18 June 2017

A Kabbalistic Model of the Oceans and Continents Part 1

Torah and Science Series: The Continents and the Oceans in Kabbalah: Apr 23, 2011
Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh explains the spiritual essence of the basic features of the earth, continents and oceans in light of Kabbalah

Even a beginning student of Kabbalah is immediately struck by the division of the Earth’s surface into 3 and 7 oceans and continents, respectively. The reason for this is that it immediately suggests a direct correspondence with the 10 sefirot, the 10 Divine emanations which constitute the most basic Kabbalistic model. Additionally, the ten sefirot themselves are grouped in many different ways, depending on the particular context, but without any doubt, the most ubiquitous and common grouping divides them into 3 and 7.


Earth Sciences: 3 Oceans and 7 continents

The oceans of the Earth cover about 70% of its surface with land making up the rest. Unlike the land masses the oceans are all connected forming one continuous body of water that surrounds all of the continents. The continents, on the other hand do not form one large land mass but are separated from one another either by natural bodies of water, or, in recent decades by man-made waterways such as the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal.

Until quite recently, the great continuous expanse of water that surrounds the land was considered to divide into 3 oceans:

1 The Pacific Ocean, which is the biggest and covers almost 50% of the water surface of the Earth,
2 The Atlantic Ocean, and
3 The Indian Ocean.

For reasons that are not entirely based on science, some maps now add the Arctic and Southern Oceans. However, traditionally, the waters that make up the Arctic Ocean were considered part of the Atlantic and the waters that make up the Southern Ocean were considered part of the Indian Ocean. In this lecture, we will be following the more traditional division of the Earth’s waters into three great oceans.

The Earth’s land masses are divided into 7 continents. Three of these are grouped together: Europe, Asia, and Africa. North and South America are two more continents that are tied to one another, while Australia and Antarctica are not connected to any of the other continents.

Even a beginning student of Kabbalah is immediately struck by the division of the Earth’s surface into 3 and 7 oceans and continents, respectively, that we have just seen. The reason for this is that it immediately suggests a direct correspondence with the 10 sefirot, the 10 Divine emanations which constitute the most basic Kabbalistic model.

Additionally, the ten sefirot themselves are grouped in many different ways, depending on the particular context, but without any doubt, the most ubiquitous and common grouping divides them into 3 and 7. At this point, let us introduce the most common chart used to depict the sefirot, noting their division into 3 and 7:




Continue to Part 2

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