Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Name Elohim in Practical Kabbalah - Part 2

Regarding its usage in “Practical Kabbalah,” Elohim is not extensively employed as a Divine Name on its own in Jewish Magical incantations. I surmise this absence to be due to the fact that this specific Name is traditionally associated in Jewish esotericism with the qualities of “severity,” “judgment,” and “fear.” Clarifying this in terms of Gevurah, the fifth sphere on the sefirotic Tree, Joseph Gikatilla wrote “Behold, the Name that is known as Elohim is the Name that has been appointed for judgment. This appellation is encoded in the verse ‘Judgment is for Elohim’” (Deuteronomy 1:17). He continued “When He, may He be Blessed, performs an activity from the realm of judgment, He is called Elohim. Now, know and see that this realm is called the left side, and this side’s cognomen in the Torah is Elohim, for that side is the side of judgment. This Name judges all who traverse the world with the appropriate judgments, whether they be positive or adverse, for life or for death.”
As it is, the Name Elohim features particularly prominently in the “Creation” saga as recounted in the first chapter of Genesis. Again Gikatilla informed us that “the reason that the Name Elohim is employed throughout the Creation story,” is “to remind you that all creatures were created with the straight line of Din (Judgment), and forthrightness. There are no curves or deceptions.” The prominent position of Elohim in the “Work of Creation” is of particular importance to Kabbalists, since it is believed this pertains directly to the so-called thirty-two “Paths of Wisdom” referred to in the “Sefer Yetzirah”(The Book of Creation). These “Paths of Wisdom” are considered to be the “wondrous hidden ways” through which Elohim manifested the entirety of existence. Tradition tells us that the “Thirty-two Paths” are indicated in the thirty-two times the name Elohim occurs in the creation saga recounted in the first chapter of the biblical book of Genesis:
The great mystics of our tradition quickly noticed that there is, as it were, a “pattern” in this presentation of the “ways of Wisdom” expressing the will of Elohim in the original act of creation. The Sefer Yetzirah informs us that the “Thirty-two Paths” comprise the ten Sefirot and the twenty-two Otiot Yesod (“foundation signs” = letters of the Hebrew Alphabet), but there is really no further specific reference to these “Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom.” However, that single statement in the first verse of the “Book of Creation,” has engaged most intensely the mystical mindsets of Western Esotericists. I personally think one of the reasons for this is the number thirty-two itself, since this figure is associated with three important fundamental concepts of Kabbalah:
1. LeV ( [ (Lamed) 30 + (Bet) 2 = 32]) meaning “heart”;
2. KaVoD ( [ (Kaf) 20 + (Bet) 2 + (Vav) 6 + (Dalet) 4 = 32]) meaning “respect,” “honour,” “abundance,” “importance,” “riches,” “dignity,” “majesty” and “glory”; and
3. the triple Yod () which is used since ancient days by scribes as a substitute for the Ineffable Name.
(more to follow)

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