Kabbalah originally developed within the realm of Jewish thought and often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its teachings. These teachings are held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature and their formerly concealed a transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.

Traditional practitioners believe its earliest origins pre-date world religions, forming the blueprint for many philosophies, religions, sciences, arts, and political systems.

Altogether, eleven sefirot are named. However Keter and Daat are unconscious and conscious dimensions of one principle, making 10 forces. The names of the sefirot are:

Keter (supernal crown, representing above-conscious will)
Chochmah (the highest potential of thought)
Binah (the understanding of the potential)
Daat (intellect of knowledge)
Chesed (sometimes referred to as Gedolah-greatness) (loving-kindness)
Gevurah (sometimes referred to as Din-justice or Pachad-fear) (severity/strength)
Rachamim also known as Tiphereth (mercy)
Netzach (victory/eternity)
Hod (glory/splendour)
Yesod (foundation)
Malkuth (kingdom)

Divine creation by means of the Ten Sefirot is an ethical process. They all represent the different aspects of Morality. Loving-Kindness is a possible moral justification found in Chessed, and Gevurah is the Moral Justification of Justice and both are mediated by Mercy. However, these pillars of morality become immoral once they become extremes. When Loving-Kindness become extreme it can lead to sexual depravity and lack of Justice to the wicked.

“Righteous” humans ascend these ethical qualities of the ten sefirot by doing righteous actions. If there were no righteous humans, the blessings of God would become completely hidden, and creation would cease to exist. While real human actions are the “Foundation” of this universe, these actions must accompany the conscious intention of compassion. Compassionate actions are often impossible without faith. This “selfish” enjoyment of God’s blessings but only in order to empower oneself to assist others is an important aspect of “Restriction”, and is considered a golden mean in kabbalah, corresponding to the sefirah of Adornment being part of the “Middle Column”.

The Kabbalah posits that the human soul consists of three elements. The nefesh is found in all humans, and enters the physical body at birth. It is the source of one’s physical and psychological nature. The next two parts of the soul are not implanted at birth, but can be developed over time; their development depends on the actions and beliefs of the individual. They are said to only fully exist in people who are spiritually awakened. A common way of explaining the three parts of the soul is:

Nefesh: the lower part, or “animal part”, of the soul. It is linked to instincts and bodily cravings. This part of the soul is provided at birth.
Ruach: the middle soul, the “spirit”. It contains the moral virtues and the ability to distinguish between good and evil.
Neshamah: the higher soul, or “super-soul”. This separates man from all other life-forms. It is related to the intellect and allows man to enjoy and benefit from the afterlife. It allows one to have some awareness of the existence and presence of God.

The Raaya Meheimna, a section of related teachings spread throughout the Zohar, discusses fourth and fifth parts of the human soul. Gershom Scholem says that these “were considered to represent the sublimest levels of intuitive cognition, and to be within the grasp of only a few chosen individuals”. The Chayyah and the Yechidah do not enter into the body like the other three and thus they received less attention in other sections of the Zohar.

Chayyah: The part of the soul that allows one to have an awareness of the divine life force itself.
Yehidah: The highest plane of the soul, in which one can achieve as full a union with God as is possible.