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As the next stanza will explain, these 32 paths are manifest as the 10 digits and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The 10 digits are also manifest in the Ten Sefirot, which are the most basic concepts of existence. The letters and digits are the basis of the most basic ingredients of creation, quality and quantity.
The qualities of any given thing can be described by words formed out of the letters, while all of its associated quantities can be expressed by numbers.
Numbers, however, cannot be defined until there exists some element of plurality in creation. The Creator Himself is absolutely simple, containing no plurality whatsoever.
He is the most absolute unity imaginable. Therefore, plurality only came into existence with the advent of creation. Only then could numbers be defined. The first elements of plurality in creation involved the Ten Sefirot. Hence, it was the Sefirot that defined the numbers, and therefore, the concept of quantity in general.
Most of Sefer Yetzirah will deal with these 32 paths, as they are manifest in the letters and numbers. The 32 paths, themselves, however, will not be mentioned again. The early Kabbalists define these 32 paths as different states of consciousness.
A list of these is given in Appendix II. According to the Kabbalists, these 32 paths are alluded to in the Torah by the 32 times that God's name Elohim appears in the account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis. In this account, the expression "God said" appears ten times, and these are the Ten Sayings with which the world was created. These Ten Sayings parallel the Ten Sefirot. The first saying is said to be the verse, "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth" Genesis Even though "God said" does not appear here, it is implied and understood.
The other 22 times that God's name appears in this account then parallel the 22 letters of the alphabet. The three times in which the expression "God made" appears parallel the three Mothers. The seven repetitions of "God saw" parallel the seven Doubles.
The remaining twelve names parallel the twelve Elementals. See Table 2. In general, none of the names of God refer to the Creator Himself. The names used in scripture and elsewhere merely refer to the various ways through which God manifests Himself in creation. The name Elohim, which is used throughout the first chapter of Genesis, refers to the manifestation of delineation and definition. Each of the 32 paths therefore served to delineate and define a particular aspect of creation.
Man is seen as a microcosm, with each thing in his body paralleling something in the forces of creation. Thus, for example, the six days of creation have parallels in man's two arms, two legs, torso and sexual organ. This is the significance of the Torah's statement that God formed man "in the image of God" Genesis Note that the word for "God" here is Elohim.
This is because man's form parallels the structure of the delineating forces that define creation. The Kabbalists note that the 32 paths of Wisdom have their parallel in the human nervous system. Thirty-one of these paths then parallel the 31 nerves that emanate from the spinal cord.
The thirty second and highest path corresponds to the entire complex of cranial nerves, which are twelve in number. The nervous system serves a double purpose. First, it transmits messages from the brain to all parts of the body, allowing the mind to control the limbs and organs. Secondly, the nervous system transmits information from the various senses to the brain. Four of the senses, sight, hearing, taste and smell, come directly through the cranial nerves, which are entirely in the brain.
The impulses that come from the lower 31 nerves deal primarily with the sense of touch and feeling. Like the nerves, each of the 32 paths is a two way street. First it is the channel through which the Mind exerts control over creation. Secondly, however, it is also the path through which man can reach the Mind. If an individual wishes to attain a mystical experience and approach the Mind, he must travel along the 32 paths.
It is in the heart that the action of the Mind is manifest in the body. As soon as the influence of the mind ceases, the heart ceases to function, this being the definition of death. The heart also provides lifeforce to the brain and nervous system. When the heart stops pumping, the nervous system can no longer function, and the mind no longer exerts influence on the body. The heart therefore serves as a causal link between mind and body.
It is for this reason that Sefer Yetzirah calls the heart "the king over the soul" It also describes the mystical experience as a "running of the heart" The Torah is seen as the heart of creation. The 32 paths are contained in the Torah, which is the means through which the Mind is revealed.
It is also the link between the Mind and the physical universe. The Torah is therefore expounded in 32 different ways, as taught by Rabbi Yosi of Galili. As a prefix, Lamed means "to. The suffix Yud means "me. In the entire alphabet, there are only two letters to which these suffixes can be joined, and these are Lamed and Bet.
These then spell out the words:. The two letters, Lamed and Bet, are the only ones in the entire alphabet which combine with the letters of the divine name in this manner. The number 32 is the fifth power of two 2 5.
As the Sefer Yetzirah explains , the Ten Sefirot define a five dimensional space. The 32 paths correspond to the number of apexes on a five dimensional hypercube.
This is not as difficult as it might seem. A line, which has one dimension, has two 2 1 apexes or ends. A square, having two dimensions, has four 2 2 apexes or corners. A cube, which has three dimensions, has eight 2 3 corners. We thus see that with the addition of each dimension, the number of apexes is doubled. A four dimensional hypercube has 16 or 2 4 apexes, while a five dimensional hypercube has 32 or 2 5 apexes.
As the Zohar slates, however, there is an important difference between these two words. A Derekh is a public road, a route used by all people. A Nativ , on the other hand, is a personal route, a path blazed by the individual for his personal use. It is a hidden path, without markers or signposts, which one must discover on his own, and tread by means of his own devices. The 32 paths of Wisdom are therefore called Netivot.
They are private paths, which must be blazed by each individual. There is no open highway to the mysteries—each individual must discover his own path. This is twice the number of the Gates discussed below These gates are a means through which one ascends and descends along the 32 paths. Not only are these paths individual, but they are hidden, concealed and transcendental. A miracle is separated and independent from the laws of the physical world.
It is also influenced by hidden forces. As such, it is a link with the mystical and transcendental plane. The same is true of the paths of Wisdom. According to the Zohar, the word Peleh specifically relates to the paths of Wisdom. The type of miracle denoted by the word Peleh is specifically one that is accomplished through the manipulation of these paths.
The methods of manipulating these paths is one of the important teachings of Sefer Yetzirah. The Kabbalists call Keter the level of Nothingness Ayin. It is on this level that the laws of nature cease to exist, and can therefore be altered. Thus, the first letter is pronounced with the outermost revealed part of the mouth, while the last is voiced with the innermost concealed part.
The word Peleh thus denotes the transition from the revealed to the concealed. These 32 paths are said to be paths of Wisdom Chakhmah. In a Kabbalistic sense, Wisdom is seen as pure, undifferentiated Mind. It is pure thought, which has not yet been broken up into differentiated ideas. Wisdom is the level above all division, where everything is a simple unity. It is in recognition of this that the Talmud states, "Who is wise Chakham? He who learns from every man.
Hence, if one is on this level, he must learn from every human being, and indeed, from all creation.
Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation
Now in its 7th printing since republication in , the Sefer Yetzirah has established itself as a primary source for all serious students of Kabbalah. Rabbi Kaplan's translation of this oldest and most mysterious of all Kabbalistic texts provides a unique perspective on the meditative and magical aspects of Kabbalah. He expounds on the dynamics of the spiritual domain, the worlds of Sefirot, souls and angels. This translation is based on Gra version of the Sefer Yetzirah and includes the author's extraordinary commentary on all its mystical aspects including kabbalistic astrology, Ezekiel's vision and the gates. Also included are three alternative versions to make this volume the most complete work on the Sefer Yetzirah available in English. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan was a multifaceted, uniquely creative and talented author. Account Options Connexion.
Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation: In Theory and Practice
Yetzirah is more literally translated as "Formation"; the word Briah is used for "Creation". Modern scholars have not reached consensus on the question of its origins. According to Rabbi Saadia Gaon , the objective of the book's author was to convey in writing how the things of our universe came into existence. A cryptic story in the Babylonian Talmud states that "On the eve of every Shabbat , Judah HaNasi 's pupils, Rab Hanina and Rab Hoshaiah , who devoted themselves especially to cosmogony , used to create a delicious calf by means of the Sefer Yetzirah , and ate it on the Sabbath.
Sefer Yetzirah : The Book of Creation
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