Basics in Kabbalah: Chochmah

The Ten Sefirot: Divine Emanations






Chochmah, the second of the ten sefirot, is the first power of conscious intellect within Creation.


Chochmah appears in the configuration of the sefirot at the top of the right axis, and corresponds in the tzelem Elokim to the right hemisphere of the brain.

In its fully articulated form, chochmah possesses two partzufim: the higher of these is referred to as Abba Ila'ah ("the higher father"), whereas the lower is referred to as Yisrael Saba ("Israel, the Elder"). These two partzufim are referred to jointly as Abba("the father").

Chochmah is associated in the soul with the power of intuitive insight, flashing lightning-like across consciousness. The partzuf of Abba Ila'ah is associated with the power to spontaneously extract such insight from the superconscious realm, whereas the partzuf of Yisrael Saba is associated with the power to subsequently direct it into consciousness.

The "wisdom" of chochmah also implies the ability to look deeply at some aspect of reality and abstract its conceptual essence till one succeeds in uncovering its underlying axiomatic truth. These seeds of truth can then be conveyed to the companion power of binah for the sake of intellectual analysis and development.

Chochmah is the primary ("beginning") force in the creative process, as it is said: "You have made them all with chochmah." The first word of the Torah, Breishit, "In the beginning (God created the heavens and the earth)," is translated as "With chochmah (God created…)."

Chochmah = 73 (the 22nd prime number). In ordinal numbering, chochmah = 37 (the middle point of 73; the 13th prime number). In small numbering, chochmah = 19 (the "middle point" of 37; the 9th prime number; 9 plus 13 = 22). The final "small number" ofchochmah is 1.

The full numerical value of the first verse of Creation: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" = 2701. 2701 = the sum of all numbers from 1 to 73 (i.e. the "triangle" of 73) = 37 times 73. The final phrase of the verse, "and the earth" = 703 = the sum of all numbers from 1 to 37 = 19 times 37.

The word chochmah is read in the Zohar (Numbers 220b) as koach mah, "the power of selflessness," or, alternatively, as cheich mah, "the palate of selflessness."

"The power of selflessness" implies not only the attribute of selflessness itself, but the great creative power that selflessness entails.

"The palate of selflessness" is the soul's ability to "taste" Divinity by virtue of one's state of selflessness, as is said (Psalms 34:9): "Taste and see that God is good." In general, the sense of sight relates to chochmah (the lightening-flash referred to above). From this verse we learn that there is an inner, spiritual sense of taste in chochmah that precedes and arouses the sense of sight.

The spiritual state identified in Chassidut as corresponding to the sefirah of chochmah is that of bitul (selflessness).

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