The Kabbalah

Masonic, Occult and Esoteric Online Library

Home / Publication Library / The Kabbalah / The Doctrine Contained in the Kabbalistic Books. Analysis of the Sefer Yetzirah

The Kabbalah

By Adolphe Franck

The Doctrine Contained in the Kabbalistic Books. Analysis of the Sefer Yetzirah

Despite the credulity of some and the skepticism of others, the two books which we have recognized as the true monuments of the Kabbalah will alone furnish us the necessary material for the exposition of this doctrine. Only on rare occasions, when compelled by absolute necessity of the obscurity of the text, shall we have the commentaries intervene. Yet, the innumerable fragments of which these books are composed, and which have been borrowed without selection and without insight from different epochs, are far from offering us a perfectly uniform character. Some develop only the mythological system, the most essential elements of which are to be found already in the Book of Job and in the Visions of Isaiah.

With a wealth of detail they acquaint us with the functions of angels as well as of demons, and refer to ideas which have been popular for too long a time to be associated with a science that was considered a terrible and inviolable secret at its very inception. Other fragments, undoubtedly the latest, show such servile proclivity and such narrow-minded pharisaism as to resemble the talmudic traditions which, 1 because of pride and ignorance, were mixed with the views of a fantods sect whose very name inspired idolatrous respect. Those fragments, finally, which make up the greatest number, teach us, as a whole, the true belief of the ancient Kabbalists. They make up the source which supplied all men who were more or less interested in the philosophy of their time, and who wished in modern times to pass as the disciples and propagators of the ancient Kabbalists. We must emphasize, though, that this distinction applies to the Zohar only. As to the Book of the Formation which we shall analyze first, although not very extensive, and although it does not always lift our mind to very high regions, offers us, nevertheless, a very homogenous composition of rare originality. The encircling clouds of the commentators' imagination will disperse of themselves, if, instead of searching therein, as they did, for the mysteries of an ineffable science, we see there an effort of awakening reason to perceive the plan of the universe and the bonds which connect to one common principle all the elements presented to us collectively.

Neither the Bible, nor any other religious monument has ever explained the world, and the phenomena of which it is the stage, except by leaning on the idea of God, and by setting itself up as the interpreter of the supreme will and thought. Thus we see in the book of Genesis light springing from nothingness at the word of Jehovah. Having drawn the heavens and the earth from chaos, Jehovah makes Himself the judge of His work and finds it worthy of His wisdom; to give light to the earth, He fastens the sun, the moon, and the stars to the firmament. When He takes of the dust and breathes into it the breath of life to let afterwards escape from his hands the last and most beautiful of His creatures, He has already declared His purpose to form Man in His image.

In the work, of which we attempt to render account, an opposite line of procedure is followed; and this difference is very significant when it springs up for the first time in the intellectual history of a people; it is by the spectacle of the world that one is raised to the idea of God; it is by the unity which reigns in the works of creation that the unity as well as the wisdom of the Creator is demonstrated. It is for this reason, as we have said before, that the entire book is, so to speak, but a monologue spoken by the mouth of the patriarch Abraham. It is supposed that the contemplations contained in the book are the same which led the father of the Hebrews from the worship of the stars to the worship of the eternal God. The character just noted is so evident, that it was commented on and very correctly defined by a writer of the twelfth century. "The Sefer Yetzirah," said Judah Halevi, 2 "teaches the unity and omnipotence of God by means of various examples, which are multiform on one side and uniform on the other. They are in harmony with regard to the One, their Director. . . ." 3

So far everything is within bounds of reason; but instead of looking in the universe for the laws that govern it in order to read in these very laws the divine thought and wisdom, an endeavor is made to establish a gross analogy between the things and these signs of the thought, or the means by which the wisdom is making itself heard and maintained among men. Before we go any further, let us note that mysticism, at whatever time and under whatever form it manifests itself, attaches immeasurable importance to everything that represents outwardly acts of intelligence, and it is not so long since that a well-known French writer wanted to prove that the art of writing was not a human invention, but was a present given to humanity by revelation 4

The question here is of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and of the first ten numbers which, while preserving their proper value, serve also to express the value of all the others. Brought together under a, common point of view, these two kinds of signs are called the thirty-two marvelous paths of Wisdom, "with which" says the text--"the Eternal, the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, the Living God, the King of the. Universe, the God full of Mercy and Grace, the God Sublime, Who dwells in Eternity, Whose name is high and holy, founded His Name." (First chap., 1st Mishnah.)

To these thirty-two paths of Wisdom, which are not to be confounded with the subtle distinctions of an entirely different order admitted in their place by the modern Kabbalists, 5 we must add three other forms designated by three terms of very doubtful meaning, but which do resemble closely, by their grammatical genealogy, at least, the Greek terms which designate the subject, the object, and the very act of thought. 6 We believe it has been shown previously that these detached words are foreign to the text; nevertheless, we must note the fact that they have been understood quite differently, in a way repugnant neither to the general character of the book, nor to laws of etymology, by the Spanish writer 7 mentioned above.

He expresses himself on this subject as follows: "The first of these three terms (S’far), 8 is used to designate the numbers, which alone gives us a means of appreciating the disposition and the proportions necessary for each body in order to attain the purpose for which it was created; for the measure of length, of capacity, and of weight, 9 as well as of motion and of harmony, are all regulated by numbers. The second term (Sippur) signifies the word and the voice; for it is the Divine Word, the voice of the Living God, that produced the beings in all their different forms, whether internal or external. It was to that second term that allusion was made in the words: 'And God said let there be light, and there was light.' The third term (Sefer) signifies the writing. The writing of God is the work of the Creation; the Word of God is His writing; the thought of God is His word. Thus, the thought, the word, and the writing 10 are one and the same in God, while in man they are three." 11 This interpretation has the merit that, while ennobling, it also characterizes well this strange system that confounds the idea with the generally known symbols in order to make the idea somewhat visible in the total as well as in the different parts of the universe,

Under the name of Sefiroth, which play such a prominent part elsewhere but which appear here for the first time in the language of the Kabbalah, the ten numbers, or the abstract enumerations are first taken notice of. 12 They are represented as the most general and therefore as the most essential form of all that is, and if I may use the expression, as the categories of the universe. Thus, according to the ideas interpreted by us, we must always meet with the number ten when searching from any viewpoint for the first elements or the invariable principles of the world. "There are ten Sefiroth; ten, and not nine; ten, and not eleven: try to understand them in your wisdom and in your intelligence; exercise constantly on them your researches, your speculations, your knowledge, your thought and imagination, place all things upon their principle, and re-establish the Creator on his base." 13 In other words, the divine action as well as the existence of the world equally shape themselves to the eyes of the intelligence under this abstract form of ten numbers; each one of which represents some infinity, whether that of space, of time, or of some other attribute.

This, at least, is the meaning which we attach to the following proposition: "To the ten Sefiroth there is no end, either in the future or in the past, either in good or in evil, either in height or in depth, either in the East or in the West, either in the South or in the North." 14 It must be noted that the different aspects under which the infinite is considered here, are few--no more, no less; this passage, therefore, teaches us not only the general character of all the Sefiroth, but we see herein to what elements and principles they correspond. And as these different viewpoints, although opposite--two to two, nevertheless belong to one idea, to one infinite, it is added: 15 "The ten Sefiroth are like the ten fingers, 16 five against five, but amidst them is the link of unity." (ch. I, Prop. 3.) The last words give us the explanation as well as the proof of all the preceding.

Without exactly deviating from the relations presented by the external things, this conception of the Sefiroth bears, nevertheless, an eminently abstract and metaphysical character. Were we to subject it to a strict analysis, we would find therein, subordinated to the infinite and to absolute unity, the ideas of time, space, and of a certain unchangeable order without which there is neither good nor evil even in the sphere of the senses. But here is a somewhat different enumeration, which in appearance, at least, assigns a greater share to the material elements. We will confine ourselves to the translation:

"The first of the Sefiroth, One, is the spirit of the living God, blessed be His name, blessed be the name of the One who lives in Eternity! The Spirit, the Voice, and the Word, that is the Holy Ghost.

"Two is the breath proceeding from the spirit, 17 in it are graven and carved the twenty-two letters which form, nevertheless, but one single breath. 18

"Three is water, which proceeds from the breath or from the air. Into the water He dug darkness and void, mud and clay, and graved it like a (garden) bed, 19 carved it like a wall and covered it in the shape of a roof."

"Four is fire which comes from the water, and with which He made the throne of His glory, the celestial wheels (Ophanim), the Seraphim and the angelic servitors. With the three together He built His habitation, as it was written: "He made the winds His messengers, and His ministers a flaming fire." 20

The six following numbers represent the different extremities of the world, that is to say, the four cardinal points (East, West, North and South), as well as height and depth. Those extremities have for emblems the different combinations which may be formed with the first three letters of the word Jehovah, 21,  22

Thus, apart from the different points distinguishable in space, which in themselves hold nothing real, all the elements of which the world is composed evolved one from the other, becoming more and more material in measure as they receded from the Holy Spirit, their common origin. Is not this what is called the doctrine of emanation? Is not this the doctrine which denies the popular belief that the world was evolved from nothing? The following words may help perhaps to free us from uncertainty: "The end of the ten Sefiroth is tied to their beginning as the flame to the fire-brand, for the Lord is One and there is no second to Him; and what will you count before the One?" (Prop. 7.)

To impress upon us that we are dealing here with a great mystery which enjoins discretion even with ourselves, the following words are immediately added: "Close your mouth that you speak not, and your heart that you do not ponder; and if your heart be too hasty, bring it back to its place, for therefore it is said: hasten and return, 23 and it is upon this that a covenant was made." (Ch. I, prop. 8.) 24 I suppose that the last words were meant to allude to some oath used by the Kabbalists to conceal their principles from the masses. The singular comparison contained in the first of the two passages is frequently repeated in the Zohar; we shall find it there enlarged, developed and applied to the souls as well as to God. Let us add here, that at all times and in all spheres of existence, in the consciousness as well as in the external nature, the formation of things by way of emanation has been represented by the radiation of flames or of light.

Another theory, one that made a brilliant career in the world, and which presents itself here with a remarkable character, blends with this theory, provided, we do not make the distinction more apparent than real. It is the theory of the "Word," of the Word of God identified with His spirit and considered not only as the absolute form, but as the generating element, and as the very substance of the universe. In fact it is not the question here of substituting everywhere (for the sake of avoiding anthropomorphism) the divine thought and inspiration for God Himself whenever He intervenes as a human person in the biblical stories, as is done in the Chaldaic translation of Onkelos. The book now under consideration expressly states, in a concise, yet clear language, that the Holy Spirit, or the Divine Spirit, forms with the Voice and the Word one and the same thing; that it successively puts forth from its bosom all the elements of physical nature. Finally, it is not only what is called in the language of Aristotle "the material principle of things," but it is the Word become World. Moreover, we must bear in mind that this part of the Kabbalah deals with the world only, and not with man or humanity.

All these considerations, which cover the first ten numbers, hold a very distinct place in the Book of Formation. It is easily seen that they apply to the universe in general, and that they consider more the substance than the form. In the consideration now before us, the different parts of the universe are naturally compared, and the same effort is made to bring them under a common law, as was done before to resolve them into a common principle; and in the end more attention is paid to the form than to the substance. For their foundation they have the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. But we must not forget the extraordinary role attributed already in the first part of the work to these outward signs of thought. Considered entirely in relation to the sounds they represent, the twenty-two letters stand, so to speak, on the boundary line between the intellectual and the physical world; for if, on the other hand, they are resolved into one single material element, the breath or air, they are, on the other hand, indispensable signs to all languages, and consequently the only possible or unalterable form of the mind.

Neither the system as a whole, nor the literal meaning, permits us to give a different interpretation to the words quoted above. "The number two (or the second principle of the universe) is the air which comes from the spirit. It is the breath in which are graven and carved the twenty-two letters which, all united, form but one single breath." Thus, by an odd combination which does not lack a certain grandeur, and which is explainable and comprehensible at least, the simplest articulations of the human voice, the signs of the alphabet, hold here a role entirely similar to the one held by the ideas in Plato's philosophy. It is by their presence, by the impression which they leave in things, that we recognize a supreme intelligence in the universe in all its parts; and it is finally through them that the Holy Spirit reveals itself in nature. This is the meaning of the following proposition: "With the twenty-two letters, by giving them a form and a figure, and by mingling and combining them in different ways, God made the soul of all that is formed, and of all that shall be formed 25 And on these same letters the Holy One, blessed be He, founded His sublime and holy name," 26

Those letters are divided into different classes called the "three mothers," the "seven doubles," and the "twelve simples." 27 It is entirely useless for the aim we have in view to give the reason for those strange names. 28 Moreover, the function of the letters is wholly encroached by the division that we have noted, and by the numbers resulting from the division, or, to speak more clearly, an attempt is made to find, per fas et nefas (whether right or wrong), the numbers three, seven and twelve in the three regions of nature; 1, in the general composition of the world; 2, in the division of the year, or in the distribution of time of which the year is the principal unit; and 3, in the structure of man. Although not stated explicitly, we find here the idea of the macrocosm and of the microcosm, or the belief that man is only the image, and, so to speak, the summary of the universe.

In the general composition of the world the mothers, that is to say, the number three, represent the elements, which are: water, air and fire. Fire is the substance of the heavens; by condensation water becomes the substance of the earth; finally, between these two antagonistic principles is air, which separates and reconciles them by dominating them. (Ch. III, prop. 4, b.) The same sign recalls the principal seasons in the division of the year: summer, which responds to fire; winter, which in the East is generally marked by rains or by the predominance of water; and the temperate season which is formed by the union of spring and autumn. The same trinity, finally, is seen in the formation of the human body, in the head, the heart or breast, and the belly or stomach. These are, if I am not mistaken, the functions of the different organs which a modern physician has called: "the tripod of life." (Ch. III, prop. 7.)

The number three seems here, as in all other mystical combinations, to be such an indispensable form that it is taken also as the symbol of the moral man in whom is discernible, according to the original expression, "the scale of merit, the scale of culpability, and the tongue of the law decides between the two." 29

By the seven doubles are represented the contraries, or at least such things of this world which may serve two opposite ends. There are seven planets in the universe, whose influence is now good, now bad; there are seven days and seven nights in the week; there are seven gates in the human body; the eyes, the ears, the nostrils and the mouth; and, finally, the number seven is also the number of the happy or unhappy events which may effect a man. But this classification is too arbitrary to deserve a place in this analysis. (Ch. IV, prop. 1, 2, 3.)

The twelve simples, of which we yet have to speak, respond to the twelve signs of the zodiac, to the twelve months of the year, to the principal parts of the human body, and to the most important attributes of our nature. These last, which alone have some right to our interest, are sight, hearing, smell, speech, nutrition, generation, action or touch, locomotion, anger, laughter, thought and sleep. (Ch. V, prop. I, 2.) As will be seen here, it is the beginning of the spirit of investigation, and although we have often been surprised by its methods or by its results, yet, this in itself is proof of its originality.

Thus, the material form of intelligence, represented by the twenty-two letters of the alphabet, is also the form of all that is; for, beyond man, the universe and time, nothing but the infinite can be conceived. These three things are also called "the faithful witnesses of truth." (Ch. VI, prop. 2.) Despite the varieties observed therein, each one constitutes a system which has its centre and, in some way, its hierarchy; "for," says the text, "Unity prevails over the three, the three over the seven, and the seven over the twelve, but each part of the system is inseparable from all the other parts." 30 The celestial dragon is the centre of the universe, the heart is the centre of man; finally, the revolutions of the zodiac form the basis of the years. The first, it is said, is compared to a king upon his throne; the second to a king among his subjects; the third to a king in war. 31

We believe that this comparison was meant to indicate the perfect regularity reigning in the universe, and the contrasts which exist in man without destroying his unity. In fact, it is added that the twelve principal organs which form the body of man "are aligned one against another, as in order of battle. Three of them serve love, three produce hatred, three give life, and three summon death. 32 Thus evil confronts good, and from evil comes forth evil only." (Prop. 9.) But immediately the remark is made that one can not be understood without the other.

Finally, above these three systems, above man, above the universe, and above time; above letters as well as above the numbers of the Sefiroth, "is the Lord, the true king Who reigns over all things from the place of His holiness forever and ever." 33 Following these words, which form the true conclusion of the book, comes the dramatic final event, of which we have spoken before--the conversion of Abraham, the idol worshipper, to the religion of the true God.

The final word of this system is the substitution of absolute unity for every form of dualism; the dualism of Pagan philosophy which would find in matter an eternal substance whose laws are not always in accord with the Divine Will, as well as the dualism of the Bible, which by the idea of creation sees indeed (?) in the Divine Will, and consequently in the Infinite Being, the only cause, the only real origin of the world, but which, at the same time, regards these two things, the universe and God, as two substances, absolutely distinct and separate. In the Sefer Yetzirah, God is really considered as the Infinite Being and therefore indefinable; God, in the full extent of His power and of His existence, is above, but not outside (extra) of the letters and numbers, that is to say, not outside of the principles and of the laws which we distinguish in this world.

Each element has its source in a superior element, and all elements have their common origin in the Word, or in the Holy Spirit. It is in the Word also that we find the invariable signs of thought which repeat themselves in some way in all the spheres of existence, and through which all that is becomes an expression of the same design. And that Word itself, the first of the numbers, the most sublime of all the things we can count and define--what else is it but the most sublime and the most absolute of all the manifestations of God, that is, the supreme thought of intelligence? Thus, in the highest sense, God is both the matter and the form of the universe. And not only is He that matter and that form, but nothing exists, or can exist, outside (extra) of Him. His substance is at the bottom of every thing, and therefore all bear His imprint, and all are symbols of His supreme intelligence.

This bold deduction, apparently so audacious and strange to the underlying principles, is the basis of the doctrine set forth in the Zohar. But the way followed there is entirely different from the one outlined here before our eyes. Instead of rising gradually, by the comparison of the particular forms and the subordinate principles of this world, to the supreme principle, to the universal form, and, finally to the absolute unity, it is this result, the absolute unity, which is admitted first of all. It is supposed, it is invoked on all occasions as an uncontested axiom; it is unrolled, as it were, to its full extent, while at the same time, it is shown in a more brilliant and more mysterious light. True, the bond which might exist between all the deductions obtained in that way is broken by the external form of the work, but the synthetic character which permeates it is, nevertheless, pronounced and visible.

We may say, then, that the Book of Brightness begins just where the Book of Formation ends. The conclusion of one serves as the premises of the other. A second difference, deserving more worthy notice, separates these two monuments, and finds its explanation in a general law of the human mind. We shall see, namely, internal forms, invariable conceptions of thought, substituted for the letters and the numbers, in a word, ideas, in the widest and in the noblest meaning of the word. The divine word (λ?γος), instead of manifesting itself exclusively in nature, will appear to us above all in man and in intelligence; it will be called the "archetype" or "celestial" man: Adam Kadmon, ‏??? ????, ??? ?????‎. 34

In certain fragments whose high antiquity can not be contested, we see, without prejudice to Absolute Unity, thought itself taken for universal substance, and the regular development of that power set in place of the somewhat gross theory of emanation. Far be it from us to indulge the insensate thought of finding among the ancient Hebrews the philosophical doctrine which reigns almost exclusively in Germany today; but we do not fear to maintain, and we hope to demonstrate, that the principle of that doctrine and even the expressions appropriated exclusively by the school of Hegel, are found in the forgotten traditions we are now endeavoring to bring to light.

This transformation that we point out in the Kabbalah, this passing from symbol to ideas, is reproduced in all great philosophical and religious systems, and in all great conceptions of the human intellect. Do we not see so in rationalism the different forms of the language, in which Aristotle's logic was almost entirely composed, turn, in Kant's logic, to the constitutive and invariable forms of thought? In idealism, did not Pythagoras and the system of numbers precede the sublime theory of Plato? And in another sphere, were not all men represented as issuing from the same blood? Was not their fraternity found in the flesh before it was found in the identity of their duties and their rights, or in the unity of their nature and their task? This is not the place to dwell any longer upon a general fact; but we hope to have made clear at least the relations existing between the Sefer Yetzirah and the more extensive and more important work, 35 the substance of which we shall soon give.

123:1 This judgment on the Talmud by the author is, on the whole, unjust. The Talmud is a work compiled by many authors, and ought not to suffer the guilt of individual authors. Furthermore, the differing elements contained must be separated. Considered in the light of revelation, the Halakah is the necessary consequence of Mosaism; the p. 124 Haggadah, a wherever appearing in the mystic-allegoric-fantastic form, is generally an offspring of orientalism.--Jellinek.

123:a By Halakah is meant the entire legal part of Jewish tradition. Haggadah stands for the non-legal part of Jewish tradition and falls under the heading of folk-lore, history, illustrations, etc., mostly for a moralizing effect.--Transl.

125:2 Spanish philosopher and Hebrew poet. c. 1085-1140.--Trans!.

125:3 Cuzari, IV, 25. Instead of the Hebrew text which few would understand, we cite the excellent Spanish translation from Jacob Abendana. a "Ensena la deydad y la unidad por cosas que son varias y multiplicadas por una parte, pero per otra parte, son unidas y concordantes, y su union proscede del uno que los ordena."

125:a I am taking here the English translation by Hartwig Hirschfeld.--Transl.

126:4 M. de Bonald, Recherches Philosoph., ch. III. See also de Maistre, Soirees de Saint-Petersbourg, tome II, p. 112 ff.

126:5 Introduction to Abraham ben Dior's commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah, Mantua edition.

126:6 ‏???? ???? ?????‎ Sefer Yetzirah, ch. I, first proposition (Mishnah).

126:7 Judah ha Levi of Andalusia wrote his religious-philosophical book "Cuzari" in Arabic. This was translated into Hebrew by Judah ibn Tibbon. From the Hebrew translation, Abendana completed in Spanish, Buxtorf, a Latin, and lately D. Cassel and Dr. Yolowicz p. 127 commenced a German translation, of which two numbers appeared until now. a--Jellinek

126:a Cassel's German translation is now complete. There is also an English translation from the original Arabic by Dr. Hartwig Hirschfeld.--Transl.

127:8 The three words ‏???‎ (S’far), ‏????‎ (Sippur) and ‏???‎ (S’for) signify according to the author of the Cuzzari: Number, Language (Speech, Narration), Writing.--Jellinek

127:9 Abendana's translation of the two words of the original text ‏?????? ??????‎ by "la cantidad y el peso" is incorrect. He uses the same words to translate also ‏??????? ??????‎. To further develop this would lead us too far, as we would have to refer to the Arabic.--Jellinek

127:10 It may interest the reader to know the direct translation of this passage, and I give here Dr. Hirschfeld's English translation: "As to S’far it means the calculation and weighing of the created bodies. The calculation which is required for the harmonious and advantageous arrangement of a body is based on a numerical figure; expansion, measure, weight, relation of movements, and musical harmony, all these are based on the number expressed by the word S’far. No building emerges from the hand of the architect unless its image has first existed in his soul. Sippur signifies, the language, or rather the divine language, the voice of the words of the living God. This produced the existence of the form which this language assumed in the words: 'Let there be light,' 'let there be a firmament.' The word was hardly spoken when the thing came into existence. This is also Sefer, by which writing is meant, the writing of God means His creatures, the speech of God is His writing, the will of God is His speech. In the nature of God, therefore, S’far, Sippur, and Sefer are a unity, whilst they are three in human reckoning."--Transl.

128:11 Quizo dezir en la palabra Sephar la cantidad y el peso de los cuerpos criados, por quanto la cantidad en modo que sea el cuerpo ordenado y proporcionado, apto para lo que es criado, no es sino por numero; y la medida, y la cantidad, y el peso, y la proporzion de los movimientos, y la orden de la harmonia todo es por numero, que es to que quiere dezir Sephar. Y Sipur quiere dezir la habla e la vox, pero es habla divina, voz de palabras de Dioz vivo, con laqual es la existencia de la cosa en su forma exterior y enterior, de laqual se habla, come dixo y dixo Dios sea luz, y fue luz. Y Sepher quiere dezir la escritura; y la escritura de Dios son sus criaciones; y la palabra conque el Sephar, y el Sipur, y el Sepher en Dios son una cosa, y en el hombre son tres.--Cuzary, Discors., vol. 4 S 25.

128:12 ‏??? ?????? ??? ??‎ (Esser S’firoth b’lee mah--Ten Sefiroth without what (anything). This expression in itself as well as the developments following it, compel this interpretation and permit no others, like those of "Sphere" which is based on the Greek (Sphaira), or the idea of brightness, conveyed by the word "Sapphir" (‏????‎). The book of Raziel, despite the extravagances contained in it, came near the truth on this point. ‏?? ???????? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ?????‎--Raziel, edit. Amsterdam, Vol. Sb.

129:13 Sefer Yetzirah. Ch. I, proposition 9. (Should be prop. 4.--Transl.)

129:14 Ch. I, proposition 4. (Should be prop. 5.--Transl.)

129:15 Unless the author pleases to disregard the order in which the propositions of the Sefer Yetzirah are given in the original text, he can, not very well say here "it is added (on ajoute)"; for this, the third proposition, really precedes the previous one, fifth proposition (wrongly given as the 4th).--Transl.

129:16 The author's own conception of this passage may have induced him to insert the words "de la main (of the hand)," but they are not to be found in the original text, and are very properly omitted by Dr. Jellinek in his German translation. I can not refrain from quoting the exquisite remark by Dr. Philipp Bloch (Geschichte der Entwickelung der Kabbala and der juedischen Religionsphilosophie--History of the development of the Kabbalah and of the Jewish Religious Philosophy) to this unimpaired translation of this passage. He says: "As it is not spoken here specifically of the fingers of the hand, it refers as well to the fingers (toes) of the feet. Thus is symbolized here the diverging polarity which always converges again in an indifferent point."--Transl.

130:17 ‏??? ????‎. The same word (‏???‎--Ru-ah) has the meaning of air, and spirit; therefore, we might have just as well said "the spirit which proceeds from the spirit." But then it would have to be admitted that the spirit engendered water, an inference which is less probable than the version we have chosen. Moreover, the first number does not present God Himself, but the spirit of God; consequently the second number can not be anything but the expression of that spirit, the breath into which the twenty-two letters in some way finally resolved themselves.

130:18 The translation of this proposition is not complete. I shall attempt its translation according to Dr. Bloch: "Two is the breath which comes from the spirit. In it He graved and formed 22 letters and the principle of which are three mothers (basic elements), seven doubles and twelve simples." In another version is added: "In them (are) the four heavenly regions (cardinal points), East and West, North and South, and a breath (wind) is in every one of these."--Transl.

130:19 The author disregarded entirely the original text in this phrase, and Dr. Jellinek, in his German translation, tried to save the situation by correcting at least one word of it. The original Hebrew text has: ‏???? ???? ?????‎ which Dr. Bloch very correctly renders with "He grave them in the shape of a (terrace-like, Gesenius) garden bed." The author's rendition of this phrase with "etendue ensuite en forme de tapis--spread out, then, in the shape of a carpet," is explainable only p. 131 by assuming that he misunderstood the etymology of the word ‏?????‎--Arugoh, which he probably took as a derivation of "‏???‎--orag," to weave, written with an "Aleph;" while the real root of the word is "‏???‎--orag," to ascend, to mount, to rise, and written with an ‏?‎--Ain. The Hebrew word for carpet is "‏??‎--Mahd" or "‏?????‎--Smehah."--Transl.

131:20 This proposition is also not rendered strictly according to the original Hebrew text, and I shall again refer to Dr. Bloch's translation as the truer one. It should read: Three is water (which comes) from the fire. In it He graved and formed the throne of Glory, the Seraphim, Ophanim, Holy Beasts and Ministering Angels, and of these three He formed His dwelling, for it is written: Who maketh angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire. (Psalms, CIV).--Transl.

131:21 Ch. I, from prop. 9 to prop. 12.

131:22 I H W H (‏????‎)--Transl.

132:23 Referring to Ezekiel I, 14: "And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning."--Transl.

132:24 I have again deviated from the translation of the author and of Dr. Jellinek in order to adhere to the original Hebrew text.--Transl.

134:25 ‏????? ????? ?????? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ??? ??? ?? ????? ???? ?? ????? ????.‎ Ch. II prop. 2. a

134:a Not fully translated. The literal translation is as follows: (With the) twenty-two letters (which) He carved them, graved them, weighed them and changed them around, He formed in them the soul of all that has been formed and the soul of all that will be formed.--Transl.

134:26 ‏??? ??? ?????? ???? ??? ????? ??? ???? ?????.‎

134:27 ‏??? ??? ?????? ???? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ???? ?????.‎ Ch. I, prop. 8.

134:28 The simples represent one sound only; the doubles express two sounds, one mild, the other hard. To the first class belong the following letters: ‏??? ??? ?? ????‎; the last class is represented by these two words: ‏??? ????‎. Finally, in the word ‏??? ‎are gathered the three mothers, one of which the ‏?‎, because it is a sibilant letter, represents fire; the second ‏?‎ which is silent, represents water; and, finally, the first letter ‏?‎, which is slightly aspirate, is the symbol of air. *.

134:* It should also be mentioned that ‏?‎ (Aleph) is the first letter in the word ‏????‎ (Ahveer)--air, ‏?‎ (Mem) is the first letter of the word ‏???‎ (Ma-yim)--water, and ‏?‎ (Shin) is the last letter of the word ‏??‎ (Aysh)--fire. Compare ch. III, prop. 3.--Jellinek

135:29 ‏??? ????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ????? ??? ????? ??????.‎ III, prop. 1.

136:30 ‏??? ?? ??? ????, ???? ?? ??? ????, ???? ?? ??? ???? ???.‎ Ch. VI. prop. 13.

136:31 ‏??? ????? ???? ?? ????. ???? ???? ????? ??????. ?? ???? ????? ??????.‎--Ch. VI, prop. 7.

136:32 ‏???? ??? ?????? ?????? ???? ?????? ???? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ??????.‎ Ch. VI, prop. 11.

137:33 ‏?? ???? ???? ???? ????? ????? ???? ??? ??? ??.‎ After having been applied in its entirety to the ten Sefiroth, this passage appears only in part in the place indicated. The four last words are cut short.

138:34 ‏??? ????‎ (Adam Eelo-o), literally: High man, therefore: Ideal man, Celestial man. ‏??? ?????‎ (Adam Kadmon),, literally: Previous man, therefore: Archetype man.--Transl.

139:35 The Amsterdam edition of the Zohar consists of three great volumes in octavo, each one of which contains nearly six hundred pages in rabbinical characters, very finely and very closely printed.



Masonic Publishing Company

Purchase This Title

Browse Titles
"If I have seen further than
others, it is by standing
upon the shoulders of giants."


Comasonic Logo

Co-Masonry, Co-Freemasonry, Women's Freemasonry, Men and Women, Mixed Masonry

Copyright © 1975-2023 Universal Co-Masonry, The American Federation of Human Rights, Inc. All Rights Reserved.