Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain, Founder & Spiritual Director
The Ten Sefirot, or "emanations" or "enumerations", form the very heart of all Kabbalistic theology and theosophy. The Sefirot are the ten archetypal attributes or characteristics of the Godhead. A distinction is made in Kabbalah between the unknowable Godhead, the Eyn Sof or "infinite", and the knowable qualities of God, represented by the Sefirot.
The idea of ten archetypal qualities first appears in an enigmatic pre-kabbalistic text, the Sefer Yetzirah. They are next found in the Sefer Bahir, one of the earliest treatises of Kabbalah-proper. As Kabbalah developed the Sefirot have been given different meanings, each later meaning superimposed over the earlier ones. The arrangement of the Sefirot in the "Tree of Life" (Etz Chayim) has also differed slightly.
It is necessary to visualize these Ten Sefirot as being connected by "Pathways" that go both down and across the diagram -- and particularly the Pathway of the "Central Column" (Sefirot 1, 6, 9 and 10, the sum of which, incidently, equals 26, the Gematria of the Hebrew letters YHVH, the name of God). The Central Column and the two side columns have also been identified with the central nadi and the two side channels of the Tantric Kundalini system of chakras.
Click on the appropriate Sefirah on the above image, or on one of the following links, for more information.