Answer: Sometimes, when we refer to Sefirot, we count ten of them, at other times, when we refer to the phases of the Light’s expansion from Above downward, we say that there are five of them, and when we speak about Zeir Anpin, we count six Sefirot. In truth, there are nothing but five phases. If we are adding something else, it is because we wish to emphasize that in Zeir Anpin there aren’t more than six Sefirot and, in that case, instead of the five, general Sefirot, we count 10.
Sometimes, we wish to underscore that these 10 Sefirot are aligned with the three lines. In that case, we say that each property, phase, or Sefira also has its own individual relationship with the other Sefirot according to the left, right, and middle lines. Then, instead of 10 Sefirot, we speak of 12: The 4-letter name of the Creator HaVaYaH (Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut) is multiplied by the three lines in each of them, totaling 12. This is merely a method to emphasize a specific characteristic.
Sometimes, we speak of 13, at other times of seven (Zeir Anpin and Malchut), at other times of eight Sefirot (Zeir Anpin with its Malchut and a separate Malchut) and so forth. One should never think that by doing so we may cut off some Sefirot, some part of the Partzuf. We use various calculations solely to express the current state being undergone by our souls: the right line, the left line, the three lines, the small state (Katnut), or the big state (Gadlut).
For instance, we say that in the small state there is only Galgalta ve Eynaim (GE) and no AHP (Awzen, Hotem, Peh), but it is simply not being used since there is no force of the screen over it. All of the titles or names indicate to us only the force by way of which a 10-Sefirot desire is being engaged.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 10/4/10, The Zohar
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