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The initial results, however, of this concealment or contraction occur, in most interpretations, totally within God and result in a differentiation of divine midot or traits which ultimately become the archetypes for the elements of the created universe. According to Luria, the sefirot as they were originally created, were unstable, disunified structures, which were unable to hold the energy which they were meant to contain.

As a result, the upper three sefirot were displaced and the lower seven shattered, causing a fundamental flaw in creation, a flaw which is humankind's divinely appointed task to correct. Shards from the shattered vessels attached themselves to sparks of divine light and were scattered throughout the cosmos. These kernels of entrapped divine energy are to be found everywhere, and especially within the human soul. According to Luria, each man and woman is enjoined to "complete creation" by liberating and raising the sparks within his or her own soul and environment and reconstructing the sefirot in a new, more complete and stable form which reflects the image of both God and humanity.

The Order of the Sefirot According to Tishby, the names of the sefirot were originally selected for exegetical as opposed to conceptual reasons. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness gedullah , power gevurah , the beauty tiferet , the victory netzach , the majesty hod The Kabbalists, however, recognized that the scheme would be much more useful if, for example, greatness were to be renamed love , power renamed judgement and beauty renamed compassion.

The result of these and other renamings is a system in which there are often several names for each sefirah. It will be useful, however, to orient ourselves around a basic appellative scheme. One that was fairly uniformly adopted by the later Kabbalah is according to the order of the sefirot as given by Moses Cordovero. The scheme is frequently altered, however, in the Lurianic Kabbalah, which eliminates Keter , and interposes the sefirah Da'at knowledge between Binah and Chesed. Malchut Kingdom or Atarah Diadem , or Shekhina Feminine Divine Presence A complete understanding of the sefirot requires not only an inquiry into the individual significance of each sefirah but also an awareness of the various symbolisms through which the Kabbalists understood the entire system, the interrelationships among the sefirot their participation in each of the five "Worlds" postulated in the kabbalistic scheme and their reorganization according to the Lurianic system , resulting from a cosmic catastrophe known as shevirat hakelim , the "breaking of the vessels.


The Sefirot as Paradigms for Ten Dimensions We have noted a number of characteristics that pertain to the sefirot in general and which are relevant to any attempt to understand them in their particular nature. After an admittedly selective review of the vast literature on the sefirot I will consider each of them individually. As we have seen, the Kabbalists, on the principle that the microcosm perfectly mirrors the macrocosm, held that the sefirot were not only the dimensions of the universe, but also the constituent elements of the human mind. After all, the sefirot themselves are conceived within the Kabbalah as stages in the creative process, and hence reflect aspects of God's inner life or creativity rather than fixed entities in an already created world.

My main purpose in this section is to interpret the sefirot so as to show how each provides an underlying qualitative basis for the phenomena of human experience, and hence for the structural elements of both humanity and the world.

As a psychologist, however, I also have a more practical goal - to uncover the psychological or psychotherapeutic principle or lesson inherent in each of the sefirot. In this way I hope to come to a fuller understanding of what it means to perfect the sefirot within the human soul. Keter Elyon The Supreme Crown The highest of the sefirot , Keter Elyon , qualitatively distinct from all of the others and barely separable from Ein-sof , the Infinite God, is so sublime and concealed that, according to the Kabbalists, nothing at all can be predicated of it. Unlike the other sefirot which are each assigned a holy letter, no linguistic sign can represent Keter ; instead, it is equated simply with the thorn or point of the letter yud in God's name.

The proximity and even identity of Keter with Ein Sof is underscored by its sometimes being referred to as the Holy Ancient One, a term which is otherwise reserved for Ein Sof , the infinite godhead. At times Keter is referred to as the will of all wills. The Lurianists occasionally spoke of two aspects of Keter , its face pnimi or inner aspect, referred to as Tinug delight , and an outer chitzonit aspect referred to as Ratzon desire or will.

Such "delight" is present, according to Luria's disciple, Israel Sarug, in the first stirrings of Ein-sof , even prior to the tzimtzum. That delight is even above the Primal Will accords well with Freudian psychoanalysts who hold volition and action to be explicable via the "pleasure principle.

As Immanuel Schochet explains, the Kabbalists understood the cosmos in terms of the progression of Reason Chochmah, Sachel toward a certain goal, the realization of a higher aim, "a deep seated, innermost desire or will. The Torah derives from Chochmah Wisdom, Reason , but its source and root surpasses exceedingly the rank of Chochmah and is called the Supreme Will. In the view of Moses De Leon, Keter is beyond the limit of perception; according to the Kabbalists of Gerona it is "the cessation of thought.


According to Abraham Ben David this "annihilative" property of Keter figures in all change in the life and substance of things. It is "the cessation from which comes the emanation of all beings. This negativity is, in fact, the essential manifestation of the primal will. The relationship between negation and will is known from both logic and psychology. Logically, "will," in its most fundamental sense, is a setting of limits, an imposition of a negation.

It was Otto Rank who first observed that the primary assertion of "will" on the part of a child is always in the form of a negation, a saying "no" to the breast. According to Rank, it is only through a nurturance of this "negative will" that the child's positive volition can arise. In the primal act of will, "Let there be light We can now understand why the light which emerges from Keter is known as the bozina di kardinuta , a "spark of blackness. This "will" is Keter's light, darkness, negation, and simplicity, and in these capacities Keter gives rise to the entire system of the sefirot.

In humans, Keter can be regarded as a primary source of psychic energy or volition, and in view of the fact that the Kabbalists understood it as initiating a series of sexual relations among the sefirot 40 Keter is not far from the Freudian libido. For Kabbalists, however, such libido is not only the foundation of the human psyche, but of the cosmos as a whole. Psychologically, one might regard our supreme task to be an awareness of our own will and desire.

Indeed, contemporary psychoanalysts such as Lacan have observed that few of us really know what we want. Most frequently we speak and act out the desires of others - our parents, our spouses, our employers, and our children - without the slightest awareness of our own needs and passions.

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In conversing with others, we find ourselves saying what we think they want to hear rather than what we want to say. The lesson of Keter is that we must listen quietly for our own desire, for, like Keter , our desire is hidden and dark, occupying the recesses of our unconscious, a "nothing" which is nevertheless the undiscovered origin of our psychic life.

Chochmah Wisdom Chochmah is regarded as the first creative act of the infinite, Ein Sof , and, as such, is frequently referred to as reishit beginning. Keter Elyon , God's will, is first channeled through Chochmah. Yet for the Kabbalists, intellect is, in effect, a new beginning both for the human psyche and the world.

Rabbi Moses De Leon declared that "the beginning of existence is the mystery of the hidden point which is called Chochmah When the most secret of secrets Keter sought to be revealed, He made, first of all, a single point, and this became thought.

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He made all the designs there. He made all the engravings there. Chochmah , above all, expresses the notion which was later boldly spelled out by Hegel that the entire world can be derived from a single, simple idea, which in the Kabbalah as it is in Hegel might well be equated with the entire dialectical system that expresses the reciprocal interdependence of Ein-sof and sefirot subject and object, God and the world. While Chochmah , according to the Kabbalists, cannot be seen or apprehended in and of itself, it is inherent in and "animates" everything. Chochmah is variously described as the "seed of all creation" and "the potentiality of what is.

While Chochmah is clearly something yesh in relation to Keter , it is nothing in relation to the world, inasmuch as the ideas embodied within it have yet to be made actual and concrete. As such it is, like Keter , occasionally referred to as Ayin , nothing. The kabbalistic dialectic permeates the sefirot in such a manner that none can be said to have a permanent structure or essence.

Psychologically, Chochmah , as has already been intimated, refers to the cognitive dimension of the human psyche, a dimension which, according to Freud and his followers, lies at the foundation of the ego, and is instrumental in directing the libido or will. It is in Chochmah , the realm of ideas, that the true relationship between the human psyche and the external world can be understood, for it is through our ideas that the world is experienced and, in effect, created.

As cognitive psychologists have noted, this is a powerful psychotherapeutic notion, for it frees us from regarding ourselves as victims of the world, and gives us both the opportunity and responsibility to forge our own experience.

Breslov Kabbalah: Part 7 – The Shattering Of The Vessels –

There is, indeed, wisdom , in recognizing that many, if not all of the forces which we believe to impede our progress in the world are of our own making. Victor Frankl, in speaking of his experiences in the concentration camps, even said that he learned the great lesson that while the Nazis could control his body they had no control over his mind, and as such his fate, in an important sense, remained within his own hands. Binah Understanding Binah is the third of the intellectual sefirot.

Binah is conceived as a "palace" erected around the point of Chochmah. Binah is frequently equated, in both rabbinic and kabbalistic sources with the process of reasoning itself, 51 though as we will see the reasoning of Binah is dialectical as opposed to Aristotelian. We can gain some insight into Binah by observing that it is the dominant sefirah in the "world" of Beriah creation which according to the Kabbalah is the world in which we first find the appearance of finite, distinct entities.

It is also transformed into the Celestial Mother, a fact which underlies its creative role. These sefirot are conceived as seven children emanating from her womb. In the geometrical metaphor frequently utilized by the Kabbalists, Binah is symbolized as a "circle" which represents the beginning of substantial existence.

In contrast to Chochmah , which the Kabbalists symbolized with the nondimensional point of the Hebrew letter yud , Binah is symbolized by the letter " heh ," 54 which has dimensions of length and width 55 and which, according to the Kabbalists represent the "dimensions" of explanation, understanding, and manifestation. According to the Zohar it is in Binah that existence is first separated and differentiated. Indeed, Binah is the first of several sefirot which are said by the Kabbalists to reconcile and harmonize opposing principles. Such reconciliation of opposites, or coincidentia oppositorum , is perhaps the hallmark of kabbalistic psychology.