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(Last updated 9/1/01)

In the last section, "The Work of Creation," we examined the extended Tree of Life from the "top down," beginning with the unchanging world of Azilut, being the "buffer" between Eyn Sof and Creation, down to the bottom of the Tree. In this section, we take a "reverse approach," beginning in the physical world of man in Asiyyah, and journeying upward.

The term "Work of the Chariot" is associated with the prophet Ezekiel, who had a vision of the heavenly realm, often described as a "Chariot." As mentioned, Ezekiel's experience gave him a "view" of all four Worlds, although not nearly as clear as some other prophets, particularly Moses in the Torah, and John in the book of Revelation.

To review (from the "bottom up") Ezekiel:

  • was existing in the physical world of Asiyyah (A)
  • saw the angelic realm supporting the Throne in Yetzirah (B)
  • saw the "likeness of a throne" in Beriah (C)
  • saw the "likeness as the appearance of a man" in Azilut (D)

The "Work of the Chariot" has come to mean more than Ezekiel's vision. It is a term used for man's spiritual re-connection with God, ascending through the four worlds.

This journey is metaphorically comparable to "Jacob's Ladder" in the Torah, and the "Path of Righteousness" as taught in the "New Testament."

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In this approach to the extended Tree of Life, we begin at the bottom, in the lower face of Asiyyah. This is associated with the physical world of mankind. As this lower face does not underlay any of the three higher worlds, it is the part of man that withers out of existence.

The majority of people on the planet exist in this realm. This includes those who neither rise to positions of great knowledge or leadership, nor are concerned with issues of the soul, spirit and divine. The main functions at this level are those associated with the physical needs and desires of the body.

A certain percentage of human beings excel within the world of Asiyyah. They become great leaders, teachers, businessmen, etc. Such people have a higher knowledge of the world of this physical world, which is associated with the Sephirah of Da'at (knowledge) in Asiyyah (E). This Sephirah is associated with our ego and as seen on the extended Tree, underlays the Yesod (foundation) (E) of the next world of Yetzirah.

From here, people can reason concerning the things of God (Isaiah 1:18). If a person chooses to ignore spiritual things, then the Keter of Asiyyah (F) remains the pinnacle for their life. As Asiyyah is the physical realm, none of what such a person learns or creates in this world can follow their soul upon death (i.e., Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:15-21).

However, if a person seeks God's truth, then the Da'at of Asiyyah (E) becomes converted to the Yesod of Yetzirah, (E) giving that person a "foundation" (Yesod) in the world of the soul (Yetzirah). Now the Keter of Assiyah (F) becomes for them the Tipheret of Yetzirah (F), which is called, the Sephirah of Truth.

Recall that the Keter of Assiyah (F) is also the Malkhut of Beriah (F) - the "Kingdom of Heaven." Such a person has taken the advice of Yeshua, who said to, "seek first the Kingdom of Heaven." The journey up Jacob's Ladder has begun.

This method of "heading up the tree" (toward God), by converting the "upper face" of one world to the "lower face" of the next, is seen as "returning" to God. The Hebrew word for this process is "teshuvah," commonly called "repentance." (Recall how Daniel did teshuvah for his people and was rewarded with the visitation of the angel and prophetic vision.)

Once a person is established in the Yesod of Yetzirah (E), he is on the "Path of the Tzaddik" (marked by the "G" in the diagram), discussed several places earlier in this study, including our section on the World of Yetzirah, as well as Methods of Study. The goal of this path is to attain Tipheret above (F) (which is also the Malkhut of Beriah - the Kingdom of God). Specifically the tzaddik seeks to remain in "balance" on this path, not straying too far to the left or the right. (i.e., Deuteronomy 5:32; 17:20).

The left side is often associated with obedience to the Torah's commands, and the right with the desire to do things for God. An example of a person who is "out of balance" to the left side, might be someone who studies the commands of Torah but is complacent about transforming what they learn to their life. (i.e., Matthew 23:23; 1 Corinthians, 13:1-3). Someone out of balance to the right side may be "fanatical" for God in their own mind, but not according to what God wants as shown in His Torah.

A concrete example of balance is seen in the Torah schools of Rabbi's Hillel and Shammai, around the time of Yeshua.Traditionally, those of Hillel are associated with teaching more from the "lenient" (merciful) right side, and Shammai with the "strict" left side. As long as the argument between these groups was "for the sake of Hashem," this was a healthy situation (as "iron sharpens iron"). Historically however, animosity developed between the two groups, the result of which was not to anyone's benefit.

(The above situation also gives some background insight behind Yeshua's insistence that His disciples "love one another." We must realize that we all, "see darkly as through a glass.")

When someone on the path of the Tzaddik (G) keeps themself "in balance," and properly applies God's Torah to all aspects of their life (physical, emotional, mental, i.e., Deuteronomy 6:5 as discussed earlier), they will come to attain the level of Tipheret in Yetzirah (F) - the beginning point of the Kingdom of God (Malkhut of Beriah). This Sephirah is also called the Seat of Solomon, due to its critical location, connecting the three worlds of Asiyya, Yetzirah and Beriah. Solomon himself was called, "a man who knew three worlds."

This person is now at the Triad of the soul, found between Tipheret (F), Hesed (H) and Gevurah (I) in Yetzirah. From Tipheret in Yetzirah, they now have access to the Da'at (knowledge) of Yetzirah (J), which is in turn the Yesod (foundation) of the spiritual realm of Beriah (J). This is a critical Sephirah in the journey up Jacob's ladder. One must first establish a firm foundation (Yesod) in Beriah (J) in order to "enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Malkhut of Beriah) (F).

(Note: The Zohar considers this to be the granting of a "higher soul" called the Neshemah, placing the Neshemah above the Ruach (spirit) and Nefesh (soul) of man. Other Kabbalistic traditions place the Neshemah and Nefesh below the Ruach. This is a matter of phraseology, the concepts are quite the same (i.e., man has a "basic soul" similar to animals, a human soul/spirit that enables him to seek God, and is granted a higher soul/spirit [or "higher level" of soul/spirit], when he makes this connection). See also the firstpart of our study on Tipheret.

This Sefirah (the Yesod of Beriah (J) is a critical junction point for several reasons:

  • As the Yesod of Beriah (the world of Spirit), this is where a person establishes a "spiritual foundation."
  • As it is simultaneously the "Da'at of Yetzirah," this Sephirah receives directly from Hokhma (K) and Binah (L) of Yetzirah, which in turn are overlayed by the Beriatic Sephirot of Netzah  (K) and Hod (L), thus giving a person insight from the Heavenly realm.
  • It is exactly midway up/down the extended Tree. Here a person goes from a stage of "approaching" God, to one of deveikut (communion/clinging) with God (i.e., Deuteronomy 4:4 and also John 15:14-15).
  • It links the lower face of Beriah (B) to the upper face of Yetzirah (C). As discussed, the former is associated with Spirit, the latter with Water. Thus, someone firmly established in these two worlds is "born again" and has entry into the Kingdom. i.e., "Yeshua answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of Water (Yetzirah) and the Spirit (Beriah), he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (the Malkhut of Beriah) - John 3:5
  • As we will discuss in a later section on the Temple, this Sephirah is also associated with the Incense Altar - another representation of connecting with God.

From the point of the Yesod in Beriah (J), the next Sephirah along the central pillar is Tipheret in Beriah (M), which as mentioned earlier, is where the three upper worlds of Azilut, Beriah and Yetzirah meet. This Sephirah (M) is known as the Seat of Messiah, and is also associated with the Throne of Heaven. Few people in history have ascended to this level, as it is accessible only to those of great spiritual merit.

From this point, one has contact with the Divine Realm (the Malkhut of Azilut (M) similar to that of Adam and Eve before the fall, when they existed in the Garden of Eden.


In one of our earlier studies on Messiah, we discussed the concept of a "higher level" of the Torah, which we referred to as the Supernal Torah. Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a modern Orthodox Kabbalist, speaks of the Supernal Torah as the "Torah of Azilut."

The goal of Torah IS perspective, and must remain so. For, even Torah can become a distraction from the true goal of life, albeit one of the safer and holier ones. However, even people who learn Torah can remain on spiritually low levels, relatively speaking, and become terrible representatives for G-d's holiest gift to mankind after life itself.

This happens when the study of Torah remains on the level of "Asiyah," the World of Action, which Toras Beriyah, the level of Torah within our possession ever since the Jewish people sinned with the golden calf, deals with primarily. Usually out of ignorance, sometimes out of fear, people can forget that Torah Beriyah is only meant to be a threshold to Toras Atzilus, the much higher, more sublime level of Torah understanding - the ULTIMATE big picture.

All right, not everyone, and even most people are not prepared to make the jump to such a higher level of Torah understanding. In fact, doing so prematurely can lead to even greater ills than not trying at all. Therefore, like all of Judaism, Torah-understanding is a spiritual and intellectual tight-rope balancing act. But, walk the rope we must, if we are to gain and maintain the necessary perspective to not become "servants" to our yetzer haras - the ultimate form of idol worship.1

1. Perceptions On The Parsha, Parshas Vayeilech - Shabbos Shuva, "Going" In The Direction of TeSHUVAH, Rabbi Pinchas Winston -