Kabbalah: Sefer Yetzirah: Commentary

"Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah" by Eleazar of Worms

Perush al Sefer Yetsirah from Sodei Razia (Razyya)

By Robert Zucker

Kabbalah's Secret Circles by RObert Edward ZuckerEditor's Note: A new book on the Kabbalah and the Book of Creation– including Rabbi Eleazar's charts and instructions– called "Kabbalah's Secret Circles," has been published and available on Amazon. Read some of the pages that are included from the book and:

One of the most quoted commentaries on the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation- or - Book of Formation) is attributed to Rabbi Eleazar (Elazar, Eliezar) ben Judah Rokeach of Worms (Wormes) (1165-1230 or 1160-1237) from his “Perush al Sefer Yetzirah” (Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah) from Sodei Razia (Raziya).

There are several other well known commentaries about Sefer Yetzirah written over the centuries- among the authors include R. Donash, R. Sa’adiah Gaon (882-942), Ariel Kaplan (1972). The translation I am working on for this study is based on the Commentary attributed to R. Eleazar.

Some of the instructions provided by R. Eleazar are included in my new book, "Kabbalah's Secret Circles," that also explains how to construct a Kabbalah Wheel that deciphers the arrangement of the 231 Gates.


 


The above image is the text from "Perush Sefer Yetzirah" (Commentary on the Book of Creation) with instructions how to create a golem using the methods described in his commentary.

The Rabbi was the main inheritor of Ashkenazi esoteric traditions from his teacher, R. Yehudah ha-Hasid and his own father. R. Eleazar is often credited with possesing the knowledge to bring a golem to life.

The English translation is compared with a populat reproduced paragrah from Moshe Idel’s translation found on p. 56 of his book, “Golem: Jewish Magical and Mystical Tradition on the Artificial Anthropoid.” Unfortunately, this book is out print right now. When it becomes available, a link to the book seller will be posted on this page. Idel mainly quotes this one paragraph from the entire "Commentary."

The chapter on Sefer Yetsirah is about 90 pages long accompanied with several diagrams and various charts that have been reproduced in other Qabalah and golem construction books. Midway through the chapter is the popular paragraph (which appears in Hebrew above). The following, in part, is Idel's translation (p. 56):

"Whoever studies Sefer Yetzirah has to purify himself [and] don white clothes. It is forbidden to study [Sefer Yetzirah] alone, but only [in groups] of two or three, as it is written (Ecces 4.9) "Two are better than one [alone]", and it is written (Gen 12.15) "and the souls they made in Haran."

And it is written, (Gen 2.18) "It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him."

The paragraph continues on to describe how to create a golem, with virgin dirt and using the phrase "bet, bereshit, bara- With Bayt," He created."

It further 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 6 vowels and how to designate each vowel to a letter to a human limb.

The translation is very close, but on closer word by word examination using an Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, there are even deeper meanings revealed. For example, the phrase "fitting helper" has other meanings, including "wife, a golem or partner." The two Hebrew words AyZR KNGDV is defined as helpmate (wife, spouse). This is a dictionary definition. Idel does not use the word wife, but instead “fitting helper.” Other translations has used companion or assistant. It loosely can be considered to also refer to a golem.

Idel does not continue the translation of the last 4 sentences of this 70-word paragraph. The Hebrew version further reveals four "systems" or methods using the letters. Each method is a different way to permutate or combine the letters.

R. Eleazar mentions that the fourth method is the permutation (tzeruf) of the first eleven letters from Aleph to Lamed with each of the 22 letters, often referred to in the creation of the golem. But Idel does not quote this in his translation.

After this paragraph, Eleazar lists the combinations of 21 letters with each of 22 letters and their various positions. This gives 462 combinations or 231 (when halved). These charts are reprinted in Rabbi Arryeh Kaplan's "Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation In Theory and Practice" on page 303 (Appendix III), "The 221 Gates of Rabbi Eliezar Rokeach of Wormes." It is reprinted from the Przemysl edition (1889). 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.


Robert Zucker's "Spirit of Kabbalah (Qabalah)" copyright 1976

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Links to books on Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), Kabbalah, Kabbalah Bracelets and more.


The Source of the Sodei Razia

The Hebrew text above (from "Perush Al Sefer Yetzirah" page 295, paragraph 2, is part of a chapter in "Sodei Razaya" (Sodei Razia, Razayya, Razia or Razyya), "The Secret of Secrets," written by Rabbi Eleazar of Rokeach (also called Wormes). R. Eleazar (also spelled as Rabbi Elazar ben Judah of Worms (c. 1160-1237).

The book is printed by Shalom HaKohen Weiss, ed, Jerusalem, Sha;arei Ziv Institute in 1991.

The last chapter of "Perush al-Sefer Yetzirah" discusses the mystical tradition of the Qabalah and powers of the Hebrew letters in detail.

R. Elazar (another spelling of his name) provides a study of creation in ths book. He quotes the Jewish Merkavah tradiions and Heichalot literature. He explains the characteristics of the angels, the Divine Throne, the Chariot and Divine Voice. The rest of the work features discussions on G-ds names, the fate of the soul after death, the meaing of dreams and a practical guide for reating a golem. More on The Book of Raziel.

I hope to eventually have a full translation of this paragraph and others from Eleazar's "Commentary of Sefer Yetzirah" as a stand alone FileMaker Pro database that connects to a self-made lexicon and other Quabala reference features. See more about the QBL Qabalah Software Project.

OVERVIEW The Ancient Manuscript: Sefer Yetzirah/Sefer Yetsirah

Email: Bob Zucker

Explore the Kabbalah and make your own Kabbalah Wheel

In "Kabbalah's Secret Circles," learn how the ancient Jewish mystics would combine the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to produce wonderous miracles. Get the instructions to construct a Kabalah (Qabalah) Wheel similar to the description the chapter 2 of the Book of Formation, Sefer Yetzirah. The author is also the publisher of this web site section on Kabbalah. Available on Amazon.com and other international online book distributors in both print and digital formats. Purchase a signed copy by the author directly in the US. Read sample chapters from Kabbalah's Secret Circles.

 

Most popular and reliable books about "Sefer Yetzirah"

These are the most popular books on Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Creation (Book of Formation). All of them can be purchased through these links at Amazon.com. Check for free shipping eligibility on some books.

Sefer YetzirahSefer Yetzirah  Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of CreationSefer Yetzirah  

By Aryeh Kaplan. This is the most authoritative text on the study of the "Sefer Yetzirah" or Book of Formation (Book of Creation). Kaplan's explanations are easy to understand and make common sense. Hebrew with English translations in great detail and insight. A must have manual for anyone ready to decipher this ancient manuscript. Paperback: 398 pages. Publisher: Weiser Books; Rev. Sub edition (May 1997). Language: English.

Sefer YetzirahSefer Yetzirah  Book of Formation or Sepher Yetzirah: Attributed to Rabbi Akiba Ben JosephSefer Yetzirah  

By Arthur Edward Waite (Editor, Introduction), Knut Stenring (Translator) and R. A. Gilbert (Foreword).Stenring has made a word-for-word translation from several texts, choosing only those parts which he believed to be authentic. He reveals the text’s secrets in his diagrams, tables, and extensive notes. His "Master Key to the Theoretical and Practical Kabala" is a diagram of the correspondences between the English and Hebrew alphabets and is not found in other translations of the Sepher Yetzirah. The introduction by Waite surveys the historical background of the Sepher Yetzirah translations and the import of this foundational Kabbalistic text. Knut Stenring was a Swedish Hebrew scholar. He published this work in 1923 and it is regarded as a major resource, although some translations are dubious. 78 pages from Ibis Press (June 2004).

Sefer YetzirahSefer Yetzirah  Sepher YetzirahSefer Yetzirah

By W. Wynn Westcott (Author) A selection from INTRODUCTION: The "Sepher Yetzirah," or "Book of Formation," is perhaps the oldest Rabbinical treatise of Kabalistic philosophy which is still extant. The great interest which has been evinced of 1ate years in the Hebrew Kabalah, and the modes of thought and doctrine allied to it, has induced me to translate this tractate from the original Hebrew texts, and to collate with them the Latin versions of mediaeval authorities; and I have also published An Introduction to the Kabalah which may be found useful to students. Three important books of the "Zohar," or "Book of Splendour," which is a great storehouse of Kabalistic teaching, have been translated into English by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, and the "Sepher Yetzirah" in an English translation is almost a necessary companion to these abstruse disquisitions: the two books indeed mutually explain each other. Sepher Yetzirah (Paperback: 48 pages). Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (December 30, 2005). Language: English (Format: Kindle Edition). File Size: 226 KB. Print Length: 112 pages. Publisher: Oak Grove (March 20, 2008). Sold by: Amazon Digital Services.

Sefer Yetzirah The Book of Formation: The Seven in One English-Hebrew Edition - New Translations with an Introduction into the Cosmology of the KabbalahSefer Yetzirah by E. Collé (Author), H. Collé (Author) .

 

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