Sunday, 23 March 2014

Trainee Golem Builder Shelfie

The in thing at the moment seems to be taking selfies. Now since I'd rather not scare away my last three regular readers, I have instead decided to share with you dear and loyal readers a 'shelfie'. Which I am reliably informed by refers to:

A picture or portrait of your bookshelf. Showcasing literature IN ALL IT'S GLORY!
(This term was originally defined by author Rick Riordan).
Not to be confused with selfie .
As you can see, everything in my shelfie is color coordinated.
by chocopath December 17, 2013

Anyway, here is my shelfie in all it's glory:
Trainee Golem Builder 101 bookshelf
As you can see, the books are in Hebrew but to help get through them - I sue Klein's Etymological dictionary. It's the best dictionary that I have come across so far. As it covers biblical, post-biblical, mediveval, and modern Hebrew. In truth there is not that much difference between the different stages of Hebrew development, at least not compared say to Greek.

Anyway, let's take a close look at some of the books and explain why they might be of interest to a trainee golem builder...

Sefer Yetzirah (2) and Emek Hamelech
Sefer Yetzirah Hashelem (in white) "Complete Book of Creation" - The earliest Kabbalistic text that survived. Redacted around the 2nd to 5th centuries common era, Rabbinic sources claim it was edited and collated by Rabbi Akiva and first penned by the Patriarch Abraham. There are a number of different versions and this version of the text has commentaries by a number of famous Kabbalists.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan translated and added commentary to one version of the text. But having started studying other commentaries (and there are well over 20 different commentaries) the Rabbi Kaplan version is somewhat academic and not that easy to turn in to a practical manual of meditation and magic.

The blue slim volume second from the right is the commentary on Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (wiki entry). He lived around the time of the Arizal and drew on some interesting sources such as Rabbi Abraham Abulafia.

Next to that book is the two volume set entitled Emek Hamelech. It actually details the steps needed to build a golem. However, before rushing to follow the steps please bear in mind even if someone provides you with instructions for building a jet engine - you still need the fuel to make it go. The book Emek Hamelech ("Valley of the King") was written by Naftali Hertz ben Yaakov Elchanan.

Abraham Abulafia (4 blue books in middle)
The four blue books in the middle are all by Rabbi Abraham Abulafia. He was a 13th century wandering Kabbalist whos is widely regarded as the father of Ecstatic or Prophetic Kabbalah. He led, in my opinion, a very interesting life including one episode where he survived an attempt to convert the pope. No one is sure where he is buried.

The books in order from right to left are: 1. Chayei ha-Olam ha-Ba ("Life of the World to Come") (1280), 2. Imrei Shefer ("Words of Beauty") (1291), 3. Gan Naul ("Sealed Garden", a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah), 4. Otzar Eden Ganuz "Hidden Treasury of Eden", another commentary on Sefer Yetzirah. He wrote many more books, but for the moment I am holding off purchasing them as I have yet to study these four. Amnon Gross has, in my opinion, been instrumental in bringing Abulafia's teaching in to the hands of the masses - even if for example Proff. Idel has some concerns about the accuracy of the manuscript transcriptions.

Sodei Raziya, Sha'ar Kedush, Ginat Egoz,
Shorshei HaShemot, Sefer Peulot
The texts in this series are: Sodei Raziya by Rabbi Elazar of Worms (Germiza), Sha'areh Kedushah HaShalem ("Complete Gates of Holiness", includes chapter 4 which was censored until recently) by Rabbi Chaim Vital , Ginat Egoz ("Nut Garden") by Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla who started off as a student of Rabbi Abulafia in the school of Ecstatic Kabbalah and then moved across to join the theosophic Kabbalists in Spain , Shorshei HaShemot ("Roots of the Names") By Rabbi Moshe Zucato , Sefer Peulot by Rabbi Chaim Vital - another book on the banned book list and mentioned a number of time on evocation magic forums. I got that one mostly to see what the fuss was all about.

Anyway, I have just been informed that selfie (and hence probably shelfies too) are meant to be glanced at briefly and not over analyzed. Looking back at this post, I think that I have failed to grasp what a selfie or shelfie is all about. So I'll stop here and re-visit several of these books in more detail over the next year or two as and when I get through them.

The book that I am currently studying is: the commentary on Sefer Yetzirah ("Book of Creation") by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero. After several months of very slow progress, I have made it to the commentary on chapter 1, verse 9...