Kabbalah: Torah Code

Notarikon: Combining the mystical letters of of alphabet

By Robert E. Zucker

In some Jewish Askenazi manuscripts certain combinations of letters of the Divine Name and the letters of the alphabet are vocalized according to the pattern of the NOTARIQON or Notarikon (the quintessence of the 2nd stage of creation). They are considered appropriate for the creation of the calf.

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A similar stance found in the work of R. Eleazar of Worms where beside the combination of the letters of the alphabet identical to those for creating the golem, it is written that:

"in the case of the creators of the calves, they have shortened" when the authors refers to the technique of combination of letters (Ms. Oxford 1566, fol 44b. Such a statement as to the creation of a calf by the means of the Sefer Yezirah (Yetsirah) could infuriate the anyonymous Kabalist who penned the work Ner 'Elohim. See Ms. Munich Heb. 10, fol 172b-173a.

The fact that the phrase "ha-Bore'im 'Agalim" (The Creation of the Calves) was in existence in connection with the combinations of letters is important evidence that the technique employed for the golem is a magical one.

At end of 13th c., R. Abraham of Esquira (Ms Moscow-Guenzburg 607, fol 53a See also the list of animals that can be created by the combinations of letters of Sefer Yezirah in R. Yohanan Alemannos' untitled work, Ms. Paris (BN) 849, fol 6b; an ox, a sheep, and a calf.)

"In France [Zarfat] there was someone who was acquainted with this and he was engraving the form of a cow on a wall and it changed into a cow, and they [ritually] slaughtered it and ate it like R. Hananya and R. Oshayah." (this quote is by the anonymous Kablist who wrote the Sefer Ner'Elohim).

R. Saadya Gaon's commentary on Sefer Yezirah was published in Hebrew at Mantua with the SY (Bartolocci, "Bibliotheca Rabinnica" iv, 267). It was originally written in Arabic. Copy preserved in the Bodleian Library. It remained in MS form for over 800 years when the Arabic original was reprinted at length in Paris with a French translation in 1892 by Lambert.

Saddai Gaon (950AD) was the first to divide the letters into 5 groups, believed to be all consonants, without knowing that the original Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) meant vowels, accord to Tamim (Modell, 39)

For Saadya there was no theory of emanation. There is only one intermediaty between GD and the world. This is the physical air and not the transendental numerations, according to Waite. There is also no mention of the Ain Soph doctrine. He discusses the Zohar, and his rejection of metepsychosis, but accepts pre-exitence of souls and teaches resurrection of the body takes place when all souls pass through their earthly life.

The suggested author of the "Pirke de Rabbi Elizer,"  Rabbi Elizer, son of Hyrkanos, who lived in the latter half of the 1st century CE and first decade of the 2nd century. He was famous as a scholar but was excommunicated. It revealed certain myseteries taught in the school of Rabban Jachanan ben Zakkai, teacher of Rabbi Eliezer. His name is quoted in the Mishnah and Talmud more frequently than any of his other contemporaries (Pirke de R. Zliezer, xiv).

More on letter combinations


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