THE THEOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF HIDDEN LIGHT (SEFER HA-BAHIR): PART 1. THE NOTIONS, TRADITION AND THEOLOGY OF SEVEN (Polish title below)
(Polish title: Teologia 'Ksiegi swiatla ukrytego' (Sefer ha-bahir): bukiet sukotowy. Cz. 1: Pojecia, tradycja i teologia siódemki)). Book of Hidden Light or Book of Illumination (Sefer ha-bahir), regarded as the first writings of Mediaeval Jewish kabbalah (the 1240s), is a particularly important text for Polish Jews of the 17th to 19th centuries. This extremely difficult, esoteric religious treatise has not yet received a holistic theological analysis. An analysis of this kind was attempted nearly half a century ago by Gershom Scholem but they were only fragmentary and not always successful. One of the key problems of the Book of Hidden Light is the Feast of the Booths (Sukhoth), its rich theological symbolicism and complex liturgy, and especially the sukkot bouquet (lulav) rites. The article focuses on the structure, liturgy and the symbolicism of lulav. Seven elements of the bouquet become a model of: 1. the liturgical time (week, sabbath, the Booths), 2. indefinite space (six directions and the centre), the human body and its sexuality, 3. the divine presence in the earthly world (Shekina), 4. the central place of Israel among the peoples, the heart of the world (lo-lev), 5. gematrically: 32 hidden paths of wisdom, known from the tradition of the Book of Creation (Sefer yetsira). The liturgical motion of the lulav - as it is waved (shaken) along three axes of the world, renews the cosmic order, released the divine judgment over Israel and imparts a messianic dimension to historical time.
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