The Book of Formation - Sefer Yetzirah

A Key to the Book - Ubiquitous “Triplets”


  Table of Contents  \\

By the grace of G-d
Copyright © 2009-16 Nathaniel Segal
— “Ask Me and I will give . . .” 
(Psalms 2:8) 
— “Abraham * planted an Eishel * at the Well of Seven Oaths.” 
(Genesis 21:33) 
— “Abraham gave everything of his to [his son] Isaac.” 
(Genesis 25:5) 
See below

· Emergence and Convergence

  • Above reaches out to below

  • Below reaches out to Above
  • “Let us make Adam [humans] in Our image . . .”
    (Genesis 1:26)
  • “from my flesh I [can] visualize the Divine”
    (Job 19:26)

Universal Structure in Creation

  • Beginning
  • Middle
  • End

•  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

· The Fundamental Unity of Knowledge -
Triads and Consilience


Consilience –

the fundamental unity of knowledge

  • As Above, so below
  • As below, so Above


  • Whatever is in the Material World
  • – is in Time / Chronology, and
  • is in Consciousness


  • Potential
  • Actualizing
  • Outcome


  • Consciousness
  • Time / Calendar / Chronology
  • Location / Identity


  • Consciousness / Willfulness – Potential
  • Time / Calendar / Chronology – Actualizing
  • Material World / Identity – Outcome / Result


  • Potential
  • Actualizing
  • Outcome


  • Thought – knowledge
  • Speech – attitudes
  • Action – practices

Universal Structure in Creation

  • Potential
    • Beginning
  • Actualizing
    • Middle
  • Outcome
    • End

Structure of the Human Body

  • Head / Brain • Beginning
  • Body • Middle
         / Heart
         / Liver
  • Feet • End

Elements of the Human Body

  • Blood Vessels
  • Flesh
  • Bones

 Structure of the Human Intelligent Soul 

  • Intellect and Intelligence /
    Inventiveness / Imagination
  • Study / Learning /
  • Achievement of Wisdom /
    The Liberal Arts / Technology


  • Potential

  • Actualizing

  • Outcome

G-d's Unity

  • “He is the Knower,
  • “what is known, and
  • “intelligence itself.”

    (From Maimonides' Book of Knowledge -
    Sefer Ha-Mada‘,
    "The Fundamental Laws of the Torah" *)


  • Outcome / Accomplishment of Goal /
     G-d's Creation
  • Actualizing / Plan / Targeted Goal /
     Human Souls / Torah
  • Potential /
     Divine Wisdom and Intelligence
    • (in reverse order
      compared to the order in
      the Book of Formation)

*  Maimonides' Code, "The Fundamental Laws of the Torah," 2:10 –

 “Consequently we say ** that,

  • Hu ha Yode‘a – He is the Knower,
  • ha yadu‘a – what is known,
  • v'ha de‘a ‘atzma – and intelligence itself.”

**  we say - From our viewpoint, as something that G-d commands us to do.

For Maimonides, the word ha-mada‘ refers to the principle knowledge which one should know about the Jewish religion before all else.  (See his Preface to the Code, "Sefer Rishon.")

At the same time, this word ha-mada‘ refers to wisdom – the highest human achievement.

(The root letters for knowing are yod dalet ‘ayin in Hebrew.  Within the family of Hebrew words that emerge from this root, some lose the "weak" letter yod.  We see, though, the commonality of words in this family in the two letters dalet and ‘ayin —   -de‘a, -du‘a, -da‘, and -di‘a.  Besides having a preceding syllable, though, the vowels also change.)

Triad of the First Mishnah *

  • "Book" / Blueprint
  • "Scribe" / Ordering / Processing / Building
  • "Story" / Outcome


  • Capacity for Understanding
  • Acquiring Wisdom – thesis-antithesis
  • Wisdom / Dedication to wisdom – synthesis


  • Location / Identity
  • Time / Calendar / Chronology
  • Consciousness


  • Geodesy, Geometry, Trigonometry
  • Astronomy, Cosmology
  • Rhetoric, Sociology, Psychology, Theology


  • Potential Energy, Potential Gradients
  • Kinetic Energy, Electromagnetic Propagation, Conductivity, Field Fluxes, Nuclear Decay, Phase Transitions
  • Work, Fission, Fusion, New Isotopes and Elements, Refraction, Holograms


  • Potential Differences / Potential Gradients
  • Flow
  • Equilibrium / Equilibration


  • Potential
  • Actualizing
  • Outcome


  • Jeopardy / Menace / Danger / Calamity /
    Teaser and First Act

  • Struggle / Second Act

  • Rescue / Resolution / Third Act


  • Beginning
  • Middle
  • End

Scales / Correspondence


  • The Torah
  • Study
  • Knowledge of the Almighty


  • "Book"
  • "Scribe"/ Ordering
  • "Story" / Outcome


  • Potential
  • Actualizing
  • Outcome


  • The Large Scale / The Universe
  • Small Scale / Fine Detail
  • The Human Scale

Three Viewpoints

  • I / we
  • First Person (singular and plural)
  • Thou, you / you, you all
  • Second Person (singular and plural)
  • He, she, it / they
  • This, that / these, those
  • Third Person (singulars and plurals)

Six Questions

  • Who? /  Why?
  • When? /  How?
  • What? /  Where?

Convergence and Emergence

  • Above reaches out to below
  • Below reaches out to Above
  • As the Small Scale compounds itself toward the Human Scale, and 
  •   as the Large Scale manifests itself in the Human Scale, 
  •    . . . from these three emerges the unity of the Laws of Nature. 

In the Hebrew Language

  • Consciousness / Willfulness
  • Chronology / Sequencing
  • Location / Permanence
  • Nefesh
  • Shanah (Shana)
  • Olam
  • Space / Matter / Location    } Space-Time
  • Time / Chronology              }
  • Consciousness / Willfulness
  • Olam
  • Shanah (Shana)
  • Nefesh
  • Potential
  • Actualizing
  • Outcome
  • Po‘al • Nefesh
  • Pe‘ula • Shanah 
  • Nif‘al • Olam
  • Border, Frontier, Realm, Domain
  • S'far
    plural, S'farim
  • Book
  • Scribe
  • Story
  • Sefer
    plural, S'forim
  • Sofer
    (a noun)
  • Sipur
  • He counts
  • Sofer
    (a verb)
  • Counting
  • S'fira
  • Numerical digit
  • S'fara
    plural, S'farot
  • Vowel
  • S'fira
    plural, S'firot
    (in the Book of Formation
    (an alternate form of the Hebrew word ts'fira)
  • Divine Attribute  (Kabbala)
    - "lights" metaphorically speaking
  • S'fira
    (Sephira;  plural, Sephirot)
  • Sapphire gem
  • Sapir
    sah PEER

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* Definitions and Pronunciation

^ Abraham -  The Patriarch Abraham is the author of the first recension of the Book of Formation.  Much later, Rabbi Akiba assembled the correct reading of Abraham's composition.  Probably, it is also he who authored a mishnah which speaks about Abraham:  "And with the advent of the Patriarch Abraham (of blessed memory), who looked, saw, investigated, understood. . . ."  Rabbi Akiba then inserted this mishnah into the last chapter of the Book of Formation for the recension that he taught his students, who then taught their students, and so on until today.

^ Eishel -  Literally, an orchard.  Also as an abbreviation for:

Alef for achila (ah khih LAH) - eating
Shin for shtiya (sh' tih AH) - drinking
Lamed for lina (lih NAH) - sleeping overnight or hosting for a duration

Alef for achila (ah khih LAH) - eating (and drinking)
Shin for sheina (shay NAH) - sleeping
Lamed for l'viya (l' vih AH) - escorting a guest on to his/her way

^ Eishel -  Abraham and Sarah's students came to them to continue to learn about the One G-d, Creator of Heaven and Earth.  Abraham and Sarah provided food and board for them – perhaps in tent-style dormitories.  Passing travelers also took advantage of Abraham and Sarah's hospitality.  Abraham and Sarah ran an inn – an eishel.  Some guests stayed to learn what Abraham and Sarah were teaching.  Some students and guests became disciples spreading the lessons about the One G-d.  Some who heard these lessons traveled themselves to learn directly from Abraham and Sarah.
It would not be surprising if Abimelech underwrote some of these efforts since the Well of Seven Oaths – Be'er Sheva (Beersheba) – was in his domain.

^ ◦ These three verses from Scripture - "will give" hints at my name;  "ask" hints at the name of our second son, Shimon Aryeh Leib;  "planted" hints at the second name of my great-grandfather Nathan Nateh Segal (after whom I am named);  "[Abraham] gave" again hints at my name;  "everything of his to [his son]" hints at the reader of this page, besides my children and their children.
  • Olam (location) - Europe;  Chicago, U.S.A.;  Kansas, U.S.A.
  • Shanah (arrow of time / history) - my great-grandparents' emigration from Botoşani, Romania (to Paris and then to Chicago);  my schooling in Chicagoland, downstate Illinois, the Land of Israel, and Brooklyn;  livelihood and family life in Chicago;  relocating to Kansas.
  • Nefesh (consciousness) - six generations in memory and recollection.

"will give" hints at my name - In Hebrew, 'Nathaniel' means 'G-d gave' or 'given by G-d'.
 Shimon Aryeh Leib - In Hebrew, the first letter of each of these three names together means 'ask'.
"planted" hints at the second name of my great-grandfather - Although 'Nateh' is a Yiddish name, it is spelled in Hebrew the same as the word 'planted'.  His first name also means 'gave'.
Potential - ancestors
Actualizing - birth, education, and family life
Outcomes - spreading the knowledge of the Seven Noahide Commandments and the knowledge of Torah study (among other results).

^ Mishnah -  

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