Short Guide To The 10 Sephirot – Keter (Crown), The Supernal Will

The first Sephira, Keter (lit. “crown” in Hebrew) represents the highest, and first, point of divine manifestation.

The mystical Tree of Life diagram of 10 Sephirot form the basis for all of Creation. While there are actually 11, we say there are 10 because that is the number associated with Kedusha (holiness), where the system if complete. Sometimes the Sephira of Da’at is counted in place of Keter, and sometimes vice-versa. It all depends on which spiritual system we are analyzing.

There are many ways we can analyze them but, before doing that, we need to understand deeply what each Sephira is all about.

The first desire

Keter is the first Sephira and, like a tiny spark that is uniform and undeveloped, it is the will that comes before all thought.

The next time you are thirsty and on the way to get a cup of water, think about this tiny spark of desire that comes before all thought and is propelling you to do that. It’s inscrutable and beyond reason, but we know it’s there before all else. This is Keter.

Keter on top

But since it precedes all verbal and non-verbal thought, this Sephira is also associated with Emunah and desire, because it is higher than our capacity to articulate. It is what it is.

In the grand scheme of Creation, it can be understood as the infinite, boundless light of Hashem (according to Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla) and represents ultimate unity with everything. It is so high that, in the words of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (the holy Ramchal), “One cannot ask or receive answers about it”.

In the Zohar we also find that the Sephira of Keter, that is, Hashem’s Will is pure compassion with the desire to bestow only good to His Creations.

As Creatures built with the divine image, we also have our own Keter (crown), which we must surrender to Hashem doing his Mitzvot and studying His Torah.

The 13 Strains of the Beard of Arich Anpin

The Idra Rabbah and Idra Zuta assemblies marked a pivotal moment of rectification, serving not only to preserve the deep ideas of Kabbalah but also to ensure the perpetuity of the world itself. It marked a point of inflection in the history of the entire world, illuminating the spiritual realms and sustaining them throughout generations.

Within the Idra Zuta, we are introduced to the incredibly exalted emanations from Keter, the “crown” of Hashem’s manifestation. Among these emanations are the awe-inspiring Tikkuney Diknah, Nimim, and Hivartei — symbolized by various appellations for the “strands of the beard” and the 13 Attributes of Mercy—which bestow boundless mercy and compassion upon all of Creation.

These divine emanations are indispensable, for without them, the world “could not be sustained for a single moment”. Through the Idra’s revelations, we glimpse the profound love that Hashem holds for all of His Creations, as everything is included in the “Keter” (the ultimate will), which, the Idra depicts as being complete and unbounded compassion.

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Nicknames of Keter

Keter is also called associated with Emunah (faith), pleasure and desire. Every word in the Tanach and Talmud is associated with a Sephira. According to R’ Yosef Gikatilla in his Sha’arei Orah, the following terms are also associated with Keter:

  1. The Holy Name Eheye”h – אהי״ה.
  2. Nothing – Ayin – אין
  3. Crown – Keter – כתר
  4. The Supernal East – Mizrach HaElyon – מזרח העליון
  5. The Upper Mazal – Mazal HaElyon – מזל העליון
  6. The Supernal Source – Makor HaElyon – מקור העליון
  7. The Supernal Kindness – Chessed HaElyon – חסד העליון
  8. The Source of Desire – Mekor HaRatzon – מקור הרצון
  9. The Large Aleph – Aleph HaGedolah – אלף הגדולה
  10. Good Kindnesses – Chassadim Tovim – חסדים טובים
  11. Preceding – Kedem – קדם
  12. The Dew of Chermon – Tal Chermon – ט״ל חרמון
  13. The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy – Yud Gimel Midot HaRachamim – י״ג מידות הרחמים
  14. The Spring (or eye) of Mercy – Ein HaRachamim – עין הרחמים
  15. He – Hoo – הוא
  16. Humility – Anavah – ענוה
  17. Elder – Zaken – זקן
  18. The Holy Ancient One – Atika Kadisha – עתיקא קדישא
  19. The Supernal Holy Beard – Dikna Ila’ah Kadisha – דיקנא עילאה קדישא
  20. The Ancient of Days – Atik Yomin – עתיק יומין
  21. The Head – Rosh – ראש
  22. The White Head – Rosh HaLavan – ראש הלבן
  23. The Hairs of the Beard – Sa’arot HaZakan – שערות הזקן
  24. The Straight Nun – נו״ן פשוטה
  25. The Tip of the Yod – י of the Name HaShem -יהו״ה
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Concluding remarks

The exploration of the Sephira of Keter and the 13 Attributes of Mercy that come from it reveal many fascinating insights into Hashem’s Hashgacha (divine providence). These attributes, rooted in the Torah and Sefer Micah, provide a framework for understanding Hashem’s infinite compassion and forgiveness.

The Ramchal in his famous book Palm Tree of Devorah exorts us to emulate these attributes in our lives. While revelation of Keter is reserved for special moments like the Mincha of Shabbat, the Festivals and after Chatzot Laylah, we can nevertheless reveal them by embodying them, as Yosef HaTzaddik was blessed by Yaakov Avinu (Ben Porat Alei Ayin), which is the “single eye” of Atika Kadisha that kept Yosef alive and well.

Ultimately, understanding and internalizing the 13 Attributes of Mercy is not merely an intellectual pursuit but a spiritual endeavor that deepens one’s connection to Hashem and fosters a sense of compassion, forgiveness, and grace in the world.

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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