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The Ten Sefirot of the Kabbalah

© 1995 by Eliezer Segal http://www.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Sefirot/Sefirot.html


The Jewish mystical doctrine known as "Kabbalah" (="Tradition") is distinguished by its
theory of ten creative forces that intervene between the infinite, unknowable God ("Ein Sof")
and our created world.

Through these powers God created and rules the universe, and it is by influencing them that
humans cause God to send to Earth forces of compassion (masculine, right side) or severe
judgment (feminine, left side).
Keter Elyon
Translation
The Supreme Crown

Description
Keter is the uppermost aspect of the Sefirot that can be contemplated by humans.

Even so, this Sefirah is rarely discussed by the Kabbalists.

Later traditions speak of it radiating 620 "pillars of light."

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)

• Crown
• The hoary head.
• The hairs of the beard.

Names of God

• The point at the tip of the letter "yod" in the Tetragrammaton (the four-letter name of
God).
• Ehveh (a form of "I shall be").

Colour

• None.

Other Symbols and Images

• Primordial Ether
• "Nothingness," the negation of all thought.
• "He."
• Arikh Anpin--the Longsuffering (literally: the Long-faced) One.
• The Ancient Holy One.
• Before.
• Supernal East.
• The origin of Will,
• The dew of Hermon.
Binah
Translation
Understanding, Discernment

Description
Binah refers to the analytic, distinguishing aspects of God's thought.

It is the uppermost feminine element in the Godhead, and is symbolized as the mother of the
Shekhinah. Many of the symbols associated with Binah are therefore identical to those of the
Shekhinah.

Having received the seed from Hokhmah, Binah conceived and gave birth to the seven lower
Sefirot. There are fifty "Gates of Understanding."

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)

• Forehead.

Biblical Figure

• The Matriarch Leah.

Names of God

• Elohim.
• The Hebrew letter "he" in the four-letter name of God (The "Tetragrammaton").
• The Tegtragrammaton when vocalized as the word "Elohim" ("God").

Other Symbols and Images

• Supernal Mother, Supernal Shekhinah.


• Palace.
• Womb.
• "Who."
• Palace, Building.
• Repentance ("Return," Teshuvah).
• A river branching out into seven streams.
• Supernal Jubilee.
• The Hebrew Alphabet.
• Supernal Justice.
• Beersheba.
• Lebanon (identified in Jewish tradition with Jerusalem).
• Redemption.
• Vows.
Din, Gevurah
Translation
Judgment, Might, Power

Description
This Sefirah represents the fearsome powers of divine punishment and wrath in the world.

This power is needed to maintain control over the universe.

However the destructive forces necessary to keep order and exact punishment also contain
the seeds of demonic Evil: the "Other Side" (Sitra Ahra).

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)

• Left arm

Biblical Figure

• Isaac.

Name of God

• Elohim.

Colour

• Red.

Other Symbols and Images

• The Heavenly Court.


• North.
• Fear (of Isaac; see Genesis 31:53).
• Great fire; consuming fire.
• The severe attribute of justice.
• Gold.
• Bread, salt, wine, meat.
• Serpent.
• Darkness, night, cloud, mist.
• The bronze altar.
Hod
Translation
Majesty

Description
Hod represents the lower channel through which God's judgment comes down to the world.

It is also associated with the power of prophecy.

Hod and Nezah are often treated as a complementary pair.

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)

• Left leg

Biblical Figures

• Aaron

Name of God

• Elohim Zeva'ot (God of Hosts)

Other Symbols and Images

• The left pillar "Boaz" in the Temple (1 Kings 7:21).

Tif'eret
Translation
Glory, beauty

Description
Tiferet represents the ideal balance of Justice and Mercy needed for proper running of the
universe.

This Sefirah unites all the upper nine powers.

Tif'eret is the offspring of Hokhmah and Binah.

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)


Spine, torso.
Biblical Figures

• Jacob/Israel.
• Moses.
• Adam.

Names of God

• The Tetragrammaton (the four-letter name of God: YHVH)


• The Lord
• The letter "Vav" of the Tetragrammaton
• The Holy One, Blessed be He (the common epithet for God in Rabbinic literature)

Colours

• Green
• Purple

Other Symbols and Images

• Compassion (Rahamim).
• Truth.
• Judgment (Mishpat).
• Humility
• Heaven.
• The sun, day.
• Harmony.
• King.
• It is often symbolized as a bridegroom or prince who strives to be united with the
Shekhinah. Their union produces the human soul.
• "Thou" ('attah); "'Anokhi" (a rarer form of "I").
• The Tree of Life.
• The Written Torah, Torah scroll.
• Ze'ir Anpin--the Impatient (literally: Short-faced) One.
• Milk and honey.
• The candelabrum (menorah).
• The golden altar.

Hokhmah
Translation
Wisdom

Description
Hokhmah represents the contemplative, synthetic aspects of God's thought.
It is the primordial point of creation from which all knowable reality originates.

There are 32 ways of Wisdom.

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)

• Right brain

Biblical Figures

• King Solomon

Names of God

• Yah
• The letter "yod" of the four-letter name of God (the Tetragrammaton)

Other Symbols and Images

• Primordial Point.
• "There is" (Yesh), Being, as in "Being out of 'Nothingness'").
• Beginning.
• Eden.
• The origin of Thought.
• Seed.
• Fountain.
• Will.
• Depth.
• Father.

Hesed, Gedullah
Translation
Love, Lovingkindness, Compassion, Greatness, Grace

Description
Hesed represents the generous, benevolent (masculine) side of God.

There are 72 "bridges" of Hesed.

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)

• Right arm.
Biblical Figure

• Abraham

Names of God

• El.
• Supreme God (El 'Elyon).

Colour

• White.

Other Symbols and Images

• Upper waters.
• Lion.

Nezah
Translation
Eternity, Endurance, Victory

Description
This Sefirah represents God's active grace in the world.

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)

• Right leg

Biblical Figure

• Moses

Name of God

• YHVH Zeva'ot (The Lord of Hosts)

Other Symbols and Images

• The righ pillar "Jachin" in the Temple (1 Kings 7:21).


Yesod
Translation
Foundation

Description
Yesod is the channel through which Tiferet strives to unite with the Shekhinah and pass on
the creative and benevolent divine forces.

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)

• This Sefirah is symbolized as the male phallus, sanctified through the covenant of
circumcision.

Biblical Figures

• Joseph

Names of God

• El Hay or Elohim Hayyim (The Living God), Eternal Life.


• El Shaddai (God Almighty).
• Adon (Master).
• The point at the bottom tip of the Vav in the Tetragrammaton

Other Symbols and Images

• The Tree of Life.


• The Source of Living Waters.
• The Righteous One.
• Good
• Peace
• Covenant, rainbow.
• Sign.
• Statute (Hoq), commandment (mitzvah).
• Remembrance.
• The Holy Mountain, the good mountain, Mount Zion.
• Redeemer, Redemption
• "This" (masc.).
• Oath.
• Lower Hesed.
Shekhinah, Malkhut
Translation
God's Presence, Kingdom

Description
The Shekhinah is a Talmudic concept representing God's dwelling and immanence in the
created world. It was equated with the "Keneset Yisrael," the personified spirit of the People
of Israel.

According to a Rabbinic tradition, the Shekhinah shares in the exiles of the Jewish people.

Therefore, the redemption of the people of Israel is inextricably linked to the remedying of an
alienation within God him/herself, introducing a bold new element into traditional Jewish
Messianic eschatology.

It is through the Shekhinah that humans can experience the Divine.

The passivity of the Shekhinah is often emphasized (equated with its femininity), as the
recipient of forces from the higher Sefirot.

Human Imagery (Primordial Man)

• Mouth
• The Shekhinah is often portrayed as a bride or princess whose male lover is the
composite of the nine upper sefirot, represented by the prince/bridegroom Tiferet.

Biblical Figures

• King David
• The Matriarch Rachel

Name of God

• Adonai (Lord)
• The last letter "he" in the four-letter name of God ("the Tetragrammaton").
• Elohim (when it receives more influences from the Left side).

Colours

• Blue
• black
Other Symbols and Images

• Pool, sea,, wellspring, gathering of the waters, Beersheba (literally: "The Well of the
Seven")
• Earth, dry land (when deprived of nourishment from Hesed).
• Bedrock.
• The Moon, which is the passive reflector of light from the sun.
In a manner appropriate to the redemption of God and Israel, the moon renews itself
each month.
• Queen
• Bride
• Daughter / Princess
• The Royal House of David
• Matron
• The erotic and romantic phrases of the Song of Songs and Prophetic imagery is
evoked to represent the longing of the male and female elements of the Godhead.
• Temple, Tent of Meeting, Mount Moriah.

The Land of Israel

• "I"
• "This" (fem.).
• Mirror
• Rose
• Throne of Glory
• Justice
• Garden of Eden
• The Tree of Knowledge
• The poor one
• Apple Orchard
• The Oral Torah
• Blessing
• Freedom
• Sabbath, Sabbatical year (in some systems), Jubilee
• The End of Thought
• All
• Eagle

The Left Side


Description
The Left side of the Sefirot structure is the side of power and strict justice, the values
embodied in the Sefirah of Din.

It is the female side, representing the fearsome awe of God, and the principles of separation
and distinction. The unrestrained dominion of the Left side gives rise to Evil
The Middle Column
Description
The Middle column of the Sefirot structure represents the ideal balance of divine mercy and
justice. This harmony is best represented in the Sefirah of Tiferet, which exists midway
between the extremes of Din and Hesed, female and male.

Following traditional Rabbinic perception, the Kabbalah recognizes that the universe could
not survive if it were founded only upon justice or only upon mercy

The Right Side


Description
The right side represents the principles of unity, harmony and benevolence, as embodied in
the Sefirah of Hesed.

It is associated with the bestowing of generous goodness upon our world.

It is the masculine side.