Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Basic Explanation of the 10 Sefiros


Inspired by a recent conversation with a friend and an all-around great guy, I wanted to post a good introductory explanation of the 10 sefiros in Kabbalah for people's general edification. I found one good explanation by RAbbi Immanuel Schochet at Chabad.org. I'm quoting the first few paragraphs here and then linking to the full article.

-Dixie Yid


Two Systems of Ten Sefirot

By J. Immanuel Schochet

The sefirot
are ten spheres or classes, as it is stated in Sefer Yetzira, "Ten and not nine;
ten and not eleven." This is their order: keter (crown); chochma (wisdom); bina
(understanding); chesed (kindness); gevura (might); tiferet (beauty); netzach
(endurance); hod (splendor); yesod (foundation); malchut (kingship).

In
some schemes keter is omitted from the order of the ten sefirot, as will be
explained further on. These schemes understand chochma to be the first of the
ten and insert daat (knowledge) as a sefira after bina.

Keter is the
highest level or sphere of the sefirot. The term itself denotes its
significance: as a crown is on top of the head and encompasses it, so keter is
on top of all the sefirot and encompasses them all.

The analogy is
carried further: just as the crown is not a part of the head or the body but
distinct from it, so keter is essentially distinct from the other sefirot. It is
the first emanation, and as such the "lowest level" as it were, of the Emanator
Himself. That is why keter is called "the most hidden of all hidden" ("temira
dechol temirin"), and is referred to as "naught" (" Ayin"). These terms signify
the total concealment of the rank of keter due to its supreme sublimity.

Keter is so sublime and concealed that nothing can be said or postulated
of it. While the other sefirot are sometimes represented by various letters of
the alphabet, no letter can describe or represent keter. (In the paradigm where
the four letters of G-d's name Havayah represent the ten sefirot, i.e. yud -
chochma, hei - bina, vav - the unit of the six middot from chesed to yesod, hei
- malchut, keter is represented by the "thorn" of the yud, thus not by any
letter but by a mere dot.)

That is why keter is sometimes excluded from
the scheme of the sefirot. It is too sublime to be included. It is a category
and class all in itself. In fact it is called the "intermediary" between the Ein
Sof and the sefirot, bridging the gap, as it were: it is the "lowest level" of
the Light of the Ein Sof and from it, and through it, issue forth the successive
divine emanations (thus being the very root or soul of the sefirot). Keter
represents the "lever" of divine manifestations and, as such, is called "the
Supreme Will" (" Ratzon Ha'elyon") of G-d: not a particular will focused on some
specific goal but the original Divine Willingness (Ratzon) underlying the
creative will. It is the "Will of all wills", which precedes all powers or
attributes (i.e., the sefirot)...


Click here for the full article.

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

1 comment:

joshman said...

more on this topic cab be found at www.torahlab.org