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The humility of kingship.

Malchut

Malchut

Intermediate Intermediate
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<i>Malchut</i>
The humility of kingship.

The tenth and final sefira is called malchut. Malchut contains two completely opposite qualities, called hitnasut, meaning "exaltedness," and its opposite shiflut, meaning "humility". In the explanation of the sefira of keter, we noted that keter, the beginning, is wedged in malchut -- the end. The reverse is also true -- that malchut is wedged in keter. We explained that this means that the final product, malchut, is the original intention of the entire process of emanation. When malchut is still contained in the original intention (that is, in keter), it is in a state of exaltedness. And when it descends to its place as the last of the sefirot, it is in a state of humility. However, it is not that malchut is in one state or the other; rather, it is in both states simultaneously.

malchut is both the receiver and the consummation of giving

On one hand, malchut receives all that it has from the other sefirot and is described in Kabbala as "having nothing of her own"; thus, the Zohar compares malchut to the moon which has no light of her own. On the other hand, malchut is the final revelation of the Divine Light for which the entire process began; it was for the purpose of malchut that all the sefirot were emanated. Thus malchut is both the receiver and the consummation of giving.

In the explanation of keter, we said that the great depths of water hidden under the earth, the tehom rabba, symbolized keter. The well-spring, from which flows a small quantity of pure watersymbolized chochma, and a broad and mighty river, which begins from its source in the wellspring of chochma, symbolized bina. Malchut signifies the sea into which the river flows. It is the actualization of the entire revelation which began as a single tiny point of trickling water. Whereas chochma is the potential to be, malchut is the actual being, the final manifestation, the original intention. It is for this reason that malchut is also called "Shechina" -- the Divine Indwelling Presence, the immanent revelation of G-d. And so the sea returns to the tehom rabba, as the final revelation fulfills the original purpose.

G-d blessed the Seventh day and sanctified it

The seventh day of Creation, the Shabbat day, is therefore a cessation of work. The Sages say, "He who works prior to the Shabbat will eat on the Shabbat." That is to say that all the six days of Creation which precede the Shabbat must do their work if the culmination of Creation is to be revealed on the Shabbat day. The Zohar (III, 92b) states, "Each day does its work". By fulfilling its function each day's purpose is consummated. The Zohar expresses this perfectly, stating, "From the Shabbat day all other days become blessed." This applies both retroactively and proactively. The Torah states at the completion of Creation, "And the work was complete… and G-d blessed the Seventh day and sanctified it"; on this phrase the Zohar declares: "the supernal crown (keter elyon) is the crown of Kingdom (keter malchut)". The most elevated of the sefirot, keter, is thus linked to the most earthly, malchut.

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The Zohar is a basic work of Kabbalah authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students (2nd century CE). English translation of annotated selections by Rabbi Moshe Miller (Morristown, N.J.: Fiftieth Gate Publications, 2000) includes a detailed introduction covering the history and basic concepts of Kabbalah. Volume 1 (36 pp.) covers the first half of the first of the original’s three volumes. It is available online from our store, KabbalaOnline Shop.
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