THE KNOWLEDGE OF G-D
Before we can understand how the influence comes down from Keter (Desire) to Chochmah (Insight) and Binah (Comprehension), and their interrelationships, we must first understand what Chochmah and Binah are and how they work. In order to understand this we must examine the matter of how concepts are comprehended.
There are three dimensions to every comprehension: length, breadth and depth.
1) The breadth of a concept is that it may be explained in many different ways. There is not just one way that it may be understood. It may be examined from various different angles. This is similar to the width of a river.
2) The length of a concept is that it can be brought down through allegories and analogies, until it can even reach the level of a child. This is similar to the length of a river. It begins high in the mountains and flows down until it reaches sea level.
3) The depth of a concept is similar to the depth of a river. It is its underlying current. The depth of a concept is its underlying point. Now, according to the depth of the concept, will be its length and breadth. This too, is similar to a river. The depth and strength of the undercurrent will determine the amount of excess water that spreads from the depth to create a length and breadth. However, in the depth itself, there is no length and breadth. If there is a deep subject such as medicine, then automatically there will be a great width and length to its understanding. A short subject, such as how to play tic tac toe, is not very deep at all. Therefore, there is only one simple way to explain it. It has a narrow width and a short length because it is not deep. All this applies to the matter of comprehension, called Binah.
Now, the depth of a river reaches all the way to its source, in the spring. Likewise, the depth of a comprehended concept flows from, and reaches back, to its source in the spring of Chochmah. Chochmah is the insight and intuition which flashes into the comprehending mind of Binah, seemingly materializing from nothing to something. This corresponds to the trickle of water that flows out of the inner depth of the spring. As this water becomes revealed from its original concealment beneath the earth, it becomes the source of the river.
Now, just as there is a length, width and depth in the comprehension of Binah, likewise, there is a length, width and depth in the spring of Chochmah. Its depth is the source of the insight itself, before it spreads forth to break out as drops into the comprehension of Binah. This corresponds to the original source of the spring as it is in the aquifer, deep under the earth. The depth of the concept as it is comprehended in Binah is not at all comparable to its depth in Chochmah itself. This is because the depth of Chochmah is the source of all concepts, whereas the depth of the comprehension of Binah is just the depth of a specific subject or detail.
Hitbonenut - Contemplation and Analysis
above, Chochmah is the flash of intuitive
insight. Using the analogy of the river,
it is clear that the only way to achieve the intuitive flash of insight is by
swimming the length and width of the river.
This is to say that through contemplation and analysis on the given
explanations, one may have a flash of insight into the concept and consequently
develop it into an innovation. This is
clearly apparent from the following famous story of Archimedes. The king commissioned Archimedes to
weigh the royal throne in order to determine whether its builders had pilfered
gold while constructing it. Archimedes, who was the greatest mathematician of
his time, analyzed the problem over and over again without success. One day, he
was about to bathe. As he sat in the tub he noticed the displacement of water
and suddenly the solution flashed into his mind. It all came together for him
in a sudden intuitive flash. He jumped out of the tub and ran down the streets
What is Hitbonenut? Hitbonenut means contemplation or analysis. It is the act of trying to understand. Therefore, if Binah is the understanding itself, then Binah of Binah is Hitbonenut which is the act of trying to understand. In normal English this would be called, ‘learning’ or ‘study’. Now, there are two different types of study. One can study in a general way, going over the given material in a passing fashion, just to get the general idea. Then there is analytical study, in which one reviews the given material over and over again, seeking to understand the inner and outer workings of it.
(The Hebrew word Hitbonenut contains two ‘nuns’ (N). It would have been no less grammatically correct to spell this word using a single nun - Hitbonut. The reason it is written with two, is to signify that in order to gain understanding, one must go over the revealed explanations again and again.)
We see from the above story that only those that do the analysis on the subject – Hitbonenut, will discover novel ideas and innovations into it. It is simple to understand that only a physicist will have flashes of wisdom in the field of physics, because he has done the analysis into it. It is only a doctor who will have flashes of wisdom in the field of medicine, because he has spent many years analyzing the known body of knowledge of medicine. Therefore, he will have the flash of insight and discover that which is not yet known.
Da’at – Concentration
According to the above, it is clearly understood that concentration, in and of itself, can only act as a vessel for understanding. This is as stated, “If there is no Da’at, there is no Binah” (Pirke Avot). It is clear, that in order to have any insight, whether into a specific field of study or whether into the nature of reality, it can only come about through contemplation and analysis. Concentration alone, without content, cannot achieve this. This is because concentration can only act as an instrument to arrive at understanding.
Da’at constitutes the interest, focus and attachment to the subject, to the exclusion of all else. This can be gleaned from the meaning of the verse, “And Adam knew Eve – VeHaAdam Yada et Chava etc. And she gave birth to a son”. Da’at is usually translated as being “knowledge”, but as we see from the above verse, Da’at means the interest and attachment to something. It is quite a simple matter that a person who does not have interest in a subject will not be able to concentrate on it and will have difficulty understanding it clearly. From this it is clear that concentration is only like a vessel to hold the understanding.
Likewise, a person who does concentrate, but not on any specific subject, such as the “concentration” practiced in many eastern meditations, will not gain any true insight into any subject at all and certainly not into the true nature of reality. Since there is no content, all he has is the empty vessel of concentration. We can be sure that any “insights” that he may have, are nothing more than false imaginations and delusions. This is analogous to a person who claims to have learned medicine simply by sitting and meditating on a mantra for 10 years. Certainly, no one in their right mind would go to him for medical treatment.
Now, Da’at (concentration) also has the three dimensions of length, breadth and depth. For example there are people who have a short attention span and others who have a longer attention span. Some people can concentrate with great intensity, while others may be easily distracted. The difference between deep concentration and shallow concentration is similar to the difference between the ability of a child to concentrate as opposed to the concentration of an adult. Now, the three dimensions of Da’at are related to each other. For example, a person who cannot concentrate deeply will tend to have a short attention span. In contrast, a person with deep concentration will tend to have a long and wide attention span.
Abba and Imma
As mentioned above, Chochmah (Wisdom) is the intuition and insightful wisdom which flashes into the comprehending brain of Binah (Understanding). Now, if one does not immediately grasp on to the seminal insight of Chochmah and begin analyzing it, it will begin to dissipate and he will soon forget the insight completely. It is only when the flash of intuition is grasped in a way of analysis and comprehension that it can develop into a full blown concept, giving rise to true innovation. It is for this reason that Chochmah and Binah are also called by the terms Abba (Father) and Imma (Mother). This is because they are analogous to the seminal drop of the father being developed into a fully developed child in the womb of the mother. This is also the reason that they are called, Trein Ray’in D’Lo Mitparshin (The two lovers who never separate). This is because the two must always come together. In order for the seminal intuitive concept of Chochmah not to dissipate it must be analyzed and developed in Binah. Conversely, if there is no “concept” or “subject” to analyze, Binah is barren, so to speak, and has nothing to develop.
The World of Tohu – Chaos
We will now discuss the revelation of the desire. In order to understand this it is necessary to introduce the concepts of Tohu (Chaos) and Tikkun (Rectification). In general, the difference between chaos and rectification is that in Tohu, there is much light and few vessels. In Tikkun, on the other hand, there is less light and many vessels. This is to say that the difference between Tikkun and Tohu is similar to the difference between rational and irrational behavior.
Tohu (Chaos) is when the point of the essential desire is revealed in its essential state. This is to say that though every specific desire, such as a desire to be kind or a desire to be stern, has ten sefirot, nonetheless, they are indistinguishable from the desire. The thoughts and emotions for the desire are not objective at all. Rather, they are completely “enslaved” to and “driven” by the desire. This means that the intellect merely comes up with intellectual reasons to rationalize the desire rather than engaging in an objective analyses of it. Tohu, therefore, is compared to essential points, each of which has no recognizable divisions within it.
Because of this the various desires of Tohu are incompatible with each other and cannot coexist one with the other. For example, in Tohu the essential desire for kindness, though it is composed of intellect and emotions, cannot join with the essential desire for sternness. This is so even though sternness too, is composed of intellect and emotions. The reason for this is because the intellect and emotions of the desire to be kind are absolute kindness and exist solely to justify the kindness, whereas the intellect and emotions of the desire to be stern are absolutely stern and exist solely to justify the sternness. Because they are absolute opposites, they are incompatible with each other and cannot coexist simultaneously. The one must be destroyed before the other can be revealed. This brings about chaos.
The essential desire for kindness wants everything to be done exclusively through kindness, and since it is an essence, there is no room for compromise in this attitude. In addition, even though the kindness has intellect, it is not objective intellect at all. Rather, the intellect is bent on rationalizing the essential desire to be kind. However, acting upon this desire leads to chaos, because at times indiscriminate kindness may be the wrong approach. If one were to always act in a way of indiscriminate kindness, such as donating money to all charitable causes, whether they are worthy ones or not, or by being kind to all people, even to his enemies who are bent on his destruction, or by releasing all criminals from prison, even unrepentant psychopaths, the opposite of kindness would result.
Another example of this is parents who avoid disciplining their child by setting behavioral limits with consequences. They may feel they are “being nice” to their child, but in truth, they are creating a “monster” and destroying him. We see from this that indiscriminate kindness will eventually lead to negativity and destructiveness ending in results that are quite the opposite of the original intent. The same holds true for indiscriminate sternness, etc. This self destruction on the part of the essential emotional qualities of Tohu is called Shevirat HaKeilim (The breaking of the vessels).
From this we understand that an essential desire to be kind will become fixated solely on the external expression of kindness, overlooking its inner intent to affect positive results, and will not tolerate any restraint of kindness. Because it is an essential, undiluted desire, it becomes completely irrational often bringing about the opposite of the desired effect. As a result, each desire must be completely eradicated before it can be replaced by a different one. An example of this principle is the case of a very narrow minded person who is incapable of compromise. When such a person is kind, his kindness knows no restraint. He will be indiscriminately kind to everyone and he will be excessive in this kindness. Eventually, though, his kindness will, of necessity, break down because he will find himself being severely taken advantage of, and will become completely drained, both monetarily and emotionally. Such a person might then swing to the opposite extreme, becoming overly suspicious of others, excessively callous of their needs and extremely unkind. This approach too, will eventually break down, when people begin disliking and avoiding him because of his mean spirit.
The above principle applies when the desire comes in the form of an essential point, in which the intellect and emotions are “slaves” that are “driven” to fulfill it in an absolute manner in which there are no compromises. This may be compared to the uncompromising fanaticism of a Moslem fundamentalist terrorist who is hell bent on pushing his agenda no matter what the outcome. This level of Tohu is called Nekudah (Point).
Besides the Nekudah (Point) there is another level in Tohu, called Sefirah. This is when the point divides into ten recognizable traits. Because of this there is the appearance of rational behavior. It appears to be an objective, reasonable intellect which is open to compromise. In truth though, here too the intellect, emotions and actions exist merely to facilitate the desire that drives them. An example of this is a Christian missionary. He talks and acts as if he is an objective, reasonable person, but in reality he is neither reasonable nor objective. In reality he is completely bent on converting you to his religion and his speech and actions are there merely to facilitate this. This is why he knocked on your door in the first place. Though it appears that a reasonable conversation is taking place, if he is refuted in debate, he will automatically revert back to the essential point of the irrational desire in which there is no compromise and no recognizable intellect at all, such as saying, “It is true because I know it in my heart”, etc.
In summary, Tohu is when the light (revelation) of the desire is too strong for the vessels and overpowers them, so that they can no longer be objective but rather become completely unrestrained and driven by the desire.
The World of Tikkun – Rectification
On the other hand, the aspect of tikkun (rectification) is when a quality emerges from its essential point, to extend outside of the bounds of the essential desire and intellect. This is to say, that he allows himself to be objective. An example of the quality of kindness as it exists in tikkun, is when a desire and intellectual leaning of kindness is aroused toward his fellow because he did him a favor. Here it is not solely because of the essential goodness and kindness of his soul. On the contrary, when one is acting objectively, according to the way of tikkun, it is possible that though he may be cruel by nature, nonetheless, to someone who was gracious to him and saved him from death or the like, he will desire to be kind. He will always view that person kindly and consider his merits in his mind, etc. This is because he was proven worthy of his kindness, etc.
This is called a “composite” kindness or goodness. It is not at all the simple and essential kindness which results solely from his essential nature. Because it is a composite, complex kindness, it no longer is merely the simple will to act kindly, but comes about according to the situation. He will be kind to some and not to others, all according to rational sense and reason. The same principle applies to the opposite of kindness, which is the composite quality of sternness. He will focus his desire and intellect toward contemplating the guilt of his enemy, who caused him much harm. This will be so even though he may be a very kind and compassionate person by nature, etc.
Based on this, we understand that it is possible for the composition of one’s desires to be engineered in extremely different ways, according to the considerations which form the feelings. Included in this, are composite love and composite hate, because they are dependent on some rational consideration, as mentioned above. It is thus possible to find something that from one angle, one will love. From this angle he will only have good and kind thoughts and desires towards this thing. Simultaneously, from another angle of the very same thing itself, he will judge it sternly and have thoughts and desires to harm and destroy it. Because of this principle of composite qualities it is possible for the matter of compromise to exist, which takes both kindness and sternness into account and comes to a conclusion somewhere between the two opposite poles.
Tikkun (rectification) is also called Partzuf, which means “face” or “personality”. This is because at this point there are recognizable divisions of the sefirot into ten, each of which is divided into subsequent divisions of ten. The concept of a partzuf is the inclusion of all opposites etc., like a human being, who has many facets to his personality, all of which join to make him who and what he is. Besides this, his physical body too is made up of many parts with different and even opposite natures and functions, and yet, not only do they not contradict each other, but they work in conjunction as a unified system. Each organ performs the function it is suited for while allowing the others to perform their function. Furthermore, in order to perform properly, every organ depends on the others for its health and vitality, for example, if a person has nagging foot pains, this will affect his brain and he will have difficulty concentrating on his studies. This mutual coexistence and symbiosis is not possible in Tohu, where the sefiros exist as pure essences and are therefore incompatible with their counterparts.
It is specifically in tikkun that mutual coexistence and symbiosis can exist, since in tikkun each point comes about as an extension outside of its essence. It is specifically then that they can be included one with the other through the many various types of vessels for expression, of which they are composed etc. The vessel integrates something of each sefirah. This being the case, they all find expression in it. This allows all the sefiros to coexist within the desire for the same act. In addition, because it integrates all of them, it is powered by the desire for all of them to find expression. This allows for a complete expression of all the qualities in a settled and fulfilling manner.
The Worlds of Akudim, Nekudim and Brudim
Now, the two levels of the world of Tohu, plus the level of the world of Tikkun correspond to the three world of Akudim, Nekudim and Brudim. These terms, which mean “bound”, “speckled” and “splotched”, have their source in the Torah account of how Lavan (Leah and Rachel’s father) tried to swindle Yaakov out of the wages due him for tending Lavan’s flock. After working without pay for fourteen years in return for marrying his daughters, Lavan agreed that Yaakov would receive his payment with those sheep that were born with “bands” around their ankles (Akudim), small speckles (Nekudim) or large splotches (Brudim).
These Torah terms hint at the three above mentioned levels of Nekudah, Sefirah and Partzuf.
1) The term Akudim (bands) represents the level of Nekudah, in which the sefirot are all “bound” up in a single vessel and are thus indistinguishable from each other. They are all expressed in the essential desire, such as the essential desire for kindness, for example, similar to a band which is circular, representing that it is bound up within itself.
2) The small speckles (Nekudim) represent the level of sefirah, in which the particular divisions of each sefirah are recognizable, but nonetheless, remain disjointed and do not interconnect to work in conjunction as a unified system.
3) The large splotches (Brudim) represent the level of Partzuf, in which the sefirot are recognizable as distinct qualities, but nonetheless, unite and connect to work in conjunction as a unified system. This is comparable to the merging of many specks into one large splotch.
Now, though these three levels refer to the particular worlds of Akudim, Nekudim and Brudim, generally speaking only two worlds are mentioned, the world of Tohu and the world of Tikkun. These correspond to the worlds of Akudim and Brudim which correspond to the aspects of Nekudah and Partzuf, as mention above. When the worlds of Tohu and Tikkun are referred to in such a way, Nekudim is regarded to be a level within Tohu.
The Three Lines of the Sefirot of Yosher
With the above in mind, the division of the ten sefirot of Yosher and their inclusion and connection with each other may be understood. The sefirot of Tikkun are divided into three lines of expression. These are Kindness, Judgment and Mercy (Chesed, Din, Rachamim). The quality of kindness is represented as a line to the right, the quality of Judgment as a line to the left and the quality of mercy as a line in the middle, between the other two lines. The three sefirot Chochmah, Chesed and Netzach make up the right line, the sefirot Binah, Gevurah and Hod make up the left line, and the sefirot Da’at, Tiferet and Yesod make up the middle line. Now, it must be understood that on the level of Keter of Keter, which is the inner aspect of Keter, there is no division into three lines. This is because Keter of Keter is a simple essential desire which is indivisible into parts. Rather, the three lines begin to separate as distinct modes of expression beginning with the external aspect of Keter. This external aspect begins with Chochmah of Keter onward. Now, the inclusion and connection of the right and left lines with each other comes about specifically through the middle line which represents the quality of connection.
The explanation of the matter is as follows: In the right line, though Chochmah, Chesed, and Netzach are related to each other, nonetheless they are separate matters from each other. For example, Chochmah is an intellect and reasoning which leans toward being kind. This is because Chochmah, which is the intuitive flash of inspiration, views things in a holistic fashion. It will, therefore, tend to lean toward kindness. For example, in a criminal court case, if we look at the whole person, such as what his upbringing, economic and social circumstances are etc., for the most part, there will be a greater tendency to view the defendant favorably, than if only the details of the crime itself are scrutinized. From this we see that Chesed, which is the giving of influence, is an offshoot of Chochmah.
In turn, Netzach is an offshoot of Chesed. Chesed is the
quality of expansive and abundant spreading forth of influence. Since Netzach is the
quality of Conquest, which is the matter of spreading forth by expanding the
borders of his influence, we see that it is an offshoot of Chesed. But, on the other hand,
it is an altogether separate matter from Chesed, just as Chesed is a
separate matter from Chochmah, though it is an offshoot of it. Netzach is not a form of Chesed. Nonetheless, when there
is a desire to do a Chesed,
all obstacles to its fulfillment must be overcome in order for it to come to
fruition. This is a function of Netzach, which is the quality of perseverance, overcoming of
obstacles, and victory. This is to say
that the quality of kindness necessitates the drive to triumph, in order to
bring about the actualization of that kindness etc. An example of this may be understood from the
parent/child relationship. When a parent wants to influence his child in a way
he explains to him why he should think or act in a certain way until he has
“won him over” to his way of thinking or acting.
In the left line too, though Binah, Gevurah and Hod are related to each other, nonetheless they are separate matters from each other. This is because Binah, constitutes close scrutiny and comprehensive analysis. Because of this, it is specifically in Binah that faults will begin to be noticed and judgments will be aroused. Therefore, there will be a greater tendency toward being judgmental. From this we see that Gevurah, which is the quality of restraint and the withholding of influence, is an offshoot of Binah. For this reason the verse states, “I am Binah, Gevurah is mine.”
In turn, Hod is an offshoot of Gevurah. Gevurah is the quality of restraint and the withholding of influence. Hod, which is the quality of submission to authority, is its offshoot. In the parent/child relationship, this is when the parent demands that the child should act or desist from acting in a certain way, not because he has “won him over” to his way of thinking, as with Netzach, but by force of authority alone. “You must do it because I said so. I don’t owe you explanations.” In the case of a citizen of a country, this is the fact that a person must submit to the laws of the land, whether he agrees with them or not. When he is stopped for a traffic violation, he cannot argue the merits or demerits of the law with the police officer. He must submit, and if he does not, he will be arrested and restrained. This is to say that the quality of Gevurah necessitates the submission to authority of Hod in order to bring about the actualization of Gevurah.
Now, the inclusion of theses two opposite lines, so that they become connected and synthesized as one, is brought about through the middle line which is made up of Da’at, Tiferet and Yesod, etc. The first example of this is Da’at, which acts as a mediator and tips the mind from intellectual kindness to intellectual sternness, or visa versa. It is specifically the faculty of Da’at which dictates how these intellectual leanings will be. This is evidenced by the verse in which G-d said after the flood, “I will not continue to curse the earth because of mankind, because the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, I will, therefore, not continue to punish any living thing, as I had done.” Here, man’s inclination to evil is given as the logic and reason for judging them favorably, whereas prior to the flood, the identical reason was given for judging them as guilty, as is written, “And HaShem saw that the evil of man was great on earth, and that all the inclinations of his heart were only evil all day long.” From this we see that it is specifically in Da’at that the two conceptually opposite qualities of Chesed and Gevurah become connected, leaning toward kindness in one manner and toward judgment in another, even in regard to the same case.
Likewise, it is the quality of Tiferet, which is the next quality of the middle line, which tips the scales between heartfelt kindness and heartfelt sternness. This is because Tiferet represents mercy. However, mercy is only applicable after the quality of judgment has concluded that the person is guilty. Through Tiferet, even though there was a guilty verdict, mercy releases him. Just as Chesed is the quality of Avraham and Gevurah is the quality of Yitzchak, so is the mercy of Tiferet the quality of Yaakov, as will be explained later.
The quality of Yesod, which is the next level of the middle line, also acts as a mediator and combines the two opposite gut emotions of Netzach and Hod. The gut emotions of Netzach and Hod are no longer heartfelt emotions but are rather emotions as they relate to action. For instance, a guest at a wedding banquet feels the heartfelt emotion of joy for the bride and groom. The gut emotion, on the other hand, is that he has an urge to get up and dance for joy. This is the matter of the “advise of the kidneys” which represent Netzach and Hod. They counsel, either “Yes” or “No” before the influence comes out from the influencer into action. This takes place whenever it is necessary to influence the essential qualities of Chesed and Gevurah and bring them into action etc. It is Yesod, which represents the fulcrum, that tips the scales and decides how the Netzach and Hod will be put into action and exactly in what proportion they will be, just as every time that a decision is made, it comes about through tipping the balance of the scales to one side or the other.
When the verdict is decided, it is weighed on the “Scales of Righteousness” which are Netzach and Hod. They decide exactly how to bring the influence out to the recipient. If the decision is favorable, there will be a greater proportion of Netzach to Hod, and if it is not, there will be a greater proportion of Hod to Netzach. The general matter of the middle line of Da’at, Tiferet and Yesod, is that it connects the two lines to its right and left. Furthermore, it is specifically the sefirot of the middle line which have the ability to connect the qualities of the right and left, because unlike the other sefirot which necessitate each other but are not direct expressions of each other, the sefirot of the middle line are directly related to each other. This is so because they all represent different manifestations of the quality of connection. Da’at represents mental connection, Tiferet represents emotional connection and Yesod represents connection on the gut level as it relates to action.
Now, the particulars of how the sefirot are combined, are called the, “Twelve diagonal lines”, (Yud Beit G’vulay Alachson) whereas the middle line is called, “The inner beam”, (Bree’ach Hatichon) that runs through from one end to the other end. On the one end it reaches up into the desire of Keter and on the other end it reaches down into the speech and actions of Malchut. This means that it goes all the way up to the inner aspect of Keter (pleasure and desire), which itself is higher than the division into lines. It is specifically because of this that it has the power to unify and synthesize the two opposite lines to the right and left, and to go down and connect with Malchut (speech and action). In this way the middle line is actually made up of the sefirot of Keter, Da’at, Tiferet, Yesod and Malchut.
The Inner Keter of Atzilut
Now for the explanation of the matter of the “Inner Keter of Atzilut:
This is called Keter of Keter (Desire of Desire). It is the inner revelation of desire (Arich) and pleasure (Atik) and is the inner light of Keter. It likewise, has ten sefirot. However, the next level of Keter, which is Chochmah of Keter (Insight of Desire), constitutes the intellectual reason for the desire and is called, “The hidden reason of the desire” (Ta’am Kamoos LaRatzon). It too has a Chesed and a Netzach. All this is still in a way of unlimited desire, even though Chochmah of Keter is a revelation that has already come out from the hidden essential desire, as mentioned above. It is for this reason that the emotions of the pleasure and desire are called, “The preceding days” (Yemay Kedem), meaning that they “precede” or are “higher” relative to the emotions as they exist in Chochmah and Binah proper.
The emotions of Chochmah and Binah proper, come about in a limited fashion, and are according to the limitations of revealed intellect only, as will be explained. The unlimited aspect of Keter continues down as far as the aspect of the Malchut of Keter, which is the very most external level of Keter. It is specifically from the external aspect of Keter that there comes about a division into three lines. This is because in the hidden reason for the desire, (which is Chochmah of Keter and is external relative to Keter of Keter), the desire is already regarded as being divided to into Chesed, Gevurah and the intermediate quality of Tiferet. However in Keter of Keter, which is beyond the hidden reason for the desire, there is only the simple essential desire without any reason at all. This is because in actuality, desire is something which transcends reason altogether. There is not even a hidden reason for the desire on this level. This is because it is an essential desire which is above the intellect. Therefore, this level of desire is higher than the division into right and left etc. even though it becomes revealed from the lowest level of the hidden desire of Adam Kadmon (Primal Man).
About this difference between Keter of Keter and Chochmah of Keter it states, “And the curtain shall be for you a separation between the holy and the holy of holies”. This is referring to the aspect of the Parsa (space) between Keter of Keter and Chochmah of Keter, which is called Krooma D’Avirah (The “airy membrane” that exists between the skull and the brain.) For this reason we say in our prayers, “May it be desirable before You”, meaning before or “Higher” than the Parsa. This is to say that we appeal to G-d on the level of His desire (Keter of Keter) which transcends even the hidden reason for the desire (Chochmah of Keter). Because of this it can override the intellect and reason of the desire and change from a desire to be stern to a desire to be kind, or the like.
Inclusion and Subdivision
As mentioned above, it is specifically in Tikkun where there can be an inclusion of one sefirah with its opposite, and where a composition of two opposite sefirot can take place to form a compound quality or act. Another difference between Tohu and Tikkun which illustrates how one action may include two opposites may be understood from the well known experiment that gauges the intelligence of animals. An animal is placed in an area surrounded by a u-shaped fence. Food is then placed on the outside of the middle fence. An intelligent animal will come to the realization that it must initially go in the opposite direction than the food, thus distancing itself from the object of it’s desire, in order to go around the fence to acquire it. An animal of lesser intelligence, on the other hand, will attempt to go in the direction of the food and will forever be frustrated in achieving its goal. Now, the act of stepping away from the food is the diametric opposite of the desire. The desire is for the food, but the animal must actually go away from it. In contrast, the other animal does go in the direction of the food. But, which animal gets the food? It is specifically the animal who can step away from the object of his desire and objectively analyze the situation. The reason is because he is able to make a compromise, and actually go against his desire. The act of moving away from the food includes two opposites. The light of the action, its intent, is for the food, but the action itself is its opposite, in that he moves away from the food. It is specifically because of this that he gets the food. The raw desire of the other animal, on the other hand, is too overpowering, and it is therefore unable to objectively analyze the situation.
The above example gives clear insight into the worlds of Tohu (Chaos) and Tikkun (Rectification). It is only in Tikkun where compromise and inclusion of two opposites can take place. It is therefore specifically in Tikkun where there are subdivisions of each sefirah into ten and those into ten, infinitely subdividing in order to make it possible for any number of combinations of inclusion and compromise to exist. However, in Tohu only ten indivisible essential points exist, (or, as mentioned above, only a single subdivision into ten within each point, which is called a sefirah) thereby making inclusion and compromise impossible.
The enclothement of Arich Anpin into Abba and Imma – From Desire to Thought
We will now continue explaining the process of the creation and the chaining down of the worlds, and understand how Arich (Desire) becomes enclothed within Abba and Imma (Insight and Comprehension). There are three general ways that desire can descend to influence the intellect. The intellect will, therefore, be affected according to how the influence descends into it.
In the book Etz Chaim of the Ari”zal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria), three general ways are mentioned of how the influence descends from Arich into Abba and Imma (Desire into insight and comprehension):
1) A light from the externality of Netzach, Hod and Yesod of Arich is enclothed within Abba and Imma.
2) The “Arms of Arich” (Chesed and Gevurah of Arich) become enclothed in Abba and Imma.
3) Abba suckles sustenance from the eighth mazal, which is called Notzer and Imma suckles sustenance from the thirteenth mazal which is called VeNakeh.
What does this mean?
The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy
In order to understand this we must first explain what the two Mazalot mentioned above are. There are thirteen attributes of Mercy which G-d revealed to Moshe. (Parshat Ki Teesa) They are:
1. E-L - Benevolent G-d
2. Rachum - Compassionate
3. V'Chanun - and Gracious
4. Erech - Long (slow)
5. Apayim - Suffering (to anger)
6. V'Rav Chesed - and Abounding in Kindness
7. V'Emet - and Truth
8. Notzer Chesed - He Preserves Kindness
9. L'Alaphim - for two thousand generations
10. Noseh Avon - Pardoning Iniquity
11. VaPeshah - and Transgression
12. V'Chata'a - and Sin
13. V'Nakeh - and He Cleanses.
The source of these thirteen attributes is in Keter of Arich. It is for this reason that they are called the thirteen attributes of mercy. Because they are higher than Chochmah of Arich which, as mentioned above, (in ch. 32) is the source of the laws of the Torah, they therefore have the ability to overturn a Divine decree from harshness to leniency, through mercy. This is how Moshe was able to arouse G-d’s mercy, and appease G-d in His wrath against the Jewish people. It was specifically by appealing to G-d’s mercifulness as exemplified by these thirteen attributes of mercy.
The eighth and the thirteenth attributes, Notzer and V’Nakeh, are called Mazalot. The Hebrew word Mazal comes from the root Nozel which means “To flow down”. They have this name because it is from these two attributes that influence flows down to Chochmah and Binah.
Influence from the Two Mazalot – Notzer and V’Nakeh
As mentioned above, Chochmah (Wisdom) is the flash of intuitional insight which seems to appear from nowhere. On the other hand, Binah (Understanding) is when this wisdom is comprehended in a way of tangible grasp. For this reason Chochmah is called Ein (Nothingness) whereas Binah is called Yesh (Something). These two sefirot, Chochmah and Binah, are called “the two lovers who never separate” (Trein re’in d’lo mitparshin). This is because the one cannot function without the other. This is to say that in order for the mind to comprehend, there must be a seminal concept to grasp through analysis. On the other hand, the concept cannot exist in a vacuum. There must be a vessel to contain it and develop it. This vessel is the comprehension of Binah. For this reason these two sefirot are always found together. When one is thinking, he must think about something.
The creation of “something from nothing” is when the flash of intuition (Chochmah) breaks through like a lightning bolt, to the level of understanding (Binah) from that which is above intellect (Keter). This comes from the source of intellect which is called “Koach HaMaskil” (Chochmah of Arich). Koach HaMaskil is the ability to bring out new insights into the intellect.
We may now understand the meaning of the statement in Etz Chaim that Abba (Chochmah) receives from the eighth mazal which is called Notzer and that Imma (Binah) receives from the thirteenth mazal which is called VeNakeh.
The eighth mazal, Notzer, is the ability to reveal new insights. It is the source and potential for intellectual insight as it exists in the desire (Arich). This “Potential for intellectual insight” (Koach HaMaskil) is the “Insight on the level of desire”. This is indicated by the fact that the letters of the word Notzer may be rearranged to make up the word Tzinor (Pipe), meaning that insight flows down from there.
The thirteenth mazal, VeNakeh, is the ability to develop the insight so that it “develops and grows”. It is the source of the intellectual comprehension of the insight as it exists on the level of the desire (Arich). This is “Comprehension on the level of desire”. This is indicated by the fact that the Hebrew word Nakeh has the same etymological root as the word Yenikah which means “to suckle”. This is analogous to a child who suckles his mother’s milk, which causes him to develop and grow.
As mentioned above, in order for there to be a flash of insight (Chochmah) into a subject, there must be the unification of Chochmah and Binah. This comes about through the act of analysis (Hitbonenut). So too, higher than the intellect, within the very source of Chochmah and Binah, which is Arich (Desire), there must also be a unification of the two mazalot. This is in order to give birth to new insights and to develop them. If the ability to bring out new insights alone exists, but not the ability to grasp and develop them, new insight will not come about. The opposite is also true. If there is only the ability to develop insight but there is no insight to develop, the power to grasp and comprehend remains barren. The unification of both of these powers of Arich (desire) is no less essential than the unification of Chochmah and Binah.
Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, Chesed of Atik (kindness of pleasure) is enclothed in Keter of Arich (desire of desire). In other words, great pleasure is what gives rise to great desire. This means that the great desire (Keter of Arich) is, in turn, the source of the two mazalot, as mentioned above. We, therefore, see that in order to have a flash of insight into a subject, one must have great pleasure and desire in delving into the subject. For example, a person who becomes a doctor out of a desire for wealth rather than a desire to heal will most likely not come up with great insights into medicine. This is because his pleasure is into the financial benefits rather than the subject of medicine. Likewise, a person who goes into computer science because he wants to make a fortune, most likely will not come up with great innovations in computer science. If he goes to college and studies he will become a computer scientist, but it is unlikely that he will discover any new innovation and bring it out “something out of nothing”.
From this we see that the power of innovation is specifically rooted in the desire (Arich) and even higher, in the pleasure (Atik).
The examples above illustrate that pleasure (Atik) and desire (Arich) is the source of the flash of insight (Chochmah). However, these examples themselves actually fit later on in the chaining down of the worlds. Rather, they were used here for lack of better examples. This is because the subject we are occupied with here, is the matter of the two mazalot and that which results from their unification. However, in the examples, the thought and innovation is directed outward, towards something outside of one’s self. That level of thought comes about from Netzach, Hod, and Yesod of Arich (The gut emotions of the desire), as will be explained later. On the other hand, the flash of intuition we are dealing with here is an intuitional insight that goes up, into the self itself, rather than down, outside of the self, and represents deep introspection. This is like an intuitive flash of insight into the true nature of reality. In other words, the analysis is not into externalities, such as making a better computer, or discovering a medical breakthrough. Rather, the analysis is inward, into the essential self. For example, the analysis is to understand the desire, purpose and intent behind all of Creation. Therefore, this flash of intuition comes from Keter of Arich (Desire of Desire) within which Atik Yomin (Emotions of Pleasure) is enclothed, which, as mentioned before, is still part and parcel of the Self. In truth, it can actually reach even higher, into the original simple desire and intent in the essence of the Self itself (Ratzon HaPashoot B’Atzmooto).
‘The Arms’ of Arich Anpin become enclothed in Abba and Imma
Now, we must understand the second way the influence comes down from Arich Anpin (Desire) to Abba (Insight) and Imma (Comprehension). It was stated that Abba and Imma enclothe the “Arms” of Arich. This means that Chesed and Gevurah of Arich become enclothed within Abba and Imma. In order to understand this, we must first understand exactly what the emotions of Arich Anpin are. As mentioned above, Arich Anpin is desire. This being the case, Chesed and Gevurah of Arich are the emotions of desire. They are not actual heartfelt emotions at all. Neither are they intellectual. Rather, this is to say that the desire itself leans either toward kindness or sternness.
When these sefirot become enclothed within Chochmah and Binah, the intellect becomes like a garment that covers over them. The intellect conforms to the leanings of the desire, just as a garment takes on the movements of the person who is wearing it. If the person moves to the left, his clothing will move along with him and if he moves to the right, his clothing will move along with him.
This may be understood by the example of a judge who has been bribed. Because the judge accepted a bribe from the defendant, he can no longer be unbiased in judgment. His desire is to treat the defendant with kindness. Because of this, his intellect will also lean toward kindness in regard to the defendant and he will come up with logical justifications to exonerate the defendant. This illustrates how the intellect conforms to the desire.
Another example which illustrates this is that of a child who desires a bicycle. His intellect will come up with reasons why he needs it. For instance, he will tell his mother, “I need a bike to get to school”. “I’ll drive you there”, she answers him. “I realize you’re very busy and driving me to school will be too much trouble for you”, he says. “That’s okay, it’s no trouble at all. I’ll drive you to school, and besides, we can’t afford it.” “But I don’t want you to drive me to school. I want a bike.” We see that even though his “transportation problem” has been solved by his mother driving him to school, he still wants the bike. The reason is because that is what he wanted in the first place. Now, he may become completely unreasonable and throw a tantrum. This is because his intellect was just a “garment” which conforms to the emotions of the desire, not visa versa. This example illustrates how the intellect becomes a garment within which the “arms” of Arich Anpin (Emotions of Desire) are enclothed. This is a type of revelation of the world of Tohu (Chaos).
Intellect Influenced by Netzach, Hod and Yesod of Arich Anpin
The third level is when influence comes from Netzach, Hod and Yesod of Arich Anpin into Abba and Imma. In order to understand this, we must understand exactly what Netzach, Hod and Yesod of Arich are. In general, the Zohar calls these three sefirot, “the righteous scales” (Moznei Tzedek). This is because these sefirot generally measure how to bring out the influence. They decide whether it will be through Netzach, which means to explain it until the person sees things your way, whether it will be through Hod, which means acceptance on the part of the person solely by force of acknowledgment and submission, or whether it will be through Yesod, which is a synthesis of the two.
We may now understand the level of influence which comes down to Abba and Imma from Netzach, Hod and Yesod of Arich. The desires of Netzach, Hod and Yesod, are the gut emotions of the desire as they relate to bringing something out into actuality. For instance, the desire is to actually develop a better computer, or an actual medical advancement. Because this is his pleasure and desire, his intellect will bring out new insights into bringing about these things in actuality. As mentioned above, this level relates outward.
The Three Levels of the Intellect of Abba and Imma
Now, within Abba and Imma (Chochmah and Binah) there are also ten sefirot. This is to say that in Chochmah (Abba) there are ten sefirot and in Binah (Imma) there are also ten sefirot. In general, the ten sefirot can be divided into three categories. The first category is the innermost of the ten. These are the mental faculties, Chochmah, Binah and Da’at. In Kabbalistic texts these three are given the acronym ChaBa”D. (When referring to Keter, Chochmah and Binah the acronym KoCha”B is used.) The next three are the heartfelt emotional faculties Chesed, Gevurah and Tiferet. These are given the acronym ChaGa”T. The third group is the most external. These are Netzach, Hod and Yesod. They represent the external ‘gut emotions’. These three are given the acronym NeHi”Y. We will now proceed to examine and understand the ten sefirot of Abba and Imma themselves.
ChaBa”D of Abba and Imma
The first level of intellect is the innermost. It is intellect purely to understand, similar to what was explained above on the matter of comprehension and analysis. As explained, Abba (Chochmah) is the seminal flash of intuitive insight which flashes into Imma (Binah). Furthermore, in both Chochmah and Binah there are three dimensions, length, breadth and depth. The flash of intuitive insight is the very most external level of Chochmah. It is Chochmah as it comes into Binah. Higher than this is Chochmah as it is in and of itself, before the drops of the spring of Chochmah trickle forth into the river of thought. As mentioned before, although there are dimensions in Chochmah, nonetheless, Chochmah itself is beyond direct grasp or comprehension. It exists in a way which is not directly tangible. It is only through the grasp and comprehension of Binah that the ‘nothingness’ of Chochmah becomes tangible. Because of this Chochmah corresponds to Shabbat, whereas Binah corresponds to Yom Tov. On Shabbat, a Jew is separate from all worldly matters. He does not do any form of work. It is a day devoted to prayer, study and introspection. In contrast, on Yom Tov (The Jewish holidays) a Jew is permitted to do some form of work, such as cooking. From this we see that Binah relates to Yom Tov. Binah is an intermediary level between Chochmah which is separate and holy, and the emotions and action (The sefirot from Chesed through Malchut).
(It is specifically because of this that Chochmah is called “Pleasure” whereas Binah is called “Fiery Joy”. In the same way that pleasure is introverted, and only “drops” of it can trickle out, so is it with Chochmah which the Zohar calls, “A thing unto itself”. In contrast, Binah is tangible comprehension, which can be felt and expressed. In contrast to the introspective pleasure of Chochmah, Binah is a fiery joy, which is felt and expressed.)
This is because, as mentioned above, Chochmah is how the concept is in its source before it comes into comprehension, whereas Binah is how the concept becomes tangible within comprehension.
(As mentioned earlier, both Chochmah and Binah have dimensions of length, breadth and depth. These three dimensions correspond to Keter, Chochmah and Binah of Chochmah and Keter, Chochmah and Binah of Binah. In Binah these three dimensions are as follows;
1. The length of a concept in Binah corresponds to Binah of Binah. This is because Binah is the comprehensive explanation of a subject, to bring it down, into tangibility, all the way until even a child may understand it.
2. The breadth of a concept in Binah corresponds to Chochmah of Binah. This is because Chochmah, (Insight) is what gives breadth to an explanation. In other words, when one thoroughly understands two different wisdoms, like medicine and physics, he will see the correlation between the two. This is a breadth.
3. The depth of a concept in Binah corresponds to Keter of Binah. This is because Keter is the essential point of the concept, from which the width and length spread forth. In Binah this depth is called Omek Hamoosag (The depth of comprehension).
In Chochmah the three dimensions are as follows;
1. The length of the concept in Chochmah corresponds to Binah of Chochmah. This is the power of explanation within Chochmah itself. It is the fact that the insight can be explained in any number of ways. It is the length of Chochmah that reaches down into Binah, causing the concept to flash into tangibility and comprehension. However, Binah of Chochmah is not actual comprehension and tangibility. Rather, it is the potential for tangible explanations and comprehension of any wisdom and explanation.
2. The breadth of the concept in Chochmah corresponds to Chochmah of Chochmah. The breadth of Chochmah is how every individual intellect and wisdom exists as one in its source in Chochmah. It is the source of the fact that two individual intellects can be interrelated to form a breadth in Binah.
3. The depth of the concept in Chochmah corresponds to Keter of Chochmah, which is the desire to bring all wisdom into being. This is the source and depth of all wisdom in contrast to the depth of an individual wisdom in Binah.)
ChaGa”T of Abba and Imma
Now, the second level of the intellect constitutes the emotions of Chochmah and the emotions of Binah. In Binah this is intellect in a way of comprehendible terms and reasoning, which lean either toward kindness or sternness. In Chochmah it is the power of the intellect which leans toward kindness or severity. The difference between the two is that in Binah this is in a way of comprehension and reasoning. In contrast, in Chochmah, although the intellect leans either to the right or to the left, it is not yet in a way of comprehension and reasoning. An example for this is when two people are having an argument in which one intellect leans toward Chesed and the other leans toward Gevurah. Now, even when the person whose intellect leans toward sternness disproves the other person’s logic and reasoning, nonetheless, the other person cannot concede that his friend is correct. His intellect leans toward Kindness and that is how he sees things, and even though, at the moment, he does not have a logical proof to support his position, he just knows he is right. This may be illustrated by a story in the Talmud in which Rav was challenged on the logic of his position and remained silent. He could not concede to the opposing position nor could he argue against it. Instead he remained silent. This is because he knew that he was correct in a way of Chochmah rather than in a way of Binah. On the level of insight he knew he was right but he hadn’t yet brought it down to a comprehendible explanation on the Binah level.
NeHi”Y of Abba and Imma
The third level of the intellect has two aspects. Firstly, it determines how to bring the intellectual influence out, as explained before. Secondly, it represents the matter of strong mindedness, as follows:
The Zohar calls the sefirot Netzach and Hod, “the two thighs (or legs)”. This is because the legs hold up the entire body. Likewise, in the mind, the sefirot Netzach and Hod are the strength of mind that uphold the intellect. As seen from the example of Rav above, he remained firm in his opinion even though he could not come up with a logical argument to prove it. It was his strength of mind and intellectual resolve which upheld his opinion. This is NeHi”Y of Abba (The gut emotions of insight). This can be understood by what was explained above, that Netzach is the desire to conquer and overcome obstacles, and Hod is the desire for splendor and respect. Therefore Netzach and Hod of Chochmah represents the resolve that one’s intellectual opinion should triumph against all opposing opinions and should be honored and respected as the correct opinion. In contrast to the above, someone with weak intellectual NeHi”Y, will not have sufficient resolve and confidence in his own intellect and will tend to back down in the face of intellectual opposition. He will not be firm in his position and will easily change his mind.
The NeHi”Y of Imma (Binah) is the “Therefore” that follows the analysis of Binah. This is to say that after he has done the analysis (Binah of Binah), which is the inner level of Binah, and his intellect has already leaned toward either kindness or sternness, his intellect then comes up with a “Therefore”. For example, he analyses the matter of crime and lawlessness (Binah of Binah). The outcome of this analysis is an intellectual leaning toward sternness (Gevurah of Binah). From this comes the most external part of the intellect (NeHi”Y of Binah) which is the “Conclusion” that “Therefore” crime and lawlessness is a bad thing which must be stamped out.
The Unification of NeHi”Y of Abba and Imma
Now, it is specifically the unification of the NeHi”Y of Chochmah with the NeHi”Y of Binah which gives rise to actual heartfelt emotions that are rooted in reason. This is to say that it is specifically through the unification of the “Resolve” and the “conclusion” that the heartfelt emotions come about. Let us return to the example of the analysis of crime and lawlessness. It is only when there is a “conclusion” that crime and lawlessness is bad, and a “determination and resolve” that this conclusion is correct, that emotions of anger will be aroused at the occurrence of crime and lawlessness. It is clear that if one of these is not present, no actual heartfelt emotions will be aroused. For example, even if there is just the intellectual “conclusion of the therefore”, but there is no “determination and resolve” in his position, when opposition arises, he will falter and back down, rather than be aroused to actual heartfelt anger about crime. Or if there is just “the conclusion of the therefore”, but no actual resolve, then again, he will falter. From this we see that it is only the unification of the NeHi”Y of Chochmah with the NeHi”Y of Binah, (The “determination and resolve” with the “conclusion of the therefore”) that gives rise to heartfelt emotions which are rooted in reason.