[NB] Da’ath and Gevurah in the Amidah

This is bone simple notebooking, but I want to keep track of this anyway. One of the things I have been trying to keep in mind as I read the Kabbalistic material is that there are going to be parts that are less intuitive for me because they reference, implicitly, daily practices and everyday concepts from Judaism.

One of the things I have been doing to rectify that a little is read through the Amidah. Besides being core liturgical material, it has likely been recited in close to its contemporary form for nearly two millenia (and probably recited in recognizable form for centuries before that).

I have to muddle through this sort of thing pretty slowly, looking at Hebrew text and some translations of them, then digging around to verify and expand upon details. I welcome the input of folks with Hebrew fluency (because I effectively have none).

Still, even at the muddle, there are two things that seem worthwhile to point out at this juncture. Gevurah and Da’at both appear as subsections of the Amidah. Gevurah appears as the title of the second verse of praise and singles out God’s capacity to raise the dead (and to bring rain, though it seems like commentary suggests this was added later than the rest and reflects a sense of rain and resurrection being intertwined).

Second in line, suggests it is a bit important. It is intriguing that it follows the section praising the ancestors, suggesting that there is something going on here about the spiritual revivification of those ancestors, a foretaste of the true resurrection.

It provides me with some material for appreciating why Lurianic Kabbalah might position Gevurah as a point of fracture. If the powers of Gevurah are joined to the resurrection, then the breakdown of Gevurah indicates a breakdown in the resurrection. To know death and suffering, right? Looking to the Sabbatian heresies, and their probable influence on the grimoires, the connections between demonology and necromancy appears, too, with the demons occupying a disruption in the continuity of ancestral reverence and resurrection.

The blessing of Da’at is interesting, in part because it appears the the Wikipedia page has (mis)identified it as ‘Binah’ (alternate naming, or just error?). Though binah is invoked within the blessing, the Hebrew title appears to be Da’at, which links it to the tree of knowledge (da’at) in Genesis. The tree of distinctions.

I am really wondering if it might make sense to talk about ‘da’at’ as something of a conceptual homonym for what Hegel called ‘geist.’ Tracing the genealogy of such ontological epistemologies, major players like Spinoza are to be found, so too are the unsung early Christan Kabbalists. Probably over-reaching to precisely locate them as a source, but as a steady influence?

Anyway, notice the cycle in action here. Da’at, then repentance, then forgiveness, then redemption. Knowledge as separation, but also knowledge as the first step toward reunion. I wonder, too, at the distinction between knowledge of good and evil (the pillars of mercy and severity) and knowledge of things as they are without moral judgment (the axis of malkuth-keter).

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7 thoughts on “[NB] Da’ath and Gevurah in the Amidah

  1. I don’t know where you’re going with this, but I like it. I got to spend some time in synagogue when I was a dorm parent, drug kids to temple on Friday. The language of the Amidah was so concrete, so specific. I remember feeling such deep joy when the former rains and the latter rains came, and I felt like I was — even as an outsider — tolerated to participate in these deep prayers for the healing of the world.

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  4. Simon Tomasi

    Artscroll translates that blessing as:

    “You graciously endow man with wisdom and teach insight to a frail mortal. Endow us graciously from Yourself with wisdom, insight, and discernment. Blessed are You, Hashem, gracious Giver of wisdom”

    Hertz translates it as:

    “Thou favourest man with knowledge, and teachest mortals understanding. O favour us with knowledge, understanding, and discernment from thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord, gracious Giver of knowledge.”

    Tehillat Hashem translates is as:

    “You graciously bestow knowledge upon man and teach mortals understanding. Graciously bestow upon us from You, wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Blessed are You Lord, who graciously bestows knowledge”

    In a nut-shell, the blessing mentions 3 states of consciousness. Da’at is one of them, but the blessing is for all three.

    1. Io

      Thanks. I have seen several places refer to a title for the blessings that precedes the prayer itself. In this case, with the exception of wikipedia, I have seen that title be ‘da’at.’ Do those titles have much antiquity or are they are more recent innovation on the part of a a few specific groups?

  5. Simon tomasi

    I believe the titles are a new addition to help understand the intent of each blessing and are derived from the initial or last part of the blessing, I will check.

  6. Simon Tomasi

    Sorry I was wrong, there is mention of a title for one of the blessings of the Amidah in the Talmud (Berachot), so they do indeed appear to be older designations.

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