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(Last updated 3/26/01)

Through the next two major sections of our study (concerning the Sephirot of Tipheret and Yesod), we present information at a kabbalistic level, regarding the subject of Messiah.


The Soncino Zohar Appendix III - The Divine Name, states the following:

It remains to say a few words on the place occupied by the Holy Name, the Tetragrammaton [YHVH], in the scheme of the Zohar. In the Cabbalistic doctrine the name formed by the four Hebrew letters yod, he, vau, he, has a special and intimate connection with the grade of Tifereth, of which it is in the strict sense the proper name. We must understand this to mean that if one could grasp with sufficient clearness the nature of the grade Tifereth, especially as the originator of the neshamah, he would automatically perceive that this is the fitting appellation which should be given to it. To this grade of comprehension Moses and the other prophets actually rose, and this was the basis of their inspiration. There is, however, a difference between the inspiration of Moses and that of the other prophets. Moses was able to grasp the connection between the grade and the Name fully and clearly, but the others only through a haze, as it were, since their comprehension only reached fully to the two inferior grades of Nezah and Hod, the two ‘pillars’ or ‘willows of the brook’, as they are fancifully called.

The term Neshemah (above) needs to be explained. A common Kabbalistic view of man (living in the present spiritual realm) is that of three spiritual "parts," or if you will, three parts of his soul.1

There are several schools of thought within this area, but in its most basic terms, the Nefesh is the "soul" that all breathing creatures, man and beast, possess - their lifeforce. Regarding the Torah, Nefesh is connected to the basic performance of the commandments in order to have a relationship with God and help us get through the physical dimension of life.

The Ruach is the spirit that distinguishes man from the animals. (This is not the same as the Ruach haKodesh - God's Holy Spirit) The Ruach gives man with the ability to go beyond the physical existence of animals, and reach into spiritual dimensions -- specifically to try to understand the deeper meanings of God's Torah.

All people have a Nefesh and Ruach within their being. The Neshemah however, is an additional part of man's spiritual makeup. Neshemah is a spirit (or "spiritual connection"), given by God when a person through faith/trust, begins to truly seek Him (through His Torah). The Neshemah is the spiritual faculty given to man that connects with the Ruach haKodesh (God's Holy Spirit).

Such a person is considered linked to Tipheret and is even thought of as being greater than the prophets:

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Section 2, Page 35a - What, now, is the difference between those who study the Torah and faithful prophets? The former are ever superior, since they stand on a higher level. Those who study the Torah stand in a place called Tifereth (Beauty), which is the pillar of all faith, whereas the prophets stand lower in the place called Nezah (Victory) and Hod (Majesty); and those who merely speak in the spirit of holiness stand lower still. He who studies the Torah needs neither peace offerings nor burnt offerings, since the Torah is superior to all and the bond of faith; wherefore it is written “Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace” (Prov. III, 17), and also, “Great peace have they which love thy law and they have no occasion for stumbling” (Ps. CXIX, 165).’

God has promised a reward to those who seek Him in faith:

Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Exploring a bit deeper, Nefesh, as it is freely given and present in all men, is said to come from the right side of the Tree of Life, the side of Chesed (mercy). The Ruach, is said to be from the left side, which is the critical/judgmental side. Here is where man can choose between following the path of Torah to God, or considering himself not under God's Torah and moving away from Him.

This is where man's yetzer hara (evil inclination) comes into play. (The yetzer hara is also said to come from the left side, which is also where evil eminates from.) When presented with God's Torah, and its defintion of sin, man can give in to his yetzer hara and transgress the Torah, or can place his yetzer hara under subjugation, even using it to serve God. (Think of an athlete channeling natural aggressiveness into better performance.)

Lastly, the Neshemah is said to be of the central pillar of the Tree of Life, (where Tipheret is located), that of balance and harmony (between man's animal and spiritual aspects).

When Adam was created, it was the Neshemah that God breathed into Him:

Genesis 2:7 - And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; [neshmat hayyim] and man became a living soul [nefesh hayyah].

Having the Neshemah directly placed into him by God, Adam had very personal relationship with his maker. The Neshemah is what we have lost through sin, and what we need to recover in order to go on and become conformed to His image. It is interesting that in the Genesis text, the word we see is neshmat, the plural of neshemah. This implies a spiritual attachment to the multiple Sephirot of God. (Adam was "well connected.")


Recall that the Zohar Appendix (top of page) states that Tipheret (which is directly associated with Messiah), is the originator of the neshamah, which connects us to God in faith.

The "New Testament" states that Yeshua fills a similar role:

Hebrews 12:2a - Looking unto Yeshua, the author and finisher of our faith;

The Zohar Appendix commentary above (as well as Zohar, Section 2, Page 136a -138b, below), make clear that to comprehend Tipheret is equivalent to grasping the essence of God. The relationship between the centralized, harmonizing Tipheret and the invisible Eyn Sof, can again be compared to that of Yeshua and the invisible God.

This gives us a better understanding of two verses quoted earlier in this study:

Romans 8:29 - For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son ...

Colossians 1:15 - Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

One can grasp the image of the invisible God throught Tipheret, due to its embodiment of the characteristics of all the Sephirot. The Messiah's encompassing relationship to the Sephirot (also called spirits of God) and to da'at, (knowledge) is seen in this prophetic verse:

Isaiah 11:2 - The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD

This same Messiah (whom the Spirit of the Lord rests on), will usher in the Day of the Lord and Jubilee Release, a time when all things are brought into beauty and harmony:

Isaiah 61:1-3 - The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Revelation 21:3-4 - And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.


As mentioned earlier in this study, Paul makes the mystical statement that the rock (or "well") that followed the children of Israel in the Wilderness was Yeshua. The Zohar gives a description of this rock as holding the characteristics of Tipheret -- a combination of both judgment and mercy, and also a reflection of God Himself:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 64b - Geburah emanates from her. Therefore She is called “Supernal Rock”. And in the same verse the words, “And hast forgotten God that formed thee” refer to the brightness of the Father, viz. the Supernal Grace.’ R. Abba further said: ‘We know that “water” everywhere symbolizes God's kindness, “Grace”, and yet the Holy One, blessed be He, on this occasion caused water to come from the “Rock” (the symbol of Judgement), though it ought to be connected with “Greatness” (=Grace). In this, however, consisted the “sign” and wonder of the Holy One: “Who turned the Rock into a pool” (Ps. CXIV, 8). “Turned” suggests that it is not the usual function of the rock to produce water. Therefore He caused water to come from the place below by means of the Supernal Rock. And what is the name of the place below? “Sela”’, for it is written: “And thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock (sela’)” (Num. xx, 8). And wherewith did this sela’ bring forth water? By the power of the Supernal Rock.’

(Note: This rock/well is also closely associated with the Sephirah of Yesod as we will discuss later in this study.)

The Zohar states that Tifereth itself, may be considered, the "central pillar" of the Tree of Life:

Zohar Appendix III - The Designations and The Categories, 3a - Thus it is possible to speak of a ‘straight line’ from Kether to Tifereth, and to designate Tifereth the ‘central pillar’.

The following section of the Zohar indicates how the central column of the Sephirot (i.e., Tipheret), is the perfect will of God that holds the merciful and judgmental columns in harmony. This section goes so far to say that the three must be in agreement before God makes a "final decision" to pass judgment. However, the Zohar says, even when this has happened, true repentance can still move the merciful side of God to reconsider:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 22b - They all rose and prostrated themselves before him, saying, ‘happy the man whose Master agrees with him in the exposition of hidden mysteries which have not been revealed to the holy angels.’ He proceeded: ‘Friends, we must expound the rest of the verse, since it contains many hidden mysteries. The next words are: I kill and make alive, etc. That is to say, through the Sefiroth on the right side I make alive, and through the Sefiroth on the left side I kill; but if the Central Column does not concur, sentence cannot be passed, since they form a court of three. Sometimes, even when they all three agree to condemn, there comes the right hand which is outstretched to receive those that repent; this is the YHWH, and it is also the Shekinah, which is called "right hand", from the side of Hesed (kindness).

An example of the above teaching, that judgment can be suspended even after God has "made up His mind," would be when God sent Jonah to preach to Ninevah. His instructions to Jonah were not to "warn" Ninevah. Rather, God said they were going to be destroyed. There was no offer of repentance attached. As the story goes, Ninevah, without being told to, immediately repented, and God's judgment on that generation was withdrawn.

As mentioned earlier, Jacob was a picture of the Messiah to come, in that he had the qualities that balanced the merciful and judgmental sides of God in perfect harmony. Here the idea of Jacob unifying "tents," takes on a mystical meaning of harmonizing the pillars of the Tree of Life.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 175b - R. Simeon, we are told, explained thus the words, "And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall pass from one end to the other." ‘ "The middle bar" ‘, he said, ‘signifies Jacob, the perfect saint, as we have pointed out on another occasion in connection with the characterization of Jacob as "a complete man, dwelling in tents" (Gen. xxv, 27). It does not say, "dwelling in a tent", but "dwelling in tents,’, which denotes that he unified the two "tents" (of Severity and Mercy). The same implication may be found here: "The middle bar in the midst of the boards shall pass from one end to the other", uniting them. Jacob was perfect in regard to both sides, the Holy Ancient and the Microprosopus, and also to the supernal Grace and the supernal Power, harmonizing the two.’ R. Simeon said further: ‘I perceive that Wisdom (‘Hokmah) is the totality of all the holy Sefiroth, and that supernal Grace (Hesed) emanates from Wisdom, and Power (Geburah), which is the prompter of severe judgement, from Understanding (Binah). Jacob harmonized both sides: the Fathers (Abraham and Isaac) signified the totality of all, and Jacob signified the union of the Fathers. Then came the merit of Jacob and synthetized both and made them one, for he signifies supernal harmony.’


The book of Malachi contains a mystical allusion to a Sun of righteousness, even referring to this "Sun" as a person. The context clearly shows that Sun of righteousness is another name for the Messiah, who will usher in the Day of the Lord and subsequent healing of all things (Rev. 22:1-3).

Malachi 4:1-6 - For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

The Zohar makes a connection between Tipheret and this "Sun." This passage states that to grasp the Sun is equivalent to grasping all the grades as the Sun is said to be a Tabernacle, representing of all the grades (Sephirot):

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 136a -138b - Because of this current, we have a true Faith in this world, and all mankind can discourse of the mystery of the Faith of the Holy One in connection with these grades, as if they were revealed to and not hidden from them. Therefore it says: "And their words to the end of the world" (Ibid.), which means that from the beginning to the end of the world the "wise of heart" discourse of those hidden grades although they cannot be comprehended. And how far are they comprehended? "In them hath he set a tent for the sun" (Ibid.), because the holy sun [Tr. note: ‘ Tifereth.] is as a tabernacle of all those supreme grades, and is as a light which has taken into itself all the hidden lights and the whole current of their extension, whereby Faith is manifested in the whole world. To grasp the Sun is equivalent to grasping all grades, because the sun is a "tent" including all and absorbing all; and he in turn lights up all the shining colours below. Hence "He is a bridegroom coming forth from his canopy (covering)" (v. 6), in the gleam and flash of those hidden lights which in strong yearning and desire give him tokens of their love, as to a bridegroom to whom all his friends give presents and gifts. And what is "his covering"? Eden, the "covering" which covers up all things. "He rejoiceth" from the side of the primeval light in which judgement has no place at all. "As a strong man" (gibbor) - from the side of "strength" (geburah); and note that it does not say here "a strong man", but "as a strong man", which means that Judgement is tempered by Mercy.

Thus the sun gathers all together in one, in perfect devotion and love. "To run on the way", in order to nourish and complement the Moon on every side and make it possible for her to shed her light downwards. "His going forth is from the end of the heaven" (v. 7). He goes forth from the end of that supernal heaven, from the termination [Tr. note: Yesod.] of the Body, as it is written, "From one end of heaven to the other end of the heaven" (Deut. IV, 32); where the "one end" designates the upper world, and the "other end" its termination. "And his circuit unto the ends of it" (Ibid.): he (the sun) runs through all those holy regions that are capable of being vivified and nourished by his rays. "And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof" (Ibid.): nothing is hidden from that radiance, for it is directed towards all together, to each according to its capacity of reception.

The following text also has reference to the "Sun" containing aspects of all the "grades" (sephirot). Here the sun is representative of YHWH and "shield" of Elohim:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 224b - R. Jose then continued to discourse, citing the verse: “For the Lord God (YHWH ELOHIM) is a sun and a shield; the Lord giveth grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps. LXXXIV, 12). ‘The “sun”, he said, ‘contains the mystery of the Divine Name YHWH, wherein is the abode of rest of all the grades, whereas “shield” contains the mystery of the Divine Name ELOHIM; the same is indicated in “I am thy shield” (Gen. XV, 1). The two together, sun and shield, constitute thus the mystery of the Divine Name complete: “the Lord giveth grace and glory”, so that the whole should merge into a unity.

The kabbalistic "tree of life" containing "all of the grades/Sephirot) (as shown in our previous study on the ten Sephirot), can be said to be a representation of the Messiah.

As one modern kabbalah author writes:

The cosmic tree then, would not only be the ontic source of all souls, but it would also be a Messianic figure. 2

At the end of the age, the Messiah is "kissed" by God, given His proper adoration, and commence vengeance upon His enemies:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 8b-9a - He shall take out from a certain temple in it a crown inscribed with holy names. It was with this crown that the Holy One adorned Himself when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and He avenged Himself on all the chariots of Pharaoh and his horsemen. With this same crown will He crown King Messiah. As soon as he is crowned, the Holy One will take him and kiss him as before. All the holy multitude and the whole holy army will surround him and will bestow upon him many wonderful gifts, and he will be adorned by them all. Then will he enter into one of the temples and behold there all the upper angels, who are called "the mourners of Zion" because they continually weep over the destruction of the Holy Temple. These angels shall give him a robe of deep red in order that he may commence his work of revenge.


Lastly, several times earlier in this study, we have mentioned the dream Jacob had of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven. The following section of the Zohar indicates that by this dream, Jacob comprehended the unity (harmony) of the Sephirot:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 150a - Jacob was beholden to dreams, as explained before. AND BEHOLD, THE LORD STOOD (nitsab) UPON IT, ETC. Here Jacob discerned the essential unity of the object of faith. This is implied in the term nitsab (firmly knit), which implies that Jacob saw all grades stationed as one on that ladder so as to be knit into one whole. And inasmuch as that ladder is situated between two sides, God said to him: I AM THE LORD, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM THY FATHER, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC , these two being respectively of the two sides, one of the right and the other of the left.

As mentioned earlier, Tipheret is an image of the Eyn Sof, the invisible God. As such, Tipheret is the mystical key to salvation, becoming conformed to the image of God, and growing in intimacy in our relationship with God.

If one could outline a "process" to what has been presented thus far, it might look like this:

  • When man focuses on his spiritual self (ruach) and
  • does not seek his own righteousness, but rather
  • seeks God's Kingdom (Malkut) through humility, Torah study and prayer,
  • he will receive Neshemah from God and "connect" with the Ruach haKodesh, which will
  • draw him to God and provide him with a certain level of God's Chokmah (wisdom), which embodies all the Sephirot within it. With this knowlege of the Sephirot,
  • he is enabled to understand that Tipheret is the; Holy Sun, Temple, Bridegroom, Messiah, giver of the Neshemah, author of our faith, and as the "tabernacle of all those supreme grades," is also a reflection of the Eyn Sof.
  • He can then begin to understand how Yeshua can be the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and is Elohim, who tabernacled among us in the flesh (John, chapter 1) and will come again to judge the world.

(Note: We will deal with the dual role of Yeshua, as the suffering servant and judge of the world, in our study of Yesod.)

1. Kabbalistic teachings actually indicate five levels of the soul, but only the three mentioned (Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshemah), can be experience in this lifetime. The two higher levels, called Chayah (Vitality) and Yechidah (Uniqueness), are given to those who enter the Kingdom of God.

2. Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism and Hermeneutics, Elliot R. Wolfson, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995, p. 82.