Thursday, 27 January 2011

New Project: Memorize chapter 1 of Sefer Yetzirah (which deals with 10 Sefirot)


Chapter 1 of Sefer Yetzirah is the only one that mentions and goes in to any detail of the 10 sefirot that Kabbalists believe explain the Mystery of Creation. In fact, Sefer Yetzirah forms part of the body f Kabbalistic work called Ma’aseh Bereishit which translates to “Workings of creation”.


Sefer Yetzirah teaches how to meditate on the ten sefirot in chapter 1and within what parameters. It warns of what not to do and hints at what the experience will be like without actually spelling it out (such an experience is apparently not one that can be properly put in to words in any case).

The purpose of this memorization is to be able to prepare for meditation exercises based from the verses in Chapter 1 without needing to refer back to the book and thereby interrupting the flow of one meditative exercise to the next.

Since the information in each of the verses is interrelated, my aim was to know and understand all of them together before focusing on particular verses. The best way I know of holding all the verses in my head at the same time is to memorize them.
Scope: Memorize all 14 verses Chapter 1 of Sefer Yetzirah (Gra version) in Hebrew
Time: estimate 5 or 6 iterations of 14 verses in chapter 1, i.e. 84 days at rate of 1 verse per day. Started on 15 January 2011.
Cost: Daily 15 minute meditation slot for next 3 months (or less)
Quality: The success criterion for this project is the ability to repeat from memory the first chapter of Sefer Yetzirah (Gra version from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s book).  Communication: Status updates approximately once per month, plus verbal test at end to ensure that full and correct memorization has succeeded.
Risks:
1. Failing to memorize the text.
2. Meditation slot used for memorization may not reduce stress levels - which normal breathing exercises done at this timeslot do reduce.
3. Hebrew letters from verses in chapter 1 may intrude in to thoughts at inappropriate times.
4. Not focusing on the later chapters will lessen or cancel the success of meditative exercises planned for the verses in chapter 1.
5. Only one commentary read on far on Chapter 1 of Sefer Yetzirah and that is by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. I have Glotzer translation and commentary as well which I still need to read.
It would be ideal to have read other commentaries such as Abraham Abulafia’s Gan Naul, Rabbi Elazar of Worms or for example the Vilna Goan. Translating and understanding those commentaries would be a whole project in their own rights.