Talk:Sefer Yetzirah

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This page suffers from 1906 syndrome. Could we discuss the possibility of moving all 1906 stuff to a subpage and rewrite a page, rather than attempting to improve the 1906 text? I have done something similar or Kohen. JFW | T@lk 15:11, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you have in mind. Please elaborate. Physicist 15:19, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure either, but I have my doubts about the NPOC which claims Babylonian and Egyptian origins of ideas about a Jewish mystical work, especially when Jewish occupation of both places is an established historical fact. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:59, 20 December 2004

Κοσμοποιία ("Creation of the World") and other errors[edit]

This article is littered with errors. First of all The comment, "Such a work, entitled Κοσμοποιία ("Creation of the World")" I have been studying the yetzirah for several years now. Apon reading this article i thought this was a rather amazing thing. So i searched engines, checked my books (waite, kaplan, gershom, papus, etc) and i could find no refference to a greek book known as Κοσμοποιία ("Creation of the World"), or any relationship to the yetzirah and this supossed book.

Also, the phonetical system described about the mother letters is rather confused. The phonetics are described as the five places in the mouth in the first chapter. and the sounds of the mother letters in the third. you forget to mention the two different pronounciation of the double letters in the forth. But this is also very different concepts. The Five different pronounciatuons are grouped regardless of there category of mother, double or simple letters. While the explanation of Shin making a Sh sound, and Mem making an Mmm sound is grouping them as mother/double/simple. Not the 5 phonetic categories previously explained. You would probably also want to place that After cosmogony.

The Yetzirah is also in hebrew, it was unnessicary for give the greek spelling of "Power" in the cosgony section.

"the Sefer Yetzirah assumes a double creation, one ideal and the other real." it does? where does the yetzirah say this? Seems more like an opinionated strech to me

There is also too many refferences to the Gnostics. Platonusism/Neo-platonusism/Christian Gnosticism Only became exposed to the yetzirah long afterwards and was never officialy adopted as a gnostic book, it is a Jewish book fundamentaly. So things like "In addition to the doctrine of the Sefirot and the letters, the theory of contrasts in nature, or of the syzygies ("pairs"), as they are called by the Gnostics, occupies a prominent place in the Sefer Yetzirah." seem more like a needless plug for gnosticism.

I could go on, by i have a headache now and would rather drink some coffee. This article may just be easier to redo. However, keeping it as it is would be a crime against... something

Um, I checked back at this discussion page after some time, no comments have been added. I suposse its not a big discussion. but if people would not mind. I would rewrite this article if they liked. I already contributed a bit on the tree of life, sepiroths, and etc.

Jaynus _Izanagi 11:41, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

Formation not Creation[edit]

"Yetzirah" means Formation and Creation is "Briah". SO I correct the title. --Sepand 10:30, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Two Books? Angels?[edit]

This article and the one at Jewish Encyclopedia both refer to "two books" and that the second on deals with angles. That is confusing to me because I'm only aware of one Sefer Yetzirah, though there are different versions of the text called the Long Version the Short Version and at least a few others that seem to have elements of both the Long and Short. I don't know Hebrew so my knowledge is limited to translations, mostly by gentiles with either a Christian or Occult perspective, but I haven't seen any thing about angles in any of them. Jaynus offered to do a re-write. I'd like to see it because he appears to be more knowledgeable than I am, but if he doesn't then I may attempt it in a few weeks. I recently started reading Aryeh Kaplans book and I have researched the history and compared several English translations sided by side. I may not be the best, but I think I can put together something that better reflects current knowledge and scholarship better than what is here now. I'm not in any hurry though. I've got other projects I currently involved with, but this article definitely needs work.--Pucktalk 03:46, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

What was sefer yetzira originally?[edit]

There was only one book, which appeared in the time of Saadya Gaon. The "2nd book" is a reference to "hilchot yetzira" in the Talmud, which means 'the laws of creation.' Scholem thought this was a reference to Sefer Yetzira, and ascribed it to the Amoraic period, but this is doubtful and highly problematic.

It also is not 'mystical.' It is esoteric, but was commented on by rabbis, mystics, and philosophers alike. It became the basis of kabbalah, and was read by kabbalists as a mystical work, but more likely stemmed from the alchemists. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:00, 6 August 2006

Really stemmed from alchemists? I don't think there's even a bit of truth to that. --CheskiChips (talk) 00:12, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

New Scholarly work on the derivation of the Sefer Yesira[edit]

There appears to be some new work being added to the examination of the Sefer Yetzirah, to my knowledge, the first endeavor in a long time produced by the work of scholar A. Peter Hayman. Here are a few quotes and a link to the book:

Sefer Yesira Edition, Translation & Text-Critical Commentary [In English & Hebrew]

By A. Peter Hayman June 2005 ISBN: 3161483812

"The author provides the first comprehensive critical edition of a text which was a fundamental influence on Jewish thought in the medieval period and has continued to fascinate scholars and students of Judaism to the present day. With its English translation of the three earliest recensions and its commentary on the variant early texts of the work, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the growth and emergence of the Jewish mystical movement.

Contents include: The fluid state of the text of Sefer Yesira, Why a new edition of Sefer Yesira?, The "original text" of SY or "the earliest recoverable text"?, Editing Jewish texts from the first millennium C.E., The Manuscripts, The rules of the edition, Abbreviations in the textual apparatus, Notes on the manuscripts, The chapter and paragraph divisions (Appendix II), the Four Pre-Kabbalistic commentaries, The Earliest Recoverable Text of Sefer Yesira and the Three Recensions, The Three Recensions of the SY Text Tradition." end quote.

Regards, Rev. D. Strickler 01:06, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Fact-Check on 'All the Names of God'[edit]

I've added a [citation needed] tag to the sentence in this article which claims that all the names of God appear in the first sentence of the Sefer Yetzirah. In a scan of a printed copy, found here: [1], the first sentence (translated into English) reads "Yah, the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, the Living God, God Almighty, high and lofty, dwelling for ever, and holy is his name. . ." Unless there is some sort of traditionally short list of Hebrew names, it seems rather arbitrary to call this all the names of God. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mitchell Powell (talkcontribs) 06:14, 2 November 2009

The issue can be solved by looking at the original Hebrew, instead of the English translation. The Hebrew version of this article discusses the opening sentence, and here is one version of the opening sentence, (found at
בשלשים ושתים נתיבות פליאות חכמה חקק י"ה יהו"ה צבאות את עולמו בשלשה ספרים בספר ספר וספור
נוסח אחר - אלהי ישראל אלהים חיים ומלך עולם אל רחום וחנון שוכן עד וקדוש שמו
The English version you brought is actually a translation of these Names of God in Judaism: Yah, "adonai" tzevaot, elohim, el hai, el shadai, etc. - basically, the traditional list of the traditional Hebrew names for God. While "el shaddai" is not listed in the Hebrew list above, it was in the list your English translator used, and he translated as "God Almighty". ("el Shaddai" can be found in some versions of sefer yetsirah, which a google search (in Hebrew) will turn up.) I'm going to remove the "fact" tag, and put a link in to the Hebrew names of God. If that's not enough, we can always spell out the names in greater detail within the article itself. (Note: I realize the article on the names of God lists a myriad of names, but there were generally recognized a smaller handful of terms which were actually recognized as official "names" of God - these are more or less the names which are listed at the beginning of Sefer Yetzirah).Jimhoward72 (talk) 03:44, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Hayman has El Shaddai in all of his three primary recensions. But isn't the problem the false claim that the Sepher Yetsira, verse 1 includes "all the names" of God? That's clearly not true because I am that I am is not mentioned, which we wouldn't expect in a commentary on Bereshit. How about "some of the most important names of God?" 42 and 72 Letter Names of God Also, the equating of 32 Paths with the 10 Sephirot and 22 autiot-yassod is a little sketchy. The text doesn't really say that.--Aleph1 (talk) 02:16, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
If the text opens by saying that it is talking about 32 wondrous ways of wisdom, and then goes on to describe in detail 10 sephirot, and afterwards 22 letters, that implies that these are the 32 ways, doesn't it? That's the only way I have seen it interpreted - at least, in traditional Hebrew/Jewish sources (the link you provided only mentioned speculations by English writers, some of which are decidedly not considered historical scholars of the traditional Jewish Kabbalah).Jimhoward72 (talk) 14:30, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
"Implies" is not the same as "states" and is an assumption. Also, I'm surprised you don't consider Moshe Idel an "historical scholar." Only two of five sources cited were non-Jewish. In any case, looks like we lost "all the Names of God" which was the point. Another problem in a problematic article is the statement "the 4 elements (fire, water, air, earth)." There are emphatically only three elements in SY -- Air Water and Fire, the Three Fathers, derived from the Three Mothers, Aleph-Mem-Sheen. Earth (Eretz) is not an element in the SY. --Aleph1 (talk) 22:04, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Re: three elements. What about 3:4? ":שלש אמות אמ"ש בעולם אויר מים אש שמים נבראו מאש וארץ נבראת ממים ואויר מרוח מכריע בינתים" = "Three "mothers" AMaSh in the world: air, water, fire. For water is created from fire, and earth created from water, and air from ruach balances between them." Seeing how other elements can derive from each other, it is no so much a stretch to suggest the same of earth. Furthermore, anytime the word יסוד yesod appears in SY (such as 3:1) it appears to refer to the letters themselves. For example, "22 letters of foundation/yesod," "three mothers אמ"ש of foundation," even "seven doubles בג"ד כפר"ת of foundation." Unless we will say that there are simultaneously 22, 3 and 7 physical elements (paralleling and deriving from the spiritual elements, of course), it seems difficult to interpret yesod in the sense you are suggesting, at least in the context of SY.
I don't know for sure, lacking any authority to back me up, but it seems possible that SY holds that there are four elements, possibly five, including ruach. This could possibly correspond with the Four Worlds (or the Five Worlds), which would in turn correspond to the four (or five) levels of souls, in turn corresponding with the four letters of HaVaYaH (or five, counting the thorn of the Yud), etc. etc. (These examples of four/five levels I mostly learned from Tanya, but I haven't seen any explicit source stating that SY itself lists four/five elements.) IMHO, when SY mentioned three mothers as elements, it meant that in the sense of the right (sibilant, expressive ש), left (closed, constricted מ) and middle (silent א of truth) axes of the sefirot in yosher formation; from these are derived the other sefirot, through which the universe was and is created at every moment. Musashiaharon (talk) 04:48, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

self contradiction[edit]

Towards the conclusion of the article, "This book, which does not even mention such words as "Israel" and "revelation," taught the Kabbalists to reflect on "God," and not merely on the "Ruler of Israel." This statement is highly speculative and opinionated, and is seemingly not true at all, based on my reading of the book in it's original hebrew(of which I am fluent in) and it's English translation for all to see. In the hebrew the 10th and 11th word in the first sentence refers to God by the hebrew Elokay Yisroel, which translates litterally to the God of Israel. It would appear as though the word is mentioned in the book(and more that once, see chapter 5 mishna 4 for example. What is most shocking about this statement is that it is contradicted earlier in the article, "The Sefer Yetzirah describes how the universe was created by the "God of Israel"". The first sentence in the structure section of the article. With all of this i have decided to edit out that statement. If anyone disagrees, please, let me know and you can put it back. -Zechariah —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:21, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

Editing the "Origin" section[edit]

I corrected several dubious sentences; Sefer yetzira could not have been written "after the 10th century CE", for there is an early 10'th century commentary by Saadia Gaon. Removing the highly dubious line stating that "some of the core ideas in the book seem to have a Babylonian origin", given without any references or quotations, and the similar unsubstantiated "The idea of the creative power of the various sounds is possibly Egyptian." Replacing the sentence "The division of the letters into the three classes of vowels, mutes, and sonants is Hellenic" by the "The division of the letters into the three classes of vowels, mutes, and sonants also appears in Hellenic texts, [citation needed]". Maxim Leyenson (talk) 12:53, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Suhuf Ibrahim[edit]

I would point out that in c 1393-4, Nicholas Flamel took a sample page from what is reputed to be The Book of Abraham to the Zoharist scholars of Léon, which excited them sufficiently to send one of their number with him to examine the entire document. The referee did not survive the journey, and the Book was later taken into the ownership of Cardinal Richelieu. It is reported to have subsequently fallen into the hands of Emma Calvé, a Thelemic adherent.