Gardening for the Tree of Life — Simple Steps, Binah

Binah — Defined intellect


When someone suffers from an inability to transform his concepts into reality, he needs to improve his Binah, the defined intellect, the comprehension which is the second Sefirah. Binah absorbs the raw, abstract concept from Chochmah. Binah then defines, analyses and structures the idea, turning it into something that can be implemented in the real world.

Chassidic literature compares Chochmah as the father who provides the seminal seed of birth. Binah is the mother who takes that raw concept and forms it into something meaningful. Wihout the Binah, an idea remains abstract, lacking of definition, featureless. The binah-deficient individual has only a limited grasp of his own concept because the lack of detail and definition leave it as a fuzzy image in his mind, amorphous.

Obstacles to Binah

Loss of cluster

The unwillingness of the thinker to make to make the transition from Chochmah to Binah can be compared to the person who is reluctant to leave a hot bath. There is luxury in the comfort of Chochmah, where an idea can exist in its raw form, without the limitations and constrictions of Binah. The first barrier is the hesitancy to let go of the brilliance of the idea as it exists in its pristine state. He has to be ready to experience the loss of light and luster that necessitats the descent into Binah.

Fear of challenge

At this moment the concept has the unlimited potential to express itself in any number of scenarios or systems. There is the fear that any transformation of his concept into reality may invalidate it entirely. He is actually intimidated and threatened by Binah as it represents a down to earth approach.

Binah in the Torah

Yisro, the father-in-law of Moshe Rabbeinu realised that his son-in-law spends all of his time administering to the spiritual needs of the Jewish nation in the dessert. So at that point he makes a suggestions, “You cannot do it alone, appoint leaders who will judge the people” Moshe, in the book of Devarim recounts the episode “How will I carry, on my own, your difficulties and burdens? Bring me men who have both Chochmah and Binah, and I will appoint them as your leaders.

It’s all about executing G-dly Law from its lofty source and relating to the world making it accessible to the masses. It teaches us that the judges need to possess both the quality of Chochmah and Binah in order to be effective judges and interpreters of the Law. Transmitting the Torah on an earthly pane requires not only a conceptual sense of its principals, but also a clear and comprehensive grasp of its details.

A deeper understanding of Binah

Rashi defines Binah as the ability to “understand one subject from within another subject”. Whereas Chochmah is the original subject and concept, Binah has the ability to extract new meaning and purpose from within that concept. Chochmah provides the core concept. Binah’s interpretive power is so great that it can discover completely new ideas from within the original concept of Chochmah.

Stages of Treatment

  1. Acceptance of the Binah process
  2. Creatng a Chochmah-Binah relationship
  3. The interview
  4. Converting a goal into a plan
1. Accepting the Binah process

The Binah deficient individual needs to be persuades that Binah will validate his concept and reveal it powerfully to the world. Either way the conceptual thinker craves validation. The main concern is as the thinker explains and realises his thought, it can fail to translate fully or accurately. Whatever happens when an idea remains conceptual only, it is not fully satisfying. There is always the awareness that the power of an abstract concept is that it can be transformed into practical effects.

2. Creating A Chochmah-Binah Relationship

More than any of the other Sefirot, Chochmah and Binah must operate in harmony in order to be successful. In Kabbalah, Chochmah and Binah are described as “two intimate friends who cannot separate” It is critical that Chochmah shares any idea with Binah in order to give out meaning and context. This requires a dialogue between the two intellectual partners, the conceptual and the analytical parts of the brain. This can be easily facilitated into a form of an interview in which Chochmah expresses the raw idea and Binah constructs it into a more details and structures story.

3. The interview
  1. Dissection

The interview will begin with a series of questions directed toward Chochmah. These questions are designed to draw out the concept and all of its details.

  • What is your concept about?
  • What do you hope to achieve with this concept?
  • How are you going to achieve this?
  • How much time will it take to achieve this goal?

The object of this process is to break down the broad concept into its parts. Chochmah is like a photograph, a picture and Binah is the story behind it. As a part of this question and answer process, new details will surface as elements of the idea emerge with greater clarity.

The key first step of the interview is to reach clarity on the idea and all of its elements details and possibilities. Initially, most of the input is coming from Chohmah, which expresses its concept wth as mush as detail and expansiveness as possible.

Construction and storytelling

Next step is to take the various details of the concept and construct them into a form and structure. Otherwise it will merely present a list of facts with no sense of meaning or context. The title of theme of the story gives it specific direction. It is the interpretive power of Binah that shapes the concept and defines the goal. The critical element of construction it to take the concept and turn it into a more specific goal.

4. Converting a goal into a plan

Once an idea has been converted into a goal, the next step is to create a plan, a step-by-step process that will lead to successful realisation of the goal. At the conclusion of this stage of Binah there will be a sense of clarity. There is now a plan, a map which defines the specific goals of the concept, and the game plan for making it happen. The concept has now been converted into a tangible project that is doable in the real world.

(this is a part of a series of posts summarising on my learning on “ The Sefiros and the Self” by Rabbi Yaakov Feder)