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A Little Kabala

From Inner Space by R. Aryeh Kaplan Chapter 10 p. 78

Jacob and Laban

The Ten Sefirot of Atzilut are the basic ingredients G-d used in creating the Universes. Then, the Sefirot themselves were created. The allusion to the process of creating the Sefirot is found in the story of Jacob and Laban. After working for Laban for 20 years, Jacob agreed to take the "banded", "spotted" and "streaked" animals as payment. Laban thought there would be very few animals colored this way. Jacob separated his animals from Laban's by a distance of three days and within a miraculously short time he built up a sizeable flock of his own.

Banded in Hebrew is "Akudin" - animals had bands around their legs with white bodies, looking "bound".

Spotted in Hebrew is "Nekudim" - black spots on white bodies

Streaked in Hebrew is "Berudim" - a black body with white streaks, resembling hail, which is "barad" in Hebrew.

Jacob had a prophetic vision wherein an angel said "Raise you eyes and you will see that the bucks mounting the sheep are banded, spotted and streaked." According to the Ari (R. Yitzchal Luria) Jacob was shown the very beginning of creation of the Sefirot. It was because Jacob reached such a high level of consciousness that he was able to meditate on the spiritual dimension that underlies the physical reality and influences the genetic structure of the sheep. The three types of markings in the vision represented the three major stages in the evolution of the Sefirot. By meditating on the latter, he succeeded in changing the former.

Akudim represented the Ten Sefirot existing as ten lights in one vessel, undifferentiated and bound.

Next the lights were divided into ten distinct entities. Like Nekudim, points or spots. They could be called vessels inasmuch they could receive G-d's light. But they couldn't interact nor hold the Divine light. Instead they were overwhelmed by the light and shattered, which is known as the Breaking of the Vessels.

In the final stage, the broken vessels were rectified and rebuilt, like the Berudim (streaked)... where the Sefirot are connected as Partzufim, archetypal personas or spiritual parallels to the human body. This is the level usually referred to as the Universe of Atzilut. It is the rectified state in which the sefirot could now interact with each other and become givers as well as receivers.


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