Sefirot

According to the kabbalists, the attributes of God relate to each other in a scripted way.

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In some kabbalistic systems, Malkhut corresponds to the feet but in others it is said to be associated with the mouth. Malkhut is associated with the name Adonai (Our Lord) or the final hey of the Tetragrammaton. Malkhut's colors are blue and black.

As you can see from the diagram and the description of the sefirot, the left side of the "tree" corresponds to attributes of power and justice, the attributes that characterize Gevurah. This is seen by the kabbalists as the feminine side of God, representing the fear and awe of God, the principles of separation and distinction. By contrast, the right side, the masculine side, represents qualities of unity, harmony, and benevolence, the attributes that characterize Hesed. But the world can only survive if it is founded on a balance between the two.

It is in the search for that balance that the human role in Creation comes into play. The sefirot have a purpose and we are an integral part of that purpose. Our behavior in the lower world, our world, affects the upper world (or worlds, as Luria's followers would have it) of the Divinity. Only when the ideal balance of justice and mercy, of God's transcendent and immanent qualities, is achieved can there be peace and fulfillment. And that, the kabbalists teach, can only be brought about through human actions, through self‑mastery, through prayer and meditation and the fulfillment of the mitzvot. Thus, the kabbalistic idea comes back to the basic teachings of the sacred texts.

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George Robinson

George Robinson, author of Essential Judaism, is the recipient of a Simon Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish journalism from the American Jewish Press Association. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsday, Jewish Week, and The Detroit Jewish News.