By Vita Daphna Arbel
"A wide-ranging exploration of the Hekhalot and Merkavah literature, a magical Jewish culture from past due antiquity, together with a dialogue of the potential cultural context of this material's creators."
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Extra resources for Beholders of Divine Secrets: Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature
When I heard this loud voice I trembled and I was silent and I fell back until Hadari’el the prince came and bestowed upon me a spirit and soul; and raised me on my feet . . and he led me into the archives of comfort, archives of salvation, and I saw groups of serving angels sitting and weaving garments of salvation and making crowns of life for the righteous persons . . ”93 After Rabbi Ishmael undergoes a stage of separation from his common human disposition, he is given spirit and soul, reincorporated into a new state, and thus becomes capable of seeing concealed visions beyond phenomenological reality: .
54 Depiction of the upper worlds, the divine chariot, and the angelic rituals are provided. Hekhalot Zutarti relates Rabbi Akiva’s ascent to the upper heavens, delineated in a version of the story of “four who entered the Pardes,” found also in the Tosefta, the Talmud, and the Midrash. ”55 Their harsh fate illustrates indirectly the risks of the journey as well as the ways in which to avoid them. Rabbi Akiva also describes his vision of ascending to heaven, and 18 Beholders of Divine Secrets instructs members of Merkavah group who wish to ascend.
It depicts Rabbi Nehunia ben Ha-Kanah as a master sitting among his disciples in a “mystical assembly” amid torches of ﬁre and light. He reveals to them the nature of the mystical path and explains both aspects of the spiritual practice—how to reach the Merkavah and how to come back: . . and he [Rabbi Nehunia ben Ha-Kanah] sat on a bench of pure marble. . We all came and sat before him and there were friends who stood on their feet because they saw torches of ﬁre and light dividing them and us.
Beholders of Divine Secrets: Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature by Vita Daphna Arbel