ABRAHAM ABULAFIA MEDITATIONS ON THE DIVINE NAME PDF

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In the latter part of the thirteenth century, at the time when theosophic kabbalah [the primary strand of kabbalah, aimed at understanding and affecting the divine world] was flourishing, there emerged as well an alternative kabbalistic tradition with a different focus. The main exponent of this tradition was Abraham Abulafia. Whereas the theosophic kabbalists focused their attention on the hypostatic potencies [i.

Abulafia is harshly critical of the theosophic kabbalists who interpret the sefirot as potencies that make up the divine. By contrast, according to him, the sefirot represent the separate intellects in the cosmological chain. Contemplation of the sefirot results in the intellectual overflow that facilitates the attainment of prophetic consciousness, which is essentially characterized as comprehension of the divine name.

The process of intellection thus enables the mystic to unite with the divine. In so far as this process facilitates the union of the self with its divine source, Abulafia on occasion describes the sefirotic entities as internalized psychological states.

There is a perfect symmetry between the external cosmological axis and the internal psychical one. For Abulafia, too, prophecy can be attained only when one is in a state of conjunction, a state that can come about only when the soul is freed from the bonds of the body.

Although Abulafia gives preference to the auditory mode over the visual, accusing the theosophic kabbalists of focusing primarily on the latter, in his own system visionary experience plays a critical role. For Abulafia, not only is the esoteric wisdom of the divine chariot brought about by knowledge of the various combinations and permutations of the names of God, but vision of the chariot itself consists of the very letters that are constitutive elements of the names.

The ecstatic vision of the letters is not simply the means to achieve union with God; it is, to an extent, the end of the process.

The culminating stage in the via mystica [the mystical endeavor] is a vision of the letters of the divine names, especially the Tetragrammaton [the four letter name of God; the equivalent of YHVH], originating in the intellectual and imaginative powers. These letters are visualized simultaneously as an anthropos [a physical form]. This vision results from the conjunction of the human intellect with the divine, but, like all prophecy, following the view of Maimonides and his Islamic predecessors, there must be an imaginative component.

The latter is described either as the form of the letters or that of an anthropos. With respect to the possibility of envisioning the letters as an anthropos, there is again an interesting parallel between Abulafia and the German Pietists as discussed above. The corporealization of the letters of the name in the shape of an anthropos represents, in my estimation, one of the cornerstones of kabbalistic thought, which has its roots in ancient Jewish esotericism.

While it lies beyond the confines of this summary to substantiate my claim in detail, let me underline the essential point that the letters assume an anthropomorphic form [i.

The visualization of the letters of the name as an anthropos in German Pietism, in Abulafia, and in theosophic kabbalists indicates that in the Jewish mystical tradition as well the abstract can be rendered in a pictorial concrete image in the contemplative vision. The ecstatic kabbalah had an important influence on the history of Jewish mysticism.

In the last decade of the thirteenth century a circle of Abulafian kabbalah was established in northern Palestine. It is likely, moreover, that two important theosophic kabbalists, Isaac of Acre and Shem Tov ibn Gaon, were influenced by this circle, and thus assimilated ecstatic kabbalah within their respective theosophical traditions.

In the sixteenth century Abulafian kabbalah began to have a pronounced effect on some of the major kabbalists in Safed, such as Solomon Alkabetz, Moses Cordovero, Elijah de Vidas, and Chayyim Vital, and at the same time on kabbalists in Jerusalem, such as Judah Albotini, and Joseph ibn Zaiah. Modern Israel. End of Life. Israel History. We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and bring you ads that might interest you. Read our Privacy Policy to find out more.

Experiential Mysticism Whereas the theosophic kabbalists focused their attention on the hypostatic potencies [i.

Envisioning the Divine Although Abulafia gives preference to the auditory mode over the visual, accusing the theosophic kabbalists of focusing primarily on the latter, in his own system visionary experience plays a critical role.

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Abraham Abulafia: Meditation on the Divine Name

He was born in Zaragoza , Spain in and is assumed to have died sometime after , following a stay on the small and windswept island of Comino , the smallest of the three inhabited islands that make up the Maltese archipelago. Very early in life he was taken by his parents to Tudela, Navarre , where his aged father Samuel Abulafia instructed him in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. In , when Abraham was eighteen years old, his father died, and two years later Abraham began a life of ceaseless wandering. His first journey in was to the Land of Israel , where he intended to begin a search for the legendary river Sambation and the Ten Lost Tribes.

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Abraham Abulafia & Ecstatic Kabbalah

In the latter part of the thirteenth century, at the time when theosophic kabbalah [the primary strand of kabbalah, aimed at understanding and affecting the divine world] was flourishing, there emerged as well an alternative kabbalistic tradition with a different focus. The main exponent of this tradition was Abraham Abulafia. Whereas the theosophic kabbalists focused their attention on the hypostatic potencies [i. Abulafia is harshly critical of the theosophic kabbalists who interpret the sefirot as potencies that make up the divine. By contrast, according to him, the sefirot represent the separate intellects in the cosmological chain. Contemplation of the sefirot results in the intellectual overflow that facilitates the attainment of prophetic consciousness, which is essentially characterized as comprehension of the divine name.

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