Book Drawing – Ohr HaSechel – Mid-Late 15th Century

Take the picture at face value.

https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Vat.ebr.597 page 113R

“Manuscript facsimile of Abraham Abulafia’s Kabbalah meditation manual ‘Light of the Intellect’ (composed in 1285 in Messina, Sicily) VAT. EBR. 597 133 ff. (ff. 130v-133v blank). Parchment. 134 × 91 (74 × 52) mm. Quaternions., mid-late 15th century. Italian semi-cursive script. ספר אור השכל Or ha-Sekhel, kabbalistic work about the mysteries of the tetragrammaton by Abraham Abulafia. First edition Jerusalem 1999. On f. 3v, one of three parchment leaves added to the manuscript, another hand added the title and a poem beginning הנשמות מענג ספר קרא. On f. 130v another poem beginning אור השכל חלקי עינות. On f. 133v another hand added שמירת הדרך, a prayer for wayfarers. On f. 3r a note in a late Italian hand about the author. On f. 113r a full page portrait of a man facing a pair of candles and holding a book in which the letters aleph and yod are inscribed. The man is dressed in a white robe and is wearing a prayer shawl with blue fringes (zizzit) and phylacteries (tefillin). The inscription above the picture reads (in translation): “Be prepared for thy G-d, Israel”. Apparently, the portrait illustrates the text on the facing page that includes instructions for meditation: “Wrap thyself in white garments cover thyself with thy prayer shawl and crown thy head with phylacteries and face the east”. A quote from Abulafia’s Sefer Hayye Olam ha-Ba provides an even more precise commentary to this illumination: “Be prepared for thy G-d, Israel. Cover thyself with thy prayer shawl and put phylacteries on thy head and hands let all thy garments be white. Kindle many lights then take ink, pen and a table to thy hand now begin to combine a few letters” (G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, New York 1954, p. 136). The original manuscript is on ff. 4-133. Ff. 1-3 were added later. Censor (f. 130v): Camillo Jaghel, 1611.”

Additional Images

  • Abraham Abulafia's "Light of the Intellect" 1285, Vat. ebr. 597 leaf 113 recto
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