Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Authenticity of Kabbalah pt xxii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The guest concludes his critique of the prayer attributed to Rabbi Yishmael Kohen Gadol:

And he read once again: "The key {of} the livelihood!"
{the repetition of the definite article appears ungrammatical.}

"and provisions and profit and salvation, and crown me with them all the days that I am upon the earth."

And he said: See how beautiful this crown is! A crown of keys! Perhaps it will be a bit heavy on his head.

"And You {singular} should be for me as a help and a use all my days."

And he said: {Kohelet 1:6} סוֹבֵב סֹבֵב הוֹלֵךְ הָרוּחַ, "the wind turns about continually in its circuit," (the man of the spirit is crazy) {a reference to Hoshea 9:7} from singular to plural and from plural to singular, and he is similar to one who has no God at all.

"And my horn {=glory} and constellation {/mazal} should shine like the sun at the summer solstice, and like the moon at mid-month in its fullness, and should make my actions, ways, and words {/matters} prosper, and may {singular} my words be sweeter {plural} .

And he said: This statement would have been sweeter had he said may {plural -- yihyu} my words be sweeter.

"than honey or honeycomb in the eyes of all who hear my words, and those who mention should mention me for good all the days. And I adjure you, Ahuviel the angel appointed over love and affection, to request upon me mercy before Hakadosh Baruch Hu, that She {rather than "He" -- but perhaps it means "you"} place me for grace, kindness, and mercy in they eyes of all who see me."

And he said: "To request before Hakadosh Baruch Hu shetitneni! Use of the feminine form for Hakadosh Baruch Hu!"

"and in the eyes of all who love me, whether they be on {=in} Heaven or under the heavens; and this hour and this day that I pray before Hakadosh Baruch Hu should be a time of favor and a time of mercy, salvation, forgiveness, pardon, atonement, complete healing, and good life upon me, Ploni son of Plonit. And I adjure you, Metatron the servant of me Creator, whose name is the same as your Master, to perform my desire and wish."

And the man said to me: And why did he say to him in the beginning "I implore you," after the ability was in his hands to bind him with the copper chains of adjuring?

"and my fear should be cast upon all the creations."

And he said: "What an idiot! What a fool! Did he forget that he already adjured the angel appointed on love that he place his grace in the eyes of all who see him? And how does he now request that his fear be cast on all creations? Are not love and fear two opposites?

"And that they remember me for good, and that my stature be pleasant."

And the man laughed and said: If only his words were pleasant and exact! And what is he asking, if he was born a hunchback or a midget?

"And my face should be splendorous and shine, and that my Torah should be guarded and ordered in my heart, and I should not forget anything which I learned or that I will learn in the future."

And the mean repeated and read: ושעתיד אלמד. {presumably would like ללמד}

"And my dreams be settled upon me."

And he said: I am almost about to throw up all that I have eaten. ושיהיה חלומותי מיושבת עלי! Could this statement be any more defective?

{presumably because ושיהיה is masculine singular, חלומותי is feminine plural, and מיושבת is feminine singular.}

"And save me from an evil person and from an evil mishap, and close the mouths of those who speak evil {?} upon me, and who contemplate evil for me, for You hear prayer. Blessed are You, who hears prayer. Amen."

And the man said to me: I do not know who this hearer of prayer is, for behold it appears that it is Metatron whom he adjured to perform his desire and wish.

I answered him: Many words tend only to plenteousness, and also I admit to you that this prayer is not the work of Rabbi Yishmael Kohen Gadol (*). Let us return the sefer to its place, for it neither raises nor lessens {the position}.

The guest: Though it is true that it does not raise, it does indeed lessen the stature of the kabbalists to the ground, or below ground: After we have seen that all the creation of the thoughts of their hearts are only evil all the day, to lie, to forge, and to mislead the creations, without thought or understanding.

(*) After a time I found this prayer with a few punctuated extensions {?} (at the end of seder Kodoshim), but there it was clean of all of the aforementioned mistakes, and it was not attributed to Rabbi Yishmael the Kohen Gadol, but rather what was written at its head was, "a prayer that they are accustomed to say in Eretz Yisrael."


Anonymous said...

Where in seder kodashim- certainly not amongst the nests

joshwaxman said...

looking at the image now, I don't know why I translated it as "with a few punctuated extensions". maybe i was looking at the alternate printing.

the footnote reads: biktzat Mishnayot menukadot, meaning in a few Mishnayot with nikkud.

so we should look in old printings or manuscripts of Mishnayot with nikkud, and see if we can find this prayer.


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