Version 1

  • Keter (Crown)
  • Hokhmah (Wisdom)
  • Binah (Understanding)
  • Hesed (Mercy)
  • Gevurah (Justice)
  • Tiferet (Beauty)
  • Nezah (Eternity)
  • Hod (Glory)
  • Yesod (Foundation)
  • Shekhinah (the feminine aspect of God) or Malkhut (Royalty)

Version 2

  • Chochmah - wisdom,
  • Binah - understanding,
  • Daat - knowledge,
  • Chessed - kindness,
  • Gevurah - strength,
  • Tiferet - beauty,
  • Netzach - victory,
  • Hod - splendor,
  • Yesod - foundation,
  • Malchut - kingship.
עשר ספירות בלי מה ועשרים ושתים אותיות יסוד שלש אמות ושבע כפולות ושתים עשרה פשוטות:
Ten are the numbers, as are the Sefirot, and twenty-two the letters [of the Hebrew alphabet], these are the Foundation of all things. Of these letters, three are 'mothers', seven are 'double', and twelve are 'simple'.

(ג) עשרים ושתים אותיות יסוד חקקן בקול חצבן ברוח קבען בפה בחמשה מקומות אחה"ע בגרון גיכ"ק בחיך דטלנ"ת בלשון זסשר"ץ בשינים בומ"ף בשפתים:

(3) Twenty-two Foundation Letters/ He engraved them with voice/ He carved them with breath/ He set them in the mouth/ In five places/ Alef Chet Heh Eyin (אחהע) in the throat (Gutturals)/ Gimel Yud Kaf Kuf (גיכק) in the palate (Palatals)/ Dalet Tet Lamed Nun Tav (דטלנת)/ in the tongue (Linguals)/ Zayin Samekh Shin Resh Tzadi (זסשרצ)/ in the teeth (Dentals)/ Bet Vav Mem Peh (בומפ) in the lips. (Labials)

(קכה) ואמאי קרי ליה ספירות, משום דכתיב (תהלים י"ט ב) השמים מספרים כבוד אל:

...And why are they called sefirot? Because it is written: 'The heavens declare (m'saprim) the Glory (ka'vod) of God (Psalm 19:2) -- The Early Kabbalah, Paulist Press, 1986 p. 60

(קלח) ומאי ניהו תורת אמת, דבר שמורה על אמיתות העולמים ופעולתו במחשבה והוא מעמיד עשרה מאמרות שבהם עומד העולם והוא אחד מהם, וברא באדם כנגד אותם עשרה מאמרות עשר אצבעות ידים, וכשהיה משה מרים ידו ומכוין במיעוט כוונת הלב באותה המדה הנקראת ישראל ובתוכה תורת אמת ורומז לו עשר אצבעות ידיו שהוא מעמיד את העשרה, ואם לא יעזור את ישראל לא יתקיימו העשרה מאמרות בכל יום ויום הלכך וגבר ישראל, וכאשר יניח ידו וגבר עמלק (שם) וכי היה משה עושה שיגבר עמלק דכתיב וכאשר יניח ידו וגבר עמלק, אלא אסור לו לאדם לשהות שלש שעות כפיו פרושות השמים:

...And what is the Torah of truth? This is that power which represents the truth of the worlds, and He operates by Thought. And He gives existence to the ten Utterances by which the world exists, and He is one of them. And He created in man ten fingers on the hands to correspond to the ten Utterances, and when Moses raised his hands with the minimum of his heart's intention...and points out to Him his ten fingers to signify that he makes the ten exist

What are the Sefirot?

The Sefirot – God emanates ten vessels through which the world is created, called sefirot, which are both part of God and created by God. These vessels are channels of light or water, and they also are light. They are God and of God, but they cannot define God or limit God – what is truly God is wholly beyond these descriptions, beyond the first sefirah, called Keter or crown, denoted by the term Ein Sof – without limit, without end.

When Kabbalists read stories in the Torah, every character and place represents a configuration of the Sefirot. For example, the binding of Isaac is Chesed (Abraham) overcoming Gevurah (Isaac). A (secular) technical term for how the Sefirot function is that they are "hypostases" (sing. "hypostasis") – that is, abstract concepts imagined as beings or as parts of a reality that are more real than the physical world around us ...

The Structure of the Sefirot – for the Zohar, an essential aspect of this world is that the Sefirot are emanated in the form of a Mishkal or balance scale, with a center, right and left, which can be pictured as the form of a triangle or triad. This allowed each Sefirah to share the force of creation with those around it, so that none would shatter because of the influx of God's energy. Each of the Sefirot also contains within itself an element of all the others. (Sarah Idit Schneider's term for this is that they are "interincluded" within each other.) This fractal structure is one way in which the Sefirot are infinite or divine in their essence.

Rabbi David Seidenberg,

Joseph Dan (p. 43-44)

Two views of the Sefirot:

1. A map of a human being - head, arms, legs...

2. Stages of emanation - Keter, divine will shines to create something beyond itself...plan (Hochmah/Wisdom)...binah...potential will and wisdom transformed into real emanation...binah opens to modes of regulation...right side chesed/love and mercy and the left...din/gevurah, strict law and justice...united in tiferet...mixture that sustains b/c existence cannot be pure love or pure justice...Netzach and Hod = lower forms of mercy and justice...yesod/foundation - vehicle for pouring divine power into the 'lower realms'...10th = feminine power - transfers divine flow to creation - opens revelation to creatures

Isaac Luria's Creation Myth

In the creation myth of ancient Judaic mysticism, God creates the universe by a process dubbed tzimtzum, which in Hebrew means a sort of stepping back to allow for there to be an Other, an Else, as in something or someone else. The Judaic notion of a world of Free Will (Talmud Berachot 33b) is deeply rooted in this concept, in the understanding that in creating life, the Eyn-Sof, or the Endless One, subdued the omnipotent, all-embracing Divine Presence for the sake of the realization of the Divine Will that there be other beings (Etz Chaim 1:1:2.) Our world, then is the sacred space that the Great Spirit gave as a gift to us, a space in which to be as human as divinely possible, and as divine as humanly possible. A space to err, to fall, to believe, to doubt, to cry, to laugh. Our space, created by the simple motion of stepping back, the humble act of honoring the separate reality of an Other.

From Rabbi Benjamin Adler's Source Sheet

Luria’s new myth is concentrated in three great symbols, the tsimtsum, or self-limitation, of God, the shevirah, or breaking of the vessels, and the tikkun, or harmonious correction and mending of the flaw which came into the world through the shevirah.

Gershom Scholem, On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism, p. 110

All kabbalistic systems have their origin in a fundamental distinction regarding the problem of the Divine. In the abstract, it is possible to think of God either as God Godself with reference to God's own nature alone or as God in relation to God's creation. However, all kabbalists agree that no religious knowledge of God, even of the most exalted kind, can be gained except through contemplation of the relationship of God to creation. God in Godself, the absolute Essence, lies beyond any speculative or even ecstatic comprehension. The attitude of the Kabbalah toward God may be defined as a mystical agnosticism, formulated in a more or less extreme way and close to the standpoint of Neoplatonism. In order to express this unknowable aspect of the Divine the early kabbalists of Provence and Spain coined the term Ein-Sof ("Infinite").

Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, p. 88

"Now, the poor person thinks that God is an old man, as it is written, “the ancient of days sits”; and he has white hair because he is old, as it is written, “the hair of his head like clean wool”; and he sits on a great wooden throne, glittering with sparks, as it is written, “his throne was fire”; and that his appearance is like fire, as it is written, “For YHVH your God is consuming fire.” And the result of all these images, which the fool thinks about until he corporealizes God, is that he falls into some trap, and abandons his faith . . . But the wise, enlightened person knows God’s unity, and his essence that is completely devoid of material boundaries . . . And from this he will aid strength to his awe . . . and a great love in his soul."

"The essence of God is in every thing, and nothing exists outside of God. Because God causes everything to be, it is impossible that any created thing exists except through Him. God is the existence, the life, and the reality of every existing thing. The central point is that you should never make a division within God . . . If you say to yourself, “The Ein Sof expands until a certain point, and from there on is outside of It,” God forbid, you are making a division. Rather you must say that God is found in every existing thing. One cannot say, “This is a rock and not God,” God forbid. Rather, all existence is God, and the rock is a thing filled with God . . . God is found in everything, and there is nothing besides God."

Rabbi Moses ben Jacob Cordovero, Translation by Jay Michaelson

(א) בַּעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם.

(1) With ten utterances the world was created.