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As Light Before DawnThe Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist$
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Eitan P. Fishbane

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804759137

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804759137.001.0001

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Techniques of Mystical Contemplation

Techniques of Mystical Contemplation

Kavvanah and Devotional Experience

(p.178) Seven Techniques of Mystical Contemplation
As Light Before Dawn
Stanford University Press

Central to kabbalistic behavior is the conduct of the mind, as reflected in the marked emphasis of the texts of medieval Kabbalah on concrete instruction and prescription. Because Isaac ben Samuel of Akko was indebted to the meditative posture of eastern Kabbalah, this characterization is highly applicable to his two works, Me'irat 'Einayim and 'Ozar Hayyim. Isaac's attempt to instruct his reader in the ways of mystical practice as he himself has received them, and as he understands them, gives rise to a distinct genre of Jewish mystical literature characterized as the rhetoric of prescription. This chapter presents a typology of contemplative practice that can be discerned in Me'irat 'Einayim and 'Ozar Hayyim, focusing on the movement, journey, and pilgrimage of consciousness through the divine sefirot; binary concentration and the nature of fixed intention (kavvanah); and visualization of the sefirotic realm and contemplation of the divine name. It also examines Isaac's notions of divided consciousness and intention, as well as two main modes of devotional contemplation advocated by him: one centered on Binah, and the other on the du-parzufin.

Keywords:   Kabbalah, Isaac ben Samuel of Akko, Me'irat 'Einayim, 'Ozar Hayyim, consciousness, contemplation, kavvanah, sefirot, Binah, du-parzufin

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