An Overview of Section Nine: The First Three and Seven Lower (Sephirot) of Nikkudim

Ramchal begins this section with a retroactive excursion into the experiences of the first three and the final seven of the ten Sephirot of Nikkudim in the course of the breaking of the vessels. We’re thus told that the seven lower Sephirot, i.e., Chessed, Gevurah, Tipheret, Netzach, Yesod, and Malchut, which are, i.e., correspond to, the seven days of creation, are the root of the created realm, while the first three Sephirot, i.e., Chochma, Binah, and Da’at, only serve as “adornments” to (literally, as “crowns over”) the lower seven to help govern and rectify them. We’ll need to explore those roles and differentiate between them.

Given the “removed” status of the first three Sephirot we see why existential harm is irrelevant to them, since they’re beyond the reach of the effects of human actions that could conceivably undo them, so sins don’t harm them and can only set them aside which we’ll explain. We’ll see the relationship between exalted realms and human input.

Ramchal’s next point is that that’s in fact why the first three Sephirot continued to function and to endure during the course of the breaking of the vessels — they’re being clear of harm. Nevertheless, what exists in them, i.e., in those first three Sephirot, that serves the needs of the lower seven ones wasn’t rectified, though we imagine they should have been; for had it been, then all of the seven lower ones would also have been rectified too which should not have happened at that stage. So those aspects of the first three that relate to the seven lower ones became blemished rather than broke, but they still did in fact become blemished, which purposely stymied their ability to repair the seven lower ones. For if they were able to, then there’d be no harm in the world whatsoever, which also was not yet to happen (Petach 51). We’d need to explore the implications of all that.

We then begin to focus on the seven lower Sephirot, which are comprised of the Partzuf of Zeir Anpin’s six Sephirot and the one Sephira associated with Nukveh (which is the Partzuf equivalent of Malchut). Ramchal indicates that the source of the makeup of Zeir Anpin is in fact Imma’s, i.e., the Partzuf equivalent of Binah’s Judgment element — her five Gevurot. Binah is the Sephira that precedes Chessed, etc. of the lower seven; its Din-nature will play a significant role, as we’ll see.

In fact, it’s because of its, i.e., Din’s, makeup that each light, i.e., that each of the six Sephirot of Chessed, Gevurah, Tipheret, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod, exists separately rather than together with the others. For by nature judgment doesn’t exhibit “brotherly love” but rather “sorrow” and “severity” and is thus inclined toward separateness rather than unity. That separateness doesn’t last forever, though, because at a certain point Imma overcomes this with her “sweetness”, i.e., her ability to draw disparate elements together, so that when judgment subsides, “sorrow” passes and “brotherly love” comes into play after all. That’s actually why Imma enters there, i.e., into Zeir Anpin in the world of Tikkun: in order to foster “brotherly love” among its Sephirot. We’ll need to delve into separateness versus unity as well as strict judgment versus “leniency”.

But this process is all accomplished through the agency of Malchut, for it was established to be the container for all of them, i.e., for all of the Sephirot of Chessed, Gevurah, Tipheret, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod that precede it, so that instead of each light functioning separately, they’d all head in one direction, i.e., toward Malchut, and a connection would then be established between them. For they’d all face toward Malchut which would function mystically as the “hind of love” (Proverbs 5:19), and they’d join with one another. In fact, the more they turn to her, the stronger the bond of “brotherly love” there’d be between them, which would bring great “joy”. So we’ll explain the role of Malchut at some length.

This input on the part of Malchut in fact is what was lacking in the primordial kings, in the world of Nikkudim during the breaking of the vessels. For the six Sephirot of Chessed, Gevurah, Tipheret, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod that came into play then, didn’t face towards the Malchut that came into play there and then and they thus weren’t spared “sorrow” and “severity” or isolation, and Imma which could have mitigated this nonetheless allowed them to remain that way so as to let the cleansing process take place as we’ll see. We’ll explore this role of Malchut, too.

That’s also why the first i.e., the upper, 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” since they became separate entities rather than a united one, which was the condition out of which the “other side” and rah emerged, since its nature and role is to bring about that sort of division and disunity (Petach 52). We’ll see how disunity played into the role and place of rah.

We’re now presented with the basic chronology at play throughout: Everything that was degraded at the time of the breaking of the vessels is to be repaired little by little through mankind’s input in the meanwhile. This includes both the descent of the “hind parts” of Abba and Imma, which are the Partzuf equivalents of Chochma and Binah, as well as the breaking of the “hind” and “front” parts of the other Sephirot, i.e., Zeir Anpin and Nukveh. For everything that was lacking then, i.e., at the breaking of the vessels, began to be fulfilled at the time of the repair of Atzilut, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah through Heaven’s input. But in the end everything will be fulfilled in the perfect repair that will come about in the ultimate future when God’s Yichud will finally be revealed and will be as it must (Petach 53). We’ll explore this chronology.

(c) 2013 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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