Cube of Space: Introduction

Sepher Yetsira Index

        Thus everybody lives inside an enclosed and bounded cube locking inner space in a package.   Suares, SY, p.87

The structure of that package, and suggestions for opening it, may be found in the Sepher Yetsira. This ancient text exists in three recensions from the 9th and 10th centuries and numerous redactions and translations from the middle ages and later. Conventional wisdom considers the Yetsira to be anomalous within Jewish Mysticism (Scholem) and assigns its origins to the 3rd - 6th Century AD, perhaps with neo-platonic or gnostic influences and considers it part of a small body of pre-Kabbalah oriented toward Ma'aseh Bereshit (Work of Creation, alphabetically-oriented) as opposed to the larger corpus of Hhekhalot (Palace) and Merkavah (Chariot) mysticsim (Ma'aseh Merkavah, sepherotically oriented). Others know it as a much earlier companion to the first four chapters of Bereshit/Genesis.

The corruption of later editions is little realized outside of scholarly circles:

After a close study of the three texts, the following conclusion has been reached: The three recensions differ from each other mainly in the length of the text and in the inner organization of the material. The differences of reading between the three recensions are not as many as is generally assumed.

The three extant recensions are: a long one, a short one, and the so-called Se'adian recension.

Thus seventeen manuscripts and the two printed texts of the first edition have been collated for the present critical edition ... ...the so-called "rejected" manuscripts also have to be consulted not only in order to fill up the critical apparatus, but also in order to trace more accurately the development of the manuscript-stems and of the text itself ... But as the various commentators in the middle ages used to tamper with the text of the book, introducing minor or major changes in the text and its order, the reliability of these texts still deserves a special study.

Ithamar Gruenwald, "A Preliminary Critical Edition of Sepher Yetzirah" in Israel Oriental Studies 1 (1971): 133, 135; see also: Planetary Attributions in the Sepher Yetsira by Version.

     The basic concepts of the Sefer Yetzira are so radically different than those of ancient Judaism that the attraction they exerted on Jewish Medieval scientists is obvious, once we successfully detach ourselves from the images introduced by eight centuries of "mythical," "mystical, and "magical" exegesis on the book.
Three Phases of the History of the Sefer Yetzira
Joseph Dan, Jewish Mysticism, Vol I, Aronson, 1998, p.169

The Short version and Suares' translation of the Sepher Yetzirah are primarily used here, and compared at points with the other pre-Zohar classical versions as well as the Ari-Gra and Golden Dawn revisions.

Things to keep in mind:

The Sefer Yetzirah is untranslatable and reading it in Hebrew is no help either. It must be read letter-by-letter and word-by-word and structure-by-structure in the original formative or ontological (hyper) language in which it was written. The text is performative, in much the same sense as a lab manual (in this case, for Genesis) or a quantum mechanics textbook -- the equations must be solved in order to be understood.

The Sefer Yetzirah is primarily a commentary on Bereshit/Genesis as seen from from the inside (Adam Kadmon's situation in the Cube of Space) and it is written in the same language of structure and energy as Bereshit. Where Genesis describes energy from Aleph to Bayt (Bereshit), and provides a container for the tradition, the Sepher Yetsira describes energy from Aleph to Yod (Yetsira) and projects the Infinite Intemporal fully into existence where the tradition is actualized in Adam Qadmon's subjective/objective experiential space.

The Sepher Yetsira forms a 3-D Cube of Space, a unique artifact in ancient cosmological systems and modern psychology.

The Cube is a hologram. All of its numerous categories and complex structures are interrelated and linked This is useful when testing the appropriateness of particular interpretations.

The conventional representations of the Tree of Life and the circular zodiac are two-dimensional mappings of the 3D Cube, which lose degrees of freedom and connectivity in their transformations. The Cube is a 5/10-dimensional dynamic map of inner/psychological space or reality. It offers a sophisticated multi-dimensional metapsychology which in outline involves four dimensions of inner space and six dimensions of outer, or experiential, space connected by three axes of being and twelve evolutionary and involutionary states or pathways.

The Tree has been buried in mysticism and the Cube lost in obscurity. The Sephirot are accessed through special gates guarded by angels and demons. We project the Tree upward and try to climb the rungs through mantras and incantations. Meanwhile, the evidence of the Sephirot and the Intemporal is all around us and we are blind to their imprint on our experience.

The three axes of the Cube define the categories of existence, life and their union, the fundamental categories of being. The six dimensions, or faces, of the Cube define man's experience of life: the top-bottom (existence) axis runs through him and defines his existence between the poles of self and other. The front-back (life) axis is where he faces his psychological future (the maturity he has not yet attained) and puts his past (unconscious and unstructured energy) behind him. His mostly unconscious, rooted in the physical body, experience of sensous reality enters him through the passive left hand of desire; it is met by a double container (one for the impulse, one for the response) in the (potentially conscious) cognitive response of the active right hand of thought and action: the axis of union or interpenetration.

Note that for purposes of visualization, the Cube can be mapped to its Platonic geometric dual solid, the octahedron (their vertices and faces are reversed). While there may be a reason in the Cube's unique space-filling quality (its Platonic element is earth) for not generally thinking in terms of an "octahedron of space," the end result is the same since the cube is "not a representation of physical space, but a chart symbolising psychological structures. (And where would be the starting points of the infinite directions?)." ( Suares, SY, 132)

The various diagrams of the Cube presented here can be viewed as single layers of meaning in a complex, multi-layered, multi-dimensional semantic-energetic structure, which is the total meaning of human experience. The set presented here is incomplete and concentrates primary on the formative energies B'Olam, the Universe. Each layer (Sephirot, Seal, Formative, Direction, etc.,) of meaning is both internally consistent and completely integrated into all the other layers, or dimensions, of meaning (why the energy called Saturn is formed by the letter Bayt with the polarites of life and death at the fifth Sphere of transformation of primary energy, etc.). When the equations are solved (the Hebrew letters decoded and integrated in context) and the layers of meaning understood, and related, at least in outline, we find a structure/system that is both much less arbitrary than it seemed, but also far more complex. Did we expect less of ourselves?

Formative Meanings of the Sephirot | Semantic Structure | Nativot-Phayliot

Schetsefa Abraham, our father (may he rest in peace) (when he was set on emitting a flux, on participating in the vital flow), he looked, he saw, he explored, he articulated, he mapped out, he hewed, he combined, he structualized, he rased his hand and Admon Hakol (blessed be his name) filled him to overflowing, revealed himself to him, received him in his bosom, kissed him on the head, called him my friend and made a covenant with him and his descendents, which he authenticated with Hay (Abram becoming Abraham) and meted out justice to him (gave him an exact measure).     Suares, The Sepher Yetsira, p.119 Contents