Sefirot

According to the kabbalists, the attributes of God relate to each other in a scripted way.

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Gevurah is associated with Elohim as the name of God. It corresponds to the left arm. Gevurah's color is red.

Tiferet

Tiferet (Beauty) (also translated as "glory") is found in the middle of the "tree" of sefirot, a balancing force between Hesed and Gevurah, in fact, their offspring. This balance is essential to the proper running of the universe. Tiferet is the sefirah that unites the upper nine powers. It is considered the primary "male" attribute of God. (In some versions of the sefirot this attribute is called Rahamim [Mercy].)

Often associated with the Written Torah (Tanakh), Tiferet corresponds to the Tetragrammaton itself; in some systems, it is associated with the vav of the Tetragrammaton. The torso is the body part that corresponds to Tiferet. Tiferet's color is purple.

Netzah & Hod

Netzah (Victory) and Hod (Splendor) are counterparts to one another. They may be seen as more earthly versions of Hesed and Gevurah, respectively. The former represents God's active grace and benevolence in the world, the latter the manner in which the judgment of the Deity is dispensed on earth. Hod is also associated with the power of prophecy.

Netzah and Hod are associated with the Divine names YHVH Tsva'ot (Lord of Hosts)and Elohim Tsva'ot (God of Hosts), respectively. Netzah corresponds to the right leg, Hod the left, but they are also often linked to the left and right kidneys (sources of advice in talmudic lore), the testicles, or the female breasts (sources of fertility and nurturing sustenance, respectively). Netzah's color is light pink, Hod's dark pink.

Yesod

Yesod (Foundation) is the channel that unites the other two middle figures of the "tree." In other words, it is the means by which Tiferet, the male principle of the Divine, impregnates Shekhinah or Malkhut, the female embodiment of the Divine. Yesod is the way in which Divine Creativity and Fertility are visited upon all creation.

Yesod is associated with the phallus and is, therefore, closely linked with the mitzvah of circumcision. Yesod's color is orange, and the names of God it corresponds to are El Hai (The Living God), El Shaddai (God Almighty), and the point at the bottom tip of the vav in the Tetragrammaton.

Malkhut (Sovereignty) is the culmination and synthesis of all the attributes of God, the recipient of all the forces in play in the delicate balance of the sefirot, andthe quality that links the Eternal Sovereign to the "real" world. Malkhut is perhaps more familiarly known as the Shekhinah, the Divine Presence, God's immanent and female aspect, the way in which we experience the Divine. When the Jewish people are in exile, the Shekhinah travels with them; when their exile ends with the coming of the Messiah, the Shekhinah's wanderings will end as well.

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George Robinson

George Robinson, author of Essential Judaism, is the recipient of a Simon Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish journalism from the American Jewish Press Association. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsday, Jewish Week, and The Detroit Jewish News.