Before we can explain the letters of thought (Leah) and the letters of speech (Rachel), we must first explain “The voice of Yaakov”. There is an inner, unheard voice and an outer, heard voice. The voice is made up of three elements, Aish (fire), Mayim (water) and Ruach (air or vapor). Water corresponds to Chesed (Kindness), fire corresponds to Gevurah (Sternness), and vapor corresponds to Tiferet (Compassion). Just as the voice is made up of these three physical elements, likewise the “breath of the heart” (Hevel HaLev) itself includes these three elements, but in a more refined and spiritual form. These are the heartfelt emotions of kindness (Chesed), sternness(Gevurah) and compassion (Tiferet). This can be understood as follows. When a person is happy, the light and influence of the kindness of his heart (Chesed) spreads forth. In contrast, when he is sad, he becomes introverted and reserved. This is Gevurah, which is the lack of the spreading forth of light and influence. Tiferet, on the other hand, is an intermediary conduct which includes both Chesed and Gevurah. Now, the physical composition of the voice is affected by the emotional composition in the heart. If there is an excess of Gevurah, his voice will have much fire in it and will be dry and raspy. If there is an excess of Chesed, his voice will have much water in it and will be clear and bell like. Tiferet, which is the intermediary between Chesed and Gevurah, will produce a voice which is a mixture of fire and water. According to the composition of the emotions will be the composition of the voice.
It is also clear that a person’s voice reveals the admixture of his or her inner emotions. From the sound of the voice itself, it is possible for one to hear if one is happy, sad, angry, hurt, joyful, or nervous etc. For example, a husband comes home from work and realizes that his wife is upset. He asks her, “What’s wrong, Honey?” She replies, “Nothing!” Now, even though according to her words, nothing is wrong, he can, nonetheless, hear the emotions in her voice which bespeak otherwise. This matter of being able to discern a person’s emotions from his or her voice is true even if the hearer does not understand the language of the speaker. All this is in regard to the “external voice” (The emotions) which may be heard in the voice. (This unification of the emotions with the letters of speech is called, “The unification of Yaakov and Rachel”, as will be explained shortly.)
Now, there is also an inner voice which cannot be heard in the speech. This is the aspect of the “Intellect of the emotions”. The intellect of the emotions is not made up of “audible” fire (Sternness), water (Kindness) and air (Compassion). In other words, one may be able to hear the anger in someone’s voice but not the reason for the anger. Now although it is true that the “Intellect of the emotions” is also a composite of Chesed, Gevurah and Tiferet, nonetheless, they exist in the innerness of the heart (rather than its externality, as mentioned above). These emotions of the inner heart are influenced by the inner voice of Binah (Comprehension and Understanding), which is drawn from the brain to the heart. As we said above, the reasoning for the emotions, which gives rise to the emotions, is not heard in the voice itself, as in the case of the husband who can hear that something is wrong in his wife’s voice. Nonetheless, he is incapable of hearing what it is that is bothering her. This is the “inner voice” which cannot be heard in the audible voice.