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Synopsis

Sefer Yetzirah ("Book of Formation," or "Book of Creation) is the title of the earliest extant book on Jewish esotericism. "Yetzirah" is more literally translated as "Formation"; the word "Briah" is used for "Creation" A cryptic story in the Babylonian Talmud states that "On the eve of every Shabbat, Judah ha-Nasi's pupils, Rab Hanina and Rab Hoshaiah, who devoted themselves especially to cosmogony, used to create a three-year-old calf by means of the Sefer Yetzirah, and ate it on the Sabbath." Mystics assert that Abraham used the same method to create the calf prepared for the three angels who foretold Sarah's pregnancy in the Biblical account at Genesis 18:7. All the miraculous creations attributed to other rabbis of the Talmudic era are ascribed by rabbinic commentators to the use of the same book. According to modern historians, the origin of the text is unknown. Some scholars believe it might have an early Medieval origin, while others emphasize earlier traditions appearing in the book. The division of the letters into the three classes of vowels, mutes, and sonants also appears in Hellenic texts. The historical origin of the Sefer Yetzirah was placed by Reitzenstein in the 2nd century B.C., although Jewish Lore attributes it to Adam, and that Adam passed it to Noah and then to Abraham. This edition is specially formatted with a Table of Contents and includes images.

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