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I have been reading through Sefer Yetzirah lately. Anyone have any thoughts on this Kabbalistic text?

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Well of course :-)


...He created His universe with three SEFARIM (books):
with SEFER (text) with SEFAR (number)
and with SIPPUR (communication).
- Sefer Yetzirah 1:1b

According to the commentary of Rabbi HaKalir (around 6th century, some
authorities place him in the second century and identify him with R.
Eliezer the son of R. Shim'on bar Yochai traditional author of the Zohar.):

When the Glory created the world,
He created it through the three Sefirot
namely, through Sefer, Sefar and Sippur,
by which the three "beings" are meant;
because it is written in the history of creation,
"These are the generations of the heavens
and the earth, (bet-hey-bet-resh-alef-mem),
when they created." Our Rabbis, of blessed memory,
have expounded the letter HEY, in the word
bet-hey-bet-resh-alef-mem, thus through
the letter HEY (an abreviation for HaShem, i.e. YHWH)
are indicating the three "beings" and this is
the secret of the Torah, when saying,
"In the beginning Elohim created" (Gen. 1:1) etc.
and later when it is said "In the day that
YHWH Elohim made the earth and the heavens."
The Psalmist (may peace be upon him) said,
"By the Word of YHWH were the heavens made,
and all the host of them by the Spirit (or breath)
of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6)...

The Rabbi, my lord teacher of blessed memory,
explained "Sefer, Safer and Sippur"
are "Yah, YHWH and Elohim", meaning to say,
that the world was created by these three names.
(Rabbi Eliezer HaKalir On Gen. 1:1 Mantra Edition p. 28, 29)

Twenty-two Foundational Letters:
Three Mothers
Seven Doubles
and Twelve Elementals.
The Three Mothers are Alef Mem Shin,
Their foundation is
a pan of merit
a pan of liability
and a tongue of decree deciding between them.
Three Mothers, Alef Mem Shin
Mem hums,
Shin hisses
and Alef is the Breath of air (RUACH; Spirit) deciding
between them.]
(Sefer Yetzirah 2:1)

OK for starters you should know that the SEFER YETZIRAH speaks of 32 "Paths
of Wisdom"
these are made up of the ten SEFIROT and the 22 Hebrew letters. The
SEFER YETZIRAH goes on to subdivide the 22 Hebrew letters into three
catagories: Three Mothers; Seven Soubles and twelve elementals. One could
write pages about the significance of these things, however here I simply
want to address SEFER YETZIRAH 2:1 which speaks about the three Mothers
ALEF, MEM and SHIN.

Here the Sefer Yetzirah compares these three "Mothers" to a balance-scale with
a "pan of merit" and a "pan of liability" and "a tongue of decree deciding
between them".

Sometime later the Sefer Yetzirah says:


Three Mothers, Alef Mem Shin
in the Universe are air, water, fire.
Heaven was created from fire
Earth was created from water
and air from Breath (Ruach; Spirit) decides between them.
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:4)

Thus the analogy given is:

SHIN ALEF MEM
______________________________________
Fire Air Water
Hissing Breath of air Humming
Pan of Liability breath of air Pan of Merit
________________________________________

The concept here is obvious. One of balance between oposing forces.
There are two forces, a aggressive expanding force, and a submisive
contracting force.
Then there is the reconciling of these two oposing forces inbetween.

These are often characterized in Kabbalah as a masculine (aggressive)
aspect of the godhead and a feminine (permisive) aspect of the godhead.
According to Paul (Rom. 1) the masculine and feminine aatributes of the
godhead are manifest to us in ourselves and in the creation around us.

The masculine aspect of the Godhead is often called Father while the
feminine is often called Mother or Ruach. The reconciling of these two
inbetween is often called "The Son of Yah".

These are known in Kabbalah as the three Tzachtzachot (supernal lights;
splenders):

Gershom Scholem explains these three supernal lights this way:

Šabove all emanated powers, there exist in
"the root of all roots" three hidden lights which
have no beginning, "for they are the name and
essence of the root of all roots... It is stressed
that these three lights constitute one essence
and one root which is "infinitely hidden" (ne'lam ad
le-ein sof) [literally: hidden until Eyn-Sof],
forming a kind of kabbalistic trinity that precedes
the emanation of the ten Sefirot.... In the terminology
of the Kabbalah these three lights are called
tzachtzachot (splendors)ŠChristians later found
an allusion to their own doctrine of the trinity
in this theory.
(KABBALAH by Scholem p. 95)



These three Tzachtzachot are also known as "the three pillars of the Godhead".

These three pillars are known as the Pillar of Severity; the Pillar of
Mercy and the Middle Pillar of the Godhead. This Middle Pillar of the
Godhead is also known as Metatron, or "The Son of Yah." as the Zohar states:


The Middle Pillar [of the godhead] is Metatron,
Who has accomplished peace above,
According to the glorious state there.
(Zohar, vol. 3., p. 227, Amsterdam Edition)

Better is a neighbor that is near,
than a brother far off.
This neighbor is the Middle Pillar in the godhead,
which is the Son of Yah.
(Zohar, vol. ii, p. 115, Amsterdam Edition)


These three "Mothers", according to the Sefer Yetzirah, corespond
allegorically with the ancient element-concepts of Fire, Air and Water.
Fire being the masculine, Water the feminine and Air representing breath
(Ruach; Spirit) which the ancients saw as containing fire (heat) and water
(moisture).

This takes us to the concept of the "Word" as described by the Psalmist:

By the Word of YHWH
were the heavens made,
And all the hosts of them
by the Spirit of His mouth.
(Ps. 33:6)

Note that the "Spirit of his Mouth" is the same as the "Word". This also
takes us to the Kabbalistic concept of the KOL. In Hebrew KOL can mean
"all" or can mean "voice".

(Kabbalists recognize the "all" of 1Chron. 29:11 as coresponding to the
SEFIRAH known as YESOD which is along the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life
and which is identified with the "Tzadik" which is also identified in
Kabbalah with the Middle Pillar.)

All of this brings us to Deut. 6:4:

SH'MA YISRAEL YHWH ELOHEYNU YHWH ECHAD
"Hear O Israel, YHWH your Elohim, YHWH is one (or a Unity)."

The Zohar expalians this passage of Torah as follows:

The prescribed daily form of prayer
(a confession of the unity in the godhead),
has for its object, that you shall know and
comprehend it. We have said in many places
that this daily form of prayer is one of those
passages concerning the unity, which is taught
in the Scriptures. In Deut. 6:4, we read first
YHWH, then ELOHEYNU and again YHWH ,
which together make one unity. But how can
three names be one? Are they truely one,
because we call them one? How three can
be one can only be known through the revelation
of the Holy Spirit, and, in fact, with closed eyes.
This is also the mystery of the voice. The voice is
heard only as one sound, yet it consists of three
substances, fire, wind, and water, but all three
are one, as indicated through the mystery of the
voice.

Thus are YHWH; ELOHEYNU; YHWH
but one unity, three substantive beings which
are one; and this is indicated by the voice
which a person uses in reading the words,
"Hear, O Israel," thereby comprehending
with the understanding the most perfect unity
of EYN SOF (the boundless one); because all three
are read with one voice, which indicates a
trinity [t'lita].

And this is the daily confession of faith
of the unity, which is revealed by
the Holy Spirit in a mystery. Although
there are so many persons united in the unity,
yet each person is a true-one;
what the one does, that the other does.
(The Zohar Vol. 2 p. 43)

Now back to our passages from the Sefer Yetzirah:

Twenty-two Foundational Letters:
Three Mothers
Seven Doubles
and Twelve Elementals.
The Three Mothers are Alef Mem Shin,
Their foundation is
a pan of merit
a pan of liability
and a tongue of decree deciding between them.
Three Mothers, Alef Mem Shin
Mem hums,
Shin hisses
and Alef is the Breath of air (RUACH; Spirit) deciding
between them.]
(Sefer Yetzirah 2:1)

Three Mothers, Alef Mem Shin
in the Universe are air, water, fire.
Heaven was created from fire
Earth was created from water
and air from Breath (Ruach; Spirit) decides between them.
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:4)

These three "Mothers" parallel the three pillars of the Godhead. The ALEF
represents the Middle Pillar which ballances the two opposing pillars. The
tongue of decree deciding between the Pan of Liability and the Pan of Merit
is the Middle Pillar, the Son of Yah. The Son of Yah is the "Breath
[RUACH; Spirit] of air" which decides between fire and water, and
reconciles the Pillar of Severity with the Pillar of Mercy. This "toungue
of decree" is the "Breath/Spirit", the "voice" of the Word which expresses
the unity of the Godhead.

James Trimm

Thanks so much!

So did you ever finish and produce an edition of Sefer Yetzirah?

What about the Bahir?

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