Monday, 4 April 2016

Translator's log: Rabbi Abraham Abulafia on 2 levels of Kabbalah styudy and SY attributions

Whilst doing my first round of reading of material by Rabbi Abraham Abulafia, I come across bits that I want to reference later. However, I'm not recording my translation work and I can't maintain more than 4 mental bookmarks at a time.

Hence dumping some snippets here for future reference. Below are two extracts from Ve'Zot Le'Yehuda - a letter written in response to being put under ban by the Rashba (Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet).

Figure 1. Introducing two levels of Kabbalistic study.
In this section Abulafia identifies two levels of study in Kabbalah. The first is a portion on knowledge of the Divine names by way of the Sefirot that reveal the secret of unification. The second is knowledge of Divine names by way of the 22 letters of the Hebrew aleph-bet that reveal the Names and seals.

Figure 2. Confirmation that Abulafia is versed in the first before progressing to second
 In this section Abulafia outlines that only by gaining an understanding of Divine names through the study of the Sefirot can one progress to an understanding of Divine names and secrets by way of 22 letters.

On a personal note - this is how I understand Sefer Yetzira. Chapter 1 focuses on the Sefirot (and in the commentaries Divine names). From chapter 2 onwards it's all about the letters and no further mention of Sefirot is made.

Figure 3. Abulafia attribution of letters to body, elements, etc

This extract is from Chaye Olam Ha-Bah (Life in the World to Come) which is published in the same volume by Amnon Gross. In this section Rabbi Abraham Abulafia outlines (in very short amount of text) the following: (mistranslated by me)

"...Know that in mankind there are 3 matters created by 3 letters EMESH [Aleph, Mem, Shin] which are permutated with Yud,Heh,Vav, and they are the messengers of fire, air, and water..."

Underlined in Red: "...The head is created from fire with three forms of fire corresponding to Tet,Aleph,Kuf (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) fire..."

Underlined in Blue: "...Stomach is created from water in three forms of water Samech,Ayin,Daled (Cancer,  Scorpio, Pisces) water..."

Underlined in Yellow: "The chest from air (ruach) corresponding to Tav,Mem,Daled (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) air..."

The three letters are an acronym that Amnon Gross has added in smaller ltters in brackets. The acronum represent the first letters of names of the constellations. Please note that Rabbi Abraham Abulafia has additional commentaries on Sefer Yetzira that are much longer and go in to more detail. I have yet to discover if he changes his attributions or not.