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Harmonizing kindness and strength.

Chesed, Gevura, & Tiferet

Chesed, Gevura, & Tiferet

Intermediate Intermediate
<i>Chesed, Gevura, & Tiferet</i>
Harmonizing kindness and strength.


The word chesed means kindness or benevolence. It denotes the unbounded loving-kindness with which G‑d created the worlds and with which all of creation is permeated, as the verse states, "The world was built with chesed" (Psalms 89:3).

Kabbala explains that kindness was, in fact, the reason for the Creation. Since G‑d's "nature" is absolute benevolence and loving-kindness, He created the worlds so that He would have upon whom to bestow His kindness, as is written in Etz Chaim, "It is the nature of He who is good to do good."

Light was created on the First day. Light is revelation, as explained previously. This light was infinite, as our Sages say, "The light that was created on the first day shone from one end of Creation to the other". Or, in the language of Kabbala, "In the beginning, an infinite, uncompounded light filled all of Creation." This is the light of chesed which permeates all of Creation and through which all of Creation is built.

Gevura means restrictive power


Gevura means restrictive power

Since the infinite and unlimited chesed of G‑d is intended for finite creatures unable to absorb infinite kindness and yet remain in physical existence, the attribute of chesed is controlled and limited by the aspect of gevura. Gevura means restrictive power, the power to limit and conceal the Infinite Light so that each creature can receive according to its capacity. Thus, gevura is also an aspect of G‑d's kindness, for if the outpouring of infinite kindness were to remain unrestricted, finite creatures would become instantly nullified in the infinite revelation of divine love. Therefore the sefira of gevura is the manifestation of G‑d's power to restrict and conceal the light so that His creatures can receive His loving-kindness, each according to its capacity.

On the Second day of Creation, separation of the higher waters from the lower waters was introduced. In the Torah, this is called the firmament (rakia). In Kabbala, water signifies kindness, chesed. The separation of the waters means that the infinite chesed of G‑d, referred to as "the higher waters", is separated from "the lower waters", signifying finite chesed, which has the ability to permeate the lower worlds.

Tiferet…merges the benevolent flow of chesed and the


The sefira of tiferet represents the harmonious blending of varying colors and forms, producing a work of great beauty. The word tiferet is derived from the Hebrew word pe'er, meaning "beauty". The attribute of tiferet blends chesed and gevura, so that a proper mixture of the two can produce a bearable revelation of chesed to finite created beings. In other words, tiferet is the attribute which merges the benevolent flow of chesed and the restrictive severity of gevura so that each creature will receive its proper measure of Divine Light and life-force. This is why tiferet is also called "compassion" or "mercy", for it enables chesed and gevura to balance each other so that G‑d's benevolence can be absorbed by the limited world without its ceasing to exist.

On the third day of Creation, water and land were separated, and the vegetable kingdom was created. The Third day, related to the third most elevated sefira, tiferet, sets a balance between water and land, so that the vegetable kingdom (and thus the animal and human kingdoms also) can be sustained by both of them, each plant according to its needs.

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The Zohar is a basic work of Kabbalah authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students (2nd century CE). English translation of annotated selections by Rabbi Moshe Miller (Morristown, N.J.: Fiftieth Gate Publications, 2000) includes a detailed introduction covering the history and basic concepts of Kabbalah. Volume 1 (36 pp.) covers the first half of the first of the original’s three volumes. It is available online from our store, KabbalaOnline Shop.
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Webmaster Tzefat, Israel via April 4, 2012

Re: from Nashville The author can be queried as to his sources, but the article was written originally in English, and subsequently published in print in the Introduction to his Zohar translation (first half of Bereshit only, so far. Reply

Chaim-Leib Nashville, Tennessee April 3, 2012

Source? Where can I find the original Hebrew of this text? Reply

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