The Three Mothers

Sepher Yetsira Index

Suares: Sepher Yetsira: 2:1-2
2:1: Twenty-two Autiot Yassod. Three Amot (Mothers) seven doubles and twelve simples. Three Mothers: Aleph-Mem -Sheen. Yassodan (based on) Kaf Zakot-We-Kaf Hhovah. And Lischon, the tongue Hhaq Merkaryi between the two.
Twenty-two Foundation Letters: Three Mothers Seven Doubles and Twelve Elementals. The Three Mothers are Alef Mem Shin   Their foundation is a pan of merit a pan of liability and the tongue of decree deciding between them.

Kaplan, SY 1991 Short Ver. 2:1, p.262

Three primary letters: Alef, Mem, Shin. Their basis is the scale of acquittal and the scale of guilt, and the language of law holds the balance between them.

Peter Hayman Sefer Yesira Mohr Siebeck 2004 paragraph 23, uniform text in Short, Long and Saadia earliest recensions

The first chapter of the Sepher Yetsira established the Ten Sephirot Belimah through three worlds and twenty-two Autiot-Yassod, three Mother, seven Double and twelve Simple letters. It then described a spatial cube of psychological directions and a dual covenant based on a dual flow of the one two-fold energy, running in opposite directions -- a covenant of the flesh (circumcision), and a covenant of the word (twenty-two Autiot, i.e. Qabala). Chapter 1 ends with a description of the formation of Adam Qadmon's interior consciousness through the permutations of the qualitative energies of the first four Sephirot, where Aleph resurrects as Sheen through Mem (Rouahh Elohim Haim forms Esch Memaim in three steps).

The classification of the Autiot begins in Chapter 2, starting with the three Mother letters, Aleph-Mem-Sheen, which form the axes of the Cube of Space and the basic human categories of existence, life and experience.
Cube of Space: Inner Space: Aleph, Mem and Sheen: Existence, Life, Experience

The Sepher Yetsira is dealing here with the construction of interior human consciousness (realized in the Fourth Sephira) which is defined as inner, timeless and non-experiential (emanation) Later, in Chapter 3, the three Mothers will engender the Fathers, from which everything is born, and then the other nineteen Autiot-Yassod will define archetypal man's outer, experiential, developmental perspective in the Cube of Space in Chapters 4 and 5 (appearances).

Both Kaplan and Hayman use scales (or pan) for their translation of Kaf, Kaf-Phay, hand or hollow (palm or sole) in Hebrew, while Lischon Hhaq Mekaryi is rendered "tongue of decree deciding between them" (Kaplan) or "language of the law holds the balance between them" (Hayman), where Hhaq is translated "decree" or "law." Mekaryi in modern Hebrew is "decisive." Both use too many words and draw us off into sensous language that we think we understand. Let's try:

Founded on hollow of fullness and hollow of emptiness, tongue (or, word) engrave decide (or, limit) between.

before analyzing the "basis" for the three Mothers.

  Literally, these three Mothers are founded on a rock (cave or fault), hollow of acquittal (of merit, privilege or credit). Kaf Zakot, and on another duty (guilt or sale) Kaf Hhovah, and the tongue Lischon limits them "kneeling" between the two. Hhaq Mekaryi. (Karyi: an existence between the definite and the indefinite.

  Karyi: decide
70 10 200 20
Gematria: 300

  In simple language (for we shall see these letters again later on) the Three Mothers represent: 1. Aleph, the greatest energy; 2. Mem (Water), minimum energy; 3. Sheen , the action of Aleph on Mem. The seven doubles are pointed or non-pointed, such as Bayt and Vayt. They represent elements which, according to circumstances, reflect Energy, or let it go by. We shall see them forming the seven planets and the twelve simples forming the the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

The foundation of the Three Mothers on "a hollow rock" symbolises all physical support. In fact we know that the most solid body, seen atomically, is apparently empty.

These "solids" which contain only "hollows" express two united and contradictory states of energy: symbolically, credit (full), debit (empty); or worth (full) and guilt (empty). (This is applicable, in general, to mankind who appears so positive yet is so empty inside.

  Zakot: full
400 6 20 7
Gematria: 433 (prime)
  Lischon: tongue
700 6 300 30
Gematria: 1036
  Hhovah: empty
5 6 2 8
Gematria: 21

One is part of the undetermined 7, and the other is part of the undifferentiated 8.

The tongue fixed their limits (or rules) between the two extremes. The word for tongue, Lischon, (30.300.6.700) is remarkable for its movement, fertility and intelligence. The word Hhaq (Hhayt-Qof: 8.100) expressing this fixing is repeated in the subsequent verses, where it will be analysed.

As befitting a treatise on the one dual energy, the Sepher Yetsira is saturated with double descriptions of energy in running in opposite directions: Autiot-Yassod, Nativot-Phayliot, Sepherot-Belimah, and of course Lives Run and Return and wheels rotating in opposite directions. Entranced with images of scales and the language of law, and blinded by one-way views of God and evolution, our rabbinical and academic commentators miss another double equation, this time the very foundation of foundations.

Hollow of credit, hollow of debit. Hollow of worth, hollow of guilt. Hollow of full, hollow of empty.

In 3:3 we will see Avir, air, kneeled down (sloped) (Haq Mekaryi) between Ha-Esch (fire) and Ha-Maim (waters). Here, the tongue, Lischon, "kneels" (slopes, inclines, limits, decrees) between two states of the same energy, fullness and emptiness, both defined as hollow.

The three Mothers self-engender themselves from a mediation between empty fullness and empty emptiness (full of emptiness).

Kaf-Zakot, empty fullness, reads 7 (indeterminate) 20 (physical container) 6 (fertile) 400 (cosmic existence) -- it is indeterminate and fertile (6) with actual (20) possibilities (7) in cosmic existence/resistance (400). It has archtypal (7,6) existential (20) and cosmic (400) level letters, spanning all three levels (outside, inside and beyond space-time).

Kaf-Hhovah, empty emptiness, reads 8 (undifferentiated) 2 (form) 6 (fertile) 5 (life) -- it is undifferentiated and empty (8) of structured forms (2), but prolifically (6) alive (5). Hhovah has only archetypal (1-9) level letters: and has not entered into definite existence.

The three Mothers found themselves on Mem, the minimum or emptiness of energy, the inclination towards Kaf-Hhovah, Sheen, maximum (as representative of Aleph in the universe) or fullness of energy, the inclination towards Kaf-Zakot, and Aleph, the tongue or word that mediates between them. Do you see what they did there?

And what is this mediation, or kneeling, or decreeing between? Such is the completeness of the encoded equations that we see Mekaryi 40 (from) 20.200 (the definite) 10 (existence) 70 (the indefinite). What actually happens (10) happens between the definite and the indefinite, which inclines towards the undetermined or the undifferentiated. On this the three Mothers are founded.

But the important thing to see is the "two united and contradictory states of energy," which is the central, always missed, theme of the Sepher Yetsira. Here, in Chapter 2, the Sepher Yetsira is showing how the one dual energy becomes first three, and then seven and then twelve (One over three, three over seven, seven over twelve).

2:2: Twenty-two Autiot Hhaqaqan (graven) Hhatsavan (carved) Schaqalan (weighed) and Hamiraan (inverted) Tsarafan (amalgamated) and formed with Nefesch (character, personality) of all (that is) formed and Nefesch of all (that is) to be formed in the future.
2:2: Twenty-two letters: Engrave them, carve them, weigh them, permute them, and transform them, and with them depict the soul of all that was formed and all that will be formed in the future.     Kaplan, p.262

(19a ms K) Twenty-two letters: he carved them out, he hewed them, he weighed them, he exchanged them, he combined them and formed with them the life of all creation and the life of all that would be formed.     Hayman p.100-101

In 2:2 the Sepher Yetsira returns to the Twenty-two Autiot in general, which will remain its subject for the rest of the Chapter. In 2:5 we will see (This is) how Aleph (is) weighed, combined with everything and everything with Aleph. Bayt with everything and everything with Bayt. Here, they are treated as a group, responsible for "the soul of all that was formed and all that will be formed in the future."

All of early recensions of the Sepher Yetsira list five operations performed on/by/through the Autiot (though Saadia varies the order). The first of these is Hhaqaqan, the projection into cosmic indetermination (final Noun) of the first verb (and "the primary word for God's creative activity" Hayman p.171) of the Sepher Yetsira: BeShlashim-WeShtaim Nativot-Phayiot Hhokmah Hhaqaq, with Hhokmah recognized as awoken consciousness and Hhaqaq as the shock/impact of life (Hayt, inner life, unstructured consciousness) on awoken cosmic consciousness (Qof), and the return shock (Qof), translated as "engrave."

We are here deeply with the operations of the Second Sephira, where Rouahh Merouah begets the the twenty-two Autiot-Yassod as inverted representations (engravings, carvings and pits) of the infinite energy of the First Sephira.

In the enumeration of the Sephirot in Chapter 1, Hhaqaq is absent from the first Sephirot, and the "engraving" only starts with the Second (and ends with the Fourth, Esch Memaim) (though it will be used in later chapters). This is because the first "engraving" is the Autiot of the Hebrew alphabet, at the Second Sephirot, which will be used to write everything else.

1:10   Two: Rouahh Merouahh, Hhaqaq Vehhatsav (legislates or organises and chisels or cuts with). Twenty-two Autiot Yassod, three fundamentals and seven doubles and twelve simples and Rouahh One with (in) them.

In the next three verses, the Sepher Yetsira will consider the Autiot individually, in their 231 connections to each other (in each of two opposite directions), but here we find a summation of the combinatorics that is a central theme of the work: engrave, carve, weigh, mirror/invert/permute, transpose/exchange, combine/amalgamate, we are told.

6:4: And when Abraham our father gazed, he looked, saw, delved, understood, engraved, carved, permuted and depicted, and he was successful.   Kaplan SY Short 1991 6:4 p.267

It's possible the book (known for its brevity and directness) is telling us something. We find here a process analogous to the development of energy/consciousness through Thirty-two Autiot/Paths in the first four Sephirot, where the permutations of nine letters reveal the operations of creation, in the initial stepping-down of infinite energy/consciousness and the formation of interior human consciousness.

Hhaqaqan through Tsrafan use twelve letters a total of twenty-one (7 x 3) times to describe a similar development of energy, this time applying to operations performed on/by the Autiot. We can consider the sequence of twelve letters in their order of appearance: Hayt - Qof - Noun - Tsadde - Bayt - Sheen - Lammed - Hay - Mem - Yod - Raysh - Phay. We can follow the first letters: Hayt - Hayt - Sheen - Hay - Tsaddde of each word downwards. We can examine the internal structures and follow the engraving of the double shock of awoken consciousness through the more controlled carving (Tsadde) of form (Bayt) which is then energized (Sheen) and weighed and set in motion (Lammed) and then find ourselves mirrored in the living (Hay) waters (Mem) in existence (Yod) of the cosmic mind (Raysh). These are all progressively structuralizing processes and have their culmination or combination or amalgamation in Tsrafon, where Tsadde, the structuralizing energy, has taken control of actual undifferentiated potentials (Phay).

All of these paths lead from unstructured, undifferentiated energy (Hayt/8) and cosmic levels of energy (Qof/100, Noun/700) through progressive levels of structuration (Bayt/2) (Tsadde/90 ) and energisation (Sheen/300, Lammed/30) to gain the qualities of life (Hay/5) in the biosphere (Mem/40) in existence (Yod/10) as reflections of cosmic mind (Raysh/200) (in cosmic indetermination, Noun/700). Tsrafan then shows Tsadde structuring through the cosmic container (Raysh) actual potentials (Phay/80) (again, in cosmic indetermination). This verse shows the further stepping-down and structuralization of cosmic energy by the Autiot themselves, and explains exactly why these letters are considered "formative."

and with them depict the soul of all that was formed and all that will be formed in the future.   Kaplan, p.262

There is nothing there that we do not know already, but here is some advantage in numbering the equations which define the transformations of the Autiot, and in observing that they all end in 700, cosmic indetermination.

Hhaqaqan / Graven
  700 100 100 8
Gematria: 908
Hhatsavan / Carved
  700 2 90 8
Gematria: 800
Schaqalan / Weighed
  700 30 100 300
Gematria: 1130
Hamiran / Inverted
700 200 10 40 5
Gematria: 955
Tsrafan / Amalgamated
  700 80 200 90
Gematria: 1070

This sequence expresses one single structural process:
  1. double intervention of the cosmic Aleph (100) in the undifferentiated 8
  2. advent of the structurising Tsadde (90)
  3. advent by the 30 of organic motion in all spheres
  4. manifestation by 5 of life in the biosphere
  5. the structurising energy of Tsadde (90) taking charge of the process

Suares, SY 1976 p.94-95