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Tree of Life

The tree of life also in the midst of the garden (Genesis 2:9)

The Kabbalah is a revelation of the Names of God, the Divine attributes, or sefirot. These integral mysteries are held in a mystical glyph called the Tree of Life. This Tree of Life not only shows how the transcendent becomes immanent, but it also guides mystics in the way of the middle, or Straight Path. Knowledge of these sefirot becomes a mystical way of not only perceiving God’s Presence in all circumstances, but how to consciously cooperate with God to complete and perfect creation. 


The Ten Sefirot


1. Keter: Crown: Essence of God: Will of God

2. Hokmah: Wisdom of the Holy One: Force of God: Conception of creation


3. Binah: Understanding of the Holy One: Ideal forms in God: Birthing creation


   *(Da’at: Union with God: Knowledge of God)


4. Hesed: Mercy of the Holy One: Expansion: First Day


5. Gevurah: Severity of the Holy One: Constriction: Second Day


6. Tiferet: Beauty of the Holy One: Compassion of God: Balance: Third Day


7. Netzach: Eternity of the Holy One: Dominion of God: Guidance: Fourth Day


8. Hod: Glory of the Holy One: Submission of God: Reception: Fifth Day

9. Yesod: Foundation of the Holy One: Righteousness of God: Reciprocity: Sixth Day

10. Malkut: Sovereignty of the Holy One: Divine Providence: Divine Presence: Seventh Day

The Twenty-Two Netivot

Linking these ten sefirot are paths, or netivot. Each of these paths correspond with one of twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the first of its phonemic kind in human history. For mystics and gnostics, each of these twenty-two holy letter-numbers are a distinct aspect of divine energy, a discrete consciousness, and element of reality. By letters, divine names are revealed. Proper names of biblical characters are letter-formulas, even whole clauses of meaning. Hebrew letters are also numbers. For mystical mathematicians like Rabbi Abulafia, Torah is replete with numerical patterns and word-phrase sums—gematria—that calculate deep structures of creation. For linguists like Moses de León, poetic plays on letters, spellings, homophones, and grammatical constructions reveal the divine language of creation. 


These letter-number nuances—these netivot—preclude any exhaustive translations of the Jewish Bible into other languages. Classical Hebrew is to English what a book is to its movie. We study and apply these number-letter relationships to grow something of an insider’s appreciation of Jewish cosmology. Attending to Hebrew letter-numbers opens one’s mind and heart to depths in Jewish scripture that are often distorted by mainstream Christianity. Knowledge of netivot deeply inform how we read the gospel: For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:18). From this reverence for each letters’ divinity in God, mystics and gnostics contemplate creation as an integral, metaphysical structure of consciousness.

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