The Sefirot

The names of the ten Sefirot are:

Chochmah wisdom,

Binah – understanding,

Daat – knowledge,

Chessed – kindness,

Gevurah – strength,

Tiferet – beauty,

Netzach – victory,

Hod – splendor,

Yesod – foundation,

and Malchut – kingship.

Everything that happens in the spiritual worlds takes place through the medium of the Sefirot. However, as previously mentioned, they are not G‑d, and the Kabbalists warn that one should not pray to them. In the words of Tikkunei Zohar: Elijah opened his discourse and said: ‘Master of the worlds, You are One but not in the numerical sense. You are exalted above all the exalted ones, hidden from all the hidden ones; no thought can grasp You at all. You are He who has brought forth ten “garments,” and we call them ten Sefirot, and revealed worlds; and through them You conceal yourself from man.

You are He who binds them together and unites them; and inasmuch as You are within them, whoever separates one from another of these ten Sefirot, it is considered as if he had effected a separation in You.

As previously discussed, Tzimtzum is the concealment of the Or Ein Sof which allows a Seder Hishtalshelut, a “series of intermediary stages” or worlds that makes the creation of the finite world possible. Each of these worlds has a spiritual infrastructure, the most basic component being the Sefirot.

The Sefirot are ten modes or attributes through which G‑d manifests Himself. The Sefirot are not G‑d, but they are the medium through which specific qualities and attributes can be ascribed to Him. The word Sefirah is related to the verb lesaper, which means to “express” or “communicate.” This implies that the function of a Sefirah is to express a certain attribute. It is also related to the word “sapphire” (sapir). A sapphire is a gemstone that is brilliant and illuminating, implying that the function of a Sefirah is to give Light. Combining these two concepts, one may say that the Sefirot have two basic functions, one as lights or luminaries that serve to reveal and express, and another as Vessels that limit and define the Light so that specific qualities are manifest. The Sefirot may be compared to the two hands of a king. Sometimes the king operates with his right hand and sometimes with his left. Ultimately, it is the king himself who is acting through the medium of his hands.


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