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Basics in Kabbalah: Tiferet

The Ten Sefirot: Divine Emanations







Tiferet is the sixth of the ten sefirot, and the third of the emotive attributes within Creation.

Tiferet appears in the configuration of the sefirot along the middle axis, directly beneath da’at (or beneath keter, when da’at is excluded), and corresponds in the tzelem Elokim to the upper torso (in particular, the heart).

Tiferet is associated in the soul with the power to reconcile the conflicting inclinations of chesed and gevurah so as to allow for focused compassion, thus accounting for its designation in Kabbalah as midat harachamim (“the attribute of mercy”). The beauty of tiferet manifests itself through the elegant blend of emotive gesture implicit within its expression.

The root of tiferet can also connote the act of taking pride. As such, it represents the pride that God, as it were, takes in His people Israel. When we serve and praise God from the consciousness of tiferet, we do so with the intent of arousing this pride anew.

Tiferet = 1081, the sum of all numbers from 1 to 46. 46 = Levi, the third of the sons of Jacob, corresponding to the third of the attributes of the heart–tiferet. The tribe of Levi (the “chosen” of the tribes of Israel , just as Jacob himself, the third of the patriarchs–tiferet–is the “chosen” of the patriarchs) divides into two, the Kohanim and the Leviim. In order for tiferet, the middle line, to connect and balance the two lines of right and left it, in itself, must possess two “sides.” The right side of tiferet (its inclination or tendency towards chesed) is personified by the Kohanim while the left side (its inclination towards gevurah) is personified by theLeviim.

The union of the three primary emotions of the heart, chesed (72) gevurah (216) and tiferet (1081) equals 1369.  1369 is a square number (the square of 37), a sign of perfect “interinclusion” in Kabbalah (where every part of an object reflects all of its parts, as in a hologram).

1369 is the number of letters in the chapter of the Torah which precedes the Ten Commandments, describing the preparation of Israel to receive the Torah at Sinai. The Torah itself corresponds to the sefirah of tiferet. It was given to Israel by both of God’s Hands, as it were, chesed and gevurah. This is the value of the conclusion of the second verse of the Torah (Genesis 1:2): “and the spirit of God hovered upon the face of the waters” (=1369). “The waters” symbolize the Torah. God’s spirit hovering upon the face of the waters symbolizes the Torah-portion which precedes the giving of the Torah.

37 = hevel (“vapor”; Abel, the son of Adam and Eve). Our sages teach us: “The Torah of this world is hevel in comparison to the Torah of the world to come”.

The spiritual state identified in Chassidut as corresponding to the sefirah of tiferet is that of rachamim (mercy).

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