Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Challenge: Moses Cordovero & Practical Kabbalah

In the great tradition of the "duellists" of yesteryear, I have received a challenge! I am instructed to put my money where my mouth is, and back a claim I made in "The Book of Sacred Names" regarding "Practical Kabbalah" techniques in “Sefer Pardes Rimmonim” (Garden of Pomegranates) by Moses Cordovero, with verifiable evidence. My opponent maintains that there is not a single instance of anything pertaining directly to "Practical Kabbalah," or "Jewish Magic" for that matter, to be found in this text written by the father-in-law of the Holy Ari. Hence he felt it necessary to challenge me to either "own up" or face public exposure of my "deceit" less!!
Naturally I would not normally bother with uninformed challenges, but I thought I might face the "truth of the matter" and satisfy the "questing spirit" of my challenger with an example of Practical Kabbalah penned by the very hand of the great Moses Cordovero, who wrote (Pardes Rimonnim: Gate Ten Chapter 1):
"There is no doubt that the colours can introduce you to the operations of the Sefirot and the drawing down of their overflow. Thus, when a person needs to draw down the overflow of Mercy from the attribute of Grace, let him imagine the name of the Sefirah with the colour that is appropriate to what he needs, in front of him. If he [applies to] Supreme Chesed, [let him imagine] the outmost white.....Likewise when he will operate a certain operation and he will be in need of the overflow of the [attribute of] Judgement, let him then dress in red clothes and imagine the form [of the letters of] the Tetragrammaton in red, and so on in the case of all the operations causing the descent of the overflows.....Certainly in this manner [we may explain] the meaning of the amulets. When a person prepares an amulet for the [Sefirah of] Chesed, let him imagine the [divine] name in a bright white, since then the operation of that name will be augmented.....
We have seen someone who designed amulets which refer to the [attribute] of [stern] judgement [using the colour of] red, and those which refer to Grace in white and those which refers to Mercy in Green, and everything [was done] in accordance with what [was revealed] by true [angelic] mentors, which taught to him the preparation of the amulets. All this [was done] in order to introduce him to the subject of the colours and the operations which derive from the above....."
I hope this is satisfactory proof to my challenger, and, just in case I be accused of posting a bad translation of the original text, it should be noted that whilst the transliterations of Hebrew terms in the text is in accordance with my personal preference, the translation of the quote itself is not mine. It appeared in a chapter written by Moshe Idel which is titled "Jewish Magic from the Renaissance Period to Early Hasidism," and which was published in "Religion, Science, and Magic: In Concert and in Conflict" edited by Jacob Neusner, Ernest S. Frerichs and Paul Virgil McCracken Flesher. The latter is a most informative work which my challenger might want to peruse for greater elucidation on matters obscure!