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(Last updated 5/13/01)

In this section we will focus on Yesod's relationship to the Sephirot of Tipheret, which lies above Yesod in the Tree of Life, and Malkut, which lies below it. We will examine similarities and complementary differences, as well as the role Yesod plays in linking the other two.


In kabbalistic literature, both Tipheret and Yesod are seen as the male accompaniment to the female Sephirah of Malkut (the Shekinah). In the arrangement of the Sephirot, Yesod lies directly between Tipheret and Malkut. (Recall that the central column of the "Tree of Life," decends from Keter, through the "non-Sephirah" of Da'at, then to Tipheret, Yesod and finally Malkut.)

As a leading modern kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, writes:

In Kabbalah, the third day, tiferet ("beauty"), is the origin of the sixth day, yesod ("foundation"). Tiferet and Yesod totally integrate in the secret of the "middle line" - "the body and the brit are considered one." 1

The above quotation refers to Tipheret as "the body" and Yesod (below it) as the "covenant" ("brit"), stating that the two are considered as one -- although they function differently.

Yesod is most commonly seen as the ninth Sephirah (counting from Keter at the top). It is a complex attribute as it contains all that came "before it," (of the previous eight Sephirot). Looking from "below," Yesod is generative, in that it is the source of God's blessings (as has been mentioned). Regarding it from "above," it is reflective of what came before it.

This is especially true in its relationship with Tipheret, which lies directly above Yesod in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Yesod is considered an "image of the image" or "mirror within the mirror," with regard to Tipheret. As it maintains the complementary functions of giving and receiving, the foundation of Yesod must be sound, hence it has an association with purity.2


Included in the generative aspect of Yesod is its being the foundation of souls:

Bahir 157 - The Blessed Holy One has a single Righteous One (Tzadik) in His world, and it is dear to Him because it supports all the world. It is the Foundation (Yesod). This is what sustains it, and makes it grow, increasing and watching it. It is beloved and dear on high, and beloved and dear below; fearsome and mighty on high, and fearsome and mighty below; rectified and accepted on high, rectified and accepted below. It is the Foundation of all souls.

Yesod is also called the "Foundation of all souls," because souls are said to be born through the union of Yesod-Foundation to Malkut-Kingship.3

Yesod is associated in the soul with the power to contact, connect and communicate with outer reality (represented by the sefirah of malchut). The foundation (yesod) of a building is its "grounding," its union with the earth (malchut). 4

The Zohar speaks to the same theme of the soul (in this case, specifically the Neshemah - see previous study on levels of the soul), coming from the union of Yesod to Malkut.

Zohar Appendix III - The Designations and The Categories - Further, the lowest grade, Malkuth, is regarded as female in respect of the six grades of ‘heaven and earth’, and is often referred to simply as ‘The Female’. More specifically, it forms a pair with the grade Yesod (Foundation) immediately above it. The two, when thus conjoined, are usually designated Zaddik (Righteous One), and Zedek (Righteousness), and out of their interaction issues the neshamah as the soul of man.

As we discuss in detail further in this section, a function of Yesod regarding Malkut is for the purpose of unifying the latter to Tipheret. As mentioned in an earlier study, Tipheret is considered to be the "originator" of the Neshemah (the higher soul):

Soncino Zohar Appendix III - The Divine Name - 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.

Within the hands of Yesod/Tzaddik are the souls of all living things. Because of this it is also called Hei ha-olamim (the "eternally living one," or, "Living God").5 This is reflected in Paul's usage of the term, assembly of the Living God, found in 1 Timothy 3:15 (see below).


In Paul's first letter to Timothy, he refers to this pillar (foundation), and "ground of truth," represented by the souls who make up the "assembly of the Living God." He also implores the wise not to trust in earthy riches, but in this "Living God" who provides (i.e., El Shaddai, a name of God associated with Yesod):

1 Timothy 3:15 - But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the assembly of the living God [Yesod], the pillar and ground of the truth.

1 Timothy 6:17 - Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God [Yesod], who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

The concepts Paul is teaching Timothy, are also found in the following Talmud tractate:

Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 11a - Our Rabbis taught: It is related of King Monobaz that he dissipated all his own hoards and the hoards of his fathers in years of scarcity. His brothers and his father's household came in a deputation to him and said to him, ‘Your father saved money and added to the treasures of his fathers, and you are squandering them.’ He replied: ‘My fathers stored up below and I am storing above, as it says, Truth springeth out of the earth and righteousness looketh down from heaven. My fathers stored in a place which can be tampered with, but I have stored in a place which cannot be tampered with, as it says, Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of his throne. My fathers stored something which produces no fruits, but I have stored something which does produce fruits, as it is written, Say ye of the righteous [zaddik] that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings. My fathers gathered treasures of money, but I have gathered treasures of souls, as it is written, The fruit of the righteous [zaddik] is a tree of life, and he that is wise winneth souls. My fathers gathered for others and I have gathered for myself, as it says, And for thee it shall be righteousness [zedakah]. My fathers gathered for this world, but I have gathered for the future world, as it says, Thy righteousness [zedakah] shall go before thee, and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.’

The "Tree of Life," is often mentioned in discussions surrounding Yesod, and is associated with Tzaddik (the Righteous One) and Torah, as well as the month of Shevat, when Moses (the Tzaddik) recounted the Torah to the Children of Israel.

As stated by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh:

The tree of life, as expressive of the potential for restoring perfection to all reality, appears in Jewish sources as symbolic of both the tzadik--foundation of the world" and the Torah, in particular its inner dimension--the esoteric tradition. Thus the month of Shevat, when we concentrate on grafting ourselves to the tree of life, is an especially important time for attaching oneself to the tzadik by way of the "sweet" Torah issuing from his mouth. For this reason we find that it was during the month of Shevat that the children of Israel heard Moses recapitulate the Torah, as recorded in the book of Deuteronomy (Mishnah Torah). 7

The "Tree of Life," carries with it very deep esoteric meaning, particularly that of the essence of the Tzaddik (his soul), being "hidden" like the roots of a tree.

As also related by Ginsburgh:

The tree - as composed of roots, a trunk, branches, and fruit - is seen in Kabbalah as a metaphor for the process whereby Divine light and energy is channeled into Creation. Let us elaborate upon the various components of this metaphor: The roots of the tree represent the power of the Tzadik's soul, which absorbs and draws forth the invisible Divine lifeforce underlying Creation, making it available to all mankind in order that each individual can ultimately produce his own unique fruit. The paradox of the tzadik is that while he exists in a "revealed state" (known to his generation), ministering to Creation and serving as a model of Divine service, his essence (or soul root) remains utterly hidden, like the roots of a tree. The Tzadik himself is conscious of both these modes of existence. He is thus able to consciously exist "in the world and outside it" at one and the same time. 8

Paul spoke in the same terms regarding the life of the Tzaddik (in this case, the righteous followers of Yeshua), being "hidden with Messiah." (i.e., existing, "in the world and outside it at one and the same time," as mentioned by Ginsburgh above.) His prescription for continuing in this state, was obedience to the commandments of Torah:

Colossians 3:1-6 - If ye then be risen with Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Messiah sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Messiah in God. When Messiah, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:


The similarity between Tipheret and Yesod is reflected in the relationship between Jacob and his son, Joseph. Before approaching this subject, we will review how the seven lower Sephirah correspond to the patriarchs: 9

  • Hesed/Mercy = Abraham, worshipping from love of God
  • Gevurah/Judgment = Isaac, worshipping from fear of God
  • Tipheret/Beauty = Jacob, as the one unifying the two sides of mercy and judgment as well as the link between uppermost and lower "worlds"
  • Netzach/Victory = Moses, as prophet and "active" seeker of Revelation
  • Hod/Glory = Aaron, as Priest and "passive" restriction based on the commandments
  • Yesod/Foundation = Joseph, as the righteous and pure steward
  • Malkut/Kingdom = David, as the worldly man

Thus, when speaking of Jacob, the correlation is to Tipheret, with Joseph, it is to Yesod.

Jewish literature draws great comparisons between Jacob and Joseph, and therefore between Tipheret and Yesod, considering one as the image of the other. (As mentioned earlier, Yesod is the "image of the image" of Tipheret):

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 176b - The Shekinah was thus leagued with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob together with Joseph, inasmuch as the two latter are one in essence, each one being the image of the other, as indicated in the words: “These are the offspring of Jacob: Joseph” (Gen. XXXVII, 2).

A modern book on kabbalistic symbolism reveals the following between Jacob and Joseph:

But Joseph resembled Jacob ... thus it is said by both of them, "Am I under God." Jacob said, "Am I under God" (Genesis 30:2), Joseph said "Am I under God" (Genesis 50:19). This alludes (to the fact that) Joseph is in the chariot like Jacob. ... Moreover, we have a matter alluded to by the true sages regarding why he is called Joseph the righteous. It is because his attribute is close to the attribute of his father ... truth (the attribute of Jacob) and peace, the attribute of Joseph, are one. 10

The idea that Joseph is in the chariot like Jacob, shows that the unity of God is more prevalent at a "higher level" of prophetic vision. (We will address this in chapter 5 of our study, were both "Father" and "Son" are seen to be in the "throne.")

The following two texts from the Zohar points to the likeness of Jacob and Joseph, mentioning how what happened to one, also occured to the other, and that how (although they are the same), one (Joseph) is "near," and the other (Jacob) is "far." This is interesting when we think of Jacob as representing Tipheret in the heavenlies, and Joseph as the earthly Tzaddik, with divine qualities.

This concept parallels how Yeshua's work here on earth as Tzaddik, is done (outside of time) in the heavenly realm as Tipheret (i.e., He was crucified in the flesh, but is also the "Lamb slain since the foundation of the world.") Having performed His role in all worlds, He makes peace in all places:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 181b - Esoterically speaking, benediction does not abide save where male and female are together, and since at that time the male was not with her, all the souls that issued then were not the same as they had been when the sun was in union with the moon, as already said. This union is symbolized by the relation of Joseph to Jacob, as expressed in the verse, "These are the generations of Jacob: Joseph." This form of expression implies that Jacob's image was completely reproduced in Joseph, and that whatever happened to the one happened to the other also, the two being parallel and having the same esoteric symbolism.’

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 6a - For the other, the highest Sabbath does not come under the injunction of Shamor (keep), but is under that of Zakhor (remember), which is used in the first version of the Ten Commandments (Exod. XX, 8), since the Supreme King is hinted at in the word Zakhor (remember). For this reason He is called “the King with whom Peace dwells”, and His peace is within the injunction of zakhor (remember). And this is why there is no contention in the supernal realm, because of the twofold peace here below, one for Jacob and one for Joseph, as it is written, “Peace, Peace, to him that is far off and to him that is near” (Is. LVII, 19): “to him that is far off” refers to Jacob, “and to him that is near” refers to Joseph.


Although there is similarity between Tipheret/Jacob and Yesod/Joseph, we can also see distinction between the two. The former is associated with God as creator, seen in "maleness" as an active principle (YHWH), and the latter as God as sustainer (El Shaddai), and seen as "maleness" transposed into procreative power.11

This procreative function of a Tzaddik is to bring people to God, (i.e., "he who wins souls is wise." - Proverbs 11:30).

As eloquently stated by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh:

The Tzaddik procreates by arousing the souls of his generation to return to God and the Torah. 12

Yesod, as the "righteous one," does not represent God as judge (John 12:47). This role is ultimately associated with Tipheret (i.e., John 5:22). As Gershom Scholem states, Tipheret and Yesod represent, "two different sides of the Godhead." 13

Yesod is also seen as the "crossover" point from the first heaven (Asiyah/Making) to the second heaven (Yezirah/Formation), Tipheret represents that from the second to the third heaven (Beriah/Creation).14

(This relationship between the heavens will be discussed at length later in this Revelation study. For now, refer to background material on the "Four Worlds" from Part 2 of our Ezekiel study, and notes to the Names and Arrangement of the Sephirot.)

We can now see more clearly how Yeshua is reflected in both Tipheret, (in the roles and functions he performs above, such as the heavenly Kohen Gadol, in the order of Melchizadek), and in Yesod, as the righteous suffering servant who lowers Himself from a heavenly status to redeem His kinsmen. (We will address this theme of the Tzaddik "lowering himself" in a later section of our study.)

As mentioned earlier in this study, such a distinction between Tipheret and Yesod is found in a passage of scripture where God tells Moses that He will be speaking to him at the (higher) level of YHWH (associated with Tipheret) and not at the level of El Shaddai (associated with Yesod), as He had spoken to the forefathers:

Exodus: 6:2-8 - And God speaketh unto Moses, and saith unto him, `I am YHWH, and I appear unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as El Shaddai; as to My name YHWH, I have not been known to them; and also I have established My covenant with them, to give to them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings, wherein they have sojourned; and also I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, whom the Egyptians are causing to serve, and I remember My covenant. `Therefore say to the sons of Israel, I am YHWH, and I have brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and have delivered you from their service, and have redeemed you by a stretched-out arm, and by great judgments, and have taken you to Me for a people, and I have been to you for God, and ye have known that I am YHWH your God, who is bringing you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians; and I have brought you in unto the land which I have lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and have given it to you -- a possession; I am YHWH.'


With Tipheret (the groom) being united to Malkut (the bride) and Yesod lying "between" them, it would seem sensible that the latter must play an important role with the other two. This is indeed the case. The role of the "heavenly Tzaddik" is emulated in the physical realm by the righteous on earth.

The Zohar commentary on Exodus further explains the situation with Moses (the earthly Tzaddik), and how Tipheret and Malkut were united through him:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 25b - AND MOSES SPAKE BEFORE THE LORD, SAYING: BEHOLD, THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HAVE NOT HEARKENED UNTO ME, HOW THEN SHALL PHARAOH HEAR ME, WHO AM OF UNCIRCUMCISED LIPS ? How did Moses dare say this? Had not the Holy One already promised him, when he said that he was not eloquent, that He “will be with his mouth” (Ex. IV, 10-12)? Or did the Holy One not keep His promise? However, there is here an inner meaning. Moses was then in the grade of “Voice” [Tipheret], and the grade of “Utterance” [Shekinah-Malkut], was then in exile. Hence he said: “How shall Pharaoh hear me”, seeing that my “utterance” is in bondage to him, I being only “voice”, and lacking “utterance”. Therefore God joined with him Aaron, who was “utterance” without “voice”. When Moses came, the Voice appeared, but it was “a voice without speech”. This lasted until Israel approached Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Then the Voice was united with the Utterance, and the word was spoken, as it says, “and the Lord spake all these words” (Ex. xx, I). Then Moses was in full possession of the Word, Voice and Word being united. That was the cause of Moses’ complaint (v. 23), that he lacked the word save at the time when it broke forth in complaint and “God spake to Moses”(VI, 2). On this occasion the word began to function, but it ceased again, as the time was not yet ripe; hence the verse continues, “and said to him, I am the Lord” (Ibid.). Only at the giving of the Law Moses was, as it were, healed of his impediment, when the Voice and the Utterance were united in him as their organ. Before that event the power which is Utterance guided Israel in the desert, but without expressing itself until they came to Sinai.

The Zohar's commentary on Song of Songs (Song of Solomon), also refers to this union of Tipheret and Malkut via Moses:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 26a - R. Judah interpreted in the same sense the verse from the Song of Songs (v, 5-6): “I rose up to open to my beloved, but my beloved hath withdrawn himself and was gone”. As long as the Community of Israel is in exile the Voice [Tipheret], is withdrawn from her and the Word does not function, as it says, “I am dumb with silence” (Ps. XXXIX, 3); and even when the Word does awaken, “my Beloved hath withdrawn Himself”, i.e. it suddenly ceases, as it did at first with Moses.

The role of joining Malkut to Tipheret belongs to the one in the place of Yesod-Tzaddik:

"Jacob, who is called Tif'eret, is the masculine world that is standing, and he wanted to join the feminine world (Shekinah), which is sitting, by means of Yesod, which is called peace and tranquility." 15

"... just as the divine saddiq serves as a conduit connecting the Holy One blessed be He [Tipheret], and the Shekinah [Malkut], so by means of walking the earthly saddiq [Yesod] unites with the feminine Presence [Malkut] ... "the sephirah of Yesod above serves to unite the waw (vav) [Tipheret] and the he' (lesser he) [Malkut] of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH)" 16

The term "walking" (halakha) in the above citation, is used kabbalistically to refer to the arousal of the union of the masculine [Tipheret] and feminine [Malkut] aspects of God. This is associated with the concept of tikkun (repair of creation and unification of the Godhead), accomplished through works of Torah.

This "look ahead" to the eternal tikkun (when Tipheret and Malkut finally come together), was foreshadowed in the sacrificial system instituted by God. The Zohar explains how the "heave offering" played a mystical role, along with the righteous person, in this unification of Tipheret (representing the heavenly realm) and Malkut (representing the earthly realm):

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 133b - "They shall take Me a heave offering." Here we have displayed an inclusive union of the above with the below, for it does not say "They shall take a heave offering", but "They shall take Me a heave offering", which denotes a fusion of the upper with the lower spheres. [Tr. note: i.e. Tifereth with Malkuth.] "On the part of everyone whose heart is willing ye should take my heave offering." The words "on the part of" seem at first sight to be superfluous, but in reality they contain a deep lesson for the masters of the esoteric lore. Blessed are the righteous who have learnt how to centre all their thoughts and desires on the Heavenly King, and whose aspirations are directed, not towards the vain and foolish toys of this world and its lusts, but to attaching themselves wholeheartedly to the world above in order to draw down the favour of the Lord Himself from heaven to earth.

King David was another Tzaddik who was able to unify Malkut and Tipheret. Note that David's praise was directed to Tipheret, (in essence Yeshua in the heavenlies):

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 21a - The words “I will give praise to thee” were addressed by King David to the Holy One, blessed be He [Tipheret], for that last world which He has made [Malkuth]; for David attached himself to that world and through it attained to kingship. “I will wait on thy name, for it is good”: this is the Holy One, blessed be He [Tipheret], when unified with that world which is called “good”. And when is it called good? When it is in the presence of thy saints, or rather, “lovingkindnesses”

... for when these are filled from the goodness of the stream issuing from the Ancient Holy One, then Yesod is called “good”, and then He [Yesod] establishes this latter world and all is blessed. Hence David waited for this grade to illumine the world to which he was attached.’

Because Yesod plays this active role in uniting the heavenly groom (Tipheret) and bride (Malkut), is is referred to also as ha-teshukah, "the light of desire" -- a term used for the desire of the male for the female.17

When the soul (Neshamah) of the Tzaddik is involved in religious activity, it affects the Sephirot, specifically uniting Malkut to Tipheret:

When the neshamah ascends, the desire of the feminine for the masculine is aroused and the waters pour forth from above to below. 18

As mentioned in our earlier studies, the Sephirah of Malkut (the bride), when kept apart from its groom (Tipheret) becomes the source of harsh judgment on the world. The Bahir uses a great deal of bodily and sexual allegory to explain such concepts.

As stated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan:

Even though we know that God is absolutely incorporeal, having neither body, shape nor form, it is taught that, "He borrows terms from His creatures to express His relationship to His creation (Mekhilta on Exodus 19:18). These terms are used allegorically, but at the same time, each has a definite meaning in terms of the Sephirot. 19

As mentioned earlier, Tipheret (or Zer Anpin, the six Sephirot represented by Tipheret - see previous study on Names and Arrangement of the Sephirot), represents the main trunk of the (male) body. Yesod, being beneath the body, is the "phallus" (as this is the Sephirah that generates souls and sustains life). Malkut represents the female counterpart to this.

Keeping these allegorical concepts in mind, note the following commentary to the Bahir, explaining the relationship between these three Sephirot. The function of Yesod is in bringing them together, thus playing a key role in bringing "peace" to the world:

But in order for Malkhut-Kingship to act in a mode of Mercy, it must be bound to Zer Anpin, this being the concept of the Supernal Union. This Union, however, takes place through Yesod-Foundation, the sex organ, which is also called Righteousness (Tzaddik). Yesod-Foundation, however has two modes, one of celibacy and one of intercourse. The Righteous is one who is "separated from sex," and therefore, when it is in this mode, it is called, "the Righteous, the Foundation of the world." The word "world" here is Olam, also having the connotation of Elam - Hidden. Therefore, Yesod-Foundation is called Righteous when the sex organ is hidden and not expressed. Similarly, Joseph is called Righteous (Tzadik) precisely because he refused to have intercourse with Potiphar's wife. When Yesod-Foundation is in this mode, there is no union between Zer Anpin and the Female. The Female is therefore in the mode of Judgement. In the second mode, Yesod-Foundation is called Chai - "alive." It is said to be "alive" when it is functioning during intercourse. If a person pursues righteousness, then he aroses its counterpart on high and brings about the supernal union. He then "may live and occupy the land." When the verse says that he will "live," it means that he will bring Yesod-Foundation into its mode of Chai, which is that of union. He will then occupy the "Land," which always alludes to the Sefirah of Malkhut-Kingship, which is the Female.. 20


In Kabbalah, that which is intermediate between two extremes possesses aspects of both those extremes. Therefore, Yesod has characteristics of both the "masculine" Tipheret and the "feminine" Malkut.

The Zohar associates the Tzaddik (Yesod) with the "Angel of the Lord," from the book of Exodus. This angel is said to manifest itself in both male and female forms. (Note also the relationship between the colors of the rainbow and aspects of God. This will be addressed in our text analysis):

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 232a - While they were sitting midnight arrived, and R. Judah said to R. Jose: ‘Now the north wind awakes and the night is divided, and now is the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, longs for the voice of the righteous in this world, the voice of those who study the Torah. Now God is listening to us in this place; therefore let us not cease from discoursing on the Torah.’ He then commenced: THE ANGEL WHO DELIVERED ME FROM ALL EVIL . This is the same as the one mentioned in the verse: "Behold I send an angel before thee, etc." (Ex. XXIII, 20), who, as we have laid down, is the deliverer of the world, the protector of mankind, and the one who procures blessings for all the world, he himself receiving them first. This angel is sometimes male, sometimes female. When he procures blessings for the world, he is male, resembling the male who provides blessings for the female. But when he comes to bring chastisement on the world he is called female, being, as it were, pregnant with the judgement. Similarly, in the words, "the flame of the sword which turned every way" (Gen III, 24), there is a reference to the angels who are God's messengers, and who turn themselves into different shapes, being sometimes female and sometimes male, sometimes messengers of judgement and sometimes of mercy. In the same way, this angel can take all colours like the rainbow, and treats the world correspondingly.

An example of a Tzaddik taking on "female" characteristics is found in Luke's Gospel. Here we find Yeshua (the Divine Tzaddik), referring to Himself in terms of the Kingdom (Malkut), which is feminine. Interestingly, the various versions of the "New Testament" translate this verse in one of two ways:

Luke 17:21 - Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (King James Version)

Luke 17:21 - nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. (Revised Standard Version)

Both translations are legitimate, as the Hebrew preposition "be" means "with" as well as "in." Thus, the Kingdom can be found by looking for God within oneself (i.e., where the Sephirot may be "found," as we are made in His image), in the manner of humility and repentance - defined as turning away from the flesh to following Torah. 21

Tzaddik-Yesod (as represented by Yeshua) therefore contains elements of the Kingdom (as He was [potentially] the Kingdom in their midst), giving Tzaddik-Yesod (and thus Yeshua), "female" characteristics as well. (Malkut-Kingdom is identified as having primarily female characteristics.)

This is true, as Yeshua is the image of God, which is both male and female.

Genesis 1:27 - So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

It also helps explain why Yeshua speaks of Himself using a female analogy:

Matthew 23:37 - O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

The Sephirah of Yesod is said to "include the female," through its being bound to it:

In Kabbalistic teachings, "Judgment" is Zer Anpin itself. Thus six of the seven [lower] Sephirot are "Judgment," which are the six of Zer Anpin. The Sephirah of Yesod-Foundation, which is the male sex organ, also includes the Female ... 22

This is also reflected in the Bahir, (which bases this theme on Genesis 2:24, where a man and wife become "one flesh"):

The covenant of circumcision [Yesod] and man's mate are considered as one. 23

This linking of the male and female is mirrored in the Olam Haba, (World to Come), where the righteous (Tzaddik) in heaven are seen as being bound to the Shekinah. This is represented in the form of being given "crowns on their heads." (It is also associated with "white garments," as mentioned several places in Revelation):

Man then binds himself to the Female, just as the male cleaves to the female in a physical sense. The Female is the Divine Presence (Shekhinah). This binding is the ultimate delight of the World to Come, and it is thus taught, "In the World to Come ... the righteous will sit, with their crowns on their heads, delighting in the radiance of the Shekinah" (Berakhot 17a). 24

The gift of these crowns, and thus eternal life, is directly related to Torah observance. (This will be discussed in detail in our text analysis.) John made it quite clear that those who will one day "be like him," (in the "radiance of the Shekinah" - see above), are those who have purified themselves, which is done by turning from sin (as defined by Torah), and following the "path" of the Tzaddik - one who is a "hearer" and a "doer" of Torah.

Note that John makes it a point to define sin as "lawlessness" (going against the Torah):

1 John 3:1-7 - See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Every one who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous. (RSV)

An example of John's admonition (above) for the servant of the Lord to be "pure" is seen in Daniel. His righteousness resulted in an amazing proclamation regarding the "kingdom" of Darius, who declared that the God of Daniel (note: "the Living God" - Yesod), would be the God of his (Darius) kingdom.

Thus, Daniel brought God's shalom to the kingdom of Darius, just as the Divine Tzaddik brings peace to God's Kingdom:

Daniel 6:20-28 - And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.


The earthly tzaddik, may of course, be male or female. One of the more significant righteous women of the Bible, from a kabbalistic viewpoint, is Miryam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. As we have earlier discussed, Moses is associated with the Sephirah of Netzah, and Aaron with Hod. These Sephirah are concerned with the "management" or "filtering" of what comes from above to the world below. The children of Israel, with the Shekinah among them, are represented by the Sephirah of Malkut.

So what about Yesod-Tzaddik in this relationship? This role was played by the righteous Miryam. As the tzaddik, it was she that acted as "mediator" between the people and her two brothers, who (especially Moses) were very close to God and involved with His instruction, that they distanced themselves from the people.

Two related episodes confirm her role. One involved the time that she spoke against Moses and received the punishement of Tzaraat (incorrectly called "leprosy" in most Bibles) - in fact having her skin turn completely white (Numbers, chapter 12). When a person was striken with Tzaraat (a punishment of mercy from God) they had to stay away from the camp for at least seven days. Normally, this person would follow the main group of people as they continued their journey. In Miryam's case however, the people did not move at all until she was brought back to the camp.

Why did they wait? The common explanation is out of respect, but if we examine the text closely, we will see that it may have been out of necessity -- due to her role as the Tzaddik, who brings forth the flow of God's blessings from the heavens above to the people below.

We know that the blessings that followed the children of Israel were directly linked to a mysterious rock/well that followed them in their journey. We see in Numbers, chapter 20, that when Miryam died, the rock/well that supplied their water (which also represents God's blessings), was not to be found. As we will discuss in the next section, the rock/well is directly associated with Yesod-Tzaddik.

Thus we have Moses, Miryam and Aaron representing the "lower triad" of Netzah, Yesod, Hod, placed between the higher heavenly realm and the people.

Two interesting articles on Miryam's role may be found at:

1. The Mystical Signficance of the Hebrew Letters: Tzadik, The Faith of the Righteous One, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh,, (Gal Einai Institute, Kfar Chabad, Israel.)

2. Kabbalah, Tradition of Hidden Knowledge, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Thames and Hudson, 1979, p.7.

3. The Bahir: Translation, Introduction and Commentary, Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1979, p.175.

4. The Divine Emanations--The Ten Sefirot: Yesod "Foundation," Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh,

5. Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism, and Hermeneutics, Elliot R. Wolfson, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995, p. 86.

6.  It should be noted that souls are also said to emanate from Binah, in its union with Chokmah. In each case there is a "male" Sephirah (Chokmah, Yesod) uniting with a "female" Sephirah (Binah, Malkut), that is the cause for this. It would also seem that Binah is concerned with the origin of the soul at the Supernal level, whereas Yesod is at the "human" level.

7.  Kabbalah and Modern Life - Living with the Times: A Torah Message for the Month of Shevat, Tu B'Shevat, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh,

8. ibid.

9.  The Way of Kabbalah, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc. York Beach, Maine, 1976, p.134.

10. Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism, and Hermeneutics, Elliot R. Wolfson, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995,, pp. 121-122.

11. On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem, Schocken Books, New York, 1991, p.106.

12. The Divine Emanations--The Ten Sefirot: Yesod "Foundation," Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh,

13. On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem, Schocken Books, New York, 1991, p.92.

14. See: The Way of Kabbalah, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc. York Beach, Maine, 1976, for a complete explanation of the "overlapping" of the four worlds.

15. Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism, and Hermeneutics, Elliot R. Wolfson, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995, p. 240, citation from Toledot, 28a-b.

16. ibid, pp. 105-107.

17. On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem, Schocken Books, New York, 1991, p. 108.

18. The Mystic Quest, An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel, Jason Aronson Publishers, London, 1988, p. 123, Citation from the Zohar.

19. The Bahir: Translation, Introduction and Commentary, Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1979, p.145.

20. ibid, p.137.

21. Also see; On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, (Gershom Scholem, Schocken Books, New York, 1965, p. 15), where Scholem cites the Zohar's mystical interpretation of God's words to Abraham in Genesis 12:1, "Lech Lecha" ("Get thee out"), as also meaning, "Go to Thee," that being Abraham's own self.

22.The Bahir: Translation, Introduction and Commentary, Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1979, p.126.

23. ibid, p.30.

24. ibid, p.132.