The First Three versus the Lower Seven (3)

While the seven lower Sephirot are so engaged, the first three, i.e., Chochma, Binah, and Da’at, serve as crowns in relation to the lower seven to help govern and rectify them.

Here’s how Ramchal explains the relationship between the upper three and lower seven Sephirot, and this world (in his comments to Petach 51).

He makes the point that “the first three Sephirot aren’t the actual root of what goes on in this world”; they “(merely) ‘adorn’” the lower seven Sephirot which are in fact the root to — or what we’d term the actual spur behind  — what happens here.

Here’s how explains he it. “While the ways of this world don’t change (overall), its status changes according to human actions”. That’s to say, while there are laws of nature that are fairly immutable which make sure that things go on as they do for the most part, there are nonetheless changes going on all the time here. Those changes are rooted in variations in the world’s or in one’s own spiritual-ethical status based on his or her actions, he asserts.

His point then is that “there are thus two sorts of roots: one for an (essentially) unchanging plane, and a loftier one that (allows for) changes”. Thus, “the seven lower Sephirot are the root of the created phenomena that don’t change (overall)… (while) the three higher Sephirot” do allow for changes — but only changes in “degree of change”.

That’s to say that the world goes on as it will, but there will always be variations, and those variations are rooted in humankind’s spiritual-ethical status. The lower seven Sephirot act as hands-on, direct overseeing spurs to what goes on here on earth, while the upper seven Sephirot are “removed” (i.e., they act as crowns that sit atop the head at a purposeful distance) like management, and they have another agenda — they supply more or less “funding” to the project at hand based on the “worthiness” of its benefactors [1].


[1]       The combination of three upper managerial Sephirot and the seven supervisory ones — for a total of ten “commanders” — helps explain how Ramchal understands the existence of ten rather than seven millennia of reality (see 7:6 above). It might also help to explain a belief in a far older universe than usually considered in traditional sources, in that the 7,000 years accounted for can be said to be under the control of the seven Sephirot that control “the seven days of creation”, while the very many more that preceded them are under the control of the three higher (and more amorphous) years-upon-years.

(c) 2013 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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