LITERAL, ALLEGORICAL, METAPHYSCIAL
(Last updated 9/1/01)
In the Torah, we are told:
Deuteronomy 6:5 - And you will love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy might.
We are commanded to love God in these three "ways," as man is made up of
emotions, mind and a physical body. The above verse applies to these three components of
man, with "soul" corresponding to one's mind, and "might" to one's
Thus, man may show love of God;
- emotionally, through prayer and devotion
- mentally, through study of Torah
- physically, by following the Torah's commands and performing acts of kindness toward
Balance between these aspects of our selves
(emotional, mental and physical), is key to properly serving God and neighbor in our
daily lives. When this occurs, our physical activities are focused, our thinking is
reflective, and our emotions are kept under control. The result of neglecting one or more
of these aspects is never good.
Within the deeper levels of Torah study, we also see all three aspects of man taking
- The physical part of man is associated with a Literal approach
- The Allegorical view has to do with one's emotion
- The mind is linked to the Metaphysical method
Not only can Scripture as a whole be approached in
these three ways, any particular subject may be analyzed using these methods.
An example is the study of the Temple, which can be viewed:
- in a literal way, (i.e., as the place people went to meet as a
community and pray)
- from an allegorical viewpoint, seeing what it represents in
Israel's relationship to God
- according to the details of the Temple design, looking for deeper
Below, we give an example of each method as it applies
to the Tree of Life. Again, we state that these examples are meant to show but one
application of each method and are by no means exhaustive, and we refer the student to our
YashaNet Reading List for additional materials.
THE TRIADS AROUND
THE YESOD OF YETZIRAH
(As we are talking about study of Torah, we are
primarily concerned with the Tree of Life at the Soul-level of man, that being the World
The Sephirah of Yesod is associated with the idea of
"foundation." At the level of Yetzirah within human beings, it is the center of
awareness of our actions, feelings and thoughts. (Recall that the Yesod
("foundation") of Yezirah corresponds to the Da'at of Asiyyah in man, the latter
being associated with our ego, and the "path" from the physical level, to the
level of the soul.)
With regard to study of Torah, we are concerned with the
three Sephirot surrounding Yesod, the triads they form with Yesod, and their associated
The three Sephirot and their traits (within Yetzirah),
- Netzah, associated with physical action
- Hod, associated with reflective thinking
- Malkut, associated with emotion, being both active and
With Yesod at the center, three triads as related to
study of Torah, are formed:
- Yesod-Netzah-Malkut is the triad of Literal approach
- Yesod-Hod-Netzah is the triad of Allegorical approach
- Yesod-Hod-Malkut is the triad of Metaphysical approach
Yesod at the level of Yetzirah in man is both physical and psychological. As it
corresponds to our ego (at the level of Da'at in Asiyyah), it is associated with "how
we see oursleves" - which of course is not always an accurate picture. There is a big
"step" in going from Yesod to Tipheret, as the latter is the "Sephirah of
Truth," and the reality of our "Self."
As mentioned, a key part of the process in being "conformed to the image of
God," is to ascend from Yesod to Tipheret. The path between Yesod and Tipheret is the
"Path of the Tzaddik." As with "walking" any path,
"balance" is important to staying on this course. If we handle Torah properly,
it will reveal many things about us that our Yesod did not see (or wish to see). This is
the process of sanctification leading to the Beauty and Harmony of Tipheret.
Note: Parshat Vaeschana (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11) is a Divine discourse on this
To attain the Tipheret of Yetzirah, is to also identify with the Malkut of Beriah
(Kingdom of Heaven), as these "overlay" each other at the same location on the
extended Tree of Life. To make this connection is to be "born again" of
"Water" (Yetzirah), and "Spirit" (Beriah), and thus attain the Kingdom
of Heaven (the Malkut of Beriah), as taught by Yeshua.
This Sephirah is where the three lower worlds meet (i.e., the Malkut of Beriah,
Tipheret of Yetzirah and Keter of Asiyyah). The triad above the Tipheret of Yetzirah is
the realm of the soul. This will become more clear when we study aspects of the heavenly
Temple, especially in light of verses such as Revelation 6:9, which speaks of the
"location of souls under the altar."
||In this example, we are concerned with
basic characteristics and functions of the Sephirot and the three pillars within the world
of Yetzirah - the realm of the psyche and soul.
- Keter in Yetzirah is the crown of the Soul, where man is in contact with the
Divine Malkut of Azilut.
- Hochma, as Wisdom, is Revelation from above, as it underlies the
Netzah of Heavenly Beriah.
- Binah, as Understanding, is learning through Tradition. It underlies the Hod of
- Da'at, as the location of the Ruach haKodesh, is the access point to higher
spiritual realms. It is simultaneously the Yesod (Foundation) of Beriah.
- Chesed, as expansive Mercy, is associated with Love of Torah study.
- Gevurah, as Strictness, is associated with Discipline in Torah study.
- Tipheret, as Harmony, is the Sephirah of Truth and balance between Love and
Discipline. Through Tipheret, one is granted a "higher soul" and given access to
the Ruach (via Da'at) and thus, Wisdom and Understanding from above. This Sephirah
underlies the Malkut of Beriah (the Kingdom of Heaven).
- Netzah, as the active Impulse, is Practice of Torah.
- Hod, as Reverberation, is Theory of Torah.
- Yesod, as Foundation, is where the Path of the Tzaddik begins, with the
goal of reaching Tipheret, the Sephirah of Truth and access to the Ruach haKodesh.
- Malkut corresponds to the Tipheret in physical man.
The left pillar is associated with strictness, and thus the Fear of God. The
right pillar with mercy, and the Love of God. Proper study and spiritual growth requires
balance between these two in order to ascend the central pillar of equilibrium, which is
associated with holiness of God. This is reflected historically in the rabbinic schools of
Rabbis Shammai (strictness) and Hillel (leniency) around the time of Yeshua.
||Allegorically, the Sephirot can be
associated with the characteristics of people, places or things in the Torah.
the lower seven Sephirot are linked to various patriarchs of Israel.
- Chesed, as Abraham, was full of mercy and unyielding love for God, to the point
of being willing to sacrifice his only son.
- Gevurah, as Isaac, was from the side of strictness, as he was never allowed by
God to leave the land of Israel in his lifetime.
- Tipheret, as Jacob, is the balance between mercy and strictness, who fully
attaining this level, went from being called Jacob ("below") to Israel
- Netzah, as Moses, is the Prophet continually bringing in new insight into the
- Hod, as Aaron, is the Priesthood overseeing the Torah commandments.
- Malkhut, as David, is associated with the earthly realm, as he was a man of the
earth. (He was even said to be "ruddy" like Esau.)
By studying the behaviors and sitations of these Patriarchs in the Torah we can
learn more the characteristics of their associated Sephirot, and therefore about God and
how to become conformed to His image.
||This approach deals with the Hebrew
letters and their relationship with the paths between the Sephirot. This includes the
Triads and three-letter roots words formed, as well as the numerical values of those
letters. (Note that there are several schools of thought regarding the paths and letters.)
instance, the path between Malkhut and Yesod, is associated with the letter Resh, which
has to do with the head or beginning of something. Hence, the start of one journey into
Torah begins on this path. Between Yesod and Tipheret is the letter Tzade, having to do
with the Path of the Tzaddik.
The Metaphysical approach can reveal some peculiar things. Once such analysis
concerns the fall of haSatan and his attempt to usurp God's authority. Tracing his
"decent" down the left side of the Tree (recall the left is the side from where
evil emanates), we follow the three paths from Binah (the high heavens) down to Malkhut
(the earth). The path from Binah to Gevurah is linked to the letter Vau. From Gevurah to
Hod, the letter Samekh, From Hod to Malkut, the letter Tov.
Once decended to the actual earth (Revelation 12:12), he misleads the world as
the "false Tzaddik," elevating himself to the place of Yesod, coming between the
heavenly "bride and groom" (Malkhut and Tipheret). This path is represented by
the letter Resh.
Adding the numerical values of the letters associated with these paths (Vau,
Samekh, Tov and Resh), we arrive at a sum that students of the book of Revelation might
actually find interesting. (See Gematria chart to do the