Lives Run and Return

Sepher Yetsira Index

Suares: Sepher Yetsira: 1:3-8
1:3 Ten Sephirot Belimah according to the number of ten fingers. Five opposite (or: as in the presence of) five. And (the) covenant (of) the One, adapted (or, directed) in the midst of (or, by means of) (the) word (of) the tongue and as (the) circumcision witnesses.

The double Covenant of the One: Word and the flesh, inner energy and outer energy, seed and shell, the Autiot of structure and energy and the Hebrew alphabet, Qabala and Orthodox Judaism. All of the learned and Rabbinic and Hermetic commentators are blind to the central theme of the Sepher Yetsira, which is the unity of essence and appearance precisely described in a language designed for the purpose as a two-way flow of the one dual energy. Emanationists and monotheists, rationalists and even the magic(k)al thinkers are all unable to conceive of how the infinite gets to the finite and back again.

The elephant in the room of Sepher Yetsira commentary is how a book so obsessed with double formulations of everything could fail to get its point across. Recent scholarship [1] has begun to realize the problem, but not its dimensions.

Therefore, the first thing to realize (we could call this a conceptual framework) about the Sepher Yetsira is that energy is always running in two directions: Spirit and matter, Word and flesh, inner and outer, consciousness and its physical supports, and that both energies are alive. See YHWY for why.

1:4 Ten Sephirot Belimah. Ten and not nine. Ten and not eleven. Understand with Hhokmah, Meditate with Binah. Examine them. Delve into them and experiment with them. And the one who is there (standing) speaks to his creator and puts the maker of form in his rightful place (or, his foundation).

Understand with Wisdom, meditate with intelligence, use the experimental method. Speak directly to your creator and put the maker of form in his place.

We are here very far from "And God said ..." and it is words like these that led Gershom Scholem, distinguished scholar of Jewish Mysticism, to call the Sepher Yetsira "anomalous" within the textual tradition. In fact, the Sepher Yetsira's only explicit internal connection to Judaism is found in one mention of Abraham at the very end of the book. Suares says the text "pre-dates" Judaism. In any case, its cosmology / cosmognosis is found in no other text in either the West or the East, and it constitutes the entry point in Jewish literature and Kabbalistic thought for the term "sephirot." It is actually a true Out of Place Artifact (OOPART), with no real textual antecedents or descendents or parallels (save Genesis and the Song of Songs and a few other texts in their code). The 3-D perspective of the Cube of Space gave pre-perspectival tree-of-life medieval Kabbalah a headache. It is generally seen as a 3rd Century or later ideosyncratic text, but it is also said to have been in Noahh's Ark and passed down to Abraham.

1:5 Their measure without end. Depth of beginning. Depth of end. Depth of Tov. Depth of Raa. Depth of above. Depth of below. Depth of East. Depth of West. Depth of North. Depth of South. Adon Yahhid true King (or eternal) has dominion over the Universe of (the) Holy Abode. Eternity of eternity immemorial.

But the most important thing to understand about the Sepher Yetsira is that it is written in code. Not encoded meanings, written almost entirely in code. Specifically, a language of structure and energy/consciousness encoded into the glyphs of the Hebrew alphabet, the most persistent living cultural artifact in the West, waiting for the evolution of consciousness in humans to catch up with it. Once that realization sinks in, one has the challenge of decoding (not that hard), or translating, and the choice of learning a new language and beginning to think in a new way about the structure of consciousness and Man's place in the universe.

The directions of the Depths of Directions are psychological directions. Reading them, for instance, in translation or even Hebrew, gets us nowhere. These are all dual equations (the Sepher Yetsira is all about dual descriptions) of the one energy and must be disassembled and decoded and then integrated again.

This means that the Sepher Yetsira is untranslatable. Early manuscripts all have errors and inconsistencies, but can be reduced to a common-denominator text (Peter Hayman, 2004) which is interesting for both its agreements and its omissions, but still untranslatable. "Spheres of Nothingness," "Wondrous Paths" and "Foundation Letters" lead us to think we "understand" the text, when we've only been poetically hypnotized. Comparing translations is comparing one shadow to another but useful for breaking the illusion that we're reading Hebrew, let alone the language the Sepher Yetsira is actually written in.

1:6 Ten Sephirot Beli-Mah their apparition (or, aspect) as lightning (or the vision of lightning) their aim has no end. Its utterance with (or, in) them with its course and return and when its word (is) like the tempest they descend (go underneath) in front of the throne and "they" carouse.
  Here we have a description of a cause and of a "return" of Sephirot glorified as lightning, which then "descends." As always, it is a question of the double energising movement coming simultaneously from "above" and "below": it concerns an endogenous energy that is both "female and male." Here, there does not seem to be a "fall" into calamity, but a "descent," a change of pole, and rejoicings.   (em added)

Quick overview: The Sepher Yetsira is about the letters (Autiot) of the Hebrew alphabet. The first chapter is primarily about the Ten Sepherot with the Autiot "intervening only as agents." Chapters 2 is about the Three Mothers and the Autiot as a group and in relationship to each other. Chapter 3 continues the discussion of the three Mothers, and their manifestation in the universe through the three Fathers. Chapter 4 is about the Seven Double letters and Chapter 5 describes the Twelve Simple letters. Chapter 6 is a short recap and summary. The whole work can be seen as a commentary on (or more accurately, lab-manual/equation-set for) Bereshyt/Genesis, but written from the internal experiential perspective of Adam Kadmon, rather than the external historical perspective of the Jews.

We have just seen the Ten Sephirot described in the first verses of Chapter 1. The last six verses of Chapter 1 will describe the formation of Adam Kadmon's interior space in/by the permutations of the Autiot (intervening as agents) of the qualities of the first four Sephirot and the succeeding chapters will go on to map the full set of twenty-two Autiot-Yassod.

Here, in verses 3-8, before going on to the Autiot with which it is primarily concerned, the Sepher Yetsira wants to make sure we understand that there are exactly ten Sephirot, that their dimensions are psychological and organized in a spatial cube with man at the center, and that energy runs in two directions. And use your intelligence to figure it out for yourself.

The course and return of energy as lightning and lives run and come back are general descriptions of the two-way flow of energy that the rest of the work will elaborate in all its dual descriptions and double equations of energy and consciousness in different states of organization.

1:7 Ten Sephirot Beli-Mah. Their end is fixed (or, inserted) at the beginning, their beginning at their end, as the flames from glowing embers She-Adon Yahhid (unique) (which has) no second and in front (or, to) its face One, who are you? (or, of what account are you?)
1:8 Ten Sephirot Belimah. Shut (or, restrain) your mouth and do not speak (or, enclose the word) and your heart and do not think (or, let your heart enclose its thought) and if your heart begins to run, return to the place where it is said: lives run and come back, and on this word (the) covenant is made.
  This verse which concludes the general survey of the Sephirot, is explicit on its thought processes: "If your thought runs in one direction," it says, "return in the opposite direction, for what is alive has two opposite dimensions: it is on this that the covenant is based."

Suares, Sy 1976 p.70-73

The word "covenant" is used six times (five in Kaplan's translation, where 6:4 is condensed) in the Sepher Yetsira -- twice here in Chapter 1, and four times in the concluding verse of the book, 6:4, where the covenant (1) made with Abraham is explicitly described as dual: circumcision (2,3) and the tongue, or word (4).

6:4 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 raised 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).

And concluded with a covenant between the ten toes of the feet, and it is the covenant of circumcision, and between the ten fingers of the hands, and it is the covenant of the tongue, and attached to his tongue the twenty-two Autiot, and revealed Yassodan (their foundation) and sunk them in water, singed them by Fire, shook them by blowing, consumed them by the Seven and guided them by twelve constelllations.

On this the covenant is made: energy is dual and runs in opposite directions. The covenant is therefore also dual: one for the flesh (circumcision) and one for the word ("attached to his tongue the twenty-two Autiot") (or, the formative language of Qabala, the language the Sepher Yetsira is written in).

Ronit Meroz: Between Sefer Yezirah and Wisdom Literature: Three Binitarian Approaches in Sefer Yezirah
Abstract and PDF:   3) The assertion that the worldview reflected in Sefer Yezirah acknowledges the existence of a secondary power alongside God, that assists Him in the Creation and ongoing existence of the universe (as against doctrines claiming the existence of an additional force in conflict with God). The term I use in this context is binitarianism.

Sefer Yezirah deals with the details of a binitarian approach, asserting the existence of a secondary entity to God, one which assists Him in the creation of the world and serves as a mediator between them.   (p.130 JSRI Issue 18 Winter 2007)