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Francis Warrain: From ‘La Théodicée de la Kabbale’–The System of the Scale-Part 3-Hierarchy

Francis Warain,

picture frontispiece

in ‘La Théodicée de la Kabale’,

Editions Véga, 1949.


With today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, we continue our selections from Francis Warrain’s ‘La Théodicée de la Kabbale’, posthumously published by Editions Véga in 1949. This is part 3 out of 5 parts on the subject of The System of the Scale we introduced in an earlier post. English translation from the original French by Via-HYGEIA. Original French runs from page 54 to 59. The transcription convention of the sephiroth’s names in English follows Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok’s usage, in his seminal ‘Walking in the Fire’. 1993-2007. Kosher Torah Publishing. This is the simple, luminous teaching of a very humble and wise man we have chosen to honor in this present series.


The System of the Scale

Part 3-Hierarchy

We have just reviewed through what correlations the bilateral balance of the scale is met. It should have necessarily brought the sephirot’s repartition into three ternaries and the formation of three columns. But we need now to report about the number of these ternaries and find in the up and down direction a balance that maintain in their space the extremes and the intermediaries.

A superposition or an indefinite suspension of ternaries would not comply to the conditions of the perfect balance. it is the very superposition of the sephirot that brought the destruction of the first state of things (Via-Hygeia note: The breaking of the Vases). This superposition expressed the resulting antinomy of the relationship between the Absolute and the Relative, because of the infinite gap that separates them. Now, the system of the Scale aims precisely to unite the Absolute and the Relative, ‘high and low‘, to harmoniously bring together the projection emanating from the Absolute with the aspiration of the Relative towards the Absolute and prevent that the Relative is driven back by the projection, or absorbed by the aspiration itself. Therefore a need for a system is met, which dispatches these tendencies in such a manner that it constitutes a proper functioning organism.

The two first ternaries are oriented in opposite directions: the second reflecting somehow the first. The reunion of these two ternaries embraces the blossoming of two opposite tendencies: The complementary ones (Hokhma and Binah) that make identity prevail over distinction, and the antagonistic ones (Hesed and Gevurah) that erase the identity behind the distinction. The complementary ones are obtained by the analysis of the Principle. The antagonistic ones, by their synthesis, accomplish Perfection. Therefore, the superior ternary that goes from Keter to Tiferet appears as the manifestation of the Absolute in all its fullness.

This blossoming open all possibilities for the Relative. But, it does not determine its effectiveness. It projects universality; what remains is to establish individuality. from there the transitives functions enter the stage, when once united, neutralize the two preceding ternaries, canalize somehow the manifestation and transform it into operation, or formation. And all of this leads to Yesod: the exemplary agent.

But, here the senary is replaced by a quaternary. The complementary and antagonistic ones-which are, somehow, the right side and the back, heads and tails of the duality-have produced with the Principle and the Aim, a complete blossoming. Here, to the two faces of the duality, the metamorphosis of the one and the other is being substituted: this constitutes the transitivity and is realized like an operation, represented by Yesod. The Operation is, in fact, the transition between the Principle and the Aim. It leads to the result.

But, this result produces data (Via-Hygeia note: in French: ‘réalise des données’) out of the domain of the complete blossoming. Malkhut represents the adaptation of this blossoming to the conditions of the Relative. Malkhut is suspended vertically to Yesod. At the same time, two channels converge towards her, one coming from Netzah, the other from Hod: and this establishes a bilateral reaction to the operation projected by Yesod. The influence originating from the axis finds itself transformed into a radiance that prevents it from continuing and which avoids both confusion and rupture.

Let’s leave aside the vertical channels that illustrate the hierarchic and subordinated relationships and the horizontal channels that highlight the oblique symmetries of the correlative terms that radiate and centralize. (see figure VI in part 2),

First, we find two superimposed quadrilaterals. The first one is composed of Keter, Hokhma, Binah and Tiferet; the second from Tiferet, Netzah, Hod and Malkhut. In order to obtain the oblique channels, we will add a branch on each side. In the superior quaternary these additional branches will diverge from Tiferet and will hold themselves under the lateral summit of the superior quadrilateral. Hence, we will have Gevurah and Hesed. In the inferior quadrilateral, on the contrary, the ramifications will leave from the lateral summit and will come converging under the inferior summit to form Malkhut. This difference sums up the contrast between the superior and inferior zones: and this very difference that must explain why the series of the superimposed ternaries find themselves exhausted.

This outline establishes a balance between two opposed tendencies: the separation and reunion of the columns. Separation represents the necessary antagonism allowing distinction to appear; while reunion corresponds to the union of the complementary elements necessary to the realization of concreteness. And no oblique channels link Hokhma to Gevurah, nor Binah to Hesed; Hesed and Gevurah mark the state of extreme opposition. In Tiferet the complementary and the antagonistic elements combine to allow perfection to manifest. From Netzah and Hod surges out the duality of the agent & the patient to express Effectivity.

The limitation of the process is therefore established by the toppling of convergency and divergency. To the divergency emanated from the center (Tiferet) follows the emanated divergency from the sides (from Netzah and Hod). After the duality of the lateral terms (Hokhma and Hesed, Binah and Gevurah) follows the duality upon the central column (Yesod and Malkhut). Above, the duality held on each side develops the conditions of relativity (expansion & restriction); below, the duality, that is expending following the axis, characterizes the very root of Relativity (action & passion). The first of these dualities is resolved in a synthesis (Tiferet); the second one is compensated by the two lateral convergences of a transitif character (Netzah and Hod) that seems to constitute two current of opposing directions between action and reaction.

There are only 3 superimposed ternaries, explicitly having no common terms; but, according to the outline we have just reviewed, we can recognize six superimposed ternaries, two having their summit above (Keter, Hokhma and Binah) and (Tiferet, Netzah and Hod), four having their summit below (Hokhma, Binah and Tiferet), (Hesed, Gevurah and Tiferet), (Netzah, Hod, Yesod), (Netah, Hod and Malkhut). The first two subordinate the product to the cause, the following four bend towards an end, an aim. In Tiferet, the aim, the end gathers at the same time a two-degree distinction (Hokmah and Binah; Hesed and Gevurah) extracted from the principle (Keter). In Yesod and Malkhut, finality is characterized by two degrees, answering to the duality Netzah and Hod that Tiferet has projected. Therefore, in these two cases the tendency towards the end, the aim, manifests a double current, while the projection of the principle is simple, unique. This is something worth meditating upon.

The relationships established by the oblique channels shed light to the compensation game that allows the assimilation between the without-any-common-measure-terms of the Absolute and the Relative. The influx that goes from Keter to Malkhut therefore propagates with the alternance of a lateral dilatation and a compression that evolves into a vital rhythm the all-mighty projection and aspiration of the Absolute. The hierarchy of the system of the Scale has, in fact, for aim not to affirm the supremacy of the Absolute upon the Relative, but to acclimatize the Relative to the penetration of the Absolute.

Finally, let’s observe that the hierarchy of this system has as its mission to create solidarity between the principle and its result, the mean and the aim. And if we speak of inferior and superior it is because this solidarity is the condition of the creation, of the formation and the action that constitute Relativity. But this process-seen-within-God, as its emanation, does not constitute a degradation of the superior towards the inferior, but a transformation of aspect. The Zohar tells us that Malkhut stands for the Holy Ghost, and therefore Pauly remarks, that it stand-in-itself as important than the 9 others Sephira united, because the Holy Ghost is part of the very essence of God. Malkhut is God in His entirety, as in Keter: but Keter is for the Relative an inaccessible God; while Malkhut is God extracting from Himself the development of the entire Relativity.

To the hierarchy of the Sephirot correspond the three or four worlds. The Sephirotic system constitutes the world of Emanation (Atziluth), meaning the system of conditions that bring into relationship the Absolute and the Relative. It is the norm of all production and all subsistance. And this norm, will find itself into all realities that reach the being in itself, meaning that it fulfils a function of Absolute. Without this function, a thing exists only as an accident or a phenomenon (or, which is the same, it only exists in relation of another thing). And the integral whole of the existences of the Relative will have to reproduce the system of the Sephirot.

After Emanation that sets the conditions of the possibilities of the Relative, will come Creation (Briah or Beriah), the path from the non-being to being; then Formation (Jetzirah), or the development of the intelligible conditions without nothing can exist. Briah is, it seems, the world of substances or of numenon-meaning the beings in-themselves, beings that play for specific relationships the role of absolutes. Luria tells us that Briah is the world of souls: it seems that he admits here that only possible substances can be souls: and, in our humble opinion, the criticism of the concept of substance leads to consider it always as an immaterial entity. Jetzirah would then be the world of forces and laws, meaning the world of principles that rule actions. And the Ancients saw these principles in the sidereal world and deemed them immutable. Finally, the fourth world, Asiah, or world of Action, would be, it seems, the world of facts and phenomena; it would concern pure effectivity of what is submitted to becoming.

The last three worlds place themselves in a hierarchical order below the world of Atziluth; the 10 Sephirot in Atziluth, or world of Emanation, provide them with a structure, and upon this structure each world shapes itself in a sephirotic system. From there originate correspondances we will not here insist upon. But, we ought to find in the system of Atziluth the very conditions of the hierarchy of the four worlds. But, according to what is preceding, we can easily conceive that the superior ternary (Keter, Hokhma and  Binah) corresponds to Emanation. This first ternary, in fact, marks the core constitution of divine Essence, and the intimate union of these three sephirot between themselves and with the Ain-Soph.

The second ternary (Hesed, Gevurah and Tiferet) corresponds to Creation. In fact, Hesed, is the gift and magnificence; Gevurah, is separation and rigorous distribution; Tiferet, is synthesis and perfect construction, and external manifestation.

The third ternary (Netzah, Hod and Yesod) corresponds to Formation, to the Labor pursued by intelligences and applied to a data, such as Victory, Honor and Foundation, which truly mark this operation, its fruit, its fecundity.

Finally, Malkhut corresponds to the world of Action, in the meaning of action not as Labor of the activity, but as in linking, binding-in opposition to the establishment of laws. And this is indeed the domain of the Relative.

These four worlds fit the human body. To Emanation corresponds the Head (thought, conception); to Creation correspond the Arms and the Heart (desires, signs and dispositions); to Formation corresponds Thighs and the Genital Organ (generation, movement); and finally, to Action (or rather the Phenomenon) lies under the feet; it receives the seeds and the traces of movement and constitutes the structure of the Relative, which only maintains its existence-through-becoming by action.

To be continued…

Coming soon-Part 4-The Notion of Sexes


Original French








More about Francis Warrain:
Francis Warrain: From ‘La Théodicée de la Kabbale’–The System of the Scale-Part 3-Hierarchy

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