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Understanding the Kabbalah
3. Sefirotic Self Identity, The Keter-Da'at Syzygy

by Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.

The Sefirah Keter represents the ultimate Higher Source of each individual human soul. In the metaphorical guise of Adam Kadmon (Primordial Man), it represents the level of consciousness where the individual self merges into the greater collective consciousness of combined humanity. Adam Kadmon (AK or Keter), therefore, can never become conscious. This is why Keter is a crown on top of the head. It symbolizes connection to the body, while not being part of it. Yet, as the functions of Hokhma and Binah operate within the mind, their union creates a sense of identity that defines the inner individual in a form that can be perceived through the powers of contemplation, and meditation. This inner form is what is created by the union of Hokhma, and Binah. It is the byproduct, the proverbial “child” of intuitive insight (Hokhma), and rational thought (Binah). This inner form is called the Inner Knowledge, in Hebrew, Da'at.

Da'at (knowledge) is one's inner sense of self (or purpose), that can be discovered, and known through the using, and merging of the mental powers of Hokhma, and Binah. It is this sense of inner knowing, as opposed to the unknowable Keter/Higher Self that creates an internal dynamic that is the source of much deep introspection, and meditative revelations. One can know oneself in Da'at; one cannot know oneself in Keter, for Keter is above being known. Both are technically, one's own higher, inner self. How can one know the one, and yet not be able to know the other? The answer to this question explains the relationship between the Da'at mode of consciousness, and the Keter mode, above consciousness. This relationship also explains why, in the scheme of the Ten Sefirot pattern, Da'at is not counted as a Sefirah, at all. It is present, Da'at is always present, but its presence is relative, and based on a pattern of relationships. In the count of the ten Sefirot, Da'at is included in the number, only when the Keter is excluded.

In most interpretations of the later Kabbalah of the Safed school (1570's to present day), the enumeration of the Ten Sefirot, although they begin with Keter, quickly bypass it, and begin their expanded explanations, and teachings, starting with the Hokhma, instead of Keter. They then include the semi-Sefirah Da'at as the replacement of Keter. The first triad of Sefirot is thus enumerated not as Keter, Hokhma, and Binah (referred to by the initial letters of the Sefirot, KaHaB), but rather as Hokhma, Binah, and Da'at, referred to as HaBaD.

HaBaD is a more recognized form today in that it is also the name of a well known ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sect, (which they spell, Chabad). They have adopted this name based upon their own unique interpretation of the use of this concept within their group's mystical literature. This Hasidic way of understanding Da'at is completely intellectual in nature, and is, therefore, completely at odds with the deeper understanding of the true psychological nature of Da'at. One must again remember that there are different schools of thought with regards to almost everything.

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The Written Works of Ariel Bar Tzadok
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