Part 5. The Left Side of the Path

In traditional kabbalistic teaching, each Sefirah of the right pillar “comes before” its counterpart on the left (i.e., chokmah precedes binah, chesed precedes gevurah, netzach precedes hod). As such, the left side of the Tree of Life is ‘more complex’ than its counterpart as it is the “restriction” of that which emanates from the right.

The “head” of the left pillar is the Sefirah of Binah/Understanding – one of the “mochin” (the upper intellectual Sefirot) and counterpart to Chokmah/Wisdom on the right. Below Binah is Gevurah/Judgment and then Hod/Majesty. As with the right, the pillar is referred to not by its head (Binah) but by the Sefirah below this – thus the name, the Pillar of Judgment.

The left pillar represents the ideas of form, restriction and receptivity, and is considered “feminine.”

Traditional attributes of the three Sefirot from the left are:

Binah (Primary meaning: Understanding. Also known as: Intellect, teshuvah (Repentance), reason, palace, temple, womb, upper Mother, Jerusalem above, freedom, Jubilee, "YHWH pronounced as ELOHIM")

Gevurah (Also called "Din" - Primary meaning: Judgment. Also known as: strength, severity, Fear of God, left arm of God, red, ELOHIM, associated with Isaac)

Hod  (Primary meaning: Majesty. Also known as: glory, splendor, reverberation, prophecy, surrender, temimut (sincerity), anchor, steadfastness, left leg, "Hosts of ELOHIM," associated with Aaron)

Because the left side is that of restriction, it is considered the source of “evil” in the sense that evil is defined as “the restriction of G-d’s light.” Ironically, the first act of such restriction was done by G-d Himself in order to for Creation to exist, thus the name “Elohim” is the one used in the creation account of Genesis, chapter one. (Elohim being the name of G-d used with the aspect of judgment/restriction.)

Note that the Sefirah of Gevurah, being that of strict judgment, is considered the “source of evil’ – and not Binah/Understanding – as the latter is understood as one of the “intellectual Sefirah” (with Chokmah and Keter) that “function beyond” our physical reality.

In the Matrix, Wisdom (the Father) and Understanding (the Mother) are those sophisticated programs that created the Matrix.

As we are told:

The Architect:If I am the father of the Matrix, she (the Oracle) would undoubtedly be its mother."

Binah, as the “mother” of the side of restriction, allows for the potential of “evil.”

Zohar, Shemoth 64b – From the side of the “Mother” comes “Strength” (Geburah), as R. Eleazar has said, that, although the Supernal Mother does not in Herself signify judgment, yet judgment issues from Her side, since Geburah emanates from her.

The above citation from the Zohar explains one of the more curious dialogs found in the Matrix movies.

Oracle: You are a bastard.
Smith: You would know, Mom.

Check all the discussion sites on the web where fans struggle to understand why Smith refers to Oracle as “Mom.” As the Zohar explains, Judgment (Smith) issues from (is the ‘bastard son’ of) the Supernal Mother (the Oracle). 

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh explains the Sefirah of Gevurah as "... the force which measures and assesses the worthiness of Creation. Gevurah is also referred to in Kabbalah as midat hadin ("the attribute of judgment")."

Smith, as Gevurah, fulfills this role of "assessor" and “harsh judge” in the movie:

Agent Smith: Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization. 

... I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I've somehow been infected by it. 

As "pure judgment," Smith is the concentration of power that is solely focused on destruction – be it the annihilation of humans, Zion, the Matrix – even the computer world itself. This is his “purpose” (as he himself referred to it.)

Or as his “Mom” said:

Oracle: We are all here to do what we are all here to do.

Incidentally, one of the subtle visual “clues” the Wachowski brothers give us is found at the beginning of the second movie, where Agent Smith arrives in a car that has a license plate which reads, “IS 54 16” – a direct reference to this verse:

 Isaiah 54:16 - "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy."

… Which is of course tied directly to this verse:

Isaiah 45:7 - I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Finally, it is not without irony, that the numerical value of gevurah is 216 (Gimel [3] + Bet [2] + Vav [6] + Resh [200] + Heh [5]), which is the product of 6 times 6 times 6 -- a  rather infamous set of digits. Interestingly, the word "lion" (i.e., Yehuda) also has a gematria of 216.