Sephirot (3)

The Sefer Yetzirah also likens the ten Sephirot to ten fingers (1:3), thus alluding to God’s “hand’s-on” approach to creation, in keeping with the statement that the “heavens (are) the work of Your fingers” (Psalms 8:4), and to His governance, as when an instance of His intervention is taken to be an act of “the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19) [1].

There are a number of explanations offered as to the significance of the term Sephira itself. Some say that it refers to their sapphire-like purity, clarity, and luster, as the term is a cognate of Saphir, the Hebrew for sapphire [2]; it’s a cognate of Mispar, number, in light of the abstract nature of both the Sephirot and numbers themselves [3]; it’s related to sippur, to declare, as in “the Heavens declare God’s Glory” (Psalms 19:2) [4]; and more [5].

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Notes:

[1]       Also see Sefer Bahir 138.

[2]       Ra’avad’s comments to Sefer Yetzirah 1:2, Zohar Chadash, Yitro, p. 41b.

[3]       (As opposed to the concrete nature of actually counted-out things) see Cordovero’s Pardes Rimmonim 1:1 and Gra’s Yahel Ohr (6d).

[4]       Sefer Bahir 125.

[5]       See Cordovero’s Shiur Komah 2 for other explanations.

(c) 2010 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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