He does not acquire all of them [all five levels of soul] at one time, but rather according to his worthiness. At first, he obtains the lowest of them, which is called "Nefesh." Afterwards, if he so merits, he then also attains "Ruach." This is explained in several places in the Zohar, such as in parashat Vayechi, and parashat Teruma, and specifically at the beginning of parashat Mishpatim (Zohar 94b): "Come and see: When a person is born, he is given a Nefesh..."

The sefirot are like a family tree...with multiple generations

Although a person begins life with only a Nefesh, he has the potential to ascend to higher levels of soul, according to his merit (as elucidated below).

…All Nefashot are only from the world of Asiya; all Ruchot are from the world of Yetzira; and, all Neshamot are from the world of Beriya. However, the majority of people do not have all five parts, which are called NR"N, etc., but only the Nefesh from Asiya.

We have seen at the end of the previous section that the abbreviation for all five levels of the soul is NRNCh"Y. Since the uppermost levels of Chaya and Yechida are inaccessible now, they are often ignored, and the short-form is even more abbreviated to NR"N. Late in history and distant from Mt. Sinai as we are, most people only have access to the Nefesh level of their soul, which is why it is so difficult to relate to God and spirituality.

However, even this Nefesh has many levels, and this is because Asiya itself also divides into five Partzufim, called: Arich Anpin, Abba, Imma, Zer Anpin, and Nukveh d'Zer Anpin.

The word "partzuf" (plural: "partzufim") literally means "face". In the Kabbala it also refers to the entire human shape.

In general, there are ten sefirot: keter, chochma, bina, chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, yesod, and malchut. However, each one is a localized version of the entire system. In other words, it is possible to discern within each one of them ten component sefirot, and within each one of those ten others, etc. (This may be likened to a photograph taken with a hologram, where any detail may be blown up to reveal all the basic information that is contained in the whole photograph. All the basic information of the whole is contained in the detail; and the detail contains all the basic information found in the whole.)

When we see a number of sefirot joined together, working together and functioning together as a system, then they are called a partzuf.

Each partzuf has a unique name, and these correspond to the names of the sefirot, the names of the soul and the names of the worlds, as discussed previously (Chapter 1, Section 1).

Soul World Sefira Partzuf







Arich Anpin

The long face


Life force





















Zeir Anpin

The short (or, near) face







Nukva de'Zer Anpin

The feminine consort of Zeir Anpin (the short or near face)

For a more detailed Table of Correspondences: click here.

It should be noted that the sefirot according to the names of the partzufim resemble a family tree of three generations: grandfather, parents, child and his bride.

Before a person can merit to attain his Ruach from the world of Yetzira, he must first be complete in all of the five partzufim of the Nefesh of Asiya.

In other words, though a person begins life with a Nefesh, it too has higher levels that must be attained through spiritual growth and rectification. When all the levels of Nefesh are rectified, then a person is ready to ascend to a higher spiritual level, that of the level of Ruach. He then repeats the process of growth on this higher spiritual plane.

That is, he must first master the Nefesh of his Nefesh, then the Ruach of his Nefesh, the Neshama of his Nefesh, and so on. Once he has acquired the Yechida of his Nefesh, then the entire level of Nefesh is said to be "his," and, he is ready to work on acquiring the levels of Ruach.

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]