Tag Archives: Mochin

Colours of the Sefirot

This week’s parasha, Tetzave, continues in describing the design of the objects used in the Mishkan, the Holy Tabernacle. The focus turns to the vestments of the kohen gadol. We see again that the most notable fibres used in sewing these clothes were tekhelet, argaman, and tola’at shani—blue, purple, and red wool. Our Sages taught (Menachot 43b) that tekhelet is sea-blue, and the sea reflects the sky, which is symbolic of God’s Throne, as per Exodus 24:10, where the nation saw that “there was under His feet the likeness of sapphire stone, and the likeness of clear skies…” (Similarly, Isaiah 66:1 has God declaring that “the skies are My throne, and the Earth is My footstool…”)

Among other things, blue is associated with water, which is in turn associated with life. In Kabbalah, blue is one of the colours of Chessed, lovingkindness. Red is its polar opposite, the colour of blood and fire, representing Gevurah, judgement and severity. Combining red and blue gives purple, the balance between them, Tiferet, seat of truth and beauty. On a mystical level, the purple argaman (ארגמן) also represents the chief angels Uriel (אוריאל), Raphael (רפאל), Gabriel (גבריאל), Michael (מיכאל), and Nuriel (נוריאל).

At first glance, the colours of the three key Sefirot of Chessed, Gevurah, and Tiferet appear to be blue, red, and purple, respectively. However, this is not always the case. In varying sources, the colours of the Sefirot are presented differently. While it is undoubtedly true that in Judaism multiple opinions can be correct simultaneously, can we nonetheless put together a definitive colour spectrum for the Sefirot? Today, we have a great deal of scientific knowledge of light and colour that can greatly assist us in this endeavour. So, which colours correspond to the Sefirot? Continue reading

Mind-Blowing Gematriot

In this week’s parasha, Ha’azinu, Moses cautions the people in his final song to carefully fulfil “all the words of this Torah, for it is not an empty thing for you” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47). The Ba’al HaTurim (Rabbi Yakov ben Asher, 1269-1343) comments here that, on a deeper level, the words “for it is not an empty thing for you” are referring to gematriot, the numerical calculations and mathematical codes embedded in the Torah, that emanate from the divinity and precision of the Hebrew language. The general public often disparages gematria as being unreal or artificial in some way, a soup where anyone can find anything they are looking for. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While some have certainly abused gematria in unnatural ways, there is a legitimate foundation and system to it. Continue reading

The Great Disputation: Mochin vs. Trinity

This week’s parasha concludes the Ten Plagues of Egypt by describing the final three plagues, as alluded to in the name of the parasha, Bo (בא), which has a numerical value of three. One would think that the parashas would be divided in such a way that all the plagues appear in one portion. Yet, we see the first seven in one, and the final three in another. The mystical reason for this is to mirror the Sefirot, which are divided into the seven lower middot, and the three higher mochin, “mental” or “intellectual” faculties.

The Sefirot of mochin above (in blue) and the Sefirot of the middot below (in red) on the mystical “Tree of Life”.

The mochin are the three Sefirot of Keter (or Ratzon, God’s “Will”); Chokhmah, “Wisdom”; and Binah, “Understanding”. They are on a higher level than the lower seven Sefirot. In fact, in this physical world we find most things mirror the seven, including the seven discernible colours of the rainbow, the seven notes of the musical scale, the seven visible “luminaries” in the sky, and the seven days of the week. The mochin, meanwhile, represent the upper worlds, and correspond to more ethereal things like the three primordial elements of Creation (air, water, and fire, as per Sefer Yetzirah) and the three realms of space, time, and soul (in mystical texts referred to by the acronym ‘ashan, עשן, standing for olam, shanah, nefesh). (For a detailed explanation of this, see here.)

Recall that the Sefirot represent the ten major aspects of God, and are primarily meant to help us relate to, and understand, the Infinite One. As such, the mochin represent the highest aspects of God. That there are specifically three of them is significant. The number three is central to Judaism, and God has a particular affinity for this number, as the Talmud (Shabbat 88a) tells us:

Blessed is the All-Merciful One, Who gave the three-fold Torah [ie. the Tanakh, composed of Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim] to the three-fold nation [Kohen, Levi, Israel] by means of a third-born [Moses] on the third day, in the third month [Sivan].

While this teaching is well-known, what isn’t so well known is in whose name it is brought down. The Talmud introduces it as a teaching “of that Galilean”. Who is this anonymous Galilean? Why does the Talmud use a seemingly-derogatory term for him, avoiding his name? Continue reading