Chokhmah (Kabbalah)

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The Sephirot in Jewish Kabbalah
Keter Binah Chokhmah Da'at Gevurah Chesed Tiferet Hod Netzach Yesod MalkuthThe Sefirot in Jewish Kabbalah


View the image description page for this diagram Category:Sephirot

Chokhmah ("Wisdom"; Hebrew: חכמה; also chochmah or hokhmah) is the uppermost of the sephirot of the right line (kav yamin, the "Pillar of Mercy") in the kabbalistic Tree of Life. It is to the bottom right of Keter, with Binah across from it. Under it are the sephirot of Chesed and Netzach. It commonly has four paths going to Keter, Binah, Tifereth, and Chesed. (Some kabbalists[who?] attribute a path between Chokhmah and Gevurah.)

In Jewish mysticism, it denotes the first intermediate step between Keter and the rest of the sephirot, forwarding and channeling Ein Sof through the rest of the sephirot.

Chokhmah is associated with the color grey.[1]


According to the Bahir: "The second (utterance) is wisdom, as is written: 'Y-H-W-H acquired me at the beginning of His way, before His deeds of old' (Prov 8:22). And there is no 'beginning' but wisdom."[2]

Chokhmah, the second of the ten sefirot, is the first power of conscious intellect within Creation, and the first point of 'real' existence, since Keter represents emptiness. According to the book of Job, "Wisdom comes from nothingness".[3] This point is both infinitely small, and yet encompasses the whole of being, but it remains incomprehensible until it is given shape and form in Binah.[4]

The name of God associated with Chokhmah is Yah.

Chokhmah appears in the configuration of the sefirot at the top of the right axis, and corresponds in the tzelem Elokim ("the Divine image") to the right eye, or right hemisphere of the brain.

In its fully articulated form, Chokhmah possesses two partzufim ("faces" or "features"): the higher of these is referred to as Abba Ila'ah ("the higher father"), whereas the lower is referred to as Yisrael Saba ("Israel, the Elder"). These two partzufim are referred to jointly as Abba ("father").

Chokhmah is associated in the soul with the power of intuitive insight, flashing lightning-like across consciousness. The partzuf of Abba Ila'ah is associated with the power to spontaneously extract such insight from the superconscious realm, whereas the partzuf of Yisrael Saba is associated with the power to subsequently direct it into consciousness.

The "wisdom" of Chokhmah also implies the ability to look deeply at some aspect of reality and abstract its conceptual essence till one succeeds in uncovering its underlying axiomatic truth. These seeds of truth can then be conveyed to the companion power of Binah for the sake of intellectual analysis and development.

Chokhmah is the primary ("beginning") force in the creative process, Creativity, as it is said: "You have made them all with Chokhmah." (Psalms 104:24) The first word of the Torah in Genesis, Breishit means "In the beginning (God created the heavens and the earth)", is translated (Targum Yonatan) as "With Chokhmah (God created…)."

Chokhmah is also called Fear, 'because it has no measure of boundary, and therefore the mind does not have the power to grasp it'.[5] The book of Job states 'Behold the fear of God is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding' (Job 28:28).

The first of the intellectual powers of the soul[edit]

In the array of sefirot in three columns (gimel kavim), Chokmah is situated at the top of the right column, and corresponds to the right hemisphere of the brain. There are several aspects of Chokhmah:

The word Chokhmah itself may be broken into two words -- koach ("potential") and ma ("what is"). Thus, Chokhmah means "the potential of what is", or, "the potential to be." This aspect of Chokhmah describes the state of Chokhmah in relation to the sefira of Keter. As Chokhmah emanates from Keter, the first dawning of the "Infinite Light", it "appears" in an obscure and undefined state that is a virtual non-being. Thus the verse states, "and Chokhmah emerges from nothingness" (Job 28:12, see Zohar II, 121a, Zohar III, 290a, commentaries). The light of the Ein Sof becomes unified in the world of Atzilut through clothing itself first in the sefira of Chokhmah.

In its fully articulated form, Chokhmah possesses two partzufim ("faces" or "appearances"): the higher of these is referred to as Abba ("father"), whereas the lower is referred to as Yisrael Sabba "Israel [the] ancient (grandfather)". In the soul, Chokhmah is associated with the power of intuitive insight.

In the Zohar Chokhmah is the primordial point which shines forth from the will of God and thus, is the starting point of Creation. All things are still undifferentiated at this point and only become intelligible at Binah.

In the texts of Judaism[edit]

The word Chokhmah is read in the Zohar (Numbers 220b) as koach mah, "the power of selflessness", or, alternatively, as cheich mah, "the palate of selflessness."

"The power of selflessness" implies not only the attribute of selflessness itself, but the great creative power that selflessness entails.

"The palate of selflessness" is the soul's ability to "taste" Divinity by virtue of one's state of selflessness, as is said (Psalms 34:8): "Taste and see that God is good." In general, the sense of sight relates to Chokhmah (the lightning-flash referred to above). From this verse we learn that there is an inner, spiritual sense of taste in Chokhmah that precedes and arouses the sense of sight.

In Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's commentary on the Bahir he says "Wisdom (Chokhmah) is therefore the first thing that the mind can grasp, and is therefore called a "beginning." and according to the Hasidic Judaism site, Chokhmah refers to "the first power of conscious intellect within Creation."

Qualities derived from Chokhmah[edit]

Ethical Behaviour[edit]

Chokhmah has 2 faces, one facing keter above, and the other overseeing the over sefirot. Therefore, to emulate this Sefira, one aspect should be in communion with his Creator in order to increase his wisdom, and the other should be to teach others the wisdom that the Holy One has endowed him.[6]

Non-Jewish usages[edit]

Western occultists describe Chokhma as the creative, active principle behind the cosmos. It is force, the ultimate Subject, as compared to Binah, the ultimate Object. In this respect, it is very similar to the idea of Shiva in the Shiva-Shakti duality of Shakta Tantra.[citation needed] Chokhma and Binah are compared to the fuel and the engine of a car. Chokhma is the fuel, pure force, and Binah is the engine, pure potential. One without the other is useless, both are needed to drive the cosmos.

According to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the name of God associated with Chokmah is Jehovah, the archangel that presides over it is Raziel, the order of angels that reside in it are the Ophanim (the wheels), the Heaven of Assiah associated with it is called Mazloth, implying the fulfillment of destiny, and the mundane chakra associated with it is the Zodiac.

Chokhma is related to the phallus and the straight line. It is variously attempted to relate it to different chakras in Indian mysticism. One attempt at reconciliation is that both Chokhma and Binah are united in the Ajna chakra, which is where both Shiva and Shakti, subject and object, are united. In its role as the primal point from which all creation emerges, the idea of Chokhmah is very similar to the Bindu, or primal point.

In Aleister Crowley's Liber 777, Chokhma is represented as The Four twos of the Tarot, Illuminating, Thoth, Vishnu, Joy, Odin, Uranus, Athena, God the Father, Man, Amaranth, Lingam, Hashish, Phosphorus, Musk, and Yang (not a complete list).

Its shadow or Qliphothic equivalent has been represented by the demonic order Chaigidel, ruled by the Archdemon Beelzebub.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sefirot". Sefirot. My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Arthur Green. A guide to the Zohar
  3. ^ Job. 28:12
  4. ^ Rabbi Moshe Cordovero. The Palm Tree of Devorah
  5. ^ Aryeh Kaplan. Meditation and Kabbalah
  6. ^ Rabbi Moshe Cordovero. The Palm Tree of Devorah



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