commences with "that it was good," as it is written, "and Elohim saw the light, that it was (Heb. tov) good" (Beresheet 1:14). If it is a good letter, why is it not found in the names of the tribes?
181. He said to him: It is because these two letters are adjacent [in the alphabet]. NAMELY, THEIR BEING ADJACENT IS INDICATION OF SIN (HEB. CHET), FOR THAT REASON THEY WERE NOT AMONG THE NAMES OF THE TRIBES. Also, the letter Tet is hidden and concealed, AS IT INDICATES YESOD OF BINAH. It illuminates with the light of all, and there is no light to be found except from this letter, BECAUSE ALL THE LIGHTS ISSUE FROM YESOD OF BINAH, as it is written, "and Elohim saw the light, that it was good," good being the illumination of that hidden and concealed light WITHIN THE LETTER TET. It is concerning THIS LETTER that is written, "no good thing will He withhold from those who walk upright" (Tehilim 84:12), referring to the light of all the tribes. SINCE IT IS SO CONCEALED IT IS NOT FOUND IN THE TRIBES. Also, all the twelve tribes come out of that concealed compartment, YESOD OF BINAH, in the secret of the letter Tet and therefore, it is hidden and concealed, and not seen IN THE TRIBES.