I have always loved magic. Not so much the kind where the guy with the skinny mustache saws the blonde in half; more the kind where the frumpy looking worm builds a house around herself and in total dark and privacy, somehow manages to turn into something as unlike what she was before as, say, a wrench is to an elephant. That’s magic.
Everything’s magic, really. I mean, look around you. How did all this stuff get here? OK, I know there’s a basic division between those who believe that everything was created by a Deity, and those who believe that everything somehow managed to get here randomly, and natural selection, and mixtures of all of the above. OK. It doesn’t matter. The question remains: there is all this STUFF. How did it get here?
The Sabbath is almost here, so I don’t have time right this minute to tell you about how Kabbalah explains the Big Bang. Don’t worry–I will, after we’ve learned together a little more and gathered a few handy vocabulary items. For now, let’s just make the assumption that energy is matter and vice versa, and we shall see.
But getting back to Magic: isn’t that supposed to be forbidden? ”Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live,” and all that?
It depends. In fact, it all goes back to Creation.
I’m talking about ABRA-CA-DABRA, please and thank you!
In Hebrew, one of the important words for “to make” or “to create” has the root-form B-R-A (Hebrew words are formed out of three-letter roots).
As in, “Bereisheet BARA Elo-him et ha’shamayim ve’et ha’aretz.” “In the beginning, G-d created (BARA) the heavens and the earth.”
Do you see that three letter root in aBRA ca daBRA? Oh my goodness. The “a” prefix means “I will.” The “ca” means “as.” And what about the last word–dabra? It has the BRA in it, and it also has “da,” but in this case it’s not a prefix–it’s a whole new word. Actually, it’s a word-within-a-word.
The word for “speak” in Hebrew is DABER. Pronounced “dah-BEAR.”
Now we have to get back to creation. If you look at any of the ten utterances of creation (actually you will see only nine, since one is hidden), they begin, “And the LORD said.…,” and so it was. And the way it came into being was because G-d said it. The world was spoken into being. This teaches us that speech is very powerful, clearly. If worlds can be created through speech, then we had better take it very seriously.
ABRA-CA-DABRA. I shall create as I speak.
By now you should be thinking, wait a minute–this is nothing for some joker in a top hat and skinny mustache to be messing around with. And you’re right! But no worries–that guy probably doesn’t possess the immense spiritual development that would make him potentially dangerous in the Abracadabra department.
But Avraham did. That first Avraham, the one we talked about in Jewish Geneology. That Avraham was so close to G-d that it is said by our sages that he was actually capable of being a partner with G-d in creating new people. Yes, I know this is freaky. Stay with me.
There is a hint about that in the Scripture itself, in Genesis 12:5: “Avram took his wife Sarai and Lot, his brother’s son….and all the souls they had made in Haran.” The Kabbalists hint that “…all the souls that they had made in Haran” were actually real people, created anew in the flesh! Others say no, this is a figurative term for all the people that Avram and Sarai had turned on to the fact that idol worship is foolish, and so they were “as if” newly created beings.
However…there is a book called “Sefer Yetzirah,” or the “Book of Creation,” which I happen to have staring at me from my bookshelf right now. It was translated and annotated by a great scholar, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, who passed away a number of years ago at the age of 39. The book contains virtually all the secrets of life, from the way the universe is constructed, to the secrets of time, months, and seasons, and especially, the secrets of speech and its power to create.
The Sefer Yetzirah is said to have been authored by Avraham himself, and passed down through the ages as a memorized code. Sometime during the last few centuries B.C., a wise person wrote down the code in super-coded form, not even a page in length, because s/he knew that rough times were coming and a lot of people were going to be killed, and even worse, the traditions of our learning were likely to be broken.
Sure enough, that is just what happened. And luckily for us, the heirs of the tiny coded Sefer Yetzirah started writing more and more of it down, because they could see the writing on the wall, as far as the incipient scattering of our people. But the book, even though more of it was on parchment, was still shrouded with layer upon layer of encodement.
It is said that the Maharal of Prague used the Sefer Yetzirah to create his famous Golem, a man-like creature made from clay and brought to life via the secrets of the Sefer and the Four Letter Ineffable Name of G-d (Y-H-V-H).
So what can we learn from Abracadabra? To me, it means: be careful what comes out of my mouth, because speech is an agent of creation. We can build our child or our partner or ourselves up, make them feel good about themselves, inspire them to do good and think good, by means of our speech. On the other hand, we can tear them down with cruel words.
Some say that when we speak we are creating angels: good angels when we talk good, and bad angels when we talk bad. That is to say, when we are speaking kindly we are releasing good energy into the universe, and conversely, the opposite.
It really does matter what we say–and how we say it! Abracadabra, please and thank you! Shabbat Shalom!