Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Daily Hekhalot: Hekhalot Zutarti §421a (Anafiel Speaks)

Having finished a preliminary textual apparatus, translation, and notes for Hekhalot Zutarti §420, we now turn to an equally preliminary glimpse at the subsequent pericope.


Text:

אמר ענפיאל כל מי שהוא מבקש להתפלל התפילה הזאת ולהתבונן במעשה יוצרו זכור לו אות אחת מן האותיות האילו שוב אינו נפנה לא לימינו ולא לשמאלו עד שאפנה ואעשה לו את חפצו


Translation:

Anafiel said: Everyone who seeks to pray this prayer and to contemplate the works of his Creator should remember one sign/letter among these signs/letters: again we will not turn either to the right or to the left until I turn and I do for him his concern.


Variants:

N8128 includes השר after ענפיאל, and omits מי after כל.

M22 adds את before התפילה.

N8128 uses זו instead of זאת.

N8128 and M22 use יזכור rather than זכור.

M22 has לנו rather than לו.

O1531 has אחד rather than אחת.

O1531 has האותות rather than האותיות.

N8128 has הללו instead of האילו.

M40 and N8128 have איני.

O1531 has לו instead of לא after נפנה.

M40 and D436 both have לא לימין ולא לשמאל; N8128 has לא לימיני ולא לשמאלי.

N8128 has לא אשה לי and omits את; M40 has כל instead of את.


Notes:

As we ease into §421, we quickly switch gears. Here is another angel--or yet another name for the angelic keeper of the divine crown? Yet Anafiel is known from other sources in the Hekhalot texts. He shows up on Hekhalot Rabbati §§241-248 as well as Sefer Hekhalot / 3 Enoch §26. On Anafiel in general, see Rebecca Lesses, Ritual Practices to Gain Power, 359-362.


There is another major shift. Instead of a mystic, such as R. Ishmael or R. Akiva speaking and giving advice to the would-be descender to the chariot or adjurer of the Prince, here it is the angel himself who speaks and gives directions--something more reminiscent of 3 Enoch / Sefer Hekhalot, where Metatron speaks at great length to R. Ishmael.


Anafiel's directions regard some proper behavior for the mystic. In general, he is quite vague so far: it regards a prayer and reflecting upon creation. The prayer is probably particular and powerful--since there are further instructions on how to carry it out--but it is not (yet) stated or indicated in the passage. Reflecting upon the works of creation is a little clearer. It may reflect the issues of forbidden topics of explication. The "work of Creation" (note the slight difference with singular vs. plural)--along with the work of the Chariot (Ezekiel 1)--is one of the forbidden topics of interpretation, and, indeed, considered quite a dangerous business (see b.Hag. 11b-16b for copious examples). The difficulty of this prayer and this reflection on creation is noted in what one needs to do in order to carry out these prayers and inquiries. I read turning neither to one's right nor left as a moral exhortation: one does not stray. One keeps this moral purity until Anafiel does the mystic's concern. Or, if not a moral exhortation, it may relate more to a single-mindedness: not resting or doing anything else until accomplishing this goal. In this reading, to meditate on creation requires angelic assistance.


Reflection upon divine things requires the permission or acquiescence of the divine (or at least angelic)--or even forcing the hand of the angel. If my reading of "we" is correct, this is acquired through the joint effort of both Anafiel and the mystic. Both must stay on a straight path--one that is direct, or morally straight, or both.


By way of contrast, one might compare Rebecca Lesses's reading: "again, I will not turn to the right or the left, until I turn and I do his will" (Ritual Practices 361). Her reading makes a good deal of sense in the overall context of adjuration: the angel is stating how to adjure him so that the mystic can make Anafiel do his--the mystic's--will. In her reading, however, Anafiel is basically using the "royal we"; therefore, the point is that Anafiel comes directly to the mystic's aid when adjured.


N.B.: if you read this post earlier, you may notice I have changed my mind on a few of the readings and interpretations. Since no one commented on the earlier version I did not feel compelled to retain it.

2 comments:

Nir said...

נפנה is here the masc. sing. participle of פנה in נפעל form. (Equivalent to פונה in קל) So "He (the mystic) won't turn...", i.e. the angel will respond at once.

Jared said...

Nir--funny thing is that is what I originally had; then I changed my mind to imperfect first person plural.