Binah, is a Hebrew word which means “understanding”, and is the second intellectual sephira on the kabbalistic Tree of Life.
It sits on the level below Keter (in the formulations that include that sephirah), across from Chokmah and directly above Gevurah. It is usually given four paths: to Keter, Chockmah, Gevurah, and Tiphereth (some Kabbalists place a path from Binah to Chesed as well.) In an anthropomorphic visualization (in which the sephira are reversed, as if one is standing inside the tree, looking out) it may be related to the “left eye”, “left hemisphere of the brain” or the “heart.”
Binah is associated with the color black, and the feminine qualities of intuition.
According to Wikipedia:
Binah is ‘intuitive understanding’, or ‘contemplation’. It is likened to a ‘palace of mirrors’ that reflects the pure point of light of Chokhmah, wisdom, increasing and multiplying it in an infinite variety of ways. In this sense, it is the ‘quarry’, which is carved out by the light of wisdom. It is the womb, which gives shape to the Spirit of God.
On a psychological level, Binah is “processed wisdom,” also known as deductive reasoning. It is davar mitoch davar—understanding one idea from another idea. While Chockmah is intellect that does not emanate from the rational process (it is either inspired or taught), Binah is the rational process that is innate in the person which works to develop an idea fully.
Binah is associated with the feminine. The Bahir states: “For you shall call Understanding a Mother.” Classical Jewish texts state Binah yeterah natun l’nashim (“an extra measure of Binah was given to women”).
In its fully articulated form, Binah possesses two partzufim. The higher of these is referred to as Imma Ila’ah (“the higher mother”), whereas the lower is referred to astevunah (“comprehension”). These two partzufim are referred to jointly as Imma (“the mother”).
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"This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think."- Soren Kierkegaard
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