The Ten Sefirot of the Creator Part 2
In Part 1 of The Ten Sefirot of the Creator, we learned the Infinite Creator’s ten sefirot are the ten emanations or radiances through which He created the finite world.
Through the ten sefirot supernatural energy radiates from the Creator. Through them the Invisible One reveals Himself and continuously creates both the physical realm and the higher supernatural realm.
In Part 2 of this study, we will explain what the ten sefirot do and how the world was created through them.
What the ten emanations do
Covering Yourself with Light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a curtain, (Psa 104:2)
The ten sefirot, emanations or radiances, are divided into three main categories: Intellect, Emotions, and Actions.
The category of Intellect includes the three intellectual powers (radiances) of Chochmah, Binah, and Da’at.
The emotive powers are represented by the three radiances of Chessed, Gevurah, Tiferet.
And the active powers are represented by Netzach, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut.
In Hebrew the names of the ten sefirot (emanations, radiances), according to the three groups, are as follows:
- חָכְמָה Chochmah –Wisdom,
- בִּינָה Binah – Understanding,
- דַּעַת Da’at – Knowledge,
- חֵסֵד Chessed – Kindness, Goodness,
- גְּבוּרָה Gevurah – Might, Strength, Strictness,
- תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiferet, also תִּפְאָרָה Tifarah – Beauty, Ornament, Glory,
- נֶצַח Netzach – Perpetuity, Victory, Dominance
- הוֹד Hod – Splendor, Grandeur, Majesty
- יְסוֹד Yesod – Foundation,
- מַלְכוּת Malchut – Kingdom, Kingship.
The sefirot of Intellect
חָכְמָה Chochmah (Wisdom) is made of the words כּוֹחַ koach, “power”, and מָה mah, “what”, meaning the potential of what is, and is the power of mind that conceives any matter.
Chochmah (Wisdom) produces the original idea, i.e. the blueprint, and is often referred to as the first flash of intellect. It already contains within itself all the details of the original plan that is not yet materialized. In other words, Chochmah is power in potential.
He has made the earth by His power (koach), He has established the world by His wisdom (chochmah), and has stretched out the heavens by His understanding (tebunah). (Jer 10:12)
See also Job 38:36, Psa 104:24, Pro 3:19, Pro 8:11-12, Isa 10:13, Jer 51:15.
The Creator is the One who established the blueprint of the world by an act of His infinite wisdom and then made it by His power. Once the world had been designed and made, He stretched out (revealed) the heavens as a work of intelligent design.
The last word above is תְּבוּנָה tebunah, intelligence, understanding, discretion, reason. It is derived from בִּין bin, to separate mentally, to distinguish, to understand. With this we are coming to the next emanation or radiance of the Creator: Binah (Understanding).
Binah (Understanding) means to derive one matter out of another matter. Binah takes the original idea of Chochmah and expands and develops it. It crystallizes and clarifies the details of the initial plan, the potential, in concentrate form, and reveals it to its understanding.
Da’at (Knowledge) means to possess and store information, data, i.e. like in the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:9). Da’at is the factual information, or the (technical) knowledge and skills required to do something.
Understanding and Knowledge are not one and the same, even though they can overlap. One may have a great deal of information and still understands too little.
Probably, the best reference to the Intellect of wisdom (chochmah), knowledge (da’at), and understanding (binah) is found in Proverbs,
The awe of Yehovah is the beginning of wisdom (chochmah), and the knowledge (da’at) of the Set-apart One is understanding (binah). (Pro 9:10) See also Pro 2:6.
Da’at (Knowledge) brings Binah (Understanding) into realization that is to be implemented (Pro 2:6). On the other hand, Da’at has the power to unite Intellect and the next group of the sefirot: Emotions.
Because man is created in the image of Elohim, in the human body, the three cognitive faculties of Chochmah, Binah, and Da’at correspond to the right cerebrum (wisdom), left cerebrum (understanding), and cerebellum (knowledge) respectively. It is from cerebellum (Da’at) that stems the spinal cord connecting the brain to the rest of the body (the seven sefirot).
In this capacity Da’at is the connector between Chochmah and Binah and the rest of the body.
The sefirot of Emotions
The first emanation or radiance from the group of Emotions is Chessed (Kindness). We explained in the article “Chessed: Mercy and lovingkindness vs shame” its literal meaning, and the reader is encouraged to refer to it.
Chessed being “kindness” distributes goodness to everything and all without limits (see Psa 86:5). Creation itself is an act of Chessed (Kindness), as the world was built with Chessed.
In Creation, YHVH Elohim created everything limitlessly with kindness, but His Gevurah (Might) limits from the created things the activating force within them, which enables them to exist as entities.
While Chessed is boundlessness and limitlessness, Gevurah (Might) is restraint that keeps Chessed under control. Therefore, Gevurah (Might) has the power and ability to limit and contract Kindness.
As such, Gevurah (Might) is also called “Law” (Mitzvah) and “Judgment” (Din) because the law limits the kindness and goodness to specified and acceptable degrees. This also refers to the stringency of Gevurah. See Jer 16:21, Job 12:13, Psa 20:6, Psa 89:13.
As the Creator built the world with Chessed (Kindness), the world was beautifully made; all stars and constellations, nebulae and black holes in the interstellar space, everything was created beautifully and with Kindness.
However, in the macrocosmos, Chessed (Kindness) without Gevurah (the strength of law and judgment) would have no boundaries needed in order for Creation to exist; the celestial bodies would exist indeed beautifully made and move without limits but also in chaos.
The best way to explain the relationship between Kindness and Law is this. Imagine that the stars and planets move around without the force of the law of gravity.
However, the universal laws of physics require and limit the matter to exist and moves within the blueprint of Chochmah (Creative Wisdom).
In the microcosmos, for example, one gives charity in kindness to everyone without limits, rich or poor, regardless of the needs. While justice requires that everyone should receive according to the needs. In other words, Chessed (Kindness) provides goodness equally to everyone, while Gevurah (Might) distributes it justly in proportion according to the recipient’s merits and needs.
Also, if Chessed (Kindness) were limitless and dominant, the earth would be full of sin and sinners, since kindness would cover all iniquity (Psa 103:8); Kindness does not judge.
Conversely, if Gevurah (Strength of Law and Judgment) were dominant, there would be no sin and sinners, since no man could withstand the scrutiny and strictness of law and judgment (Psa 119:64).
In reality, however, neither Chessed (Kindness) nor Gevurah (Law and Judgment) are dominant in the world. In order to function in harmony, both Chessed (Kindness) and Gevurah (Law and Judgment), need a mediating faculty to allow them to operate successfully.
With this we are coming to the next emanation or radiance: Tiferet (Beauty).
Tiferet (Beauty) blends Chessed (Kindness) and Gevurah (Law and Judgment) in harmony and balance. Creation (and everything in it) is beautiful, when it is in harmony, not in chaos of free movement. Thus, Tiferet (Beauty) functions as balance between Chessed (Kindness) and Gevurah (Law and Judgment).
In the human body, Chessed (Kindness) corresponds to the left arm, Gevurah (Might) to the strong right arm (symbolizing strength, power, and authority), and Tiferet (Beauty) to the heart that balances kindness and strictness.
Within man, Tiferet (Beauty) is equated with compassion (Rachamim); man is in beauty when he is in harmony and balance within himself and within Creation.
To return to our example, while Chessed (Kindness) would give charity to people to whom compassion is not at all appropriate, Gevurah (Law and Judgment) would give only to those who deserve, giving justly. Thus Tiferet (Beauty) being a balance and harmony of kindness and strictness seeks to pity a person to whom compassion is appropriate.
Tiferet (Beauty) is also equated with Emet (Truth) in the sense that both Chessed (Kindness) and Gevurah (Law and Judgment) agree in truth to make everything in harmony and balance without preference of one over the other, as it was said,
Kindness and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Psa 85:10; 85:11 in the Hebrew Scripture)
The sefirot of Actions
The next three sefirot Netzach (Victory), Hod (Splendor), and Yesod (Foundation) are extensions of Chessed, Gevurah, and Tiferet respectively, and they are looked at as the emanations of Actions:
- Netzach (Victory) is an extension of Chessed(Kindness).
- Hod (Splendor) of Gevurah (Law and Judgment),
- Yesod (Foundation) of Tiferet (Beauty).
The word Netzach (Victory) (properly a goal as an bright object at a distance travelled towards) comes from the word menatzeach, meaning to “conquer” thus denoting the idea of dominance. By giving in an unlimited way, Netzach (Victory) is overtaking Chessed (Kindness) in a superior development, and in this respect it is an extension of it in perpetuity. As such, Netzach also means “forever” in Hebrew.
He shall swallow up death forever, and the Master Yehovah shall wipe away tears from all faces, and take away the reproach of His people from all the earth. For Yehovah has spoken. (Isa 25:8)
Hod (Splendor, Grandeur) comes from the word hodaah meaning to “thank”, “admit”, or “submit”. With its quality to outshine the usual it denotes submission and thus it is an extension of Gevurah (Law and Judgment). The Law is extended to the point of submission.
Total dominance is a Netzach (Victory) relationship in which love and kindness conquer all. While total submission is a Hod (Splendor) relationship in which justice is served, according to the Law.
Yours, O Yehovah, is the greatness, the power (gevurah) and the glory (tiferet), the victory (netzach) and the majesty (hod), because of all that is in the heavens and in the earth. Yours is the kingdom, O Yehovah, and You are exalted as head above all. (1Ch 29:11)
In the Creator YHVH Elohim are revealed His greatness, power, glory, victory, and majesty. These radiances all come from Him and because of Him, so that He and His kingdom be exalted above all.
Yesod (Foundation) balances Netzach (Victory) and Hod (Splendor), and as such is therefore the foundation of the world.
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding. (Job 38:4)
To summarize what we have explained so far. The relationship of the ten sefirot is best seen in the following diagram.
The Creator, conceived and developed a plan for the creation of the world through Chochmah (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding), and Da’at (Knowledge), wherein Da’at (Knowledge) brings Binah (Understanding) into implementation. Then, Da’at unites Intellect and the sefirot of Emotions.
In Creation, YHVH Elohim designed the universe limitlessly with kindness and love, but His Might limited the activating force within the creation, thus enabling it to exist as an entity, which we now observe.
But the Creator also used Tiferet (Beauty) that blends the sefirot of Chessed (Kindness) and Gevurah (Might) in balance needed for the harmony in the universe.
Furthermore, He implemented the sefirot of actions, Netzach (Victory), Hod (Splendor), and Yesod (Foundation), to materialize the blueprint of Creation.
With this we are coming to the last of the ten sefirot: Malchut (Kingdom).
The radiance of His Kingdom
The tenth sefirah (emanation) is called Malchut (Kingdom). The kingship is the ultimate realization of the blueprint of Creation developed through Chochmah (Wisdom). As such, Chochmah is the potential of what is, while Malchut (Kingdom) is that which is, i.e. the reality of its final realization. Thus, with His Kingdom the Wisdom of the Creator comes to materialization of the physical dominion in which the Everlasting Sovereign reigns.
As the last sefirah, Malchut (Kingdom) does not exercise any influence of its own over the preceding emanations or radiances except that the other nine sefirot result into it. For example, it is through Malchut (Kingdom) that time and space of Creation were materialized.
In the dimension of space, we can call the Creator a king whose sovereignty is in all four directions without end and without limit. As a king He is everywhere, and His dominion is everything.
In the dimension of time, the Creator reigns, has reigned, and will reign through his Kingship. Because Malchut (Kingdom) is an emanation in which the unlimited Light becomes manifest within the Creation, it is also called Shechinah (Manifestation).
As such, the visible majesty of His Presence, Shechinah, that dwelt between the cheruvim on the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, is a further extension of His Malchut (Kingdom).
Malchut (Kingdom) is also identified with the “mouth” or “the words of YHVH”, for through them He reveals Himself to the world.
The relationship of Chochmah (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding), and Da’at (Knowledge) from the one hand, and His Malchut (Kingdom) from the other hand, can be best seen in the following example.
His Word is His personal revelation at Mount Sinai through giving the Torah (Instruction) to His people. The Torah being the essence of His Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge, is His revelation to the people and giving it in the finite world (Kingdom) is through Shechinah (Manifestation).
How the world was created in six days
We have the reason to believe that the world was created with only the final seven sefirot (radiances) that were directly involved in the creation.
The Creator’s Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge were indeed heavily involved, but in a concealed manner.
Before the Beginning, there was only One: the Infinite and Self-sufficient One. At some “point” in the infinity, and according to His will only, He decided to created Kingdom for Himself. Until that “point”, nothing had been in existence in the dark infinity. Absolutely nothing!
Even darkness is not dark for You, but night shines as the day; as is darkness, so is light. (Psa 139:12)
The first things He needed to create were the concepts of the finite world: time and space, light and speed, and everything else needed for the Creation; even the concept of “creation” had not been in existence. He created a plan of the origin of the universe or a blueprint of Creation: everything to the last detail.
At that “point” of the infinity, the Infinite One became the Creator, even though the first day was not yet created.
To draw the original plan of Creation, the Infinite One invested His first sefirot (emanations, radiances): Chochmah (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding), and Da’at (Knowledge).
As we explained in Part 1 of this study, everything visible and invisible that was created in the finite world took place through the medium of the ten sefirot (emanations) that radiated from the Creator Himself. They are Or Ein Sof, “Light of The Infinite One”, the hidden light within Himself.
Even though the ten sefirot proceed and issue forth from the Creator, yet they are not Him; they are not “God”. The ten sefirot are the medium through which He created the finite world; through the ten sefirot He revealed and continues to make Himself evident to the world.
Therefore, it is the ten sefirot that make it possible to speak about His work and presence in the finite world—what He did and what He does, without referring to what He is. And since everything has been created through His speech (Word), the finite world came into existence through His sefirot (radiances).
When the Creator uttered the first command to the hidden Light: “Light, exist!”, and the Light manifested itself and was declared good, that does not mean that only then He proceeded to the creation of the second day.
Before He uttered the first words of Creation, the original plan had already been readied through the medium of the first three sefirot: Chochmah (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding), and Da’at (Knowledge).
Thus, the world was created in seven days—each day corresponding to one of the seven sefirot, and the creations of each day are a reflection of a radiance that dominated on that particular day of the Creation week.
Note: In TORM Q&A Did God work on the first Sabbath?, we explained that the Creator worked even on the seventh day, the first Sabbath of Creation.
Therefore, there is a basic difference, however, between the first three sefirot and the seven that followed: Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge are the radiances of His Intellect; through them the Creator drew the blueprint of His finite world.
And if through the first three sefirot, He conceived the plan of Creation, through the next seven sefirot, He materialized it, as follows,
- Chessed – Kindness in the 1st Day
- Gevurah – Might in the 2nd Day
- Tiferet – Beauty in the 3rd Day
- Netzach – Victory in the 4th Day
- Hod – Splendor in the 5th Day
- Yesod – Foundation in the 6th Day
- Malchut – Kingdom in the 7th Day.
Parallelism in Creation
The universe was created in six days and on the seventh day, Sabbath, Elohim completed His work which He had done and rested (Gen 2:2).
The first day (Gen 1:3-5) is the separation of light from darkness and paralleled the fourth day (Gen 1:14-19) where the light and darkness was filled with the sun and moon.
The radiance Chessed (Kindness) was employed to create the first day and to manifest Or Ein Sof in the newly created finite world, and its extension Netzach (Victory) to create the fourth day and all luminaries. And Elohim saw the Light, that it was good.
The second day (Gen 1:6-8) is the separation of the water and the sky. It paralleled the fifth day (Gen 1:20-23) on which the water and sky were filled with fish and birds.
Gevurah (Might) was employed to create the second day and its extension Hod (Splendor) to create the fifth day. And it was good!
The third day (Gen 1:9-13) is the separation of water and land. It paralleled the six day (Gen 1:24-31) on which the land was filled with the animals and man.
Tiferet (Beauty) was employed to create the third day and its extension Yesod (Foundation) to create the sixth day. And it was very good!
Why was it said about the sixth day that it was “very good”, while about the other days of the Creation week it was said that they were “good”?
To explain this peculiarity, we need to recall that both sefirot (radiances), Beauty and Foundation, were meant to balance in harmony Might and Kindness, and Splendor and Victory respectively.
And therefore, the sixth day was declared “very good” because on it the whole creation was found in perfect harmony.
But Elohim needed to create one more thing and that was the seventh day.
The seventh day (Gen 2:1-3) is the separation of the Creator’s rest from His completed work. On this day His work was completed and His Kingdom established on the earth as it was in heaven.
The seventh day also represents the seventh millennium and the ultimate rest of the coming Messianic Kingdom.
The final of the ten sefirot, the radiance Malchut (Kingdom), was employed to create the seventh day, the first Sabbath of the Creator. The seventh day the Creator blessed and thus the whole Creation week was blessed. And He rested from all His work in Creation.
The reason for the rest of the Creator on the first Sabbath was not for Himself, but for us, to teach us to enter into His rest as He rested on that day: Heb 4:1-9.
So there remains a Sabbath-observance (Shabbaton) for the people of Elohim. (Heb 4:9)
Thus, the universe and everything in it, visible and invisible, was created through the ten sefirot in seven days.
And with the commencement of the eighth day the Reckoning of Time of the Creator began.
But what do we know about the eighth day?
Most evidently, the eighth day was the first day after the Creation week and as such it has its own signification. The Book of 2Enoch 33:1 gives light on the plans of the Creator for the eighth day; it reads thus,
And I appointed the eighth day also, that the eighth day should be the first-created after my work, and that the first seven revolve in the form of the seventh thousand, and that at the beginning of the eighth thousand there should be a time of not-counting, endless, with neither years nor months nor weeks nor days nor hours.
We touched this topic in the articles The New Jerusalem—the Throne of YHVH, The New Jerusalem – the Glory of YHVH, and The Time When the Messiah will be Subject to the Father.
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom. I am understanding, mightiness is mine. (Pro 8:14)
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.