Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Divine Names and the Ten Sefirot

In "The Book of Divine Names" I noted some details regarding the attribution of certain Divine Names to the Sefirot which I thought might be of interest here. When it comes to such attributions, most modern writings have it that the following Names are assigned to the ten spheres of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life:
Binah — [YHVH] Elohim
GevurahElohim [Gibur]
TiferetYHVH [Eloah va-Da'at]
NetzachYHVH Tzva'ot
HodElohim Tzva'ot
YesodShadai [El Chai]
MalchutAdonai [ha-Aretz]
Whilst this is generally conceded to be correct, in primary Kabbalistic literature some of the listed Names are also assigned to more than one Sefirah, and a veritable host of other Names are equally correlated with the ten Sefirot. In this regard, a lot of details can be found in, amongst others, the "Shorshei ha-Shemot" by Moses Zacutto.
There is for example the very interesting Name Adiriron. It is one of three unique Divine Names, regarding the pertinence of which in relation to the Eternal One, we are informed that "Yah Achatri’el is His Greatness, Hadri’el the God of Israel is His Holiness, Adiriron is His Power." (Adiriron) is an ancient Divine Name of great significance, especially since it is amongst the set of Names which had to be uttered 112 times before one could "go down to the Divine chariot," or "descent" into the Merkavah. We are told the meaning of Adiriron is "the Mighty One sings," and there can certainly be no doubt that this Name is directly affiliated with (adir), the Hebrew word for "mighty." This Name has been ascribed to Binah (Understanding) on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, however, whilst this attribution is clear to some, others maintain it should be attributed to Hod (Glory) on the sefirotic Tree. Others again insist Adiriron is affiliated to all the spheres from Binah to Hod. Whatever the case may be, Adiriron is termed the "Name of Joy" or "Name of glad song" (rinah). It is also the first of forty-two unique Divine Names respectively affiliated with the letters of the "Forty-two Letter Name."
Attributions of this kind appears to be always in harmony with a specific mindset or reasoning pattern, and naturally the same could be said of the generally considered "standard" Divine Name associations with the Sefirot. However, in investigating the latter, I could not help noticing some interesting details which appear to have been missed in later writings. As a case in point, take the Name (Adonai) which corresponds to the attribute of Malchut (Kingdom), and is affiliated with all the abundance traditionally associated with the latter, hence it is considered a very powerful Divine Name directly related to our sphere of existence. Of course, this explication is generally acknowledged, however, the "interesting detail" here is that we are informed that the Shefa (Divine Abundance) which this Name is channelling into Malchut, the "Kingdom of Manifestation," derives from two Divine Names directly affiliated with this Name. Alef, the initial letter of Adonai () is said to refer to Ehyeh (), the Divine Name of Keter, the Crown of Consciousness on the Tree of Life, whereas the Yod, the concluding letter of Adonai, refers to YHVH (), the Ineffable Name. The forces inherent in these two Names are said to combine in Adonai, from whence it is poured out as "universal abundance" into this realm of manifestation.
Considering another Divine Name correlated with the sefirotic Tree, i.e. Elohim (), we notice it is associated with both Binah (Understanding), Gevurah (Severity/Strength) and Hod (Splendour). In fact, traditionally the entire left line (Pillar) is aligned with the "forces" of Elohim, whilst the right line (Pillar) is associated with those of YHVH, and the middle line (Pillar) with Ehyeh. However, whilst the Name Elohim is linked to the Tree of Life in the manner depicted, the singular form of this Name, i.e. (Eloah), as well as its "root" Name (El), are both related to Chesed ("Kindness" or "Mercy") on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. We might note that since the Name Eloah is understood to act as a covering for the Neshamah, the Higher Self, it is called (gushpanka d’nishmata), i.e. "Seal of the Higher Soul," as indicated in Job 3:23 which reads (va-yasech Eloha ba’ado—"and whom Eloha hath hedged in").
Of course, conjunctions of Divine Names like (El Chai), (El Shadai), etc. relate to different spheres on the sefirotic Tree. Both mentioned combinations pertain to Yesod ("Foundation"). There are others still of the "El" Divine Name combinations, like (El Elyon) which relates to sphere of Binah (Understanding); the lofty (El YHVH) termed (hame’ir ba’olam ha-yetzirah), the "Luminosity of the World of Formation"; (El Adonai) which applies to our physical realm of existence, and is called (ha-me’ir ba’olam ha-Asiyah), the "Luminosity of the World of Action."
Another interesting Name we might consider is (Ar'arita), to which some of the most outrageous attributions have been made in 20th century magical writings. Be that as it may, Moses Zacutto tells us that he had seen in the works of the Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria) that this name pertains to the Keter (Crown) of Asiyah (the World of Action). In fact, it would seem that the name is the "crown of action," since the word is supposed to be used to empower prayers. The instruction is that this name should be uttered aloud by those saying the blessing of a person listening to a prayer, since this name would strengthen the prayer and ensure its efficacy. We are also informed that according to the Ribal, Rabbi Isaac Baer Levinsohn, this name brings "illumination." There is also a reference in the "Shorshei Shemot" to the name Ar’arita being linked to Shadai, which is the Divine Name associated with Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the month equated with the appearance of the New Moon. Moses Zacutto informs us correctly that the gematria of (Rosh Chodesh) is the same as that of the Name (Ar’arita) Hence, as this Divine Name has a special meaning on this most auspicious day, it should be uttered aloud on Rosh Chodesh, that is at the consecration of the New Moon.
Then there is the Name (Tzurtak). which some claimed was derived from the bible, whilst others maintained it is an abbreviation of "Tzurat ha-Kodesh" meaning "the form of the holy." In this regard, it is written in the "introduction" to the "Commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah" attributed to the Ra’avad, that the Divine Name in question is the "Knot of Forms," since all the "patterns" in the whole of existence were drawn by Tzurtak into manifestation via Binah, the sphere of "Understanding" on the sefirotic Tree. Commenting on this, Moses Chaim Luzzatto says that "to produce the separate creations in themselves, there has to be one power that governs the form in which they are designed, and this power stands over the separate creations themselves to maintain them in their appointed form." He continues that this "power" is Tzurtak, which "contains the power to bring forth the separate creations into actual being out of nothingness so as to be branches of it. This is because it is a unique kind of radiation that produces no other branches except separate creations, being out of nothingness, in accordance with the unique aspect of this power." This means that the entire complexity of manifestation as a separate existence, is only possible because of the differentiating action of Tzurtak.
This is but a sampling of what can be found in primary Kabbalistic literature on Divine Names and their associations with the Ten Sefirot.

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