Monday, May 12, 2008

The Authenticity of Kabbalah pt xx

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

And the man became furious and said to me: This is too much for me, and what should I read further? This is a forged prayer without a doubt: And was this the way of the Sages to begin their supplications with words of cursing?

I said to him: Did not King David write a psalm of curses; and when it comes down to it, why do you respond anything before you hear the end of the matter?

And the man answered and said: And what is this word shaag, which is neither Hebrew nor Aramaic?

And he returned to his reading, and read {that the curses should apply}: "to every man and woman of the 70 nations, and zik and mazik."

{Zik means spark, fragment, sliver; Mazik means damage. Thus mazik makes sense in context but zik is an error, by someone who does not know what the word means.}

And he said: What relevance does zik {=spark} have here? And this is the language of Rabbi Yishmael the Kohen Gadol? The mouth that speaks falsehood should be shut up!

{The following in Aramaic:}
"And lilin and liletin {presumably types of demons} and all their group, and spirits whose names are mentioned and whose names are not mentioned, and all their groups."

And he said: The author was not a kabbalist if he did not speak Aramaic; but our rabbis did not mix in their prayers the Aramaic language, and even Mar son of Ravina who was the last of the Amoraim who was in Bavel instituted {the prayer} Elokay Netzor Leshoni MeiRa" in clear and pure Hebrew. And Rabbi Yishmael the Kohen Gadol places his prayer half-Aramaic?

"And to all creatures who would arise {sheyakimu} upon me for evil, those who seek evil for me."
And he said: Sheyakimu! He should have said sheyakumu? And what is this business of "who seek my bad," after he said "who arise upon me for bad?"

"And who come to harm me in any type of damage in the world, whether {hen} bodily damage, or whether {hen} damage to my soul or to the soul of my soul."

And he said: "to the soul of my soul!" This is not found to our teachers.

I said to him: Perhaps this is among the secrets which were transmitted to their students orally.

"Whether {hen} in action or whether in evil thoughts."

And he said: The word hen in this meaning is the language of the later authors, and our teachers only said bein, such as when they said bein for merit bein for demerit. And in Biblical language, gam -- Gam to me and gam to you it will not be. And so too the word befoal was not used by our teachers {Rabboteinu} in their days {to mean "in practice"}, and in its place they would say bemaaseh.

"To impede me from love of You and fear of You. And save me from any bad mishap, and from any matter which cause excitement {hitragshut} and come {uvaot} to the world."

And he said to: "any matter which cause excitement {hitragshut} and come {uvaot} to the world." Is this not a precise language!

{I think probably the issue here is agreement between the noun davar and the verbs.}

"And to the inclination which works {? -- leyitzra deavda} to come upon me to cause me to sin and to render me impure, Ploni son of Plonit."

And he said: leyitzra deavda! This thing I have not seen nor heard except today.

"Please, Hashem HaGadol: kera Satan {tear the Satan}, bakra Satan, yikra Satan, nikra Satan, shikra Satan. (Here one needs to mention a single letter of him name, such as my name Binesh, encoded at each head of the phrase קרע שטן, and with this one chases away and nullifies from upon him all types of evil such that they are unable to have dominion over him, and so should each and every person place his name with the name קרע שטן.)

And he said: It appears that Rabbi Yishmael forgot his name, and thought that his name was Binesh, or that Rabbi Binyamin {=Binesh} forgot that he was composing this prayer attributing it to the name Rabbi Yishmael. For behold, what have you? If Rabbi Yishmael wrote it with the letters of his name Yishmael, who hates the name Yishmael, such that Rabbi Binyamin had to switch it with his defective name Binesh? And if Rabbi Yishmael did not write the name קרע שטן combined with the letters of his name Yishmael, what is Rabbi Binyamin's source {for doing this}?

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