“By thirty-two mystical Paths has been established the Wisdom of YHVH Sabaoth, God of Israel, living Elohim, almighty God, high and supreme, living for all eternity.”-Sefer Yetzirah 1-1
We’re not real sure who actually wrote the Sefer Yetzirah. We only know it’s the oldest of the mystical texts that come to mind when we hear the word Kabbalah. Everything else that can be said about the speculation of its origin is exactly that, speculation. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Father Abraham theory and could easily ramble off a few posts about the lore but… there’s a much more practical aspect of the Sefer Yetzirah I’d like to share with you all first.
In a previous post on Goyim & Kabbalah I touched briefly on where the 32 mystical paths come from. “G-d said” appears 10 times. “G-d made” appears 3 times. “G-d saw” appears 7 times. The word G-d is used 12 times. 10 sefirot. 3 horizontal paths. 7 verticalf paths. 12 diagonal paths. The Sefer Yetzirah goes on to state that-
“He created His universe by three measures (number, text, and commentary), ten sephiroth in the Void, and twenty-two fundamental letters.-Sefer Yetzirah 1-1
-letting us know how vital a role language and numbers play in our understanding. Both are seen as the foundational building blocks of existence right. Well, meditative Kabbalah has always dealt with the use of Divine Names/Natures, letter permutations, and engraving techniques used to reach high state of consciousness. It’s a sort of yoga of the Israelites for a lack of better terms but that’s exactly what the Sefer Yetzirah is about. We have a relatively well preserved meditative manual with some strong magical overtones. It’s Divine mystery at it’s finest.
However it’s not likely that any two people will find the exact same message within it or even start at the same place after reading it. That’s where it gets interesting. Almost anyone I’ve ever discussed the manual with has asked me where to start. They see the Tree of Life diagram, understand it’s implications and yet somehow freeze. Which way is the right way?
Well, with 32 mystical paths…
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan notes the word for “paths” here is netivot (נְתִיבוֹת) not derech (דֶּרֶךְ) which is a public road. These sorts of hints are very typical of the Blessed Rabbis of Old, they were subtle. This slight shift from a public road to a private path carries a huge significance with it. There is no mystical expressway leading into the ancient mysteries. The journey is a private one. All anyone can do is offer a few signposts along the way but it is ultimately up to the traveler to decide which way to go.