Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Building Blocks Of Creation

In the Kuzari, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi examines the inner workings of the Sefer Yetzira, which is an ancient text that he attributes to Avraham Avinu (other commentators trace it back to Adam). The Sefer Yetzira holds the secrets of creation contained within the Aleph-Beis (the Hebrew alphabet); every body part corresponds to a different letter, for example.
According to various midrashim (exegetical interpretations of the Biblical texts), the children of Yaakov Avinu used the Sefer Yetzira to either create quasi-human beings or quasi-animals.
There is some speculation that the MaHaRaL of Prague may have used the Sefer Yetzira to create the Golem that protected the Jewish denizens of Prague from pogroms and blood libels.
In any event, the Kuzari uses the Sefer Yetzira to buttress his claim that Hebrew is indeed referred to as Lashon HaKodesh (lit. The Holy Tongue) precisely because of its unique nature: it is the only language that comes directly from God, and its power to create is unparalleled by the other, mundane languages (this is consistent with the 'HaLevian' point of view, which is  Judeo-centrist).

A main theme of this idea that the Sefer Yetzira represents is that everything in the universe is a complex structure of letters, carefully - with Infinite Wisdom - constructed and arranged into a Divine code. To underscore this point, there is a famous story involving Rabbi Shneor Zalman of Liadi, the author of the Tanya, and his grandson, the Tzemach Tzedek. When lying on his death bed, the Ba'al HaTanya summoned his young grandson over, and pointed to the ceiling of the room. "What do you see?" he asked the Tzemach Tzedek. The Tzemach Tzedek replied that he saw the beams that comprised the structure of the roof. Reb Shneor Zalman shook his head: "I see the aleph-beis that make up the beams!"

If we are attuned enough, and we reach certain elevated states of purity, we can also be sensitive to see this!

4 comments:

karma dude said...

The Hebrew word "davaar" translates as both "a word" and "an object".

ramchal said...

whats pshat with the picture you chose?

Reb Y. said...

Read http://baisvaad.blogspot.com/2009/12/parshas-vayigash.html and Karmas comment

Shmuel said...

RaMChaL, I guess you didn't see "The Matrix" which in certain ways is "mechavein" to this idea.
In "The Matrix", a select few discover that the world they thought was real is in truth only an extremely complex computer program designed by machines. This "world" is meant to keep the humans in a submissive state so the machines can feed off of them.
The hero of the film is destined to be the one who liberates the humans. Those few who have broken through this program into reality can re-enter the Matrix and perform superhuman feats, but "the One" can actually see the world in its real form, a construct of binary code (which is the basis for all software and consists of strings of numbers in specific sequences).
The picture that I posted show the world of the Matrix through the hero's eyes, the first time he sees the world for what it is.
If you look, you'll see that the green lines are tiny little characters. I thought it was a pretty good way of conveying the thought...

Reb Y. and K.D. great observations! It is interesting to note that according to the RaMBaM, the only reason that Hebrew is called Lashon Kodesh is because it is a clean language, i.e. there are euphemisms and allusions, but no explicit words. The male and female reproductive organs are called "Eiver" (organ) and
"Osah Makom" ('that' place) respectively; we know what is being referred to without saying it straight out, which is itself a very important middah...