Sephirot (Intro.)

We’ve been taught that God alone created the universe and governs it; but how and with what mechanism? Well, we’re told quite simply that “the world was created through ten utterances” (Pirkei Avot 5:1) and by means of ten agencies termed “wisdom, understanding, reason, strength, rebuke, might, righteousness, judgment, loving-kindness, and compassion” (Chagigah 12a). Those then are the mechanisms, which the Kabbalists termed the ten Sephirot.

Based essentially on the verse found in 1 Chronicles 29:11, the Kabbalists termed them Keter (Crown), Chochma (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding), Tipheret (Beauty), Chessed (Kindness), Gevurah (Severity), Netzach (Victory), Hod (Glory), Yesod (Foundation), and Malchut (Kingship). And the lot of them, in combination and individually, will be discussed at length in Klach [1].

Ramchal depicted them here as follows: “each Sephira is an attribute (or “capacity”) of The Infinite that He used to create the (various esoteric and concrete) worlds and which He (now) uses to govern them” (Petach 6).

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Notes:

[1]       Ramchal speaks of Sephirot in quite a number of his works including Da’at Tevunot 46; Klallim Rishonim 1, 23; Klallei Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 2; Klallei Ma’amar HaChochma 2-6, 16; Klallalim m’Sefer Kinot Adonai Tziva’ot 5; Klallot Shorshei HaChochma; Klallim Mitoch Sefer Milchamot Moshe 2; Ma’amar Areimat Yadi; Sod HaYichud; Biurim l’Sefer Otzrot Chaim 2; Asarah Orot 6; Ma’amar HaVichuach 42-56, 126, 134, 152; Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 27; Klallot HaIlan 1:1; Klallei Chochmat HaEmet 3 and onward; Iggerot Ramchal 3, 23; Tikkunim Chadashim 69; Adir Bamarom; and Derech Hashem 3:2:3, 4:6:13.

For earlier references see Sefer Yetzirah (especially 1:14), Zohar 2 p. 136b ff., Tikkunei Zohar 12b, Zohar Chadash, Yitro 33b; Moshe Cordovero’s Pardes Rimmonim 8:2, Elima Rabbati 6:2, Shiur Komah Ch. 2; and Ari’s Eitz Chaim 5:5.

(c) 2010 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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