The Beginning of Wisdom – Chapter 2

(Within which is explained the matter of the six hundred and thirteen (613) limbs and organs of man and their spiritual counterparts, as well as the subject of the Partzufim.)

34.  Above, the limbs of man and their spiritual counterparts were categorized in a general way.  More specifically, the conducts are further subdivided.  Every general sefirah of Keter contains ten sefirot, Keter of Keter, Chochmah of Keter, Binah of Keter, etc., until Malchut of Keter.  So, also the general sefirah of Chochmah contains ten sefirot:  Keter of Chochmah, Chochmah of Chochmah, etc., this principle applies to all the sefirot.[1]

35.  Each particular sefirah contains ten further subdivisions:  Keter of Keter contains Keter of Keter of Keter, Chochmah of Keter of Keter, Binah of Keter of Keter, etc., until Malchut of Keter of Keter.  All the particular sefirot are subdivided in this manner.[2]

36.  Man’s limbs and organs too, are subdivided corresponding to the subdivisions of their spiritual counterparts.

37.  The Skull and its Membrane which correspond to Keter, has ten components corresponding to the ten sefirot of Keter.  Etz Chaim[3] categorizes them as follows:

The Skull – corresponds to Keter of Keter,

The Right Ear – to Chochmah of Keter,

The Left Ear – to Binah of Keter,

(The Forehead – to Daat of Keter),

The Right Eye – to Chesed of Keter,

The Left Eye – to Gevurah of Keter,

The Nose – to Tiferet of Keter,

The Upper Lip – to Netzach of Keter,

The Lower Lip – to Hod of Keter,

The Tongue – to Yesod of Keter,

The Mouth – to Malchut of Keter.

Sefer Yetzirah states that there are seven components in the head.  These are called the Seven Gates or Orifices.  According to the GR”A[4], they correspond to these seven sefirot:

The Right Eye – to Chesed,

The Left Eye – to Netzach,

The Right Ear – to Gevurah,

The Left Ear – to Hod,

The Right Nostril – to Tiferet,

The Left Nostril – to Yesod,

and The Mouth – to Malchut.

38.  Kabbalah sometimes refers to the subdivisions of Keter by the names of their corresponding parts in the head.  For example: Peh – Mouth, refers to Malchut of Keter.  This explains why Malchut is sometimes called Peh – Mouth, and sometimes Atara – Glans.  The term Peh – Mouth, may refer to the particular sefirah of Malchut of Keter, whereas Atara – Glans, may refer to the general sefirah of Malchut.  This principle applies to all the general and particular sefirot.

39.  Each sefirah contains the three general modes of conduct: Pure Kindness, Pure Judgment, and the median conduct of Mercy.  For example:  the sefirah of Chesed contains Kindness of Chesed, Judgment of Chesed, and Mercy of Chesed.  The sefirah of Gevurah contains Kindness of Gevurah, Judgment of Gevurah, and Mercy of Gevurah.  This principle applies to all the sefirot.

40.  Each of man’s limbs contains three components corresponding to these three general modes of conduct:

The Arms – which correspond to Chesed and Gevurah, each contain a hand, forearm, and upper arm.

The Torso – which corresponds to Tiferet, contains the chest, heart area and navel area.

The Legs – which corresponds to Netzach and Hod, each contain a thigh, calf and foot, etc.

41.  The general modes of conduct as they exist in the sefirot are sometimes allegorically called by the names of their corresponding limbs in man:

The Right Hand – corresponds to Kindness of Chesed,

The Right Forearm – to Judgment of Chesed,

The Right Upper Arm – to Mercy of Chesed,

The Left Hand – to Kindness of Gevurah,

The Left Forearm – to Judgment of Gevurah,

The Left Upper Arm – to Mercy of Gevurah,

The Chest – to Kindness of Tiferet,

The Navel Area – to Judgment of Tiferet,

The Heart – to Mercy of Tiferet,

The Right Thigh – to Kindness of Netzach,

The Right Calf – to Judgment of Netzach,

The Right Foot – to Mercy of Netzach,

The Left Thigh – to Kindness of Hod,

The Left Calf – to Judgment of Hod,

The Left Foot – to Mercy of Hod, etc.

42.  Therefore, when the term Chazeh – Chest, is used in Kabbalistic literature, it refers to Kindness of Tiferet.  Taboor – Navel refers to Judgment of Tiferet, Right Hand to Kindness of Chesed, the Left Thigh to Kindness of Hod, etc…

43.  Although Keter is absolute mercy, it is the root of all subsequent conducts which are preparatory to it, as stated, “The last deed was first in thought,” and therefore, possesses the potential qualities of Kindness, Judgment, and Mercy.  In Keter these are called the Three “Heads” or “Beginnings.”[5]

44.  These three heads constitute the highest of the ten sefirot of Keter.  They are called Gulgalta – Skull, Moach – Brain[6], and Avira – Gaseous Membrane; that is, Keter of Keter, Chochmah of Keter, and the median conduct between them.[7]

45.  They are also called Ohr Kadmon – The Primal Light, Ohr Tzach – The Brilliant Light, and Ohr Metzuchtzach – The Radiant Light.  The Zohar[8] sometimes refers to Keter of Keter as Atika Kadisha – The Transcendent Holy One, and to Chochmah of Keter as Chochmah Stima’ah – The Hidden Chochmah, Mocha Stima’ah – The Hidden Brain[9], or Botzinah D’Kardenuta – The Black Flame[10].  Because Kindness and Judgment are the more essential conducts (Mercy, being a conditioning of the two) sometimes only they are enumerated.  Furthermore, sometimes only one head is enumerated, since Judgment too, is ultimately for good.

46.  The three elements Air, Water, and Fire, correspond to Mercy, Kindness, and Judgment, which are signified by the letters Alef, Mem, and Shin.

Alef – corresponds to Keter (or Daat), Mercy and Air,

Mem – to Chochmah, Kindness and Water,

and, Shin – to Binah, Judgment and Fire.

Since Alef, Mem, and Shin are the source of all subsequent conducts, they are called “The Three Mothers.”[11]

47.  There are a total of six hundred and thirteen (613) conducts, corresponding to the six hundred and thirteen parts in man: Two hundred forty-eight (248) organs and three hundred sixty-five (365) sinews.

48.  The entire Creation, consisting of both the upper spiritual worlds and the lower worlds, is made up of these six hundred and thirteen (613) components, each of which has it’s counterpart in man.  Man, therefore, is a microcosm of the entire Creation, the sum total of which can be conceived as one great stature.[12]

49.  Since each part of creation has its special quality, each receives a unique influence from G_d resulting in six hundred and thirteen (613) different influences.  These differences do not arise in the giver, who is unchanging, but rather in the recipients, due to their limitations.

50.  Accordingly, a conduct which influences the entire Creation is considered to consist of six hundred thirteen (613) components.  However, one which only influences a portion of Creation consists of the number of corresponding parts in that portion.

51.  The six hundred and thirteen (613) components in their entirety are allegorically called “Man”, and are considered to be one full stature – Partzuf.  Only a conduct which influences all the components of Creation is called by this term.[13]

52.  There are five general Partzufim, each of which influences the entire Creation:

Keter – Arich Anpin,

Chochmah – Abba,

Binah – Ima,

Zeir Anpin – The System of Justice,

and, Malchut – Nukvah.

53.  The function of Malchut is to reveal G_d’s kingdom and presence in the world.  When this is fulfilled throughout Creation, Malchut is considered to be a complete stature – Partzuf.  However, when man’s transgressions cause the concealment of G_d’s kingdom from this world as stated[14], “I shall surely conceal my countenance on that day,” Malchut cannot be considered complete, but is, rather, a lesser aspect.  This is comparable to the waxing and waning of the moon[15].

54.  The apparent multiplicity of G_d’s influence in the world is the result of the world’s limitations and characteristics, and in no way reflect any limitations in Him.  The Divine influence given in them is in accordance with the number of their parts[16], even though one influence would be sufficient, as stated in Pirkei Avot[17] that the world could have been created with one utterance.  Man too, was created with the number of his organs and sinews corresponding to the multiplicity of worlds, each organ corresponding to one world.  Similarly, the soul of man has faculties corresponding to the organs of the body within which it resides.  Because of this correlation of man, his soul, and the worlds, the sefirot are allegorically called “Man.”

55.  Therefore, due to this correlation, the worlds and conducts are sometimes allegorically called by the names of their corresponding organs in man.[18]

56. The human soul, too, possesses six hundred and thirteen (613) parts, corresponding to the six hundred thirteen (613) organs.[19]

57.  So too, the Mitzvot of the Torah number six hundred and thirteen (613), corresponding to the organs, parts of the soul, worlds, and conducts.  When a person fulfills a Mitzvah, he increases sanctity in those organs of his body which correspond to that Mitzvah, which in turn causes a degree of perfection in the corresponding parts of his soul, and Creation.  When performed by an individual, only that specific portion of Creation wherein his soul is rooted is affected.  However, when performed communally, the Mitzvah affects the entire corresponding part of Creation.  Accordingly, when man takes the initiative in performing a Mitzvah, G_d responds in kind by bestowing blessings through the conduct which corresponds to that Mitzvah.  Conversely, the transgression of a Mitzvah causes a blemish in all its corresponding parts.[20]

58.  Furthermore, all man’s organs, natural characteristics, and life stages such as: Embryonic (Ibur), Infancy (Yenika), Childhood (Katnut), and, Adulthood (Gadlut), etc. hint at great matters in G_d’s conduct.  These conducts are called by the names of the stages corresponding to them.  Generally, everything that is found in man hints at G_d’s hidden conduct toward Creation.  In addition, this principle applies to the passage of time in general.[21]


59.  An alternate method of enumerating the two hundred and forty-eight (248) conducts[22], corresponding to the two hundred and forty-eight (248) organs, is given in Etz Chaim: Each of the three modes of conduct; Kindness, Judgment and Mercy, is subdivided to the fourth power as follows:

Three times Three = Nine

Three times Nine = Twenty Seven

Three times Twenty Seven = Eighty One

Three times Eighty One = Two Hundred Forty-Three, the numerical value of the name AVRAM (אברם).

With the addition of the five inner aspects, (i.e. the five Kindnesses) the total equals two hundred and forty-eight; the numerical value of the name AVRAHAM (אברהם).[23]

[1] Every sefirah contains something of all the other sefirot in it. Keter contains everything in a state of potentiality, since it is the source of all. Since Malchut is the final result of all, it receives from all. All the intermediate levels between these two extremeties both receive from the levels above and contain the potentiality for the levels subsequent to them.  This may be compared to the generations. Our father Avraham was the first Jew and thus bore the potential for every subsequent Jew throughout the generations. The Jews of our generation, being the final result, carry all the influence of our ancestry, all the way back through the generations to Avraham. We also have something of every other jew of our generation within us. This is because we are all related and intertwined with each other, as stated, All Israel are intertwined with each other (כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה).

[2] See Kinat HaShem Tzvaot p.84 Friedlander edition 5740-תש”ם. Also see Etz Chayim, Heichal One, Haychal Adam Kadmon, Droosh Igoolim V’Yosher p.12a.

[3] Etz Chaim, Shaar Arich Anpin, Chapter 6, p63b – 64b.

[4] Sefer Yetzirah Part 4, See Gra there.

[5] See Klach Pitchei Chochmah Chapter 8:95 and 8:104.

[6] According to the Gra Chochmah and Binah of Keter are included in Mocha Stimaah. See his commentary on Sifra D’Tzniuta, Chapter one.

[7] See Klach Pitchei Chochmah 8:95

[8] See Zohar Haazinu p.288b

[9] Klach Pitchei Chochmah 8:95

[10] Gra, Yahel Ohr, Bereshit p.16a.

[11] Sefer Yetzirah, Chapter 3. See Gra there.

[12] See Zohar Toldot p.134b, Moreh Nevuchim Part I, chapter 72, Nefesh HaChaim Gate 1, chapter 4, chapter 6 and Gate 2, chapter 5.

[13] Kinat HaShem Tzvaot, Part one.

[14] Deuteronomy 31:18

[15] Etz Chaim, Shaar Miut HaYareach. Also see Kinat HaShem Tzvaot, Part One.

[16] Likutei HaGra, Sifra D’Tzniuta p.38b.

[17] Pirkei Avot Chapter 5.

[18] See Klach Pitchei Chochmah #17, 70,71.

[19] Shaarei Kedusha of Rabbi Chaim Vital, Part 1, Chapter 1.

[20] Likutei HaGra, Sifra D’Tzniuta. Also see Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 1, chapters 4, 6, 12.

[21] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, #71 and 122.

[22] Etz Chaim, Shaar Pirkei HaTzelem, Chapter 6.

[23] Every letter of the Hebrew alphabet possesses a numerical value as follows: א=1, ב=2, ג=3, ד=4, ה=5, ו=6, ז=7, ח=8, ט=9, י=10, כ=20, ל=30, מ=40, נ=50, ס=60, ע=70, פ=80, צ=90, ק=100, ר=200, ש=300, ת=400,

ך=500, ם=600, ן=700, ף=800, ץ=900.

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