|The Sephirot in Jewish Kabbalah|
Binah (meaning "Understanding"; Hebrew: בינה), is the second intellectual sephira on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. It sits on the level below Keter (in the formulations that include that sephirah), across from Chokmah and directly above Gevurah. It is usually given four paths: to Keter, Chockmah, Gevurah, and Tiphereth (some Kabbalists place a path from Binah to Chesed as well.) In an anthropomorphic visualization (in which the sephira are reversed, as if one is standing inside the tree, looking out) it may be related to the "left eye", "left hemisphere of the brain" or the "heart."
Binah is associated with the color black.
According to the Bahir: "The third (utterance): quarry of the Torah, treasury of wisdom, quarry of God's spirit, hewn out by the spirit of God. This teaches that God hewed out all the letters of the Torah, engraving them with the Spirit, casting His forms within it".
Binah is 'intuitive understanding', or 'contemplation'. It is likened to a 'palace of mirrors' that reflects the pure point of light of Chokhmah, wisdom, increasing and multiplying it in an infinite variety of ways. In this sense, it is the 'quarry', which is carved out by the light of wisdom. It is the womb, which gives shape to the Spirit of God.
On a psychological level, Binah is "processed wisdom," also known as deductive reasoning. It is davar mitoch davar—understanding one idea from another idea. While Chockmah is intellect that does not emanate from the rational process (it is either inspired or taught), Binah is the rational process that is innate in the person which works to develop an idea fully.
Binah is associated with the feminine. The Bahir states: “For you shall call Understanding a Mother.” Classical Jewish texts state Binah yeterah natun l'nashim ("an extra measure of Binah was given to women").
In its fully articulated form, Binah possesses two partzufim. The higher of these is referred to as Imma Ila'ah ("the higher mother"), whereas the lower is referred to as tevunah ("comprehension"). These two partzufim are referred to jointly as Imma ("the mother").
Qualities derived from Binah
In the medieval text the Tomer Devorah, Rabbi Moses Cordovero elucidated the ethical qualities associated with each Sefira, which one must attempt to imitate. The attribute associated with Binah is complete repentance, for 'just as Binah sweetens all severities and neutralizes their bitterness, one should repent and rectify all flaws'.
In Western occultism, Binah is seen to take the raw force of Chokhmah, and to channel it into the various forms of creation. For example, in a car, you have the fuel and an engine. While Chokmah is the fuel, pure energy, Binah is the engine, pure receptivity. Either one without the other is useless.
In its role as the ultimate Object, as opposed to Chokmah as the Subject, its role is similar to the role of Shakti in Indian mysticism. It is feminine, because it literally gives birth to the whole of creation, providing the supernal womb, with Chokmah providing the raw energy.
The name of God associated with Binah is Jehovah Elohim, the archangel that presides over it is Tzaphkiel, the order of angels that resides in it are the Aralim (the Thrones) and the planet associated with it is Saturn.
The aspect or attribute of being associated with the feminine, is why Binah is often associated with various occult things that reflect the females. It is related to the Yoni, and to the womb. It is related to the priestess card in the occult tarot (according to Arthur Edward Waite's "Pictorial Key to the Tarot") and Liber 777 associating it with Isis, Cybele, Demeter, Rhea, Woman, The Virgin Mary, Juno, Hecate, Yoni, The Three Threes of the Tarot, etc. etc. etc.
Occultists have tried to compare the sephira with the chakras of Indian mysticism, and one such comparison is in comparing both Binah and Chokmah with the Ajna chakra, which is where both Shiva and Shakti are united.
In the correlation of Binah with Shakti and Chokmah with Shiva, Shakti is the animating life force whereas Shiva is dead, a corpse, without her energy.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (August 2009)|
- "The Color of Binah is Black". "Everything you want to know about Magick".
- Arthur Green. A guide to the Zohar
- Bahir, translated by Aryeh Kaplan (1995). Aronson. (ISBN 1-56821-383-2)
- The Kabbalah Handbook, Gabriella Samuel (2007). Tarcher Penguin. (ISBN 1-58542-560-5)