The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)
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This collection presents a substantial body of poetry from the world of Jewish mysticism. Taking up Gershom Scholem's call to plumb the 'tremendous poetic potential concealed' in the Kabbalistic tradition, poet and translator Peter Cole provides English renderings of works composed on three continents over a period of some 1500 years.
consciousness and practice: according to the Zohar 1:50a, “When a man is in his home, the essence of the home is his wife, because the Shekhinah does not depart from the house on account of his wife” (trans. Daniel C. Matt, 5 vols. [Stanford, Calif., 2004–9], vol. 1, p. 277). See also Wisdom of the Zohar, arranged and rendered into Hebrew by Fischel Lachower and Isaiah Tishby; introductions and annotations by Isaiah Tishby, trans. David Goldstein, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1997), vol. 3, p. 992.
sefirah, Yesod (foundation), which in turn is associated with the phallus, vigor, the river of life. The image of the tet having “fallen” (i.e., where it reigns) is ambiguous and appears to allude to the Zohar 2:151b-152b: “There is a place in civilization where that Destroyer has no power . . . and all those who dwell there do not die until they leave the town. Why is this? . . . When the Holy One created the world, He created it by the mystery of letters, and letters revolved and created the
God of gods and Lord of lords, encircled by braided branches of crowns— encompassed by branching commanders of radiance— who covers the heavens with wings of His splendor and in His majesty appears on high; from whose beauty the depths are lit, whose glory flashes across the sky— 10 proud envoys shoot forth from His form powerful creatures explode from His crown, and princes course from the folds of His robe. All the trees rejoice at His word as the grasses delight in His joy— and
mind: Louis Ginzberg, “Yetzirah, Sefer,” Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1925), 12:603; at once pompous and laconic: Scholem, Major Trends, 75; The author undoubtedly wished: Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, p. 25; to enter the mind of Abraham: Wasserstrom, “Sefer Yetzirah and Early Islam,” p. 220; The Kabbalah didn’t give birth: Liebes, Ars Poetica [Heb], p. 244; a question of ordinary numbers: Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, p. 27; [The angel] Metatron said to me: 3 Enoch 41:1, 2, in Old
performing the Temple service. This passage appears just after Scripture’s earliest mention of the merkavah, or vehicle of mystical vision (Ben Sira 43:7; see previous headnote). “The Priest’s Appearance” is followed here by a gently ramifying hymn that accounts for some of the vicissitudes and psychological trials of the mystic’s ascent and service. It is put into the mouth of the angel Metatron, the discloser of secrets, who guides Moses through the first heaven, which is made up entirely of