This writer has received a few e-mails from his readers at firstname.lastname@example.org, about the Sefer Yetzirah and Kabbalah in general. Please note, that the true Study of the Kabbalah takes many years, and should be in association with a Teacher. The articles in this series are not intended to be taken as more than a superficial literary overview. As usual, the following is only this writer’s rendition of the text, based on a comparison of several translations, and an analysis of the Hebrew. There have been many editions of the Sefer Yetzirah. Content and divisions to the text vary considerably. Depending on which version you read, the following is either section four, or a combination of sections eight and nine, of Chapter One. Text is in bold, and comments in Italics.
These are the Ten Sefiroth (“Realms”) out of Nothingness: The following are the ten categories of existence out of Nothingness.
This section of the Sefer Yetzirah is allegedly, an explanation of the first two verses of the Book of Genesis (B’Reshit).
First is the Spirit of the Living God (“Ruach Elohim Chaiim”), blessed and glorified be the Name of the Living Elohim who lives to all Eternity. The spoken Word of creative Power, the Spirit and the Word are what we call the Spirit of the Living God.
This “Spirit” of God is what passes over the waters in Genesis Chapter1:2. This Word, “Ruach” also means “Wind”. Some English translations read “A Wind from God”.
Second, the Holy One extracted Air from the Spirit. and formed for speech twenty-two letters, Three Parents, Alef, Mim and Shin, Seven Doubles, Bet, Gimel, Daled, Kaf, Peh, Resh, Tav, and Twelve Simples, Heh, Vav, Zayin; Chet, Tet, Yod; Lamed, Nun, Samech, Ayin, Tsadeh, Qof, but the Spirit is First among these.
The relationship between “Spirit” and “Air” here is very similar to the relationship, in Taoism between the “Tao” and the “Te”. This is not the Element of Air. The Hebrew Letter for this Primordial Ai is Aleph. The Seven Doubles correlate to the Seven Planets, and the Twelve Simples to the Twelve Zodiac Signs. Bet correlates to Mercury, Gimel to Luna, Daled to Venus, Kaf to Jupiter, Peh to Mars, Resh to Sol, and Tav to Saturn. Heh correlates to Aries, Vav to Taurus, Zayin to Gemini, Chet to Cancer, Tet to Leo, Yod to Virgo, Lamed to Libra, Nun to Scorpio, Samech to Sagittarius, Ayin to Capricorn, Tsadeh to Aquarius, and Qof to Pisces.
Third, the Holy One extracted Primal Water from the Air, formed and established by it Tohu (“Chaos”) and Bohu (“Emptiness”), mud and loam, making them like a border, putting them up like a wall, and surrounding them as with a rampart, and then put coldness upon them. They became dust, as it was written, "For He says to the snow, 'Be upon the earth'; likewise to the shower of rain and to the showers of His mighty rain." (Job 37:6)
Here, the primordial water is not Elemental Water, but a Chaotic concept, associated with the letter Mim.
Fourth, the Holy One extracted Fire from the Water, engraving and forming from it the Throne of Glory, establishing the Seraphim (“Fiery Serpents”), the Ophanim (“Wheels”), and the Chayot Ha-Kodesh (“Holy Living Creatures”) as the Ministering Angels, and by utilizing these three, formed the Holy Habitation, as it was written, "He makes winds His messengers, burning Fire His ministers." (Psalms 104:4) The Holy One selected three consonants from the Simples, Yod (י), Heh (ה) and Vav (ו), which are in the hidden secret of the three Parents or First Principles, Aleph (א) -- Air, Mim (מ) -- Water, and Shin (ש) -- Fire, and sealed them with Spirit and fastened them to the Great Name, sealing the Universe with the Divine Name in six dimensions.
Note that the Primordial Fire here is not a destructive force, but a creative one, similar in Nature to Order. Notice that God makes the Throne (“Merkabah”) using this... The Hebrew Letter is Shin. The “Secret” here is that the letters Shin, Aleph and Mim can be used to spell the Word “Shem” (“Name”).
Fifth, the Holy One looked Above, and sealed the height with Yod-Heh-Vav.
Sixth, the Holy One looked Below, and sealed the deep, with Heh-Yod-Vav.
Seventh, the Holy One looked forward, and sealed the East, with Vav-Yod-Heh.
Eighth, the Holy One turned around, and sealed the West with Vav-Heh-Yod.
Ninth, the Holy One turned North and sealed it with the Heh-Vav-Yod.
Tenth, the Holy One turned to the South and sealed it with Yod-Vau-Heh.
This is simply a Way of showing the Six mathematical permutations of the Three letters used to form the Holy Name, YHVH, spelled Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh. Notice that the Three Axes form a cube. This is important, as the Cube Concept was used in the Merkabah Mysteries, developed much later than the Sefer Yetzirah.
These are the ten Sefiroth out of Nothingness. From the Spirit of the Living God emanated Air, from the Air, Water, from the Water, Fire, from the Fire, the height and the depth, the East and the West, the North and the South.
The mathematics of this section are very advanced for the Time in which it was written.