[PSA] Another Day, Another Page: SY in History

I want to thank Andrew, Blogos, and Iago, for their comments lately. There is a lot of common ground to be had, but also a lot of opportunity to see where there is much ground still to stake out, much ground that needs to be made, whether or not it ends up being common or not. I realized that I haven’t really sat down to organize my thoughts about what I think the Sefer Yetzirah is as a historical thing and that this is one of the important elements I need to put out there to have some discussions with people. So, I sat down and started to work out a page for that.

I’m putting it under Big Ideas for now. As with all of my pages, treat it as a work in progress which might change as I grow in my own understanding.

6 thoughts on “[PSA] Another Day, Another Page: SY in History

  1. Iago Pereira

    Thanks for the nod! I’ve recently read them all pages, much benefiting from them. I must confess, though, that I suffer from the lack the opportunity to comment on their pages. All the best, however, to dare me into to building them up to blog posts of my own! – (as Blogos has reccently suggested us).
    There’s one thing I would MUCH appreciate: you share the key bibliographic references on each page! So we can get also to (at least some of) the sources. 🙂

    1. Io

      I have been trying to decide what to do with comments and pages…I am working on some bibliographies, though, I just have been keeping the best records of my reading lately, so it is taking a little effort to put them together.

  2. Simon Tomasi

    As I am studying more of the commentaries of SY, I am becoming more aware of the differences between the versions of the text – as well as the contrast between what is in the text and what is in the commentaries.

    For example, aside from Chapter 6 in the Long Version at the back of Kaplan’s commentary and translation of SY… I cannot find any other reference to the Tree of Life in the actual texts of SY… at all!

    Chapter 6 is seen by some as a commentary on SY and from the way that the Long Version is written in Kaplan’s book – I would say that 6:1 of that text certainly looks like a scribe included commenary into the text of SY itself.

    If this is the case, it means that there is no mention of the Tree of Life in the SY texts… With one possible exception – all discussion about SY with regards to the Tree of Lie is about the commentaries about SY, which as Kaplan points out often reveal more about the commentators than the text itself.

    1. Io

      Oh, that is a good point. I’m trying to get a handle on the history of the diagrams right now, but it seems like most of the ones we use appear in the 10th century forward…I guess the question is whehter that absence is a sign that it didn’t have to be stated or whether I’m over-reading it backward…I’ll have to chew on that.

    2. Ch. 6 material, as well as for other chapter distinctions – into sefirot, letters, mothers, doubles, simples – is spread throughout and woven into the text in the Saadia Version. It helps makes sense of the ten sefirot ”without anything” and the letters ”with” as differentiating between the vowels amongst many other things including the 231 Gates. It reads a lot better this way as well in my opinion.

      *Notes Section – Ch. 1 Note 54 – SY, Aryeh Kaplan

      The Tree of Life is one way of ordering the principles of the Sefer Yetzirah which is ultimately about the relationships between astrological forces and ”Depths”. There is no mention of it throughout the texts apart from the place you state and we assume it was thought up later. There is also no mention of the traditional titles of the Sefirot really apart from Understanding and Wisdom.

      I definitely agree with Kaplan about the commentaries, including my own attempt, but this is partially the point I think. You have to make sense of it and some attempts make more sense than others.

      1. Simon tomasi

        I agree that the Tree of Life diagram in the SY commentary is helpful in understanding the text.

        My point to IO was about the influences on the author(s) of SY itself. Using the Tree of Life in a discussion on the influences is an analysis of the commentaries rather than the text itself.

        From what I recall, there is barely any mention of the tree of life in Rabbi Moshe Cordovero’s commentary.

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