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by Rabbi Yitzchak Luria

Apples from the Orchard


Library » Torah » Kabbalah » Kabbalistic Concepts | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Korach betook himself….

Sefer HaLikutim, parashat Korach

You can understand Korach’s quarrel with Moses based on what is written in the Zohar on the verse, “And G-d said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters.’” In the middle of that passage in the Zohar it says, “Similar to this is the quarrel of Korach with Aaron.”

The division of the water into two (atmospheric and ocean water) presaged the division of Korach.

The seven days of the Creation week manifested the seven sefirot of the emotions. Sunday, when light was created, manifested chesed, pure giving. Monday, when the primordial water was divided into atmospheric moisture (the upper water) and the oceans (the lower water), manifested gevurah, restraint. Water is naturally heavier than air, so in order for it to be suspended in air, it had to be restrained from precipitating, and this aspect of the hydrological system/cycle is referred to as the “firmament.”

In particular, however, the upper and lower waters manifest chesed and gevurah, and the firmament manifests tiferet, which harmonizes chesed and gevurah. This is why the work of creation involving water was not finished until the third day (when the oceans were “gathered” in order for the dry land to appear), for the third day manifested tiferet.

Know that Korach was a Levite, and thus embodied gevurah, and moreover was the head of the Levites, and thus embodied the highest aspect of all states of gevurah, while Aaron embodied the highest aspect of all states of chesed. Thus, their quarrel was that of the left side with the right side.

Chesed is the central sefirah on the right axis of the sefirot, while gevurah is the central sefirah on the left axis. Their natures are fundamentally opposed, chesed being the nature to give and gevurah being the nature to withhold. The tension between them is thus the fundamental tension of duality in all reality.

Moses observed this, and said: “It is proper for me to try to harmonize them.” This befitted Moses, for he embodied the principle that sweetens all states of gevurah above, i.e., in the spiritual realm, the middle axis.

The middle axis of the sefirot harmonizes the right and left axes, combining the positive qualities in each and neutralizing their extremeness.

Furthermore, Moses embodied the yesod of Abba, which is revealed at the level of tiferet of Z’eir Anpin, as is known, because it emerges from its investiture in yesod of Ima and extend further down than yesod of Ima.

Yesod of Abba (the drive of insight for self-actualization) becomes clothed in the yesod of Ima (the drive of the intellect proper for self-actualization) and thereafter, together with it, in Z’eir Anpin (the emotions produced by the intellect). Thus, the emotions are “driven” by these two drives, one invested within and driving the other. The yesod of Ima, however, is invested in Z’eir Anpin only as far down as its tiferet, while yesod of Abba continues down until the yesod of Z’eir Anpin. Thus, yesod of Abba is revealed (i.e., openly manifest) when the emotions reach their central point of development, tiferet, the element of “mercy” in the emotional array. The essence of any new insight is a new, higher, better way of looking at reality. This new insight, if properly transmitted, will enable everyone to live life better, and therefore transmitting it is an act of mercy on creation. Therefore, yesod of Abba becomes manifest in tiferet of Z’eir Anpin.


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A descendant of Levi, son of Jacob. The Levites were the teachers and spiritual leaders in the Land of Israel. They had various responsibilities in the Holy Temple, including choir and orchestral duties.
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Brother of Moses. First High Priest of Israel and progenitor of all Kohanim (priests) until this very day. Died in the year 1272 b.c.e.
Cousin of Moses, he led an uprising against him, objecting to the appointment of Aaron as High Priest. He and his followers were miraculously swallowed up by the earth.
Rabbi Isaac Luria, the 15th Century founder of Modern Kabbalah.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.