“Public Domain” and “Private Domain”

That’s also why the first three Sephirot of Zeir Anpin were missing when Imma entered into and rectified it, i.e., Zeir Anpin. The six others were then termed a “public domain” rather than a “private domain”.

Tractate Shabbat deals at length with the idea of transferring from one “domain” (or “sphere”) to another in chapters 1 and 11, and it distinguishes between four of them: a private domain such as one’s house, a public one such as a major thoroughfare, as well as a semi-public and a sort of neutral area. The idea of a private or public sphere began to assume mystical implications in the Zohar and elsewhere [1].

As Ramchal explains in his comments here, the term “public domain” is the one Ari and others used to depict the six Sephirot between Binah and Malchut “when they were arranged one under the other” [2] rather than side by side. Thus the term “public domain” here seems to imply the sort of lack of intimacy one would experience in a homier “private domain”. The point, he offers, is that “proper governance would be based on the consensus of all the Sephirot … which need to face each other with the center column conjoining them. This way the effect is produced with the agreement of all levels, and this is termed the ‘private domain’”.

As a consequence, each of the six functioned separately and (seeming) independently, and without the input of Malchut. This brought on “excessive separation and dissension”, as a consequence of which “they were not interconnected in a single governing order in which everything stands together” as he put it.

This was the condition out of which the “other side” emerged, since its nature and role is to bring about division. That’s to say, as Ramchal indicates in his comments, the whole purpose of the “other side” or yetzer harah is to “withhold the flow (of beneficence) … from its (intended) recipients” which can only come about with the cooperation and concentrated efforts of all parts.


[1]       See Tikkunei Zohar 30, p. 73b, for example.

[2]       See Eitz ChaimSha’ar Sh’virat HaKeilim, Ch. 3; also see Ramchal’s Klallei Ma’amar HaChochma 19.

(c) 2013 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org


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