Friday, December 28, 2007

Defense Against the Darks Arts (Jewish Division): pages 4-5 of Havdalah de Rabbi Akiba

Prior pages:
5-25-07, page 1
6-6-07, page 2
11-28-07, page 3

[A havdalah spice box in the form of a fortress tower]

In this entry I continue my translation of the Hebrew theurgic manual, "The Havdalah of Rabbi Akiba." The going is rough. Whether because of poor transmission, a deliberate effort at obscurantism, or the limitations of my Hebrew and Aramaic, parts of the translation of these two pages are largely speculative. I take comfort in the fact that in the Hebrew published version, most of these two pages are taken up in extensive notes and proposed emendations, indicating that wiser men than I have also been baffled in trying to make good sense of this section. The translation:

By means of the angels of Adonai is a bright leopard burst.[1] I adjure[2] and I surely bind and I surely cut off, I surely forswear[3] against a[ny] spirit[4] or demon [Page 4]

Page 4

or shade[5] or spells or bindings or charms, evil acts or an evil eye, or any bad women, or any evil word, or any evil creation (woe) that is in the world; you[6] will clear away and cancel from the 248 limbs[7] of Peloni bar Peloni,[8] from this day and beyond in the name of Adiriron,[9] Adonai Tzevaot, Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh,[10] amen, amen, amen, selah! [Blessed are You….] Creator of the fruit of the vine. [11] [Blessed are You…] Creator of the Light of Fire. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, Who distinguishes between the sacred and the ordinary, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, and between the seventh day and the six days of creation.
How the proclamation of Your mouth[12] discloses Your fury,[13] Your Name, it will smite with fire. Who is He that His primordial name[14] [Page 5] declared it night – Hormin and Azariyah sat close to Masa.[15] [Page 6] And how…

Zal g'mor - to learn more, read the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism: http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Jewish-Myth-Magic-Mysticism/dp/0738709050

[1] This speculative translation is based on the premise that the first word, which has no obvious meaning, is actually an abbreviation. A “bright leopard” may refer to a shape-shifting demon that takes on animal form (See Amulets and Magic Bowls, pp. 200, 201) . If someone else has a better translation of bama n’fatz tzaf n’mar, I welcome it.
[2] See Amulets and Magic Bowls, pp. 164 - 65.
[3] Derived from “vow.” It can also mean “roll down/pour out,” but as phrases of power, oaths are a critical element in adjuration rhetoric.
[4] Most likely meaning a ghost, dybbuk, or poltergeist.
[5] A kind of night specter, Naveh and Shaked, Magic Spells and Formulae pp. 72-73
[6] The angels.
[7] The tradition that every person is made of 248 component limbs/bones appears in M. Ohel. 1.8 and Talmud Bavli Moed Katan 17a. A similiar formulation appears in the amulets TS K1.127 and TS K1.42 (See Schiffman and Swartz, Hebrew and Aramaic Incantation Texts from the Cairo Geniza, p. 120).
[8]Peloni bar Peloni” is the Jewish ideom for “John Doe,” indicating the adept should insert here the name of whomever is to be the recipient of this protective formula.
[9] This title, meaning something like “Mighty of the Mighty,” is sometimes used as a euphemism for YHWH, but also appears frequently, as it does here, in herem (expiation) adjurations.
[10] “Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts…” This is derived from the angelic adoration spoken in Isaiah 6:3. It is unclear from the text whether the adept is expected to recite the entire verse here, which concludes “…the fullness of the earth is His glory!”
[11] Having concluded this adjuration, the adept now recites the next part of the (non-esoteric) havdalah ritual that concludes the Sabbath and initiates the new weekday. Note that the blessing over spices does not appear here. According to Maimonides [Rambam], the symbolic use of fragrant spices is to cheer the soul which is saddened at the departure of the Shabbat. One inhales the aroma of the spices because during the Shabbat humanity is given a neshama yetera ("an additional soul"). (Ta'an. 27b; Bez. 16a). By custom, spices are not used during havdalah for a festival that ends on a weekday. It is not obvious why this passage would be using the festival form of havdalah. Perhaps the additional soul of Shabbat grants a measure of protection that the festivals do not, hence the rituals of protection surrounding this havdalah is intended to fortify the adept in the absence of the neshama yetera.
[12] The havdalah ritual complete, one continues with an adjuration. Wording based on emendation of p’nekha to pikha.
[13] Translation based on emendation of razkha to rogzekha. Meaning of this passage remains uncertain.
[14] Meaning is unclear. Perhaps this refers to Elohim, the term used for deity when He created day and night (Gen. 1).
[15] Hormin is a demon, a son of Lilith (Baba Batra 73a), while Azariyah is the nom de guerre of the angel Raphael by which he travels incognito in the Book of Tobit. Why these two names should paired remains a mystery, and perhaps the entire passage suffers from poor transmission, for the meaning eludes this translator.


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