"The words of the wise and their dark sayings" (Prov. i. 6).
THE Hebrew word Kabbal means "to receive," and its derivative, Kabbalah, signifies, "a thing received," viz, "Tradition," which, together with the written law, Moses received on Mount Sinai, and we are told in the Talmud, Rosh Hashanah, fol. 19, col. 1, i. e., "The words of the Kabbalah are just the same as the words of the law." In another part of this work we have seen that the Rabbis declare the Kabbalah to be above the law.
The Kabbalah is divided into two parts, viz, the symbolical and the real.
This teaches the secret of mystic sense of Scripture, and the thirteen rules by which the observance of the law is, not logically, but Kabbalistically expounded; viz, the rules of "Gematria," of "Notricon," of "Temurah," etc. To give some idea of this kind of exposition, we will explain each of these three rules in a manner which, though in the style of the Rabbis, will easily be understood by the Gentile reader.
1. "Gematria." This rule depends on the numerical value of each letter in the alphabet. The application of this rule in the solution of a disputed point is often such as to show quite as much absurdity as ingenuity. To make the subject still more clear, let us assume that a standard numerical value is attached to each letter in the English alphabet. A has the value of 1, B 2, C 3, D 4, E 5, F 6, G 7, H 8, I 9, J 10, K 20, L 30, M 40, N 50, O 60, P 70, Q 80, R 90, S 100, T 200, U 300, V 400, W 500, X 1000, Y 10,000, Z 100,000. And let us now assume a point in dispute in order to illustrate how it is solved by Gematria. Suppose that the subject of discussion is the comparative superiority of the Hebrew and English languages, and Hugo and Baruch are the disputants. The former, being a Hebrew, holds that the Hebrew is superior to the English,
"because," says he, "the numerical value of the letters that form the word Hebrew is 610; whereas the numerical value of English is only 209." The latter, being an Englishman, holds, of course, exactly the contrary opinion, and argues as follows: "All the learned world must admit that the English is a living language, but not so the Hebrew; and as it is written (Eccles. ix. 4) that 'A living dog is better than a dead lion,' I therefore maintain that the English is superior to the Hebrew." The dispute was referred to an Oxford authority for decision, and a certain learned doctor decided it by--
2. "Notricon." This consists in forming a decisive sentence composed of words whose initial letters are in a given word; for instance, Hebrew:--"Hugo's excels Baruch's reasoning every way." English:--"English no good language, is scarcely harmonious;" but Hebrew:--"Holy, elegant, brilliant, resonant, eliciting wonder!" This is a fair specimen of how to get at the secret sense of a word by the rule of "Notricon," and now we will proceed to explain--
3. "Temurah." This means permutation, or a change of the letters of the alphabet after a regularly adopted system. We know only five such permuted alphabets, but there may be more. The technical names of these five alphabets are: "Atbash," "Atbach," "Albam," "Aiakbechar," and "Tashrak." We will try to explain the first permuted alphabet only, as a mere specimen, for the general reader is not quite prepared to comprehend the rest, and a hint for the scholar is sufficient.
Here let the reader observe that as the letters of the English alphabet are more numerous and differently designated and arranged than those of the Hebrew, the "Atbash" of the Hebrew must necessarily become "Azby" in English. If now we write on one line and in regular order the first half of the alphabet, and the other half on the second line, but in reversed order, thus:--
we get thirteen couples of letters which exchange one with the other, viz, a and z, b and y, c and x, etc. These letters,
when exchanged, give rise to a permuted alphabet, and this permuted alphabet takes its technical name from the first two couples of letters, a and z, b and y, or "Azby." Now if we wish to write, "Meddle not with them that are given to change," you have to change the letters of the couples and the following will be the result: "Nvwwov mlg drgs gsvn gszg ziv trem gl xszmtv." This is a specimen of the mysterious Temurah, and the "Azby" is the key to it. The other four permuted alphabets are of a similar nature and character, and are so highly esteemed among the sages and bards of Israel, that they often use them in their literary and poetical compositions. The Machzorim, or the Jewish liturgies for the festivals, are full of compositions where the first letters of the sentences follow the order of either the "Atbash" or "Tashrak." The latter is simply a reversed order of the alphabet.
The "Real Kabbalah" consists of theoretical and practical mysteries.
1. The theoretical mysteries treat about the ten spheres, the four worlds, the essence and various names of God and of angels, also of the celestial hierarchy and its influences and effects on this lower world, of the mysteries of creation, of the mystical chariot described by the Prophet Ezekiel, of the different orders and offices of angels and demons, also of a great many other deep subjects, too deep for comprehension.
2. The practical Kabbalah is a branch of the theoretical, and treats of the practical use of the mysterious names of God and of angels. By uttering properly the Shem-ham-mephorash, i. e., the ineffable name of Jehovah, or the names of certain angels, or by the mere repetition of certain Scripture texts, miracles and wonders were and still are performed in the Jewish world.
KNOW thou that the 613 Precepts of the Law form a compact with the Holy One--blessed be He!--and with Israel, as it is often explained in the Zohar. It is written (Exod. iii. 15), "This is My name, and this is My memorial." "My name," in the Hebrew characters, together with "Yeho," amounts numerically to 365; "Vah," together with "My memorial," amounts to 248. Here we have the number 613 in the Holy One--blessed be He! The soul is a portion of God from above, and this is mystically intimated by the degrees of "breath, spirit, soul," the initial and final letters of which amount to 613, while the middle letters of these amount to the number of "Lord, Almighty, God." The soul of Moses our Rabbi--peace be on him!--embraced all the souls of Israel; as it is said, Moses was equivalent to all Israel, "Moses our Rabbi" amounts to 613; and "Lord God of Israel" also amounts to 613.
Kitzur Sh'lu, p. 2, col. 2.
Now let us illustrate the subject of "fear and love." Fear proceedeth from love and love proceedeth from fear. And this you may demonstrate by writing their letters one over the other, and then dividing them by horizontal and perpendicular lines, thus love perfecteth fear, and fear perfecteth love. This is to teach thee that both are united together.
Ibid., P. 4, col. 2.
The Holy One--blessed be He!--often brings affliction on the righteous though they have not sinned, in order that they may learn to keep aloof from the allurements of the world and eschew temptation to sin. From this it is plain that afflictions are good for man, and therefore our Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, "As men bless with joy and a sincere heart for a benefit received, so likewise ought they joyfully to bless God when He afflicts them, as, though the special blessing be hidden from the children of
men, such affliction is surely intended for good. . . . Or most souls being at present in a state of transmigration, God requites a man now for what his soul merited in a bypast time in another body, by having broken some of the 613 precepts."
Kitzur Sh'lu, p. 6, col. 1.
Thus we have the rule: No one is perfect unless he has thoroughly observed all the 613 precepts. If this be so, who is he and where is he that has observed all the 613 precepts? For even the lord of the prophets, Moses our Rabbi--peace be on him!--had not observed them all; for there are four obstacles which hinder one from observing all: (1.) There is the case of complete prevention, such as the law of the priesthood, the precepts of which only priests can observe, and yet these precepts are included in the 613. Besides, there are among the number precepts appertaining to the Levites which concern neither priests nor Israelites, and also others which are binding on Israelites with which priests and Levites have nothing what ever to do. (2.) Then there are impossible cases, as, for instance, when one cannot observe the precept which enforces circumcision, because he has not a son to circumcise. (3 and 4.) There are also conditional and exceptional cases, as in the case of precepts having reference to the Temple and to the land of Israel.
Ibid., p. 6, col. 2.
Therefore every Israelite is bound to observe only such of the 613 precepts as are possible to him; and such as he has not observed in consequence of hindrances arising from unpreventable causes will be reckoned to him as if actually performed.
The Yalkut Shimeoni, in true Rabbinical style, amplifies still farther the license conceded in the above quotations. Rabbi Eliezer says that the Israelites bewailed thus before God, exclaiming, "We would fain be occupied night and day in the law, but we have not the necessary leisure? Then the Holy One--blessed be He!--said, "Perform the commandment of the Phylacteries, and I will account it as if you were occupied night and day in the study of the law."
Anyhow, all the precepts are being observed by all Israel taken together, viz, the priests observe their part, the Levites theirs, and the Israelites theirs; thus the whole keep all. For the Holy One--blessed be He!--has written
a law for His faithful servants, the nation of Israel, and as a nation they keep the whole law. It is as once when a king wrote to his subjects thus, "Behold, I command you to prepare for war against the enemy raise the walls higher, collect arms, and store up victuals;" and those that were builders looked after the walls, the armorers after the weapons, the farmers after the stores of food, etc., etc. Each, according to his ability, did all that was required of him, and all unitedly fulfilled the king's command.
Kitzur Sh'lu, p. 6, col. 2.
He who neglects to observe any of the 613 precepts, such as were possible for him to observe, is doomed to undergo transmigration (once or more than once) till he has actually observed all he had neglected to do in a former state of being.
The sages of truth (the Kabbalists) remark that Adam contains the initial letters of Adam, David, and Messiah; for after Adam sinned his soul passed into David, and the latter having also sinned, it passed into the Messiah. The full text is, "They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up to them" (Jer. xxx. 9); and it is written, "My servant David shall be their king forever" (Ezek. xxxvii. 25); and thus "They shall seek the Lord their God, and David their king" (Hosea iii. 5).
Nishmath Chaim, fol. 152, col. 2.
Know thou that Cain's essential soul passed into Jethro, but his spirit into Korah, and his animal soul into the Egyptian. This is what Scripture saith, "Cain shall be avenged sevenfold" (Gen. iv. 24), i. e., the initial letters of the Hebrew word rendered "shall be avenged," form the initials of Jethro, Korah, and Egyptian. . . . Samson the hero was possessed by the soul of Japhet, and Job by that of Terah.
Yalkut Reubeni, Nos. 9, 18, 24.
Cain had robbed the twin sister of Abel, and therefore his soul passed into Jethro. Moses was possessed by the soul of Abel, and therefore Jethro gave his daughter to Moses.
Yalkut Chadash, fol. 127, col. 3.
If a man be niggardly either in a financial or a spiritual regard, giving nothing of his money to the poor or not
imparting of his knowledge to the ignorant, he shall be punished by transmigration into a woman. . . . Know thou that Sarah, Hannah, the Shunammite (2 Kings iv. 8), and the widow of Zarepta were each in turn possessed by the soul of Eve. . . . The soul of Rahab transmigrated into Heber the Kenite, and afterward into Hannah; and this is the mystery of her words, "I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit" (1 Sam. i. 15), for there still lingered in her soul a sorrowful sense of inherited defilement. . . . Eli possessed the soul of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. . . . Sometimes the souls of pious Jews pass by metempsychosis into Gentiles, in order that they may plead on behalf of Israel and treat them kindly. For this reason have our Rabbis of blessed memory said, "The pious of the nations of the world have a portion in the world to come."
Yalkut Reubeni, Nos. 1, 8, 61, 63.
We have it by tradition that when Moses our Rabbi--peace be unto him!--said in the law, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh" (Num. xvi. 22), he meant mystically to intimate that metempsychosis takes place in all flesh, in beasts, reptiles, and fowls. "Of all flesh" is, as it were, "in all flesh."
Avodath Hakodesh, fol. 49, col. 3.
It is also needful that thou shouldst know that the Kabbalists believe in metempsychosis from the body of one species into the body of another species. Thou hast already been informed of the mystery of clean and unclean animals; and some of the later sages of the Kabbalah say that the soul of an unclean person will transmigrate into an unclean animal, or into abominable creeping things or reptiles. . . . For one form of uncleanness the soul will be invested with the body of a Gentile, who will (eventually) become a proselyte; for another, the soul will pass into the body of a mule; for others, it transmigrates into an ass, a woman of Ashdod, a bat, a rabbit or a hare, a she-mule or a camel. Ishmael transmigrated first into the she-ass of Balaam, and subsequently into the ass of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair.
Nishmath Chaim, chap. 13, No. 14.
The last paragraph may be illustrated by the well-known story of the ass of R. Pinchas, which persistently objected to feed on
untithed provender. This is also said of the ass of Rabbi Chanina ben Dossa. See Avoth d'Rab. Nathan, chap. 8.
Sometimes the soul of a righteous man may be found in the body of a clean animal or fowl.
Caphtor Upherach, fol. 51, col. 2.
It sometimes happens that one sacrifices an animal with a human soul in it. And this is the mystic meaning of (Ps. xxxvi. 6), "O Lord, thou preservest man and beast." It is for this reason that we are commanded to have our slaughtering-knife without defect, for who knows if there be not a transmigrated soul in the animal? . . . Therefore the slaughter must needs be delicately done and the mode critically examined, on account of that which is written (Lev. xix. 18), "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Nishmath Chaim, chap. 13, No. 4.
At each of the three meals of the Sabbath one should eat fish, for into them the souls of the righteous are trails migrated. And in relation to them it is written (Num. xi. 22), "All the fish of the sea shall be gathered together for them."
Yalkut Chadash, fol. 20, col. 4, No. 9.
The soul of a slanderer is transmigrated into a silent stone.
Emeh Hamelech, fol. 153, col. 2.
Rabbi Isaac Luria was once passing the great academy of Rabbi Yochanan in Tiberias, where he showed his disciples a stone in the wall, remarking, "In this stone there is a transmigrated soul, and it cries that I should pray on its behalf. And this is the mystic meaning of (Hab. ii. 11), 'The stone shall cry out of the wall.'"
Ibid., fol. 11, col. 2.
The murderer is transmigrated into water. The mystical sign of this is indicated in (Deut. xii. 16), "Ye shall pour it upon the earth as water;" and the meaning is, he is continually rolling on and on without any rest. Therefore let no man drink (direct) from a running tap or spout, but from the hollow of his hands, lest a soul pass into him, and that the soul of a wicked sinner.
Ibid., fol. 153, cols. 1, 2.
One who sins with a married woman is, after undergoing the penalty of wandering about as a fugitive and vagabond,
transmigrated, together with his accomplice, into the millstone of a water-mill, according to the mystery of (Job xxxi. 10), "Let my wife grind unto another."
Emeh Hamelech, fol. 153, cols. 1, 2.
A butcher who kills an animal with a defective knife will die of the plague, and his soul will pass into a dog, whom he thus deprives of what belongs to him; for it is said (Exod. xxii. 30, "Ye shall cast it to the dogs."
Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 17, col. 2.
An animal slaughtered with an improper knife is considered as if it had been "torn of beasts in the field," and the flesh of it, according to the law, belongs to the dogs. A careless butcher, selling the meat as food for man, deprives the dog of his due.
The sages of truth have written, "He who does not wash his hands before eating, as the Rabbis of blessed memory have ordained, will be transmigrated into a cataract, where he will have no rest, even as a murderer, who is also transmigrated into water."
Ibid., fol. 21, col. 2.
After washing his hands before a meal, he is to stretch out his fingers and turn the palms of his hands upward, as if in the act of receiving something from a friend, and then repeat (Ps. cxxxiv. 2), "Lift ye up your holy hands, and bless ye the Lord!"
The following are the usual blessings, "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God! King of the universe! who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to wash the hands!" "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God! King of the universe! who bringeth forth bread from the earth!"
By means of combining the letters of the ineffable names, as recorded in "Book of Creation," Rava once created a man and sent him to Rav Zera. The man being unable to reply when spoken to, the Rabbi said to him, "Thou art a creation of the company (initiated in the mysteries of necromancy); return to thy dust."
Sanhedrin, fol. 65, col. 2.
In the Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin, chap. 7, we read that, by the means above mentioned, a Rabbi created pumpkins, melons, and real deer and roes.
There is a living creature in heaven which by day has "Truth" upon its forehead, by which the angels know it
is day; but in the evening it has "Faith" on its forehead, whereby the angels know that night is near. Each time the living creature says, "Bless ye the blessed Lord," all the hosts above respond, "Blessed be the blessed Lord forever."
Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 42. col. 2.
Truth and faith are the essentials of religion, which are thirteen in number:--
1. God exists, and there is no period to His existence. The philosophers call it absolute existence, but the majority of Kabbalists term it "endless," which, by Gematria, is "light"; and again, by Gematria, is "Lord of the Universe." He is the cause of causes and the causing of causings, and from or by His existence all beings, spiritual and material, derive their existence.
2. He is one, and there is no unity like His, etc.
3. He has no bodily likeness, and is not corporeal.
4. He is first of everything, absolute beginning; as it is said, "I am the First and I am the Last" (Isa. xliv 6), and there is no beginning to His beginning.
5. None but Himself is to be worshiped and prayed to.
6. The gift of prophecy He has given to men esteemed and glorified by Him.
7. None arose like unto Moses, etc.
8. A law of truth He gave; this is the law from heaven, "In the beginning" unto "in the sight of all Israel." Also its comment received orally is likewise "a law (given) unto Moses from Sinai."
9. God will not change or alter His law forever. He will never change the law of Moses our Rabbi--peace be unto him! The law will suffer no addition or diminution (but it will abide even), as the prophet Malachi sealed it with the seal of the prophets in ending his words (Mal. iv. 4), "Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel." Formerly the law was in a garment of light, but in consequence of sin, the law became materialized in a garment of skin, in the same proportion as man became materialized in a body of flesh. In the future, after the redemption, however, the law will have the garment of light restored, and the Messiah will preach the law in terrible mysteries,
such as no ear has ever heard, and it will appear to us as a new law. But the law will not be altered, or made new, as the nations of the world say = Jer. xxxi. 30-33.
10. He observeth and knoweth all our secrets, etc.
11. There are rewards and punishments in the future, etc.
12. He will send at the end of days our Messiah from the seed of David to redeem His people Israel from among the nations, and restore to them the kingdom.
13. There will be a revival of the dead, etc.
Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 7, col. 2.
Let a man believe that whatever occurs to him is from the Blessed One! For instance, when a wicked man meets him and abuses him, and puts him to shame, let him receive it with love, and say, "The Lord told him to curse, and he is the messenger of God on account of my sin."
Ibid., fol. 8, col. 1.
In every deed or transaction a man performs by his own free will, be it a matter of precept or of option, let the name of God be ready in his mouth. If, for instance, he erects a building, or buys a vessel, or makes a new garment, let him say with his mouth and utter with his lips, "This thing I do, for (the honor of) the union of the Shechinah with the Holy One--blessed be He!"
Bismillahi Arrahmani Arraheemi, "In the name of God, most merciful and compassionate," is the motto of every work undertaken by a Mohammedan.
A man should always desire that his neighbor may profit by him, and let him not strive to profit by his neighbor. Let his words be pleasant with the children of men if they shame him, and let him not shame them in return. If they deceive him, let him not deceive them in return, and let him take the yoke of the public upon his shoulders, and not impose it heavily on them in return.
If--which God forbid--thy neighbor has done thee an evil, pardon him at once for thou shouldst love him as thyself. If one hand is accidentally hurt by the other, should the wounded hand revenge its injury on the other? And, as urged before, thou shouldst rather say in thine
heart, "It is from the Lord that it came to thee; it came as a messenger from the Holy One--blessed be He!--as a punishment for some sin."
Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 9. col. 2.
A sage who was very sorrowful was once comforted thus: "If thy sorrow relates to this world, may God decrease it; but if it relates to the world to come, may God increase it and add sorrow to sorrow." (See 2 Cor. vii. 10.)
Ibid., fol. 10, col. 1.
A man should not wade through water or traverse any dangerous place in company with an apostate, or even a wicked Jew, lest he be overtaken (in the same ruin) with him. (Comp. Eph. v. 7, 8; Rev. xviii. 4.)
Ibid., fol. 10, col. 2.
The influence of the son is relatively greater and more blessed than that of the father, for the merits of the father do not profit the son except in matters relating to this world (as by bequeathing him worldly inheritance); whereas the merits of the son do more than benefit the father in this world; they benefit him also in the world to come (by saying "Kadish"), which is enough to deliver his soul from purgatory.
Ibid., fol. 11, col. 2.
A common proverb says, "One father willingly maintains ten sons, but ten sons are not willing to support one father."
Ibid., fol. 12, col. 2.
The proper use of money is that thou learn the art of dealing honestly, so that thy No be no and thy Yes, yes; and as far as possible be benevolent with the money. "And the liberal by liberal things shall stand." (Isa. xxxii. 8).
The sage says, "The eye of a needle is not narrow enough for two friends, but the world in not wide enough for two enemies."
Ibid., fol. 14, col. 1.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Ps. li. 10). Know thou that the heart is the source of life, and is placed in the centre of the body as the Holy of holies, as stated in the Book Zohar, is the central part of the world. Therefore one must have his heart cleansed from evil and all evil thoughts, otherwise he
introduces an idol into the innermost part of the Temple, which ought to be a dwelling-place for the Shechinah. (See i Cor. iii, 16, 17, and vi. 19.)
Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 14, col. 2.
He who gazes even on the little finger of a woman is as if he looked on her to lust after her. He should not give ear to a woman's voice, for the voice of a woman is lewdness. This sin is much discussed in the Zohar; it causes the husband to come to poverty, and deprives him and her sons of all respect.
Ibid., fol. 17, col. 1.
The sages of the Kabbalah were not singular in this view. The Talmud Yerush, Callah, fol. 58, col. 3, says, "He that looks upon a woman's heel is guilty of an act of lewdness"
Eating meat after cheese or cheese after meat is a very serious sin; and it is stated in the Zohar, section Mishpatim, that upon him who is without scruple in this regard, an evil spirit will rest for forty days, his soul will be from the spirit which has no holiness.
Ibid., fol. 18, col. 2.
The sages of the Kabbalah have written that it becomes him who has in him the fear of Heaven to have a vessel of water near his bed, in order that (on waking in the morning) he may not need to walk four ells without washing his hands, for he who walks four ells without washing his hands has forfeited his life as a divine punishment.
Ibid., fol. 43, col. 2.
When a man is dressing, he should first put on the right shoe and leave it unfastened till he has put on and fastened the left; then he should fasten the right, as it is explained in the Shulchan Aruch.
Ibid., fol. 44, col. 2.
The following are some of the many laws relating to the Shemonah-esreh, or the eighteen blessings which form the most devotional part of daily worship, and which are repeated three times on (ordinary) week-days, and four times on Sabbaths, new moons, and on appointed feasts:--
Before commencing the Shemonah-esreh one should step back three paces, in order to be able to advance three steps. The reason of this is that Moses our Rabbi--peace be on him!--advanced before his prayer into the three
divisions, "darkness, clouds, and thick darkness" (Deut. iv. ii). And this is also the reason why after finishing the Shemonah-esreh three steps backward are to be made, returning through these three parts or divisions.
This prayer is to be performed standing, and the feet so joined together that they should seem as it were one foot only, in order to be like the angels, of whom it is written (Ezek. i. 7), "And their feet were (so in the original) a straight foot," that is to say, their feet appeared as one foot.
This attitude is a sign that the power of locomotion is gone; he cannot pursue and attain any other object than God. The Gentiles place their hands together, intending to signify thereby that their hands are as it were bound; but we, by placing our feet together, intend to signify that they are as it were entirely bound, which is indicative of greater humility; for with the hands bound one could still run away in search of his own pleasure, which he cannot do when the feet are bound.
Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 48, col. 2, and fol. 49, col. 1.
It is lawful for him who rides upon an animal to pray the eighteen benedictions, and when he comes to the point when he should retrace three steps, he is to back the animal he is mounted on three steps. And so also it is lawful to pray the eighteen blessings when sitting and traveling in a wagon.
Ibid., fol. 49, col. 1.
It is necessary to pay attention to the feet when the worshiper repeats "Holy! holy! holy!" and he is to lift up his eyes toward heaven. At the instant the Kiddushah is repeated he needs only lift up his heels, and thereby his body from the earth toward heaven. . . . According to Tanchuma it is necessary to lift up the feet from the earth altogether, after the example of the angels, of whom it is written (Isa. vi. 2), "And with two he did fly? It is from this text that the sages have ordained that a man should fly up (as it were) when he repeats "Holy! holy! holy!" And let the chooser choose, i. e., it is optional either to lift up the heels only or to jump.
Any one who visits a synagogue may notice the observance of this practice. In the synagogues of the Chassidim, jumping is preferred to lifting up the heels.
It is written (Ps. cii. 17), "He will regard the prayer of the destitute," and it is not written, "He will hear." What else can the term "regard" mean than that there is a distinction between the prayer of an individual and the prayer of a community? For when a community prays, their prayer enters before the Holy One--blessed be He!--and He is not particular to regard and criticise their works and their intentions and thoughts, but receives their prayers immediately. But when an individual prays, the Holy One--blessed be He!--regards and scrutinizes his heart, whether it be devout and whether he be a righteous man. Therefore, one should always pray with the community, and this is why the text (Ps. cvii. 17) ends with the words, "And not despise their prayer." Although there are some of the community whose prayers, on account of their evil deeds, deserve to be despised, He, nevertheless, does not despise their prayer.
Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 51, col. 1.
A man should study less on Friday, that he may occupy himself with the preparation for the Sabbath. And accordingly we find in the Gemara that some of the great and esteemed sages occupied themselves on that day in preparing what was needed for the Sabbath. Therefore, though one may have many servants to wait upon him, it is a great merit personally to prepare for the wants of the Sabbath in order thus to honor it; and let him not think it derogatory to his own honor to honor the Sabbath thus, for it is his honor to honor the Sabbath. It is written of H'A'ree of blessed memory, that he was in the habit of sweeping away the cobwebs in his house (in honor of the Sabbath), and it is well known to the initiated what a wonderful mystery it is to abolish the unclean spirits from the house, "And this is enough for him that understands."
Ibid., fol. 61, col. 1.
One should trim his finger-nails every Friday, never on Thursday, otherwise the nails will commence growing on
the following Sabbath. He should pare the nails of the left hand first, beginning at the fourth finger and ending with the thumb; and then he should pare the nails of the right hand, beginning with the thumb and ending with the fourth finger; he should not vary the following order: 4th, 2d, 5th, 3d, 1st of the left hand; then the 1st, 3d, 5th, 2d, 4th of the right hand. Never pare two (contiguous) fingers one after the other, for it is dangerous, and it also impairs the memory. The reason and mystery about the order for paring the nails are well known to the expert.
In the Zohar it is explained that the benefit of immersion on Friday amounts to the restoration of the soul to her proper place, for he who is bodily unclean has no soul.
Ibid., fol. 6 1, col. 2.
Before entering the plunging-bath, he is to repeat (Gen. i. 10), "And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering together of the waters called He seas." When he stands in the water he is to repeat seven times (Ps. li. 10), "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me," for the initials of "Create in me a clean heart," form the word "to dip," i. e., to immerse. For it is through immersion that the unclean spirits and the "other side," are separated from him, and he becomes a new creature by examining and confessing his (evil) deeds, and forsaking them, and by engaging himself in repentance, and immersing himself, and meditating on elevating subjects, and especially so if he has immersed himself fourteen times.
Ibid., fol. 61, col. 1.
When standing in the water he is to stoop four times, so that the water may reach his neck, answering to the four modes of legal execution. After that he is to repeat the form of confession, and while the water reaches up to his throat he is to repeat these three texts--Micah vii. 18-20, Jer. x. 24, and Ps. cxviii. 5, and then say, "As I cleanse my body here below, which is formed of clay, so may the ministering angels cleanse my soul, spirit, and ghost above in the river Dinor; and as I sanctify my body here below, so may the angels of the Most High, the ministering
angels, sanctify my spirit, soul, and ghost in the river Dinor above! In the name of Jehovah, He is the God and in the name of Adonai, the Rock of all Ages. Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever more!
Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 62, col. 1.
According to the Kabbalah, the thoroughgoing orthodox Jew has his hands full on Erev Shabbath, i. e., Friday. We cannot here go over the entire proceeding prescribed, but we will briefly touch upon its salient features in the order as we find them.
After having prepared himself for immersion, as above described, he is to turn his face and bow first toward the west and then toward the east, repeating a certain formula, and then dip himself under the water. This over, he is to turn again east and west and repeat a different formula, and while meditating on certain given letters of certain mystical divine names and other known words, and their respective numerical values, he is to dip a second time under the water. Then turning and bowing again west and east, repeating the while a different formula, he proceeds to meditate on different letters of the divine names, and dips for the third and last time. As dipping fourteen times is the exception and not the rule, no farther directions are given about the matter, except a few additional formulae and meditations.
When he comes out of the water he is to step backward in the same respectful manner as when he leaves the synagogue, and is to repeat Isa. iv. 3, 4, and Rabbi Akiva's commentary on the text Ezek. xxxvi. 25.
When he begins dressing he is to repeat Isa. liv. 17, and when he subsequently washes his face and hands and feet in warm water, to which is attached a great mystery, he is to say, "Behold, here I am, washing myself in honor of Sabbath the queen;" and add also Isa. iv. 4, and also, "I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" (Cant. v. 3.)
Happy is he who is able to provide himself with a complete suit of apparel down to the girdle, the shoes, and the hat for wearing on the Sabbath, different from those worn on week-days. Then he is to repeat the Book of Solomon's Song, and if unable to repeat the whole, he is, at all events, to repeat these four verses, the initials of the first word in each of which taken together form the word Jacob, Cant. i. 2, ii. 10, ii. 8, v. i. After this he is to repeat certain portions of the Mishnah, and something of the Zohar or some other Kabbalistic work.
This over, the devout Israelite goes to the synagogue to meet his God as the bridegroom, and to receive the Sabbath as the bride. The service is well worthy of rehearsal, but we must refer for details to the Liturgy.
The Israelite returns home from the synagogue accompanied by two angels, one good and the other evil; and according to the condition.
of the domestic arrangements when he re-enters, he is blessed by the good angel or cursed by the evil one.
The Israelite is solemnly warned not to quarrel with his wife on Sabbath-eve, for the devils are very busy then to stir up more strife, as is illustrated by the story of Rabbi Meir.
Having repeated the usual hymn appointed for the Sabbath-eve, and pronounced the form of blessing over the cup of wine, he and his family commence their supper, which is carefully prepared of the very choicest viands, flesh and fish included. Hymns and a certain form of blessing after the meal complete the family duties of the day, and all retire to rest. The head of the family, if he be a pious Israelite, and especially a disciple of the wise, has a particular duty to perform -a duty which is based on Scripture and on the following text (Exod. xxxi. 16), "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath." (Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 64, col. 1.)
Of the laws relating to the Sabbath we can here only enumerate a few; we shall, however, take them in order as detailed in the book before us.
Jewish women, maid-servants and girls are warned not to order a Gentile woman on the Sabbath to do this or that, but they may instruct her on a work-day what she is to do on the Sabbath.
Geese, fowl, cats, dogs, etc., are not to be handled on the Sabbath. Neither are pocket-handkerchiefs, spectacles, etc., to be carried on the Sabbath in an unwalled town or village. Radishes are not to be salted in quantities, but each piece is to be dipped separately in salt and eaten. After dinner the Israelite is to take a siesta, for each letter forms the initial of a word, and the words thus formed are "Sleep on the Sabbath is a delight." (See Isa. lviii. 13. ) Before he dozes off he is to repeat the last verse of the 90th and the whole of the 91st Psalm. The salutation should not be, as on working-days, "Good morning," but "Good Sabbath;" for respecting this it is said (Exod. xx. 8), "Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy." He is not to rise on the Sabbath as early as on the other days of the week, and this is based on Scripture. He is to be very careful with the fur garments that he may be wearing, lest he should pluck a hair therefrom, and for the same reason he is not to scratch his head or touch his beard on the Sabbath. He is not to wash his hands with salt or soap on the Sabbath, nor may he play at ball; he
is not to knock with a rapper on a door, or ring the house bell; nor, if he has married a widow, is he to co-habit with her on that day.
Kitzur Sh'lh, fols. 65-67.
At the close of the Sabbath he is to pronounce over a cup of wine what is technically termed the "Separation," for the departure of the Sabbath, as given in the prayerbook. He is then to fold up his Tallith or veil and sing "Hamavdil," the first verse of which runs thus:--
"May He who maketh a distinction between the holy (Sabbath) and the profane (days of the week) pardon our sins and multiply our children and our money as the sand and as the stars in the night!"
Should he forget to fold his veil (Tallith), he is to shake it thoroughly the next morning, in order to get rid of the evil spirits that have harbored there during the night, and the reason is known to the lords of the Kabbalah.
Ibid., fol. 71, col. 1.
It is customary then to repeat a number of hymns and songs and legends wherein Elijah the Prophet is mentioned, because he it is that is to come and bring the tidings of redemption, for it is thus stated in Tosephta, that on the exit of the Sabbath Elijah of blessed memory sits under the "Tree of Life" and records in writing the merits of those that keep the Sabbath. Those that are particular repeat, and the very pious write, "Elijah the Prophet, Elijah the Prophet, Elijah the Prophet," a hundred and thirty times, for "Elijah the Prophet," by Gematria equals 120, to which add 10, the number of the letters, and the total is 130. Ibid.
The word Elijah is written a hundred and thirty times in tabular form, with the letters transposed. This can be understood better by forming a Kabbalistic table of the same word in English.
Elijah Ehlija Ejahli Eijahl Elhija
Elahij Eljahi Elhaji Eljiah Ealijh
Eahlij Eajhli Eaijhl Ealhij Ehalij
Ehlaij Ehijla Ehjial Ehialj Ehjail
and so on.
The last day of the month is called, "The little Day of Atonement," and it is fit and proper to do penance on that day. On the first day of the month it is a pious act to prepare an extra dish for dinner in honor of the day. God has given the first of the month (as a festival) more for women than for men, because the three annual festivals are according to the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and because the twelve months are according to the twelve tribes; and as the tribes sinned in the matter of the golden calf, and the women were unwilling to give up their golden earrings for that idolatrous purpose, therefore they deserved that God should give them as their reward the first days of the twelve months, according to the number of the tribes.
Kitzur Sh'lh, fol. 72, col. 1.
It is a very pious act to bless the moon at the close of the Sabbath, when one is dressed in his best attire and perfumed. If the blessing is to be performed on the evening of an ordinary week-day the best dress is to be worn. According to the Kabbalists the blessings upon the moon are not to be said till seven full days after her birth, but, according to later authorities, this may be done after three days. The reason for not performing this monthly service under a roof, but in the open air, is because it is considered as a reception of the presence of the Shechinah, and it would not be respectful so to do anywhere but in the open air. It depends very much upon circumstances when and where the new moon is to be consecrated, and also upon one's own predisposition, for authorities differ. We will close these remarks with the conclusion of the Kitzur Sh'lu on the subject, which, at p. 72, col. 2, runs thus:--
"When about to sanctify the new moon, one should straighten his feet (as at the Shemonah-esreh) and give one glance at the moon before he begins to repeat the ritual blessing, and having commenced it he should not look at her at all. Thus should he begin--'In the united name of the Holy and Blessed One and His Shechinah, through that Hidden and Concealed One! and in the name of all Israel!" Then he is to proceed with the "Form of Prayer
for the New Moon;' word for word, without haste, but with solemn deliberation, and when he repeats--
'Blessed is thy Former, blessed is thy Maker, blessed is thy Possessor, blessed is thy Creator.'
He is to meditate on the initials of the four divine epithets which form 'Jacob,' for the moon, which is called 'the lesser light,' is his emblem or symbol, and be is also called 'little' (see Amos vii. 2). This he is to repeat three times. He is to skip three times while repeating thrice the following sentence, and after repeating three times forward and backward: thus (forward)--'Fear and dread shall fall upon them by the greatness of Thine arm; they shall be as still as a stone;' thus (backward)--'Still as a stone may they be; by the greatness of Thine arm may fear and dread fall on them;' he then is to say to his neighbor three times, 'Peace be unto you,' and the neighbor is to respond three times, 'Unto you be peace.' Then he is to say three times (very loudly), 'David, the king of Israel, liveth and existeth!' and finally, he is to say three times--
'May a good omen and good luck be upon us and upon all Israel! Amen.'"