By Vita Daphna Arbel
"A wide-ranging exploration of the Hekhalot and Merkavah literature, a paranormal Jewish culture from past due antiquity, together with a dialogue of the prospective cultural context of this material's creators."
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Additional resources for Beholders of Divine Secrets: Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature
This state enables them to attain the divine reality in a personal direct manner, which seems to be of private concerns. They see God’s celestial palaces, behold the King at his beauty, and gaze at the Merkavah. As mentioned earlier, in these Hekhalot and Merkavah diverse literary accounts, we ﬁnd no consistent information regarding mystical concepts. In none of the writings can we ﬁnd an attempt to convey mystical ideas in a methodical fashion, or to introduce a coherent and systematic mystical doctrine.
68 This distinction could be related to the adept’s spiritual ability to make the transition from an ordinary level of awareness to a deeper level of understanding and perception, which enables an attainment of divine truth. In his discussion of the practical aspects of Jewish Kabblistic mysticism, Idel observes an important trend, appearing relevant to the Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism: From its beginning. ecstatic Kabbalah was an elite lore . . 79 This observation sheds light on Hekhalot and Merkavah’s demand for the spiritual perfection, accomplished only by several qualiﬁed individuals, who can make the transition from limited awareness to levels of transcendent perception.
Yet conﬂicting statements in several sources deny this option. Narrations in certain passages maintain an alternative, more traditional view, namely that God and human beings are forever separate. Although a few exceptional people are capable of crossing the boundaries, the act of passing from one realm to another is seen in these accounts as problematic and dangerous to both human and divine creatures. 20 Likewise, human beings are generally prevented from approaching God by ﬁerce celestial guards, who stand at every heavenly gate in order to block access to the divine sphere: At the entrance to the seventh palace stand and rage all mighty ones, ruthless, powerful, and hard, terrible, and frightening, higher than mountains and sharper than hills.
Beholders of Divine Secrets: Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature by Vita Daphna Arbel