Kabbalah: "Sefer Yetzirah" 231 Gates

The 231 Gates rotate forward and back

Combinations & Permutations

Tzeruf: Permutating— the act of combining

TZERUF: the act of combining, to join, to permutate (mental Hebrew letter permutation). It uses language to cut through its structure and enables super rational realm quickly. Its aim is at disorientation following repeated pronunciation of now meaningless phrase. Out of that comes "meaning beyond meaning.”:

In combination with specific breathing techniques and contemplation on body centers meditation on letter produces ecstasy almost immediately.[1]

Creation of the World

According to some Midrashic and Talmudic statements, the world was created by the combination of letters, [possibly the letters of the Divine Name].

“Every word of Gd is permuted (tzeruf). He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him." [2]

"Move the letters about" says R. Shem Tov Seph “By means of combining the letters of the ineffable names as recorded in the “SPR ITsIRH” (i.e., the sealing names enumerated in the first chapter, being permutations of IHV0}

This teaches that true knowledge depends on Gd's saying, which must be permuted and tested through such permutation.



 Chapter 2: Book of Creation

Sefer Yetzirah(This is) how ALEPH
is weighed, combined with everything
and everything with ALEPH.

BAYT with everything and everything with BAYT.

They return in a circular movement
to where all that is formed
& uttered is found coming out of the One Name.

(that the whole of creation and all of language
proceed from one combination of letters.

Ben Joseph/Stenring, p. 20, II5

The book, then, shows that the revolution of the sphere is the cause of the variety of things, in the following words: "The wheel turns forward and backward" (SY 2.4). This is compared to the combination of single letters, viz, aleph placed in combination with all the others, all the others with aleph; bet... (SY 2.5) This continued through the whole alphabet results in 231 combinations. The variety would be the groups of 3 and 4 letters. 

The names in the Holy Tongue are the very "letters of speech" which descend degree by degree from the 10 utterances by means of substitutions and transposition of the letters through the 231 gates until they reach and become invested in that particular created thing to give it life. According to Sefer Yetzirah chapter 2:5:

The 22 Foundation Letters. Place them in a circle (ring), Like a wall with 231 Gates. The wheel rotates back and forth. The sign for “this” is when you rotate, or oscillate, one column up or down (back and forth), you change the pair of Gates.

Many famous rabbis published their theories in commentaries on the SEFER YETZIRAH where they speculate on different techniques used to form the 231 Gates and their correspondences. But, many details seem to be either left out, not discussed in public, or have become lost to time.

According to some Midrash and Talmud statements, the world was created by the combination of letters [possibly the letters of the Divine Name]. From the letters of thought produce letters of speech, speech brings to action wisdom is beginning and source of life force.

Each substitution and transposition of the letters condenses the light into a life force, degree by degree. The permutations are made by forming, weighing, combining and transforming the letters. But, the letters are more than just symbols. They are the vessels of the concealed life-force or soul of the vessel.

According to Jewish practice, one had to not only pronounce the combinations in a strict manner, but also had to construct the combinations as part of the ritual. This letter combination technique is continued through the whole alphabet. It results in 231 combinations. The variety would be the groups of 3 and 4 letters.

The letters are then “weighed” (combined) with each other and exchanged (permutated), i.e. Aleph with Bayt (??), Aleph with Gimmel, etc. to form “Gates.” These two-letter Gates are then engraved (carved) on a “wall,” as described in SEFER YETZIRAH 1:11. The position of the tongue, shape of the mouth, and the proportion of inhalation and exhalation shapes these letters into “vessels.” All of the letters together form the chart of the 231 Holy Gates used by R. Shabbathai Donnalo hundreds of years earlier, and, later by Rabbi Eleazar of Worms.

R. Eleazar describes how to permutate the 221 gates (instead of 231, as most widely used), “and always, the letter of the [divine] name with the and all the alphabet..” in discussion of the use of the six vowels and how to designate each vowel to a letter to a human limb.

R. Eleazar mentions one method is permutation of the first eleven letters from Aleph to Lamed with each of the 22 letters, often referred to in the creation of the golem. Eleazar lists the combinations of 21 letters with each of 22 letters and their various positions. This gives 462 combinations or 231 (when halved). He says to obtain the proper combination, only eleven letters are doubled.

The other 22 letters are left as they are. This is the key to the Aleph-Lamed (?–?) technique to avoid repeating the same letters twice. The A-L (?–?) method is often mentioned when constructing the 231 gates. Forward Rotation (the circle closes before…): A B ? ? A G ? ? A D ? ? Reverse Rotation (the circle closes behind…): D A ? ? G A ? ? B A ? ?

Each pair is called a “Gate.” Through these “gates” (the combination of two letters) the creative power goes out into the universe. The 231 Holy Gates are created by pairing each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet with one another until all 231 letters combination are formed. These mathematical calculations were often inscribed in this chart or devised by memory– letter by letter.

Biblical References

"A permutater (me-teref) 

for silver a furnace for gold,

but Gd tests the heart." [3] 

“He [Gd] permuted the speech according to its letters and its vocalizations. [niqqudav].”

R. Shabbati Donnolo’s (Italy) "Long" recension of the “Sefer Yezirah.”  In his “Commentary on Sefer Yezirah”, fol. 69c: 913-982 [4]

"Bezaleel [architect of Tabernacle in the desert]

knew how to join together (le-tsa-ref)

the letters by means of which

the heavens and the earth were created."

This is because he was

"filled with the spirit of GD,

with wisdom and understanding." [5]

 

"The Lord by wisdom founded the earth."[6] 

Abraham and the Letter Combination;

[Abraham] combined [the letters] and was successful [in creating] a creature, as it is said, “The .souls; they made in Haran.[8];   

We learn that Abraham our ancestor occupied himself with the combinations of letters of the “Sefer Yezirah”,; as our sages, blessed be their memory, said Rava created a man;...and they said,

“And I shall fill him with the spirit of Gd.”[9] Bezaleel knew how to combine the letters by means of which heaven and earth were created. And when she emerged, [‘atarah[10]], the Master [of the universe] revealed onto him [yesod] and He called him His beloved, because ten sefirotten were engraved in his form.

R. Joseph ben Shalom Ashkenazi. Joseph ben Shalom;[12]

[Abraham]...combined [letters] in order to create a certain being, and he formed, as in the case of Ravawho created a man [as reported] in Sanhedrin, and he was successful and he actualized the science of formation [hohkmat ha-yezirah]; because by this [operation] the issue of formation was proven to him, and their transformation of nature [hippukh ha-teva’];, which contradicts the opinion of [philosophic] speculation...

and the Lord revealed to him, etc... then, when he was convinced and he became stable in [his] belief in true belief...the Lord was revealed to him by way of prophecy.

Moses Cordovero,[13]

Source of the Combination Technique

The source of the technique of combining the letters of the Tetragrammaton with each letter of the alphabet to create a creature may  be ancient. Rashi wrote in his commentary on the Sanhedrin passage:

by means of “Sefer Yezirah”, they [!] studied the combinations of the letters  of the (divine) Name.

The Divine Name involved in the creative process of the golem, according to a technique found in “Sefer Yezirah.”

Although the “Sefer Yezirah” does not mention the combination technique to be used to create a golem, nor does the Talmudic passage[14] refer to “Sefer Yetzirah”, Rashi’s view  may be his own or one passed on to him to tie the two together.[15]

The “Sefer Yezirah”

In the late Talmudic period (300-600BC), the mystical work, “Sefer Yezirah” appeared.

This Judaeo-Pythagorean mystical "book" was said to be of Abraham's meditations on the laws of creation, immediately before his first revelation from Gd. [16]

The “Sefer Yezirah” portrays the origins of the universe through various combinations, reversals and augmentations of the Hebrew letters and symbols which underline all human speech.

About the same time the “Sefer Yezirah” appeared, a Talmudic story emerged about Rav Zera, Hanina, Oshaya's creations.

Harkavah— Grafting Letters

Harkavah is described as "One who looks at the gazing (tzefiyat) of the Merkavah." Abulafia states this was known to the sages by a tradition from the prophets and consisted of "grafting" (harkavah vcfrv) of one letter to another, new word to another, one Divine Name to another."

Each combination joins the power of the Divine Names, Sefiroth and letters.

This influences the individual and directs him to form every possible permutation. Their essence is sealed in every permutation.

The key of wisdom is given to the one who "gazes, sees and understands."

Abulafia says when the power of the influx begins to manifest itself and reveals itself to the one gazing in the "mirror," the letters and Sefiroth begin to appear like lightning flashes, as the visions of the Chayot (Hayyot). As it is said "The Chayot ran and returned, like a vision of lightning."; [17]

In “Sefer Yezirah”, the phrase "Their vision (tzafiyah), is like a flash of lightning,; refers to prophecy and the mystical vision.

70 Languages

"And it is stated in the Haggagdah '[the angel] Gabriel came and taught him seventy languages in one night."

 And if you believe that [what was taught was] the actual languages, you make a foolish error.

Rather, this is Gabriel, regarding whom it was written[18],

"Then I heard a holy one speak" i.e. he was speaking in the holy tongue...In actuality, he taught him the order of all languages, derived from the Sefer Yetzirah by very subtle means...so that he will recognize the order that reveals the ways of all languages— however many there may be. And it is not meant that there are necessarily only 70 languages  or [even] thousands of them."

"The true tradition that we have received states that anyone who is not proficient in letter combination, and [who is not] tested and expert in it, and in the numerology of letters, and in their differences and their means of exchange, as these methods are taught in Sefer Yetzirah, does not know the Name [or G-d] in accordance with our method."

Abulafia,[19]  

Letter Combination Techniques

All words arising from combination of letters are combined and permutated with Tetragrammaton (YHVH), from which emanated whole creation of language.

Letters of Tetragrammaton are actually vowels.[20] Vowels are original letters of Tetragrammaton which symbolize whole universe.

These vowels are placed at beginning, middle, end of alphabet to signify "IH" is Gd of whole universe- the Beginning Middle and End.[21]

The 4 elements emanated from 4 vowels (AAyVY). The consonants depend on vowels, and are made in a form of a "state arranged like an army in battle array.[22]" 

R. Eleazar of Worms, R. Eleazar; (1160-1238),

The practice of combining and permutating the Divine Name occlude during the time of R. Eleazar of Worms. Eleazar; and Spanish Kabalists.

It is believed that the techniques are directly connected to Ashkanazic culture.

Abulafia mentions Eleazar's works frequently. R. Joseph ben Shalom Ashkenazi. Joseph ben Shalom; and R. David ben Yehuda he-Hasid. David ben Yehuda ; were both familiar with combination techniques during the late 13th and 14th centuries. The techniques possibly passed from Germany to Spain.

R. Eleazar wanted to keep the pronunciation of the divine name secret because it may be mishandled.

Abulafia sought to reveal it, believing the Messanic eon has arrived.

“He pronounces the holy names or names of the angels in order to be shown [whatever] he wishes, or to inform him of a hidden nature, and then the Holy Spirit reveals itself to him, and his flesh...trembles..because of the strength of the holy Spirit." Sefer ha-Hayyim:[24]

Recipes for creating a golem but the special use of letter combinations are found in "Sefer Ha-Ba" Commentary in the chapter."Pe'ullah ha-yetsirah" the "practice or practical application of.."[25]

The most extensive version is the  Przemysl Edition[27] which contains tables of combinations reprinted by Naphtali ben Jacob Bacharach in the 17th century. "Emek ha-Melek" contains the tables without instructions.[28]

The instruction specify that 2 or 3 adepts, joined in the golem ritual, should take some virginal mountain earth, knead it in running water, and form a golem with it.

Over this figure they recite the combinations of the alphabet derived from the "221 gates of the Book Yezirah," which according to Eleazar, form 221 combinations (not 231).

The characteristic feature is the combinations of each of their letters with each consonant of the Tetra, according to every possible vocalization.

It is possible it was limited to the recitation of all the possible combinations of two (in every conceivable vocalization) between one of the consonants, according to the "Sefer Yezirah" which governs a part of the human organism, and one consonant of the Tetragrammaton (vowel letters which make up the name of Gd).

A final step was the incision on its forehead of the name of Gd, or of the word EMeT ("truth"). The creature was destroyed by removing the initial letter of EMeT, leaving "dead", or by reversing the combinations.

Another one of Eleazar's works "Sade Razaya,  (Secrets of Mysticism),"[29].

Hasidic Movement, 1000-1200AD

During 11-13th centuries AD, thousands of names of angels.; were created through Temura, gematria, ppermutation of letters, juggling the Hebrew alphabet, by adding "EL" to any word which could be manipulated.

 In the 12-13 century AD, the Hasidic (Pietist); movement in Germany developed golem legend. From them comes the word "golem" to designate the creature made by the invocation of names during mystical rites.

The rite to create a golem actually existed. It did not seem to serve any materialistic purpose but was essentially a symbolic spiritual experience, according to Scholem’s theory.

Hasidics attained a successful creation as a culmination of their studies of the ”Sefer Yezirah” and other texts. The golem eventually became an actual creature serving his master and fulfilling misname tasks, such as housework.

In the process, they would take virgin earth, mold it into a golem, or bury the golem made from clay in the earth, and bring it to life by walking around it while reciting the proper combinations of letters and mystical names of Gd. Walking and reciting in the opposite direction reversed the order. The golem would become lifeless.

Abraham Abulafia

R. Eleazar of Worms and Abulafia present combination techniques connected with the recitation of the alphabet in the "Sefer Yezirah."

Abulafia wrote about it in “Sefer Hayye ha-Olam ha-Ba," "Sefer ha-Heshek" and "Sefer 'Imrei Shefer."

Others who used Abulafia's or similar techniques include R. Isaac of Acre, R. Shem Tov ibn Gaon and R. Elnathan ben Moses Kalkis.

Abulafia calls his "science of the combination of letters" Hochmah ha-Tseruf (;urm vnfuj), a methodical guide to meditation with the aid of letters and their configurations. The letters do not have to mean anything. This method utilizes letters in a certain manner to attain the divine language.

"Know that the method of Tseruf (;urm) can be compared to music; for the ear hears sounds from various combinations, in accordance with the character of the melody and the instrument..." [32]

The continuous, monotonous repetition of letters and sounds excites the mind, rather than dulls it. This is done in combination with various bodily and breathing techniques.

There are two stages in the creation process, according to Abulafia,

1) the combinations of the alphabets and

2)  the combinations of the letters of the divine name

Shefa Formula To bring down the Shefa (by Abraham Abulafia, 1200AD) Permutation of formula that spells "king" while moving head up and down to sound of vowel "o" and "i"; forward and backward to the "u"; right and left to the "a" "e"; which commemorated the presence of the "king" in the 6 spatial directions

The meditation upon the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in combination with themselves and the Divine Name, can produce ecstatic experiences, according to many Kabalists, including Abraham Abulafia, a master of “tzeruf” during the 1200’s in Spain. Meditation performed by a pure human being on any letter was just like meditating on the entire Creation.

Abulafia explains the stages of the combinations of letters:

At beginning stage:

"revolve the languages until they return to their prime material state." 

This means break up words to their constituent letters, which are the prime material of all languages.

The second stage

is the creation of new words, i.e., the (re)combination of the letters from their prime-material state.

"to create from the wondrous innovations, for the combinations of the letters include the 70 languages."

He further mentions,

“And the sixth is the method of returning the letters to their prime-material state and giving them form in association with the power of intellect that issues forms."[30]

(Here) From this (the combinations) Gd begins to make concrete things from chaos. Yastar (formed) (From the nonexistent He made Something;) (Created reality from nothing) (Create substance from the formless) (Create from the formless and make the non-existent exist); with Tohu Mamasch (material reality) & Assa (made from) (and all forms of speech and everything that has been produced; from the empty void

He made the material world; from the inert earth He brought forth everything that hath life.) (called the non-entity into existence) its AYN, Taschanou (its slumber)

(the first thing He makes)& hewed (or chiselled) (He hewed, as it were great pillars (pages of a book) (vast columns) (colossal pillars from intangible air) (great pillars from intangible air) (out of this intangible air) (large columns out of the intangible, as opposed to atmospheric, air )with the air (or atmosphere) (to support the physical universe) This is the token. This is the sign that Aleph combines with all and all with Aleph.

(This has been shown by the example of combining the letter Aleph with all the other letters, and all the other letters with aleph) (and by the power of His name made every creature and everything that is;) for its Ayn to seize (pl.) & that is the proof (or sign) of the watcher (Tsofah).

With what is being projected is made everything that is formed (just as) the words (everything that is spoken) (everything is) (goes out from) One Name (one term).

He predetermined, (He looked) and by speaking (He spoke) created every creature (make all creation) and every word (all language) by (from) one Name (term). (for an illustration may serve the 22 elementary substances by the primitive substance of Aleph)

2.6c And this is the sign: & the proof of the saying: (and the production of all things from the 22 letters is the proof that)

He beheld, (looks) exchanged, (and speaks) and brought forth the whole creation (and He makes everything that is formed and everything that is spoken with One term.) and all objects (by means of) one combination of letters, the token (sign) of (the thing) which is they are but parts of (the 22 inclinations, objects, needs) (one living body) a single body in one body)[31].

The method of Tzeruf uses language to cut through its own structure and  enables the mystic super rational realm very quickly. The Kabalist who practiced this extraordinary form of contemplation, studies a biblical phrase until the rational meaning is lost, and in the disorientation following the repeated pronunciation of new meaningless phrase comes "meaning beyond meaning.” Combined with specific breathing techniques and contemplation of body centers meditation on the letters produces ecstasy almost immediately.[33]

 

The gate of th secret of zeruf combination of letters], we asked the sage, “Anytime we ask you anything your answer is, ‘Great is the power of the zeruf.’” He answered to us, “You know that by the combination of the letters of His names, Gd created everything. And our ancestor, blessed be his memory, out of the the combination of the letters which he was taught...he achieved the entire gist of His unity and the strength of all the formations, and he almost reached that degree that he knew how to form excellent formations, namely formations of thought [yezirot mahshaviyot], and this is the reason he called his excellent book by the name “Sefer Yezirah.”[34]

 

Stages of Permutation

Abulafia,  describes three stages of letter permutation 

MIVTA; Articulation of Letters

MIKJTAV; Writing the Letters

MASHAV: Contemplating the Letters

i.“Kabbalah, the Way of Jewish Mystic”, p. 77

These three levels are similar to “Sefer Yetzirah’s” three levels of the siphorim in Chapter 1.

Methods of Letter Permutation

Abulafia had several methods. Dilug, Dillug: Skipping, free association of ideas using any among several standard methods of letter manipulation. This can be done with simple letter permutation, ciphers, gematria. When working within the same system (such as gematria), one is "skipping." But if several methods are used, it is called "jumping." Both used by Abulafia and Albotini with Kefitzah "jumping" Each of these meditative techniques lead to a high level of enlightenment.[36] Abulafia says one must completely alter nature and personality and transpose oneself from the state of feeling to intellect, from the path of imagination to one of burning fire. Otherwise, he will find his visions altered, through processes demolished, and reveries confounded. The sphere is what refines and tests regarding the Scripture which states “A refinery (metzeruf) is for silver...”

[37]Dilug, Dillug: Skipping free association of ideas using any among several standard methods of letter manipulation. This can be done with simple letter permutation, ciphers, gematria. When working within the same system (such as gematria), one is "skipping." But if several methods are used, it is called "jumping."

Both methods are used by Abulafia and Albotini with Kefitzah "jumping." Each of these meditative techniques lead to a high level of enlightenment.

The Best Times to Permutate Letters

The best hour to permutate the letters is at midnight wrapped in a prayer shawl and phylacteries, surrounded by candles.

Start writing the sacred letters. Gather speed as you permutate them. You will begin to feel a warm, glowing sensation at the heart. This is the sign of the descending “shefa” or the “divine influx”. Singing certain names according to the prescribed melodies will attain ecstasy with some sensations of air, heat, rushing water, or oil, as described by Merkabah mystics.[38]

A Permutation Method

Begin the contemplation by focusing on the crown of the head or the “Beginning of the Beginning.” Then, move down to the middle of the face, or the “Middle of the Beginning” and finish the segment by concentrating on the back of the head or the “End of the Beginning”. Similarly, the top most point of the heart, the center point of the hear and the back point of the heart; so on downward through the abdomen, and the base of the spine.”  from The 24 triplets of the 72 Names of Gd

This is an excerpt from "Chayay Olam HaBah" "Life of the Future World"[39]

This book specifically describes the use of the Name of the 72. The main method involves the same head motions and controlled breathing as in "Or HaSekhel"

The Name had been known from ancient times. By the 11th c. it was popularized by Rashi's commentaries and in a late Midrash.

The Name is derived from the three verses of Exodus 14:19-21, with exactly 72 letters. The process for constructing the Name is outlined in the Bahir.

...Then take in your hand a tablet and some in. These will serve as your witnesses that your are coming to serve Gd with joy and good heart.

Then begin to permutate a number of letters. You may only use a few, or you may used many. Transpose and permutate them quickly, until your heart is warmed as a result of these permutations, their motions, and what is derived from the permutations.

As a result of these permutations, your heart will become extremely warm. From the permutations, you will gain new knowledge that you never learned from human traditions nor derived from intellectual analysis.

When you experience this, you are prepared to receive the influx (shefa) Clear your mind completely.

Then, with complete concentration and a proper, pleasant, sweet melody, pronounce the Name [of the 72]. Using the natural vowels of each letter [begin by pronouncing these first 6 triplets]:

     VaHeVa YoLaYo SaYoTe

     EaLaMe MeHeShiLaLaHe

These 6 triplets of the Holy Name pronounced with 18 breaths.

If the Divine Influx does not force you to stop, continue pronouncing the Name in this manner until you reach the triplet MVM [the last of the 72].

We have a tradition that the divine influx will come to a perfected  individual after he completes [the number of letters in the first verse, that is, after he pronounces 24 triplets. (This is alluded to in the word "my Beloved" Dodi (=24). It is thus written, "The sound of my Beloved (Dodi) is knocking." (Song of Songs, 5.2)

You may see the image of a child (Naar=320) or that of a Sheik (=320). In Arabic, the word "sheik" means "elder."

"The [place of the] beginning of the real prophesy is in the inner intellectual faculty which is created by the heart through the agency of 70 languages, by the 22 sacred letters, all of them being combined in the heart, in virtue, by the process of combinations of letters done by the intellectual faculty, and in actual by intellectus agencies, which is divine, religious and prophetic. And from the [inner intellectual faculty] there will be an emanation on the imaginary faculty and from the imaginary

[faculty] [the emanation will pour upon] the appentitive [faculty] and from the appentitive [faculty] on the sensitive [faculty] and from the sensitive faculty on the designative [faculty] which is designated on the book. And it [the prophesying emanation] [ will also tun to the inverse direction and will reach a high status. It will separate from the designated [status] [and will turn] to the sensitive [faculty] and from the sensitive to the appetitive and from it to the imaginative and from it to the inner rational cogitative [and] designative [faculty] and from it to the prephetic [faculty] and from it to the [intellectus] agens and will unite with it after many hard, strong and mighty exercises, until the particular and personal prophetic [faculty] will turn universal, permanent and everlasting like the essence of its cause, and he and he will become one entity."[40]

2nd verse of the triplets[41]

NuThaHe HeAhaAh YoRehTa.

SheeAhHe Ray yo yo ah vahmeh

3rd verse:

Vah Heh vah dahnuyo heh che shee.

Aymaymay NuNuAh NuYoTah

Special Cherubim, 1200-1250

During this period in Northern France, the circle of the Special Cherubim engaged in lengthy discussions on creating golems.

The difference between these French techniques and of Ashkenazi are: they both use combinations of Hebrew letters; recite letters with moving in a circle around molded dust; and the golem is destroyed by reciting the original combination backwards and circling in opposite direction.[42]

Ashkenazi Qabalists,1400

“And all the host of heaven was standing by Him on His right and on His left." What power was in them that they were able to bring them down? They would not have been able to bring them down but for Uzza, Azza, and Azziel, who taught them sorceries whereby they brought them down and made use of them," from R. Yehudah he-Hasid, one of founding fathers of Ashkenazi Hasidism. [43]

A technique of possible Ashkenazi source was preserved by R. Abraham Galante. Abraham;, a 16th century Safedian Kabalist, a disciple of R. Moses Cordovero. His views were quoted by R. Abraham Azulai. Abraham; in his commentary on the Zohar, “‘Or ha-Hana”:

The creation of all the worlds was [accomplished] by the 22 letters, and so also the creation of man by the 22 letters. The father, when he engenders his son, engraves the 22 letters which his father engraved in him...at the time of his [own] engendering. By the virtue of these 22 letters the foetus emerges and develops. Likewise the existence of the creature created by the ancients, as it is indicated in the Gamara that R. Hoshayah  created a man, and similar things, [these] were by means of the 22 letters. And they were doing it in the following way: They took new dust, which was not wrought, and spread it on the earth in a homogeneous way [besgaveh].

Then they engraved in this dust the lame of the thing they wanted to create, and with each and every letter they were combining all the alphabets. How [was it done]? [In the case of the creation of] a  [‘Adam] they were combining the letter ‘A with all the alphabets, then the letter D with all the alphabets and likewise with the letter M with all the alphabets, all this together with other conditions that they were doing.

Then that thing was created. And if they wanted to wipe it our and destroy it structure (binyano), they were turned the alphabets backwards, together with the letters of that thing they had created, and it was wiped out by itself.

This is the reason that when [the creature] came in the presence of R. Hanina, he turned the letters as mentioned above, this being [the meaning] of his saying to him “Return to your dust...” Since all the combinations which are backwards are pointing to [strict] judgement and destruction.”

R. Abraham Azulai[44]

By writing the names on the earth and pronouncing the letters of alphabets, this implies a creative power inherent in the letters, especially in combination with letters which make up the name of a particular thing in Hebrew. This assumption is found in the writings of Galante, R. Joseph Ashkenazi, the Tanna of Safed[45];.

R. Joseph discusses in an attack against philosophical and Kabbalistic philosophy literature in the Middle Ages by discussing the relationship between the calling of the names of all being by Adam and the animation of the being after the names were pronounced. 

There is a relationship between the expression of the name and the lower soul, nefesh hayyah (mentioned in the Bible) and the higher soul (nishmat hayyim,[46]).

His views are probably Ashkenazi source. He composed the text below while in N. Italy before his emigration to Safed.  He continues:

A man can make a  golem which possess a living soul [nefesh hayyah] by the power of his speech, but the [higher] soul [neshamah] cannot be conferred by man because it is from the divine speech. Behold, [you can] understand the issue of the [higher[ souls [neshamot]  mwhich are in the body [guf][47],

hewn from the throne of glory[48], which are but their names [shemotam, their names, [a pun on nishmotam], (their souls), which are [identical to] their [higher ] souls.

R. Joseph Ashkenazi, N. Italy[49]. 

The Tetragrammaton

All words arising from the combinations of the letters are combined and permuted with the Tetragrammaton, “Sefer Yezirah,” One Name, from which the whole of creation and all of language emanates. The letters of the Tetragrammaton are said to the be vowels of the alphabet.

The Kabbalistic concept that the letters HWY are the souls of other letters is found in the 12th century and it was widespread among members of the circle of the Special Cherubim, esp. R. Elhanan ben Yaker. Elahana;.[50]

According to the author, Gd blew the spirit of life into the man using the letters.

The 2 stages of the golem creation

1: by combining of the regular letters of the alphabet and;

2: by the combination of the letters of the Divine Name) may reflect:

1. the formation of the limbs or their animation,

2. and, the infusing of the soul in the golem.

The terms hiyyut and neshamah may refer to these 2 different stages.[51]

"All the creatures were made from the 22 letters and their combinations and their permutations and as fire by nature warms, the water cools so do the letters by their nature create all sorts of creatures...

R. Yehudah Albotini,

early 16th c. Kabalist in Jerusalem

The other prophets and pious men in each generation, by means of the combination and permutation of letters and their movement, used to perform miracles and wonders and turn about the order of Creation such as we find it explained in out Talmud that Rava created a man and sent him to R. Zera.[52].

The letters represent the body (Assiyah),The vowels are the Nefesh (soul) (Beriah). Through the proper combination of the letters and vowels, one can enter into spiritual domain[53].

RQM— To Form

The Hebrew verb RQM njr (to form) which appears just before the noun golem occurs; "earth' is mentioned as the site of the creation, immediately before the mention of the golem as a creature emerging from the dust, just as Adam does in Genesis.

The Biblical verse uses the verb RQM (to form) as 'SH (to malre) as does "Leviticus Rabba", later on.

The pertinent actions occurring in "Leviticus Rabba" are: the collection of dust, the kneading, and the making of this entity into a golem.[54].

The Midrash describes the creation of Adam  out of dust and water. Only in the "Sefer Yezirah" does the linguistic technique of creation by letter combination occurs.

The linguistic technique became the medieval sources basic device to create a golem. The detailed techniques were finally written in the 13th century.

The 2 common elements include:

• the material employed to create the golem is dust, eventually kneaded with water;

• and the pronunciation of the combination of letters over the shaped body in order to animate it.

Permutation Methods

ATBASH

is most common form where first letter is substituted for the last letter of the alphabet, the second for the penultimate, etc.

ALBAM is a similar form of substitution, where the first letter is replaced by the twelth, the second by the thirteenth, etc.

AVGAD is a form where each letter is replaced by the one succedding it so that a=b, b=c, etc.

AQ AYK BChR

AQ BEKER; The Qabalah of 9 Chambers

Interception of 2 horizontal and 2 verticle lines forming 9 squares. Used for Kamea's to determine the number value of the sigils.

Divide alphabet (22 letters and final forms) into three groups, each with 9 letters.

This arrangement is considered important in the formation of Sigils or Symbols from the names of planetary Spirits.

1st group of 9 represents 1-9, and the divisions of the world ruled by the order of ANGELS.

2nd 9 represents numbers 10-90 and all the things which are in the 9 cirlce of HEAVEN.

3rd 9 contained the 4 last letters of the alphabet and final forms of K, M, N, P, & S, represent no. 100-400 and 4 elements of Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and the 5 final forms symbolizing the 5 unions of bodies.

(from the Aleph, the lines which enclose the groups of 3 letters the 9 follow figures constructed to form a powerful amulet. (Kamea of Alphabet, Budge, A. Amulets", p. 405

AQ Beker is where any letter in any one of 9 boxes can be substituted for any other letter in the same box. AChS BChR s where 8 boxes are used and letters in any box are interchangeable. Endless variety.

GAMATRIA, Gematria, GMATRIA;  each letter is given a numerical value and other words with same value are equivalent of the originals. Metatron=Shaddai=314. Gematria  (fr. Gk); is one of the  aggadic hermeneutical rules for

Interpretation of prayer (Torah, in the "Baraita  of 32 Rules, no.. 29 which links words and phrases of the liturgy with names from the Merkabah tradition and angelology according to the numerical value of the letters of the alphabet for them in accordance with set system

Whereas the word is normally employed  in the sense of manipulation acc. to no. value, it is sometime found with the meaning of 'CALCULATIONS'   (Avot 3:18).(Talmud) Joseph b. Zakkai knew "the heavenly revolutions and gemariot.";parallel source is "the heavenly revolutions and calculations" (Suk. 28a; BB134a;  Ch. Albeck, "Shisha Sidrei Mishnah 4, 1959 p. 497)

Perhaps formed in Babylon. First appeared inscription of SARGON II (727-707BC) which states that the king built wall of Khorsabd 16,283 cubits long to corr. w/no. value of his name.

End of the Geonic period (7-11thc)Widespread in Hellinistic period  among the Magi and interpreters of dreams Gnostics  equated 2 holy names ABAZAS and MITHRAS on basis of equiv. no. value(365 corr. to days of solar year)

Apparently introduced in Israel during 2nd Temple, even in the Temple itself, Greek letters being used to indicate numbers (Shek. 3:2).

In Rabinnic literature first appears in statements by TANNAIM of 2nd c..* (Scholem, Kabal. 337)

 Italy (9th c before Megaillat Anim'az by Ahimaz of Oria mysticism spread from Italy to Germany then France (beg. 11th c peaked half 12c and 13th c.

12th c. known as HASIDEI ASHKENAZ says mysteries transmited 870 to R. Moses ben Kalonymus in Lucca by Abu  AHARON, son of

R. Samuel ha-Nasi of Bagdad, afterwards K. went to Germany where he laid the foundation of mystical tradition of Hasidei Ash.

TMIRH Temurah, Form of cryptic writing which substitutions are made for letters according to one code or another.

Bibliography

“Jewish Mysticism,” Abelson, p. 100

“Kabbalah, The Way of the Jewish Mystic” by Pearle Epstein. Pages 73-81 The path of the Letters, Tzruf, permutation, Shefa,  Abulafia,

 

Turning the Circle

Forward & Behind

 

“...so the circle [galgal]

closes before and behind.”[1]

The ancient Judaic writings of the“Sefer Yezirah” describe how the revolution of the sphere is the cause of the variety of things to occur, as in the following words from the “Kharazi”:

“The wheel turns forward and backward.”[2]

This description is similar to the combination technique of single letters, viz,

“aleph placed in combination with all the others, all the others with aleph; bet...” [4]

The book (Sefer Yetzirah”) shows that the revolution of the sphere is the cause of the variety of things, in the following words:

"The wheel turns forward and backward" (SY 2.4).

This is compared to the combination of single letters, viz, aleph placed in combination with all the others, all the others with aleph; bet... (SY 2.5) This continued through the whole alphabet results in 231 combinations. 

The variety would be the groups of 3 and 4 letters. The golem was activated by the mystical combinations of letters, and the inscription of the letters “AMT" (emet, ,nt ) or "truth" on its forehead. when the Aleph is removed, the word spells MeT "dead" and the creature would collapse. from “Khazari”, p 237

This letter combination technique is continued through the whole alphabet. It results in 231 combinations. The variety would be the groups of 3 and 4 letters.

The golem was activated by the mystical combinations of letters, with the inscription of the Hebrew letters “AMT" (EMeT), or "truth", on its forehead. When the Aleph is removed, the Hebrew word spells MeT  which means "dead". When that act is done, the creature would collapse.[5]

 

Turning tables

(Mordell) SY: by adding a letter at the beginning of each combination, the process is called ICHIZR HGLGL PNYM, the table turns in front of each letter, as NG "turning in from the the Ay becomes AyNG

When a letter is added at the end, it is called IChIZR HGLGL AChIR, the table "turns" behind each letter, as NG turning behind the Ay becomes NGAy.

The infinite combinations are described by building houses of stones.

Permutations in which letters never repeat themselves but only change their places. Out of 2 letters 2 biliteral words formed; of 3 letters, 6 triliteral words form; of 4 letters, 24 quadriliterals formed... SY: "Go count futher..." Combinations have been estimated in the hundred thousand trillion range.

 

Letter permutations are a door to the most profound depths. Through them he can discern the depth of Widsom, and the wonder of creation of everything that was formed, each thing according to its kind. He can also discern the structure of every merkava, and the mystery of every male and female. ("Kab & Med", 135)

The book says "The word is Gd" But the word is made up of letters. If one knows the law of the letters and the forces behind them, all riddles can be solved. The book says there are 22 letters and 10 numbers (sefirah). Altogether there are 32 signs, all stemming from Gd, each with its own specialty. The 10 sefiroth were used to make the world. The 22 letters were divided into 3 groups: 3 mothers, 7 doubles, 12 simples.

The Sefiroth is ruled by the king from His holy Seat. They appear as the instruments of creation and servents of the King by "going forth and returning, falling prostrate before the Throne." (SY1). Their end is is their beginning, and their beginning is in their end, as a flame bound to coal.

22 Basal letters

These 22 letters are placed together in a ring, as a wall with 231 gates.[6] The ring may be put into rotation forwards or backwards and its token is this:

Nothing excels AyNG= ONG (=pleasure) in good, and nothing excels NGAy= NGO  (=plague) in evil.

He fixed the 22 letters, stamina on a sphere like a wall with 231 gates 

and turned the spheres forward and backward (lightning rod)

For an illustration may serve the 3 letters AyNG

There is nothing better than joy and there is nothing worse than sorrow or plague.[7]

When letter added at the Beginning, process called: the table "turns" in front of each letter as if turning from of "Ay" become AyNG"

When letter added at end of word: table "turns" behind, as .iif; turning behind "Ay becomes "NGAy."

How infinite number of words formed 22 letters, by permutation where letters never repeated self, only change places.[8]

The gates described are the gates to creative activity. The assumption is that if one combines the letters properly, the creative process used by Gd in the formation of the world can be re-enacted.

Need to distinguish:

• .i."basic arrangement"; of the letters in "combinations" and "gates" 

• and the "basic forms" by which the arrangement is presented, the "wall" and the "wheel." 

"Combinations" are formed by combining each letter with all the other letters of the alphabet= 462 combinations. (22 letters x 21 letters).

Eliminate the mirror images (AG, GA)=231 combinations. "Aleph with all, and all with Aleph..."

Construct another set of "combinations" and start at the end of the alphabet. This pairing of letters, forward and reverse, generates the "combinations."

"Gates" formed by pairing the pairs of the forward and reverse "combinations."

By pairing the "combinations," one made the nonexistent exist, create something out of nothing, the soul of all that is formed and all that shall be formed.

A circular wall with each two-letter combination as a "gate" the whole wall rotates as a wheel.

It can go in either direction- the combination could be forward or backward.

All words arising from the combination of the letters are combined, And permutated with the Tetragrammaton called "The One Name." The letters of the Tetragrammaton were considered as vowels.

When letter added at the Beginning,

process called:

the table "turns" in front of each letter

     as NG turning from of Ay become AyNG 

When letter added at end of word:

table "turns" behind,

     as NG turning behind Ay becomes NGAy

How infinite number of words formed 22 letters, by PERMUTATION where letters never repeated self, only change places. (p.15)

All words arising from combination of letters

are combined and permutated with Tetragrammaton  (YHVH), from which emanated whole creation of language.[9]

When a letter is added at the end, it is called IChIZR HGLGL AChIR, the table "turns" behind each letter, as "NG" turning behind the "Ay" becomes "NGAy."[10]

The infinite combinations are described by building houses of stones. Permutations in which letters never repeat themselves but only change their places. Out of 2 letters 2 bilateral words formed; of 3 letters, 6 tri-literal words form; of 4 letters, 24 quadriliterals formed...

Sefer Yetzirah: "Go count further..."

Combinations have been estimated in

the hundred thousand trillion range.

Letter permutations are a door to the most profound depths. Through them he can discern the depth of Wisdom, and the wonder of creation of everything that was formed, each thing according to its kind. He can also discern the structure of every Merkabah, and the mystery of every male and female.”[11]

The book further says

"The word is Gd" But the word is made up of letters. If one knows the law of the letters and the forces behind them, all riddles can be solved. The book says there are 22 letters and 10 numbers (sephirah). Altogether there are 32 signs, all stemming from Gd, each with its own specialty. The 10 Sephiroth were used to make the world. The 22 letters were divided into 3 groups: 3 mothers, 7 doubles, 12 simples.

The Sefiroth is ruled by the king from His Holy Seat. They appear as the instruments of creation and servants of the King by "going forth and returning, falling prostrate before the Throne." (SY1). Their end is is their beginning, and their beginning is in their end, as a flame bound to coal.

Rotating the Letters

When the wheel with 21 letters ROTATES FORWARD the left letter is always is at eye level.

When the wheel ROTATES BACKWARDS (left letter is moving up by one letter) The right letter stays at eye level.

The rotating letter is always second.

Read across chart (Pol. I) Each letter rotates in succession, like a lightning bolt.

Read down chart (Pol. II) "Combine one with all, next with all...”

Forward & Reverse Combinations

R. Azriel of Gerona in his “Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah” suggests that the forward combinations of the letters create (livnot, “to build”) (related to grace, panim zeh rahamim) and the backward combinations (related to judgement, ‘ahor zeh din) undo the creation (listor, “to destroy”).

He uses the term “beri’ah” (creation) and “beriyah” (creature) in the context of doing and undoing. He follows this assumption further in his “Commentary on Genesis Rabba” p. 254-255 and includes copies of the tables of vocalizations as they occur in R. Eleazar of Worms’ “Sefer ha-Shem.”  

These tables also occur in R. David ben Yehudah he-Hesid’s writings, under influence of R. Joseph.[12]

R. Ashkenazi, in his “Commentary on Genesis Rabba” gives five types of operating with the letters as they occurred in “Sefer ha-’Iyyun”. They are shiqqui, zeruf, ma’amar, mikhlal and heshbon.

R. Joseph Ashkenazi used this principle of the forward and reverse combinations, referring to the ‘AB to ‘AK combinations to creation (Mizad ha-hesedlivriy’ato) and the 231 combinations of letters to destruction (mizad ha-din veha-gevurah listor). He later writes there is a certain order for creation and one for destruction. He uses the term golem, but not in connections with an artificial creation. He accepts the technique for undoing the golem with the ‘AL to ‘AT letters combinations.[13] 

The half of the combinations of the letters of the wheel, which are the 231 gates, and the remaining half, which are 231 are above their wheel, since there are 462 alphabets and two of them are called a gate [sha’ar]...And all the speech, if the formation [yezirah] foes not speak, it is worthless, [‘einah leum] since the perfection of speech is [achieved] only by the spirit [ruach].  And if Rava has created a man, he returned it to its dust since he did not know how to introduce the spirit so that [the creature] will speak and will be maintained by it [i.e., the spirit].[14]

In this passage, there is a dependence between spirit and matter (latter to former). Speech is only a by-=product of the infusion of the spirit. He uses the termyezirah instead of yezur which he probably referred to as a human being.

(For He shewed the combination  of these letters

each with each other) 

(combined, weighed and changed, set)

(This is) how ALEPH 

(Aleph with all, and all with Aleph)

(Aleph with all the other  letters in succession,)

is weighed, combined (changed)

with everything ): & everything  with ALEPH. 

(and all the others again with Aleph)

BAYT with everything (Bayt with all)

& everything with BAYT.

(and all with Bayt))

(and all of them turned around)

It rotates in turn

(Thus in combining all together in pairs

are produced the 231 gates of knowledge.)

(thus they are in 231 gates)

(Hence, they go forth through 231 gates,

They return in a  circular movement

(turn by turn)

to where all that is formed & uttered

is found  coming out of the One Name.

and thus it comes about  that the whole creation

and all language proceed from

one combination of letters.

(Hence it follows that there are 231 formations,

and that every creature and

every word emanated from one name.)

(And all creation and

all language come from one name.)

(And everything that is formed and everything that is spoken  goes out from one term).[15] 

Combining Hebrew letters with the Divine Name is one method of Kavanah, or Jewish meditation. The continuous recitation; produces an altered state of consciousness.

The techniques to attain different levels of consciousness have been long used by Christian, Chaldeans, Muslim, Japanese, Egyptian and Hindu, and others.

According to Jewish practice, one had to not only pronounce the combinations in a strict manner, but also had to construct the combinations as part of the ritual.

 

The ‘AL and ‘AT Combinations

This technique was used by R. Joseph ben Shalom Ashkenazi  and R. Eleazar.

TECHNIQUE 1:

"To create a golem you recite combinations that begin with the first eleven letters of the Hebrew alphabet; to undo this act of creation (render a golem lifeless) you recite letter combination beginning with the second half of the Hebrew alphabet." .[16]

The circle of the Special Cherubim engaged in long discussions about creating golem. They also used the combinations of the Hebrew letters; recited the letters along with moving in a circle around the molded dust; and destroyed the golem by reciting the original combination of letters backwards and circumambulating in the opposite direction.

R. Eleazar of Worms and Abulafia: described two distinct stages in the creation process:

1. the combinations of the alphabets

2. and the combinations of the letters of the Divine Name.

The Divine Name has special connection with the infusing vitality (hayyot) and soul (neshamah).

Dancing

The technique of dancing used in a golem ritual is described in the "Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah" by Pseudo-Sa'adiyah. It is the only place, though, that discusses this method.

The operator reduces the golem to its dust by recitation of a certain part of the combined alphabets—  the L to T combinations.

The same combinations of letters has a different impact depending on the direction of the movement of the reciters. The letters have inherent powers as well as depending on the bodily actions of the persons involved in the process. (like the ecstatic technique of Abulafia.[17]

The ten numerations are named under one title as the "Ineffable Spirits of GD."

The sealing names (five through ten, probably representing Assiah) are combinations of three letters of the Tetragrammaton which are successively transposed.


 



[1] “Sefer Yetzirah,” chapt. 2.4

[2] “Sefer Yetzirah,” chapt. 2.4

[3] “Sefer Yetzirah,” chapt. 2.4

[4] ”Sefer Yetzirah,” chapt. 2.5

[5] from “Khazari”, p 237

[6] Ben Joseph/Stenring, p. 20

[7] Kalish, p. II4

[8] Mordell, p.12,13,15

[9] Mordell, p. 12,13

[10] Mordell, p.

[11] "Kabalah & Meditation", p. 135

[12] (i.“Commentary on Sefer Yezirah” in Chavel, “Kitvei Rambam” vol. 2, p. 459;9from Idel, “Golem” p. 120-21, 125.

[13] Idel, “Golem,” p. 120

[14] R. Isaac be Abraham, “Sagi-Nahor (the Blind), dean of the Provencal Kabalah in the 13th century., “Commentary on Sefer Yezirah”, printed as an appendix to G. Scholem’s lectures on the “Kabalah in Provence,” ed. R. Shatz (Jerusalem, 1963), p. 10 corrected according to Halberstam 444, now New York, JTS, 1887, rfol 129b, from Idel, “Golem”, p. 135, 154.

[15] Sefer Yetzirah 2:5 (#19PII)

[16] i.“Golem!”;, p 11.

[17] See Idel, "Mystical Experience," p. 28-30

 

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