An incredibly influential book of the Maasei Bereshit ("Workings of Creation") in the Jewish mystical tradition. Over eighty commentaries to it have come down to us across the centuries, many of them composed by prominent rabbinic figures. The book describes the "thirty-two paths of wisdom," consisting of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the ten sefirot. The book teaches that the letters of the alphabet are the building blocks out of which God constructs creation, and those who master the secret knowledge of the letters can also become a "lesser creator," even able to make for themselves a golem, or man-made anthropoid. Tradition credits Abraham as its author, though there is no internal evidence for this.
Article copyright 2004 Geoffrey Dennis.