Word and Image in Medieval Kabbalah: The Texts, Commentaries, and Diagrams of The Sefer Yetsirah

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(PDF) Notes on Editions of Sefer Yetzirah in English | Don Karr - gegocylufo.tk

Gamaliel had a picture of lunar diagrams in his upper chamber in the form of a chart hanging on the wall, which he used to show to the unlearned and ask then, Did you see [the moon] thus or thus? According to Scholem, the earliest Hekhalot text dates to about the second century.

However, the dating of these texts is hotly disputed. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, It is important to note here that this formulation does not apply to texts that are commonly classified as magical. These spells, incantations, amulets, and even magical bowls depend on their illustrations in combination with text for their power. As this study will show, however, the division between magic and mysticism is at times porous at best. Titles were appended by later copyists and thus speak for their understanding of the nature of the works.

Kabbalah: Sefer Yetzirah - clase 1 Introducción

There are a number of divergent opinions on the authorship of the Zohar, but the majority of scholars believe that it was created by Moshe de Leon s circle. Illuminated Hebrew Bibles such as the tenth-century Leningrad Codex existed much earlier than this, and they would seem to disprove this theory. But there is a major difference between illustrations and diagrams: the first are aesthetic objects, while the second are technology for conveying information. See Moshe Idel, Maimonides Guide of the Perplexed and the Kabbalah, Jewish History 18 : The seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Lurianic illustrations are an important exception to this.

See also Filip Vukosavovic, ed. Angels and Demons: Jewish Magic through the Ages Jerusalem: Bible Lands Museum, , At the same time, others believed that the true path to uncovering the original text lay in excision, and they saw their work as corrective. For example, one commentator, Dunash ibn Tamim 10th c. Kairouan observes, But we have already established that there could be in this book other passages that Abraham the patriarch [never said] coming from the comments in Hebrew, to which ignorant people have added to the end, and the verity was lost meanwhile.

George Vajda s French translation reads: Mais nous avons deja qu il pouvait y avoir dans ce livre es. Nouvelle edition revue et augmentee par Paul Fenton, , , Hebrew text, , and M. See also Kaplan, who quotes Rabbi Yaakov ben Nissim, who also wrote in the tenth century: People write Hebrew comments on the book, and other foolish people come later and comment on the commentary.

Between them, the truth is lost. Nicholas de Lange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Cosgrove defines maps as follows: Maps are graphic representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes or events in the human world. Scholem sees kabbalah beginning with the hypostasization of the sefirot, so that they act not only as part of God but in relation to God, to humans, and to one another. Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, Charles W. Morris defined semiotics as grouping the triad of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

Pardes Rimonim, Gate 1: Chapter 1. Fabrizio Lanza, trans. Colombo, Italy: Providence University, These are sometimes described as cosmic numbers, but it is possible to translate this term in any number of different ways, most commonly as books. It is especially worth noting that the sefirot presented in the SY did not signify the same way as those appearing six to eight centuries later in the Zohar.

Their cosmological function changed significantly over time. Peter Hayman, ed. Hayman, ed. The version of the SY fols. So too does Bibliotheque Nationale Hebreu entres This manuscript contains a letter chart and no other diagrams, and the same applies to Biblioteca Casanatense Roma Ms Versions K and A only, but this appears in all the later versions, including the GRA. Clearly, it was added in the Middle Ages as a summary. This has the effect of mediating the power of the mother letters. Both Saadya s and Shabbetai s commentaries do this.

This model is associated with the heavenly realm, as the text adds that the Holy Temple [is] set in the middle. These lines appear in all versions. All versions. Interestingly Hayman translates this as hook, but in the diagrams the figure is depicted as a snake. This appears only in the GRA version. Jewish History 6, no. Some place him as early as the fifth century, while others say he lived as late as the ninth. Allony [Magnes Press: Jerusalem, ], 23, He mentions ben Kallir again as an ancient poet in his commentary to the SY written in entitled Kitab al-mabadd Kafab, ed.

Most accept a seventh century date, while those advocating a sixth-century date include Joseph Dan and J. Joseph Dan argues that the clue provided by Kallir s poem is the most significant. He doubts the utility of the Talmudic passage describing Rava s creation of the man because it uses the title Hilkot Yetsira rather than the Sefer Yetsira, arguing that the possibility that the Talmud refers to it in Sanhedrin 65b is remote.

He asks, How can it be that neither the treatise itself, which received a prominent Talmudic sanction, and was approved by the rabbis there, nor the process of creation described in that passage, are not mentioned in subsequent Talmudic and midrashic literature? Instead, he argues that though Kallir s dates are uncertain, his reference may indicate that the book was known to some people as early as the sixth century, Unique Cherub Circle, 39nn It is worth noting that the late-antique yotzer drew freely on different cosmogonies, often combining them in the same poem or cycle of poems.

Often they were grouped by theme, so that one poem might contain several different narratives on the creation of a particular element, such as water.


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Hayman comments on the textual witness of a Saadyan recension of the SY found in the Geniza copy of Saadya s Commentary. Hayman discusses Weinstock s opinions in Sefer Yesira, Why this insistence on Saadya s part to show that both the SY and his commentary are philosophical works? The answer may be sought in the area of polemics, namely, that this insistence is a response to some challenge, in the form of some other commentary or commentaries. Ruth Link-Sallinger, ed.

Link-Salinger, A Straight Path, George Vajda s French reads: mais nous avons deja qu il pouvait y avoir dans ce livre es passages alteres que le patriarche Abraham [n a jamais enonces] provenant des commentaires en hebreu, auxquels des gens ignorants ont ajoute posterieurement un autre commentaire et la verite se perdait entretemps.

Nouvelle edition revue et. Kaplan argues that the early commentaries attributed the SY to Abraham. Commentary on the Sefer Yetsirah, tr. Kaplan argues that, This opinion is supported by almost all the early commentators, and he includes a lengthy footnote citing those who hold this view Kaplan, Sefer Yetzirah, n Idel, Golem, , In Adolphe Franck s edition, Saadia Gaon begins his Arabic preface with the following words: This book is called: Book of the Beginnings; it is attributed to our father Abraham peace be with him.

Salomon Munk, Notice sur R. Saadia Gaon, Paris, , 20 Mordell also argues that Ben Uziel was himself the author of the Sefer Yetsirah. This is based on a misunderstanding by the thirteenth-century Italian scribe and kabbalist, Menachem Recanati.


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Also included is a lost work by Isaac Israeli. Fragments of this work appear in ibn Ezra s commentary. See R. Berakhot 55a. Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Rabbi Dr.

8 Judaica Mystiek en Spiritualiteit

I Epstein, trans. Sanhedrin 65b. On page xiv, Idel writes that the performative nature of the vast majority of the forms of Judaism facilitated the acceptance of magic as another form of performance, as an interpretation of the efficacy of rabbinic rituals. In it he defines as intrinsic magic those forms of effective action that are recognized by institutions, and as alien magic those that are not.

According to Shabbetai, the SY likens the sefirot to a flash of lightning. The association is not prohibited by the text, but neither is it explicit. Shabbetai likens this flash of lightning to the ones described in the Wisdom of Solomon. Mancuso writes that, The interest of Donnolo in this apocryphal text might have arisen from a verse wherein the knowledge and understanding of natural processes are said to be part of the divine wisdom that man was given by God.

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Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation: In Theory and Practice

See Gershom Scholem s and Moshe Idel s distinction between ecstatic, theosophic, and magical streams of the kabbalah. Idel, Studies in Ecstatic Kabbalah, 4, still uses these distinctions, but because theosophical and practical texts share similar worldviews, it seems necessary to reconsider these categories. This chapter is an adaptation of the article of the same name appearing the Journal of the American Academy of Religion 79, no. This shows the instability of the manuscript tradition.

But in this case I do not think it is a correct one, since the instructions for the reader, to know, ponder and form, progress from the abstract to the concrete. Penner, Language, Ritual and Meaning, Numen 32, no. Morris defined semiotics as the triad of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics Chicago: University of Chicago Press, , For example, Ruth Kempson writes in her book, Semantic Theory, our semantic theory must be able to assign to each word and sentence the meaning or meanings associated with it in that language.

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Carruthers speaks of memoria as a locational memory that cultivates the making of mental images for the mind to work with, as a fundamental procedure of human thinking because crafting memories also involved crafting the images in which those memories were carried and conducted, the artifice of memory was also, necessarily, an art of making various sorts of pictures; pictures in the mind, to be sure, but with close, symbiotic relationships to actual images and actual words that someone had read or heard or smelled or tasted or touched, for all the senses, as we will observe, were cultivated in the monastic craft of remembering Craft of Thought, Carruthers s work can be used here to point out that the sort of visual thought demanded of the reader or the audience of the ring composition was a creative mnemonics it was a way of visually recalling and recollecting fact and experience to innovate a new structure of thought and to act.

That is how invention was taught in school and practiced in life. The imagination makes images, but memory both puts them away and hauls them out again, not as random objects but as parts of a construction, a network, a web, a texture of associations. Elsewhere she writes that, Memory is a machine for performing the tasks of invention. Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors Chicago: University of Chicago Press, , Benedek Lang, Outdated Cipher-Systems in Magic Texts, an unpublished conference paper delivered at the 45th International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, MI, on May 16, The field of syntactics is often focused on word order within sentences, but here we are focused on the instructions conveyed by genre, which includes in its definition the structure of the work as a whole.

Many of the sentences of the SY are chiastic in structure, and so they do emulate the generic structure of the whole, but this project awaits development. Genre can also shed light on text-historical questions, since in some versions the form is better articulated than in others, which shows different stages of textual development. For a good survey of the uses of this approach, see The Literary Guide to the Bible, ed. In this book he argues that the editor s of Genesis used chiastic and parallel structures to organize their material.

Throughout the analysis, Rendsburg defines symmetrical units through shared vocabulary and theme. He notes that catchwords often effect a smooth transition between consecutive units. This is also true of the SY. Most argues that, Much of the trouble is that scholars of poetry have manufactured problems through their traditional habits and concerns and limitations, it may be added.

Difficulties and methodology go hand in hand, and methodology has been generally the same since the time of the scholiasts: texts are fragmented for inspection into units of a phrase or a word rather than seen as wholes, single definitive explanations are sought for each unit, and particular elements of a fragmented text are seen to hold the key to understanding of the entirety. Thus Most argues that we have focused on the semantic mode of generating meaning to the exclusion of the syntactic.

Numbers problem is the same: a poet highly esteemed in his time is found to be quite impenetrable in modern times. Allen writes: A reader must encounter sufficient examples of a genre in order to recognize the shared features that characterize it They did not draw attention to the difficulty of the text. Moshe Cordovero, Pardes Rimmonim. Assemani 8 , fols. Most recently Ronit Meroz has characterized the introduction as an editor s preface of sorts. She writes: It is my view that Sefer Yezirah presents several different answers to the question of the meaning of these claims [about the nature of the sefirot]: alternative solutions whose conceptual worlds are close to one another, yet nevertheless differ in several significant aspects.

The opening of the book may therefore be read as presenting a shared, common claim or, alternatively, as posing the question presented for discussion. By the nature of things, such a presentation is done by one who knows and is familiar with the possible solutions namely, the editor of the text. Sefer Yesira, Hayman notes that neither SY41 nor SY52 occurs in the short version, and that these two verses are structurally similar.

Just the same, SY42 and 43a do appear in the short-version manuscripts, and they supply concrete information about material elements created with the letters. SY42 reads: [A]nd with them were carved out seven firmaments, seven earths Although the Long and Saadyan Versions present a fully articulated catalogue, the short-version manuscripts also provide information about created elements.

This passage in particular also incorporates the hekhalot imagery, the imagery of the divine palace, appearing elsewhere in the text. Where previously the reader was instructed to restore God to his place, here that place is described. Therefore, practically speaking, this is part of the book from the beginning of its recorded history, and it should be treated as such.

The manuscripts do not specify a first name. Daniel Abrams identifies this writer as Yaakov ben Yaakov hakohen. See Abrams, R. Moshe Idel says that a passage on the dangers of golem creation precedes it from 92b 93a, and that a golem recipe follows on 94b 95a. Cosgrove argues that, The measure of mapping is not restricted to the mathematical; it may equally be spiritual, political, or moral.

By the same token, the mapping s record is not confined to the archival; it includes the remembered, the imagined, the contemplated. The world figured by mapping may this be actual or desired, whole or part, in various ways experienced, remembered, or projected. Cosgrove, Mappings, Cosgrove, Mappings, 2. Steven T. They are richly significant as instruments of creation and aspects of the divine, and they have their own grammar, but linguistically they are not significant. It is not possible to spell words with them, and so they lack the most general sort of meaning.

He claimed that while its terms were introduced in the SY, the cosmology articulated in the Bahir is distinct from earlier ones because it features sefirot that figure as hypostasized elements of the divine capable of interacting with one another. Conspicuous in their elaboration of the nature of the sefirot are certain passages in the Sefer habahir although the term itself is rarely mentioned and the Commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah of R.

Kabbalah and mysticism

Isaac the Blind. Although the names of the sefirot are similar, these two seem to originate from different theosophical traditions. Sefer HaBahir presents a mythically oriented picture of the sefirotic pleroma whereas R. Isaac the Blind gives a much more complex theory of the emergence of the sefirot from the depths of divinity, betraying a deep speculative tendency probably influenced by Neoplatonic thought.

Moshe Idel. PhD diss. They are discussed from pp , but especially on The others did not disappear, but the ilan became the favored mode of representation. JTS and JTS have beautiful letter diagrams, particularly of the Aleph, with the sefirot mapped onto the letter.


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  • Mem Het. There is a large body of literature on the sefirot and their significance, and so it is not necessary to fully describe them here. See especially Isaiah Tishby, Wisdom of the Zohar. This modern ilan is usually based on one appearing in the print edition of Moshe Cordovero s Pardes Rimonim, published in Cracow in These occur in Lurianic and later manuscripts. Italy, Seventeenth century. Yemen, 17 th Century. Through ethnographical cases, this book examines the ways in which social groups position themselves between Alternative spaces designate in-between spaces rather than oppositional structures and are both inside and View Product.

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