In general, there are three levels of the second type of thought, which is graspable, analytical thought.
1) The lowest level is Leah, which constitutes the letters of thought. These are the letters themselves. The letters, in and of themselves, have no meaning. For example, a child who knows the alphabet can copy the letters of this book, without even realizing that there is any meaning behind them. Another example of this is the fact that something could be said in one language which has a different meaning in another language. In Chinese, for instance, “cow” means “dog”, but in English, “cow” means “cow”. As we see, the letters themselves are quite external to the meaning. Even when they are placed in the same order, “cow”, they mean different things in different languages. These are the letters of thought, which are called Leah.
2) The next level is Malchut of Tvunah. This is the level of the inner letters, i.e. the meaning. For example, if you hear the word “cow”, there is an inner meaning there. You think of a cow rather than a cat. If we sing “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” there is the simple meaning of the words which every child understands. This level is also called Machshevet Sechel (Thought of the Intellect). However, the Machshevet Sechel is also a vessel for the following level;
3) The next level is Machshavah Iyunit, (Analytical thought). This is the thought of Binah. This is when we take the same ditty, “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”, and analyze it, to understand its deeper meaning. To do this we must begin with the straightforward meaning of the Machshevet Sechel (Thought of the Intellect). First we surmise that the first part of the sentence, “Row your boat gently down the stream” must be related to the second part of the sentence, “Merrily, life is but a dream”, since they are two parts of a single statement. Next, we attempt to understand its deeper meaning, by analyzing the relationship between the two parts of the statement and the components of each part, until we have a flash of Chochmah(Insight) into the inner meaning of the song.
We now understand that there is a profound philosophical statement about life in this song. The “stream” is the flow of life, which, as a stream, flows in only one direction. Time only goes forward. It is impossible to turn the clock of our life backwards. The “boat” represents the body, which is the vessel for the soul as long as it remains in the physical world. Another word for a boat is a “vessel”. To “Row” the boat means to direct it. This should be done “gently”, which means, “easygoing”. This means that we should take the ups and downs of life in an accepting, trusting fashion. Finally, “Merrily, life is but a dream” means to be happy with life and take advantage of its opportunities while we still can because it does not last forever.
Now, during the entire process of analysis, the Machshevet Sechel (Thought of the intellect) is a vessel for the Machshava Iyunit (Analytical Thought). This is because throughout the analysis one is thinking into the meaning of the words. After all, what is being analyzed is the simple straightforward meaning of the words. It is specifically the meaning of the words which can contain the deeper, analytical meaning. For example, the reader of this book presently has all three levels in his mind:
- The letters themselves (Leah)
- The letters of meaning (Machshevet Sechel or Malchut of Tvunah)
- The letters of analysis. (Machshava Iyunit of Binah)
The letters of thought contain the letters of the meaning, and the letters of the meaning contain the letters of the analysis. Furthermore, once one has the flash of Chochmah, mentioned above, and realizes the inner meaning of the song, it too is a meaning. Furthermore, every time he hears that song in the future, that will be the new simple, straightforward meaning which will come to mind. This is to say that the Machshavah Iyunit (Analytical Thought) is contained in the Machshevet Sechel (Thought of Intellect) and the Chochmah (Insight) which is caused through the Machshava Iyunit (Analytical Thought) becomes the new simple meaning. All of this is enclothed within the letters of thought which are called Leah.