Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Life has been very busy of late, apologies for the lack of updates. Here is a brief summary of the things that I have learned in the last month or so...

Relationship expectations - don't!
Recently a Rabbi and Rebbitzen came to the community to talk about relationships. The Rabbi gave a very interesting talk in which he said (in a nutshell) that putting expectations on other people in a relationship limits them. It limits their freedom, happiness, ability to express themselves, etc. If you agree to live within certain bounds and not set any expectations - you open the relationship up to the potential to thrive.

I gave this advice to a colleague who was struggling to support his daughter in her end of school studies. Instead of telling her "you must study", he said "I would love for you to succeed in your studies, but if you have your own ideas about other routes to success let me know and I will support you 100%. However I will no longer pay your mobile phone bill when you reach 25". That night she stayed up until 1am studying.

Book: magi & maggidim - some unexpected connections
'Magi and Maggidim: The Kabbalah in British Occultism 1860-1940' by Liz Greene is a really, really interesting book. Here is part of the blurb:
Current scholarship generally assumes that 'occultist' Kabbalah is a modern reinvention of older traditions,with little relationship to its Jewish roots. This assumption ignores the documented contributions of Jewish scholars and Kabbalists to the occultists' work, and there is little, if any, in-depth comparison of the ideas expressed by British occultists and the Jewish Kabbalistic literature of the medieval and early modern periods. And why was the Jewish Kabbalah was so compellingly attractive to non-Jewish occultists at a time of turbulent social and scientific change, when religious, political, and racial antisemitism constituted a normative attitude in many circles of British society? This book provides a new, exciting, and penetrating analysis of how and why the Jewish Kabbalah was adopted and integrated, rather than reinvented or recreated, by important figures in the British occult revival, and why it remains a dominant
I did not know, for example, that Mather's wife Mina Bergson came from a Chassidic family. This explains much. In fact, the book helped me fill in a lot of connections between occultists and their sources of inspiration and translations.

This book met my expectations

Mike Cohn - admitted he was wrong, in a good way
In the free lecture "Letting Go of Knowing: How Holding on to Your Views May be Holding You Back" the Agile guru Mike Cohn explains concepts such as Confirmation bias, Hindsight bias, and Intellectual Humility.

It was particularly refreshing hearing him describe how the Project Management community has moved on in its adoption to better ways of working. RO wrote a blog post recently about getting a job in tech industry in the USA. When I get time (tm) I will work on a similar post of my own. Finding the right job is quite a bit (IMO) about setting correctly - your and your potential employers expectations.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - worth watching
The TV adaptation of the book by Susanna Clarke available via BBC iPlayer has exceeded my expectations. Really enjoying it so far and I will be sad when it finishes, but one mini-series is about as much TV watching as I have managed in the past year or so.

Jupiter Ascending - no expectations, fun & full of symbolism
Having said that I have only had time to watch one TV mini-series, I have also managed to watch a couple of films. One of those was Jupiter Ascending. It's a very pretty film that I hope will one day grow in to a cult classic. There is a lot of symbolism in the film which I could write a whole blog post about (and may still do so). I had no expectations of this film and enjoyed it for what it was, a visually very impressive film that conceals more than it illuminates.

Time as a commodity - not meeting own expectations
I mist apologise about having complained too much that I have little in the way of spare time these days. Most of the beginning of the year was filled with catching up with things that spilled over from last year. Also, I have increased my daily study routine, which has left less time for things like blog updates.

Anyway, Jason's blog post on Strategic Sorcery about time being a commodity has helped to keep me sane in this time of growth, learning, and transformation.

A final note
One last thing... I really recommend the Tree of Life series by Blogos. Especially if you have some knowledge of biology and if you don't, it's still interesting to see how the Sa'adia Gaon's commentary is mapped out on to the molecular structure of the building blocks of life.

EDIT: One last, last thing. Seth Godin made a really good posting recently on The tragedy of small expectations (and the trap of false dreams). The important distinction that I understood from his post and my comment on expectations in a relationship is that is that expectation on self can be positive, expectations on others are sometimes less so.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

the letter Yud

Recently a friend asked me about whether the letter Yud was associated with coitios on not. I had a look in some of my versions of Sefer Yetzirah and found that whilst the Raivad links it to lust - it seems to be associated more with the kidneys which are related to Wisdom. See Avodah Zarah 14b "...Our father Abraham learned 400 chapter. Who taught him all this? His kidneys became like two springs from which there flowed to him wisdom and Torah..." You know that expression to trust your gut? Well, sometimes you need to listen to your kidneys (left and right).


Ramak (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero) comments in 5:5 about the letter Yud. He first of all explains how the material covered here is about connecting the upper realities to the lower realities (with respect to our perception of how everything is being emanated from the Source.  

For Yud he writes (below is my rough translation)...

“...Yud. Crown the letter Yud and bind to it a crown and form with it Virgo in the world, [the month of] Ellul in the year, left kidney in the nefesh [lowest level of the soul]..”

The big white book, as I like to call it, has on pp.140. In 5:2 the the same version as quoted in the Ramak. However, there are significant differences in the rest of the wording of chapter 5.

The Raivad's commentary on the left kidney is (what follows is my even poorer attempt at a translation)... 'that Virgo has a feminine form and a human face. She is lacking in complete knowledge and can be overpowered by lustful desires from the side of the left kidney. Therefore a person is weak in the heat of the month of Ellul and can bring about drought/dryness.

According to the bigwhite book, Rabbi Sa'adia Gaon has the same attribution of ' Crown the letter Yud and bind to it a crown and form with it Virgo in the world, Ellul in the year, left kidney in the nefesh'. He also mentions the order in which the letter Yud is to be combined with the other Simple/Elemental letters.

The same order is given in Sefer Chakmoni pp.177 of the big white book. He writes (rough translation) '...Crown the letter Yud and bind a crown to it, carve it the head of speech, and build first with Yud, Tet, Chaff, Zayin... and form with it the zodiac of Virgo in the world, the month of Ellul in the year, and left kidney as director in the nefesh...'

In HebrewBooks.org commentary on Sefer Yetzira by the GRA (Vilna Gaon), see page 36 5:8, it states (rough translation) '...Crown the letter Yud with Action, bind to it a crown, combine it this with that [i.e. permute with the other simple letters], form with it Virgo in the world, Ellul in the year, and left hand in the Nefesh male and female...'

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan uses the same version as the GRA (Vilna Gaon).


So what does the Yud represent? Well, most authorities link it to the left kidney, the month of Ellul, and the zodiac of Virgo. Kidneys are related to wisdom and some of the commentators explain what order to combine 12 the Simple/Elemental letters. 

There seems to be very little poiting to Yud being associated with coitios. There is mention of sexual relations in the list of 12 letters but this is linked to the letter Lamed in the GRA version.


EDIT: Adding some source of Sefer Yetzira translations from WMT books...

1. Translated by Isidor Kalisch [1877]
-> correct translation
-> GRA version

2. W.W. Wescott, tr. [1887]
-> correct translation
-> But not sure which version he used

3. Work of the Chariot
-> correct translation
-> GRA version

4. Kalisch and Stenring translations
-> not correct...
-> Who is K.T. ? the notes in parenthesis are correct.
-> Site states... "Parenthetic notes by Bill Heidrick from the Kalisch and Stenring translations
-> since the Kalisch version is correct, who introduced the incorrect assignment of coition...?!!??