G - The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism: Second Edition (2016)

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism: Second Edition (2016)



Gabirol, Solomon: Philosopher and poet (Spanish, ca. 11th century). Jewish occult tradition credits him with creating either a female golem or a mechanical automaton.1

1. Y. Liebes, “Rabbi Solomon ibn Gabirol’s Use of Sefer Yetzirah,” Jerusalem Studies 6 (1987) [Hebrew]: 104-105.

Gabriel: (59464). “Mighty One of God.” One of the four high angels that surround the Throne of Glory, Gabriel is a seraf, and a fiery angel, who stands at the left hand of God (Num. R. 2:10). He is the Angel of revelation, a role he fills in Christian and Islamic traditions also, as well as the Prince of fire (I Enoch; Deut. R. 5). He can also function as a piskonit, an advocate who questions God’s decrees. The same passage identifies his functions as “advocate, sealer, and locker” (Sanh. 44b). He is one of the swiftest angels, but not as fast as Michael (Ber. 4b).


The angel Gabriel by E. M. Lilien

He and Michael functioned as the witnesses at the Wedding of Adam and Eve, and he is one of the three angels who appear to Abraham bearing news of the birth of Isaac (Gen. 18; Mak. 86b). Of those three, it was Gabriel who destroyed Sodom in a rain of fire (Gen. R. 50:2; B.M. 86b). He was the “man” who directed Joseph to find his brothers, and in doing so, rendezvous with his destiny (Zohar I:184a). Gabriel also had a role in the Tamar-Judah affair in Genesis 38 (Sot. 10b). He brought revelations to and defended Daniel (Dan. 8-9; Meg. 3a; Sanh. 93b-94a; Yoma 77a).

Some traditions (though not all) identify him as the angel who wrestled Jacob. In one tradition, he is the angel who establishes Rome as a punishment for Israel, while in other versions of the same legend it is Michael (Shab. 56b; Sanh. 21b). He can act as an Angel of Death (Deut. R. 11:10). He can also function as a guardian angel; he nursed the infant Abraham through his finger, protected Israel in Egypt, and aided the infant Moses (Yalkut Ex.; Sot. 12b). He has other roles in human affairs also (Sanh. 44b; Shab. 55a).

He is one of the four guardian angels invoked for protection in the bedtime ritual of the kriat sh’ma al shemittah. The color red is linked to Gabriel, signifying that he is a manifestation of God’s judgment and linked to the Sefirah of Yesod (Sitrei Torah, Zohar I:99a). dreams are transmitted by Gabriel. He also clarifies the meaning of visions (Zohar I:149b). SEE ANGELUS INTERPRES.

Gad: (59468). This Hebrew word can have two fundamental meanings: “Luck” or “fortune.” Personified as a deity by the ancients, devotees would make food offerings to him (Gen. 30:11; Isa. 65:11; Shab. 67b). Invoking the power of Gad continued among Jews even after this idolatrous associate was forgotten, much like we today still speak of “luck” as a force or entity.

One of the twelve tribes of Israel. There are no esoteric or legendary traditions involving Gad that this writer has found to date. SEE DARGESH.

Gad the Seer: Advisor to King David. He is the purported author of a book of heavenly revelations. SEE WORDS OF GAD THE SEER, THE.

Galgaliel: (59488). “Cycle of God.” The Angel of the sun (I Enoch; III Enoch 17).

Galgalim: (59486). “Cycles/whirlwinds.” A class of Angels mentioned in Hechalot Rabbati.

Galitzur: (59484). An Angel known as “the revealer of the meaning of Torah” mentioned in Sefer Raziel. He is one of the angels that ministers before the Throne of Glory. His wings protect the other attending angels from the fiery breath of the Chayyot (PR 20:4). He is at times identified with the angel Raziel (Malachei Elyon, 180) SEE SAR HA-TORAH.

Galya Raza: “Revelation of a secret.” A Kabbalistic tract on reincarnation, this anonymous 16th-century work provides an elaborate Gnostic-flavored theory of Creation and the dominion of evil over the universe as a framework for its teachings about transmigration of Souls. It contains perhaps the most pessimistic interpretation of Creation to be found in a Jewish religious work since the apocalyptic writings.1 SEE GNOSTICISM; REINCARNATION.

1. L. Fine, ed., Essential Papers on Kabbalah (New York: NYU Press, 1995), 243-69.

Garden of Eden: SEE EDEN, GARDEN OF.

Garlic: Medievals included garlic, a multipurpose herb, in remedies to treat toothaches and epilepsy. Roasted garlic is an aid for virility. Garlic also has demon-repelling qualities—some could be hung in the doorway of a house (along with a rooster head) as an amulet to protect a newborn.1 Chayyim Vital included it in an alchemical formula for making silver.

1. Zimmels, Magicians, Theologians, and Doctors, 145.

Garment: (59497/Beged, 59500/Malbush; Chaluk). “Garment” is the term used in Kabbalah to refer to the barriers that protect the material world from being dissolved by the power of greater spiritual realities. Thus the Zohar teaches that the Torah we have on Earth, consisting of texts, stories, laws, etc., is really only the “garment of Torah.” The real, spiritual Torah is simply beyond the grasp of material beings, so it needs to be “clothed” for us to experience it (I: 134a; III:36a).

God, too, has “garments,” variously identified as God’s glory or Chashmal (the untranslatable substance Ezekiel sees at the center of the divine chariot). God is described in the Bible as wearing light as a garment (Ps. 104:2; Isa. 6). Hechalot Rabbati describes a divine robe of light that is covered all over with the Tetragrammaton. The Sages link this idea of God’s garment to Creation, suggesting that, in a sense, God “wears” the universe (Gen. R. 3:4; Ex. R. 15, 22; PdRE 3; PdRK 22:5; Zohar III:273a).1

There are a few references in tradition to magical garments among humans. There are, for example, the legendary garments of Adam, but there is also a mysterious cape or mantle described in Sefer ha-Malbush, “The Book of the Garment.” The mantle, made from deer skin and covered in divine names and then activated in an occult ritual at water-side, grants the adept magical powers. Practical Kabbalists sometimes dress in colored garments appropriate to the sefirah they are attempting to magically access.2 SEE EMANATION; FRINGES.

1. Green, Jewish Spirituality, vol. 2, 169. Also see E. Ginsburg, The Sabbath in Classical Kabbalah (Albany, NY: SUNY Press), 1989.

2. Idel, Hasidism, 198, 369-70.

Garments of Adam: Prior to the expulsion from Eden, Adam and Eve had bodies of light, or were sheathed in light (Gen. R. 20:12; Zohar I:36b; Zohar II:229b). Following the expulsion, God made them garments (Gen. 3:21), because they were stripped of the protective glory they had worn in the Garden (PdRE 14). Since the Bible describes the garments as made out of unspecified “skins,” one legend claims they were made out of the skin of the serpent (TargumYerushalmi, Gen. 3:7; 21), while another claims it was from Leviathan (Sefer Minchat Yehudah, Gen. 3:21; PdRE 20). These miraculous clothes allowed anybody wearing them to hunt and capture animals at will. They were permeated with the fragrance of Eden and never wore out. They passed from Adam through his descendants to King Nimrod. Esau took the garments from Nimrod when he slew the king (Gen. R. 63:13, 65:16-22; PdRE 24; Zohar I:74b). These were the same garments that Jacob wore to fool his blind father, Isaac, into thinking he was Esau. Even then, the garments still bore the unique scent of the Garden of Eden, which helped in the deception. Jacob was the last recorded owner of the garments (Gen. 27:27; Gen. R. 65:11; Tanh. Toldot 6:10; Zohar I:224b).

Some passages of the Zohar treat the garments of Adam as entirely allegory; a reference to being “clothed” in good deeds, in the promise of resurrection, or to the sefirot (I: 142b; 224a-b). SEE GARMENT.

Gate: (59530/Sha’ar, also Delet). A gateway is emblematic of access to celestial and underworld realms (Gen. 28:7; Pss. 24, 78). “Gates” as a metaphor for drawing close to God is also already evident in the psalms (118:19). There are five gates by which one may enter the divine realms and three that lead to Gehenna (Zohar I:1a). Heaven is filled with doors through which Prayers and deeds ascend (Ber. 32b; B.M. 59a; Gedulat Moshe).

Doors and gates are also liminal points by which demons and spirits may enter a home (Gen. 4:7). In the Exodus, smearing blood on the doorways of a dwelling created a barrier between the spirit of destruction able to move freely in the world and human habitations. Since the giving of the Torah, scriptures affixed to a doorway in a mezuzah serve the same function (J. Pes. 15d; A.Z. 11a). incantation bowls would be buried under a threshold to prevent entry by demons.

Gate of Mercy: (Sha’ar Rachamim). Known as the “Golden Gate” to the Arabs, it is a walled-over entryway on the east wall of the Temple platform. There is another passageway next to it known as the gate of repentance. The divine Presence once entered through it before the exile (Ezek. 44:1-3). At the end of time, Angels will finally open them both. Another tradition teaches that the original gate of Solomon's Temple sank below the Earth and will rise up along with the resurrected Souls at the end of time (Lam. R. 2:13). Through this gate the Messiah will enter Jerusalem.1

1. Z. Vilnay, Legends of Jerusalem (Philadelphia, PA: JPS, 1975), 54-56.

Gathering Spirits, Book of: (Sefer Kevitzat ha-Ruchot). This short book is an early medieval manual for gathering and controlling demons.

Gay: (59522). “Valley.” In the Zohar, it refers to a mysterious underworld dimension of the material world that links the Earth to the punishing afterlife (Ps. 23; Sitrei Torah, Zohar I:253b-254a). SEE GEHENNA.

Gedi: (59526). “Kid.” The Hebrew word for the zodiac sign Capricorn. It is linked to the month of Tevet, which is a winter month in the Land of Israel. A fast day is observed on the tenth of the month, marking the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans. It signifies sleep and dormancy, but also renewal and new birth (Tanh. 1). It is also the sign associated with Jacob (Es. R. 7:11).1 SEE GOAT.

1. Erlanger, Signs of the Times, 199-226.

Gedulah: (59528). “Greatness.” Another term for the sefirah of Chesed. SEE SEFIROT.

Gedulat Moshe: “Greatness of Moses.” A medieval text describing the afterlife. In it, Metatron and other Angels give Moses a tour of Gehenna and the seven heavens.

Gehazi: The servant of the Prophet Elisha was a man of bad judgment and weak faith. When the prophet commissioned him to take his rod and go resurrect the son of the Shunammite woman, Gehazi first tested the staff on a dead dog. The staff worked, but then lost its power, forcing Elisha to go personally to perform the miracle (2 Kings 5). Gehazi was punished by being afflicted with leprosy (Mid. Aseret ha-Dibrot). Later he helps King Jeroboam commit the sin of building golden calves for his sanctuary in the northern kingdom of Israel (Sot. 47a; MdRI Amalek 1). For this offense, he is counted as one of the few who will have no place in the World to Come (Sanh. 105a). By contrast, Hasidic tradition claims he was reincarnated as a dog (Shivhei ha-BeSHT).

Gehenna/Gehinnom: (59536/derived from Gay Hinnom). “The Valley of Hinnom.” Hell; the punishing afterlife.

Originally the word referred to the valley on the west side of the Old City of Jerusalem. Because in biblical time the valley was the site of Pagan worship, including the tophets for child sacrifice, the term has become synonymous with evil, and it is imagined to be the location of a gate to hell, Gehinnom, or in its Greek iteration, Gehenna.

Aside from the book of Daniel, the Hebrew Bible is virtually silent on the topic of a punishing afterlife. I Enoch gives the first detailed description of Gehenna as an abysmal furnace where the wicked are fettered in burdening chains and tormented by fire. Interestingly, Enoch provides conflicting testimony as to the duration of this suffering. Some passages suggest that the punishments of Gehenna will last until the final judgment, when it will give up its dead, while other verses indicate the wicked are eventually completely consumed by its fires and annihilated (I Enoch 51, 63, 56).

The exact nature of Gehenna varies from text to text and tradition to tradition. It should come as no surprise that a vast fiery furnace (inspired by a description in Daniel) filled with coal, pitch, and sulfur is the most popular image (Pes. 94a). One text claims there are no less than five different kinds of fire burning there. Bitter cold and pervasive darkness is also a common motif, a theme first appearing in II Enoch, which distinguishes between compartments of fiery and icy retribution. Rabbinic literature describes the punishments of Gehenna as alternating fire and ice (PdRK 10:4; J. Sanh. 10:3).

Gehenna came into existence on the second day of Creation, which is why that is the only day which God does not declare “good” (Pes. 54a, based on Gen. 1; Ned. 39b). There are three gates to Gehenna guarded by three angelic princes: Kipod, Nasagiel, and Samael. One gate opens to the desert, another to the sea, and the third to the valley of Ben Hinnom outside Jerusalem (Eruv. 19a; BhM 2:30). In the Zohar, Gehenna is a byproduct of the left side of the sefirotic emanations. According to Gedulat Moshe, Gehenna is a living entity that eternally hungers for the Souls of the righteous, a hunger that can never be sated.

According to Masekhet Gehinnom, Gehenna is divided into seven precincts (madori) or palaces. The seven compartments of hell are Sheol, Abaddon, Beer Shachat, Bor She’on, Tit ha-Yeven, Domah, and Tevel. The Nahar deNur, the river of Light that flows from under the Throne of Glory, separates Gehenna from the seven heavens. Many other rivers—streams of gall, pitch, and poison—flow from precinct to precinct (Sot. 10b; Mid. Teh. 11:6-7; Zohar I:62b).

Each compartment contains its own team of punishing angels headed by a princely angel, and each has its own unique punishments intended for specific kinds of sins: those who denied succor to the poor dwell in icy misery, slanderers hang by their tongues, etc. Some souls experience repeated cycles of horrific destruction and painful reconstruction, but everyone is spared for the duration of the Sabbath (except the Sabbath desecrators) (Sanh. 65b; Gen. R. 11.5; PR 23:8). Some precincts are reserved exclusively for the sinful gentile nations, such as the seven Canaanite nations and the Romans.

The most striking aspect of what emerges out the Second Temple Period is the radical divide from the Christian and Islamic versions of the punishing afterlife: Judaism rejects that punishment endures for all eternity. Taking the rather unqualified biblical statement, “The dust returns to the Earth as it was, while the spirit returns to God who gave it,” at its word, the Talmudic era Sages conclude that punishment is transitory. Despite the enthusiastic endorsement it receives in pseudepigraphic writings, the Rabbi reject eternal punishment as incongruent with a God who is both just (infinite punishment for a finite life of sin?) and compassionate. There is also an element of God being conscious of sharing responsibility for our moral shortcoming. God designed us with this potential to sin built in, so how can the Creator totally fault the creation for acting within specs? (see RaSHI’s commentary on Chagigah 15b,* for example, or the famous parable on Cain and Able in Genesis Rabbah 22:9).

The Talmud specifically limits the time that souls must spend in Gehenna to a maximum of twelve terrestrial months:

Rabbi Akiba said: The duration of the punishment of the wicked in Gehinnom is twelve months. (Shab. 33b)

This conclusion is not arrived at spontaneously. The Talmud preserves a series of textual duals that established this doctrine:

R. Joshua b. Levi stated: Gehinnom has seven names, and they are: Nether-world (or “Sheol”), Destruction, Pit (or, “‘pit of destruction”), Tumultuous Pit, Miry Clay, Shadow of Death and the Underworld … [it is demonstrated each name appears in the TaNaKH] … But are there no more [names]? Is there not in fact that of Gehinnom? [This means,] a valley that is as deep as the valley of Hinnom and into which all go down for gratuitous acts … whosoever is enticed by his evil inclination will fall therein. (Eruv. 19b)

Beit Shammai taught: There are three groups—one is destined for eternal life, another consigned to eternal ignominy and eternal abhorrence (these are the thoroughly wicked), while those whose deeds are balanced will go down to Gehinnom, but when they scream they will ascend from there and be healed … but Beit Hillel taught: “[God is] rich in kindness” (Ex. 34:6). [He is] inclined toward mercy. (T. Sanh. 13:3)

This argument is in relation to the most wicked of all—the generation that drove God to undo creation:

The generation of the Flood have no share in the World to Come (see M. Sanh. 10:3) “The judgment on the generation of the Flood was for twelve months, on Job for twelve months, on the Egyptians for twelve months, on Gog and Magog in the Hereafter for twelve months, and on the wicked in Gehinnom for twelve months” (M. Eduyot 2:10). [In the end, Hillel’s opinion prevails.]

These issues are reiterated and resolved in the say way in the Midrash (Gen. R. 28:8, 33:7; Seder Olam ha-Ba). Jewish hell is about remorse, whereas Christian and Islamic notions of hell are all about despair. If there are any unredeemable souls, their fate is annihilation and nonbeing, not eternal torment:

After 12 months, their body is consumed and their soul is burned and the wind scatters them under the soles of the feet of the righteous. (R.H. 17a)

Occasionally, one can find a dissenting opinion about the duration of Gehenna:

The wicked stay in Gehinnom till the resurrection, and then the Messiah, passing through it redeems them. (Emek ha-Melech, f. 138, 4)

In addition, the tradition tells us that souls in Gehenna also get Shabbat and holidays off (Sanh. 65b). In tractate Berachot, the Sages can only think of seven individuals of the biblical period who would merit such harsh treatment. After many excruciating months of purgative suffering, the souls are finally reduced to ash and their purified essence now awaits the resurrection. Sometimes famous biblical evildoers, for whom there is no redemption, are associated with a specific level of Gehenna.1

In III Enoch and subsequent writings, we again see the concept that souls are divided into three categories, though this is slightly different than the three listed in Talmud: the Righteous, the wicked, and the beinonim, “in-betweens,” the bulk of humanity who have both merits and sins recorded in the Book of Life. The conditions and duration of the soul’s sojourn in Gehenna depends on which category one belongs to. It is interesting to note that the righteous must appear there, but just long enough to plead on behalf of the sinners and use their merit to ease their punishments (B.B. 84a; Tam. 32b; Shab. 152b; Suk. 32b; Ex. R. 51:7; PR 41:3; Mid. Ruth 79b; Tanh. Noah 1, Bo 2).

The key to avoiding Gehenna is one’s actions. Unlike Christianity and Islam, in which salvation hinges on a certain gnosis and/or adherence to a universal doctrine, Judaism uses this criteria:

He who has Torah, good deeds, humility, and fear of heaven will be spared from punishment [in Gehinnom]. (PR 50:1)

Therefore Maimonides could declare: “The pious of all nations will have a potion in the World to Come” (Yad, Teshuvah 3.5).

1. R. Patai, Gates to the Old City: A Book of Jewish Legends (New York: Avon Books, 1980), 277-81; also see Raphael, Jewish Views of the Afterlife.

Gematria: (59543). “Calculations/Numerology.” Gematria is a complex hermeneutic technique in which numbers are used to reveal messages in texts and thereby derive insight into the order of the universe.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter possesses a numeric value: alef = 1; bet = 2; gimel = 3; dalet = 4; hay = 5; vav = 6; ziyan = 7; chet = 8; tet = 9; yud = 10; kaf = 20; lamed = 30; mem = 40; nun = 50; samech = 60; ayin = 70; payh = 80; tzadi = 90; kuf = 100; resh = 200; shin = 300; and tav = 400. Some methods also assign additional numeric values to the “final forms” of the letters mem, nun, tzadi, payh, and kaf (in Hebrew orthography, the shapes of these five letters change when they appear at the end of a word). Gematria involves calculating the value of letters, names, words, and phrases, and then deriving homiletic or occult meaning from the numbers, often by matching them to words and phrases of equivalent value.

Interpretation via numerology is accepted among the thirty-two hermeneutic rules of the Torah laid down by the Talmudic Sages. The theosophical basis for gematria is first articulated in Sefer Yetzirah. There it is taught that numbers, like the Hebrew alphabet, are the hylic matter from which God constructs the universe. Therefore numeric relationships, especially those that appear in the language of Scripture, are not accidental or coincidental. Rather, such equivalencies reveal key interrelations in the structure of God’s universe and hidden creative potentials.

A preoccupation with hidden number relationships is clearly evident in the Torah itself. Thus, for instance, there are precisely seven words in the first verse of Genesis, equaling the seven days of Creation. Perhaps the most famous example is one revealed in the Talmudic interpretation of Genesis 14:14, in which Abraham took 318 retainers with him to rescue his nephew Lot from an army of marauding kings:

“And he armed his trained servants, born in his own house …” Rab said; he equipped them by [teaching them] the Torah. “Three hundred and eighteen …” R. Ammi b. Abba said: “Eliezer outweighed them all. Others say, It was [only] Eliezer [Abraham took with him] for this [318] is the numerical value of his name.” (Ned. 32b)

The extraordinary nature of this correlation is further enhanced when one realizes that “Eliezer” is a theophoric name meaning “My God is a help,” implying that Abraham rescued Lot from the armies of four kings with God’s aid alone. Other example of Talmudic homilies built around gematria can be found in Shabbat 145b; Yoma 54a; Nazir 5a; Eruvin 65a; Sanhedrin 38a; and Avot 3:18.

More sophisticated methods of finding meaning in Scripture soon emerged. From the first words of Exodus 35:1, Rabbi Nathan derived that there are thirty-nine categories of forbidden labor on the Sabbath. Another Sage notes that since there are 613 commandments in the Torah yet the word “Torah,” only equals 611, which reveals to us that the first two commandments God spoke at Mount Sinai were heard directly by the people, while all the rest came through the agency of Moses.

While rabbinic use of gematria was relatively infrequent, it was much more appealing to the medieval mystics, the German Pietist, and the Kabbalists, for gematria appealed to their interest for occult revelation.

The medieval text Tikkunei Zohar endorses four hermeneutic methods of calculation: absolute values (straight equivalency), ordinal values (valuing each letter 1-22, thus mem = 12, shin = 21), reduced values (letters with values of 1, 10, or 100 are revalued at “1”; 2, 20, or 200 at “2,”etc., so that there are only nine values), and integral reduced values (each letter of a word is valued at one, up to a maximum of nine for a nine-letter word). Together these four methods coincide with the four-letter name of God and the four worlds. Later traditions listed even more methods, as many as seventy-five.

While gematria has little authority in determining Jewish law, it plays a significant role in Jewish esoteric teachings and is a staple element of Kabbalah. The German Pietists had a deep interest in the numeric values concealed in both Scripture and Jewish Prayer texts. They also devoted much reflection to the numeric values of angelic and divine names. It is interesting to note that occult interest in numerology helped spur the standardization of the wording for the siddur, with spellings being fixed, in part, based on the gematria value that they yielded.

Classical Kabbalah elaborates even further on these practices. Works by mystics such as Joseph Gikkatilla and Abraham Abulafia also overflow with numerology. Chasidism found much value in numerology, and many Chasidic sermons and writings hinge on numerological interpretations.

Gematriaot, Sefer: A medieval book of protective magical procedures. It includes the prophylactic and theurgic use of Scriptural verses, magical formulae, and the healing power of gemstones.

Gemstones: Precious and semiprecious stones have been used as sources of occult power throughout human history. The ancient Mesopotamians spoke of an elmeshu stone that the gods used for divination.1 Alchemists claim the legendary philosopher’s stone made it possible to turn lead to gold. Jews, too, have many occult traditions related to gemstones, and their power is suggested in the Latin proverb, Judaeos fidem in lapidibus pretiosis, et Paganos in herbis ponere (“Jews put their trust in precious stones and Pagans in herbs”).

The most famous gems mentioned in the Bible are the twelve stones, set in three columns of four rows, in the breastplate of the High priest. Miraculous properties have been ascribed to the twelve stones, primarily as tools in divination. Since the exact translation of Bible mineralogical terms is now lost, there are multiple conflicting lists for the stones that were actually used. This list comes from the medieval text Sefer ha-Gematriaot:

Odem (Ruby) has many benefits for fertility—it enhances male potency, prevents miscarriage, and eases labor pangs.

Pitdah (Topaz) combats fevers and is also useful in love potions and rituals.

Bareket (Carbuncle) sharpens the mind and combats the effects of old age.

Tarshish (Beryl) helps digestion.

Nofech (Jade, Emerald, or Carbuncle) enhances strength and courage.

Sapir (Sapphire) has medicinal value, especially in treatment of the eyes.

Yahalom (Emerald) is a good luck charm and a sleep aid.

Leshem (Jacinth) can be used for scrying.

Shebo (Agate) keeps a person secure and stable on foot or on horseback.

Shoham (Onyx) is a charm that will gain favor for the wearer.

Ahlamah (Amethyst) increases physical courage and is a phylactery against evil spirits.

Yashfeh (Jasper) is useful in keeping one from revealing secrets and in curbing ardor.2

Other gems of power also appear in Jewish narratives. Jonah, for example, discovered a pearl that gave off light, illuminating the interior of the fish that swallowed him. Perhaps the most famous gemstone is the tzohar, a fragment of supernal light given to Adam and his descendants. Those who possessed it could access many occult powers. Some legends claim the First Temple was studded in gems, while many images of the heavenly Jerusalem and Edendescribe the walls and structures of these places as being built from precious stones. SEE URIM AND THUMMIM.

1. H. Rawlinson, Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, vol. IV (London: British Museum, 1894), 18, no. 3.

2. Trachtenberg, Jewish Magic and Superstition, 265-67.

Genesis Rabbah: (Bereshit Rabbah). One of the most influential collections of the Midrash. Entirely devoted to the book of Genesis, the work contains many fantastic traditions concerning Creation, the mythic past, and biblical figures and events.

Geomancy: (59558/Goral ha-Chol). divination using rocks, pebbles, and/or sand. Stones are cast on a smooth surface—paper or a tabletop—and the resulting patterns are interpreted. Chayyim Vital describes a consultation with a witch who used geomancy to summon divinatory demons (Sefer ha-Hezyonot 21). The most influential and complete of these texts is the anthology of geomancy divination texts, collectively known as Sefer ha-Goralot ha-Chol “The Book of Fates of Sand” by Shalom Shabbazi (Yemen, 17th century). Others of these works are attributed to notable figures such as Sa’adia Gaon and Ibn Ezra. Most of these documents combine the practice with either astrology or gematria of a type derived from Islamic divination.1 SEE GEMSTONES.; ROCK; URIM AND THUMMIM.

1. H. Goodman, “Geomancy Texts of Rabbi Shalom Shabazi,” Proceedings of the Second International Congress, Institute of Semitic Studies, Princeton University, 1999, 1-8.

German Pietists: (Chasidei Ashkenaz). This mystical pietist sect of 12th-13th century Rhineland was one of the most important esoteric movements in Jewish history, as well as a major source of Jewish magical and occult traditions. Most of the major figures were related familially, being branches of the Kalonymus family that moved north from Italy. They are now regarded to have been a major conduit of transferring Jewish esoteric traditions of Mediterranean and Asian antiquity to Europe. Drawing inspiration from the Hechalot literature, Sefer Yetzirah, and the esoteric teachings they collected and preserved, this small mystical brotherhood among the Rhineland communities of what would become France and Germany expounded many new insights and added new practices to Jewish life based on their beliefs. Their central theological premise was that the Pleroma was distinguished into three emanating levels: the unknowable God (the Deus absconditus), the upper glory (Kavod), and the lower Glory. Only the two glories interact with the created order.

Their esoteric interests were closely bound up with the numeric mysticism of gematria. They also had a keen interest in contemplative practices, Angels and demons, dream divination, and practical theurgy. Key figures include Samuel ben Kalonymus he-Chasid, Eleazar ben Judah of Worms, Abraham ben Azriel, and Judah ben Samuel he-Chasid, the last being the author of the major work of the Pietist tradition, Sefer Chasidim, the “Book of the Pious.” They also made significant contributions to the development of Jewish liturgy, standardizing Prayers to better comport with their mystical theories. One of their great contributions was the erotic paean to God, Shir ha-Kavod, which many congregations still recite at the close of Shabbat services.1 SEE GEMATRIA; TOSAFISTS.

1. Hayem Soloveitchik, “Piety, Pietism, and German Pietism,” The Jewish Quarterly Review Nos. 3-4 (January-April, 2002): 455-493.

Gerona Kabbalists: The city of Gerona in northern Spain became the center of mystical teachings during the 13th and 14th centuries. A colony of the Provencal Kabbalists influenced by many of the same texts that compelled the German Pietist, the Kabbalists of Gerona developed their own unique vocabulary of theosophical symbols. They also infused their metaphysical traditions with scholastic philosophy and applied their ideas to create a genre of esoterically inspired ethics. The Gerona circle produced the influential mystics Azriel and Ezra of Gerona, Nachmanides, and Jacob ben Sheshet Gerondi.1

1. J. Dan, Jewish Mysticism and Jewish Ethics (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aonson, 1977).

Gerushin: (59566). “Divorce/exile [from the material].” A meditation technique espoused by Elijah de Vidas and Moses Cordovero entailing long periods of isolation, either by wandering in isolated landscapes or remaining at the graveside of a righteous man, to achieve mystical insights (Sefer ha-Gerushin; Or Yakar 13:75; Sha’ar Ruach ha-Kodesh). As this passage indicates, “isolation” is a relative term. As is so often the case in Jewish mysticism, this is a group discipline:

What I and others have experienced in connection with gerushin, when we wandered in the fields … discussing verses from the Bible suddenly, without previous reflection. On these occasions, new ideas would come to us in a manner that cannot be believed unless one has seen or experienced it many times. (Or Ne’erav, part 5, chap. 2) 1

The preeminent goal seems to be to receive mystical insight into scriptures and the meaning of Jewish symbols and rituals. SEE DEATH; INCUBATION; MEDIUM; POSSESSION, GHOSTLY

1. M. Hallamish, An Introduction to Kabbalah (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1999), 84.

Gervasius, Julius: German alchemist (ca. 18th century). Some historians claim that, writing under the nom de plume of Abraham Eleazar, Gervasius composed Uraltes Chymisches Werk, a famous book of Alchemy. This theory, while interesting, really has no more going for it than the more straightforward conclusion that the named author of the book is also the actual author.

Get: (59582). “Divorce certificate.” Intriguingly, a number of Jewish EXORCISM techniques use the language of Jewish law in their dealings with the demonic. Thus there are several incantation bowls inscribed with incantations written in the form of a get, a certificate of divorce.1 Such “spirit gets” are directed against any Lilith or succubus that has been sexually tormenting a male victim. SEE JOSHUA BEN PERACHIA.

1. Naveh and Shaked, Magic Spells and Formulae, 17-18, 27, 159-61.

Gevul, Sefer ha-: A commentary on the Zohar by Judah ben Samuel he-Chasid.

Gevurah: “Power/dynamis.” The fifth sefirah and the principle of divine justice, power, fear, and even terror. It is the left arm of the macrocosmic Anthropos. Thus, it is also the source of the cosmological “left side”—evil, destructiveness, cruelty, and the demonic in Creation. It is the point from which Lilith emerges. It must be balanced by the forces of Chesed, abundant love. It is a feminine principle yet is personified, ironically, in the lower worlds by the Patriarch Isaac. He is so linked to it because he willingly accepted the severe decree that he be sacrifices by his father. It is symbolized by the color red.1 SEE SEFIROT.

1. D. Matt, trans., The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, vol. 1 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004-2013), L.

Ghost: (59575/Rafa, also Ruach; ha-Met). The idea that spirits of the dead can continue to dwell among the living is an ancient Jewish belief. Most ghosts in Jewish tradition are either Souls of the dead who have not yet made the transition into the World to Come, or are spirits that are somehow disturbed or summoned by the living. The only ghost story found in the Bible describes how the ghost of the Prophet Samuel is temporarily summoned from the realm of the dead for the purposes of a séance (2 Sam. 28).

Rabbinic literature, by contrast, is replete with ghost stories. It is possible for the pious among the living to hear the ghosts of the dead conversing in the cemetery at night (Ber. 18b). The dead can communicate with both the living (B.B. 58a; Pes. 113b; M.K. 28a) and the divine realms (B.M. 85b). They are a source of knowledge for all that transpires in the world (PdRE 34). In rabbinic and medieval accounts, ghosts are usually limited to appearing in a dream or lurking within the confines of a graveyard (SCh 452, 709-10, 728), though there is one exceptional story in which the spirit is free to come to visit the living wherever they may be (SCh 170). Later belief held that ghosts could move more freely, but needed to find a living host, thus becoming an ibbur or dybbuk (Sefer ha-Hezyonot 22-24; Nishmat Chayyim 3:11; 4:10). Ghosts can take a variety of forms, human or animal (Ma’asei ha-Shem). Chasidism has many tales of dead spirits visiting and dwelling among the living (ShB 100). SEE BURIAL.; DEATH; EXORCISM; MIDNIGHT; NECROMANCER NECROMANCY; POSSESSION, GHOSTLY.


Giants: (59590/Nefilim, also Refaim; Gibborim; Emim; and Anakim). In common with other world cultures, many stories of an ancient race of giants appear in Jewish tradition. The basis for the tradition of a race of giants is Genesis 6:4, the same locus classicus for the tradition of fallen angels. The angels came down and took wives among mortals. The giants were either around at the time of those events, or the offspring of those unions (the phrasing of the Hebrew in Genesis 6 is ambiguous): “The nefilim were on the earth in those days …” This may suggest that the Nefilim were there when the angels arrived. Part of the confusion arises over the word nefilim, which at first glance looks like a noun derived from the verb nafal, “fell,” suggesting that nefilim means something like “the fallen.” Many modern scholars point out the spelling of nefilim is not correct for that kind of derivation, and the word more likely simply means “giants.”

Genesis 6:4 may be intended to account for the stories about mythological heroes well-known throughout the ancient Near East, “these were the gibborim [heroes, superheroes, demigods?] of old, the men of renown.” However underdefined the language of Genesis, the earliest translations of the Bible, the Septuagint and the Targum, assumes Genesis is talking about gargantuanism, translating both nefilim and gibborim as “giants.”

Variously known as the Nefilim [traditionally spelled “Nephilim” in English] (Num. 13:32-33), the “children of Anak” (Ibid., Deut. 9:2), the Emim (Deut. 2:10-11, 21), the “children of Hor” (Ibid.), and the Refaim (Ibid., 2 Sam. 21:16-22), the giants were prevalent enough that the spies saw them throughout their scouting of Canaan, “we saw men of giant stature … we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers …” (Num. 13:32) and Moses repeatedly alludes to them in Deuteronomy, most notably in reference to the massive King Og of Bashan, who approached fifteen feet in height (Deut. 3:11): “Only King Og of Bashan was left remaining of the Refaim.” Apparently this was not a wholly accurate report. Hundreds of years later, David had to fight the giant Goliath, and David’s soldiers had to kill a number of them (2 Sam. 21; I Chron. 20:4-8). Perhaps the different names signified different clans within the ethnos of giants.

Post-biblical texts identify many more giants by name, including Ahijah, Hiva, and Hayya, the sons of the angel Shemchazi (Nidd. 61a; Book of Giants). The giants are consistently portrayed as violent and defiant of God. They were cannibals and, in one tradition, they were so berserk with lust that they copulated with every kind of land beast (I Enoch 10). They were, in any case, very destructive, consuming whole herds of animals at a sitting and generally terrorizing mankind (III Maccabees 2:4; I Enoch 6:2-7:5; Mid. Abkir; Book of Giants). It was such behaviors that helped trigger the Flood.

Most giants were subsequently wiped out in the deluge, but some survived, as evidenced by their continuing presence among the Canaanite and Philistine peoples. They managed to survive the Flood because Og (later king of Bashan) persuaded Noah to allow him on the Ark (Zev. 113a). Og finally died at the hand of Moses when he tried to destroy the Israelite encampment in the desert by hurling a mountain onto it. God caused the hollowed mountain to fall on him like a yoke, and Moses was able to slay the encumbered giant:

He [Og] said: How large is the camp of Israel? Three parasangs. I will go and uproot a mountain of the size of three parasangs and cast it upon them and kill them. He went and uprooted a mountain of the size of three parasangs and carried it on his head. But the Holy One, blessed be He, sent ants which bored a hole in it, so that it sank around his neck. He tried to pull it off, but his teeth projected on each side [like tusks], and he could not pull it off. This is referred to in the [biblical] text, “Thou hast broken the teeth of the wicked” … The height of Moses [grew to] ten cubits. He took an axe ten cubits long, leapt ten cubits into the air, and struck Og on his ankle and killed him. (Ber. 54b. Also see Num. R. 21; Tanh. B. 55).

David and his mighty men slew the brothers Goliath and Ishbi-benob and their giantess mother, Orpah (Sanh. 95a; Gen. R. 59).

The exact dimensions of giants vary from tradition to tradition. Minimalist accounts, like those of Goliath, put them at the nine to ten foot mark, while later rabbinic literature often describes them in much grander terms (by one account twenty-three thousand ells—almost one hundred thousand feet). Often they are described with monstrous features: extra fingers and toes, multiple rows of teeth, and the like (Deut. R. 1; Chul. 60a; I Enoch 7). Some accounts break them into three classes, on the assumption that the different biblical names reflected meaningful distinctions. The Rabbis considered gigantism a potential problem even in their own days (Bik. 45b).

Giants, Book of: (Sefer ha-Gibborim). Apocryphal work that gives an expanded account of the race of giants produced by the sexual intercourse between fallen angel and mortals mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4. A copy of the text in Hebrew, preserved in fragmentary form, has been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q203, 1Q23, 2Q26, 4Q530-532, 6Q8). The Jewish text is believed to be the source for a more widely dispersed and influential Manichean/Gnostic version that is known by the same name. That intact Gnostic version includes an account of a war between the giants and the host of heaven prior to the Flood.

Gihon: (59609). One of the four primordial rivers that flowed from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2). It is identified with a spring that wells up in the Kidron Valley of Jerusalem and that has always been the city’s main water source. It was rerouted by King Hezekiah. A later legend claims it was stopped up until Chayyim Vital , who divined its location from a ghostly visitation of his teacher, Isaac Luria, reopened it. In the time of the Messiah, it is presumably the waters of Gihon that will flow both east and west out of Jerusalem, gradually expanding to gargantuan volumes, sweetening the waters of both the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea (Ezek. 47:1-12).

Gikkatilla, Joseph ben Abraham: Kabbalist (Spanish, ca. 13th century). A student of Abraham Abulafia, Gikkatilla composed several highly influential Kabbalistic works, including Ginnat Egoz, Sha’arei Orah, and Sha’arei Tzedek. His Sha’arei Orah, in particular, outlines many of the same metaphysical found in Zohar, with greater clarity.

Gilgul: (59605). “Rolling [Souls].” In early Jewish literature, this refers to a notion that there are underworld conduits by which the dead “migrate” to the Land of Israel (Ket. 111a). In later writings (Bahir; Sefer ha-Gilgulim), this becomes the Hebrew expression for reincarnation. A Soul may undergo gilgul many times.

Gilgulim, Sefer ha-: “Book of Reincarnations.” A treatise by Chayyim Vital on reincarnation and on the metaphysics of the various components of the Soul. Not to be confused with another book on the same topic by the same author, Sha’ar ha-Gilgulim.

Gimel: (59607). The third letter in the Hebrew alphabet, its name, gimel, is linked homiletically to the word gimilut, which means “bestowal/reward,” an act of beneficence. Thus it signifies charity and kindness. Its shape represents the divine flow of goodness that pours down to the universe from on high (Magen David). Its numeric value is three.1

1. Munk, The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet, 55-70.

Girdles of Job: Three belts or cords of divine craftsmanship. Mentioned in the Greek language Testament of Job, these girdles were given to Job by God (Job 38:3), curing him of all his ailments and granting him knowledge of future events (why Job needed three is not explained). At his death, Job gave the sashes to his three daughters by Dinah, his second wife: Yemima, Ketziah and Keren-Happuch. The belts are described as:

... Three-stringed girdles about the appearance of which no man can speak; For they were not earthly work, but celestial sparks of light flashed through them like the rays of the sun. (Testment of Job, 47) 1

Job assured them the garments would act as amulets, protecting them from external dangers and transforming their hearts. When the daughters secured the golden girdles across their chests (over their hearts?), the women knew the language of angels and sang praises in celestial tongues. So girded, they were also relieved of all worldly fears (Testament of Job, Chapters 46-53).

1. M. R. James, trans., The Testament of Job (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1897).

Glory: (59617/Kavod). Glory is one of several terms, alongside Shem, Shekhinah, and Holy Spirit/Ruach Elohim, that signifies God’s manifest presence. Following a long-standing literary topos of divinity in the ancient Near East, Glory is often a kind of aureola; the visible, even corporeal, appearance of divinity (Lev 9:23). Humanity may also possess kavod, often in a context that links it to the deity (Sam 4:21-22; Jer. 2:11).

Glory is paradoxical, simultaneously revealing and concealing God. The appearance of the kavod varies; it manifests as a radiant nimbus (Ezek. 10:4), but could also reveals a demut (likeness or form): a throne, a chariot, and/or zoo- and anthropomorphic features (Ezek. 1:26-28). Sometimes it itself is surrounded by light, fire, and cloud (Ex. 24:17). The most intriguing expression of this biblical concept appears in an exchange before God and Moses in Exodus 33:14-21:

Adonai replied, “My Presence (panai) will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said, “Now show me your Glory (kavod).”And Adonai said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, Adonai, in your presence … But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Then Adonai said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my kavod passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Another important passage is Isaiah 6:3, where serafim praise God during a visible manifestation in the Temple:

And one [angel] would call to the other, “Holy, holy, holy! Adonai of Hosts! His glory fills all the earth!”

The Glory is manifest in the sanctuary or above the ark (Isa. 6:1-6). In fact, the ark becomes equated with the kavod (I Sam 4:21-22), an earthly homology to God’s celestial kisei kavod,Throne of Glory” (Jer. 17:12). It is closely associated with YHVH’s chosen sanctuaries, the Mishkan (Ex. 29:46) and Heichal (1 Kings 8:11), where God would address Israel. It not only signifies the divine presence, but also possesses potency.

In time, glory becomes synonymous with God’s name (Isa. 43:7; 59:19). It also serves as a metonym of God’s omnipresence, “filling” the world (Num. 14:21; Isa 6:3). It is a barrier (Ex 24:18; 40:35). It scatters the enemies of Israel (Num. 10:34-35) and serves as a protective shield (Ps 3:3; Zech. 2:8-9). Its radiance transforms Moses’s face (Ex. 43:29-35). It is a persuasive force, the unfolding of God’s role in history (Isa. 60:1-3, 40:5, 58:8). Humanity is obligated to glorify or honor divine institutions, such as the Sabbath (Ex. 20:4). Disregarding the kavod or denigrating the divine will which it symbolizes is a grave transgression (Num. 14:21-23).

There are several different ways the term “Glory of God” is interpreted by later tradition. There is no overarching ideology of kavod offered by the Sages, though the Talmud offers a cluster of interpretations concerning its role in human-divine interactions (B. Kid. 30b-31a; Avot 4:1, 4:6). Other Jewish sources perpetuate and expand upon the biblical themes concerning divine glory: It is the visible representation of God’s attributes and/or actions (Ex. R.23:15); beholding God’s glory is a privilege reserved for the righteous (Lev. R. 30), or vouchsafed to Israel as a people (MdRI 1.2); honoring others honors God (Kid. 32a) while conversely, God confers honor on those who honor their fellows (Avot 4:1). Inspired by the biblical words of the serafim praising God, some regard it to be a kind of divine emanation, perhaps synonymous with the Shekhinah and/or the Holy Spirit—the immanent, indwelling presence of God in Creation.1 Some regard it to be qualitatively like an angel. Others associate it with the Torah.

Occasionally, the kavod is viewed as a hypostatic entity (Yoma 38a), a trend which will grow in medieval aggadah. God’s kavod overlaps semantically with another biblical concept, the ruach Elohim (“the spirit of God”), and a rabbinic one, the Shekhinah (“divine presence”). God’s glory adheres to other hypostatic and heirophanous entities, such as the Torah, Shabbat, the alef-bet, or Israel.

An important trend in the sources is to analogize divine and human kavod (Kid. 30b-32b). This ideology of divine-human correspondence especially centers on descriptions of the kavod as anthropomorphic, the demut or tzurah, appearing in biblical passages like Exodus 25:12, Isaiah 6:1-2, and Ezekiel 1:26-28 (Midrash Proverbs X; Sif. D. 355). The later Midrashim evidence a growing interest in the metaphysics of God’s kavod, paving the way for later mystical and philosophical speculation on the subject.

Sa’adia Gaon makes the earliest systematic statement about, as well as the most radical reinterpretation of, biblical passages concerning the kavod. Since the biblical descriptions of the glory include various forms while Sa’adia denies that revelation reveals anything about the nature of God, he concludes that the glory is not God in essence or even a divine attribute; rather it is kavod nivra, a created entity, akin to the angels (Beliefs and Opinions II:10-12; III:5). A great deal of subsequent medieval writing on the kavod; exegetical, rationalist, or esoteric, is in part reacting to Sa’adia’s argument, whether to affirm, refute, or modify it.

Many esoteric writings seize on Sa’adia’s idea and regard the Glory to be a vision of a divine form created by the invisible, formless God—a manifestation of God that is actually visible to the human eye.2 The adepts of the Circle of the Unique Cherub, for example, go so far as to claim that the human Body is actually made in the image of God’s Glory, rather than in the image of the agnostos theos.

The boldest example of such speculation about the anthropomorphic glory is preserved in the cryptic text, Shi’ur Komah, (“The Measure of the [Divine] Stature”), which gives a detailed description of a cosmic-sized Anthropos, each of its limbs being composed of divine names. With less detail, the ecstatic mystics of the Hechalot literature also emphasize the visual nature of God’s glory. The kavod is not merely the sensed presence, or the acts of God, but an observable manifestation of the divinity, anthropomorphic with a radiant body. Accordingly, the kavod as described in Ezekiel 1:26-28 occupies a prominent place in their literature. They extend its imagery to the entire heavenly Pleroma, encompassing the biblical semantic field of “kavod”: the divine form, angels, the throne-chariot, and the celestial precincts. Using Isaiah 33:17 as its inspiration, Hechalot literature teaches that the worthy adept is able to gaze upon all this. Some medieval mystics recount visions of an anthropomorphic Glory.

God’s glory also occupies an important place in the theosophy and contemplative practice of the 12th-13th-century Chasidei Ashkenaz (German Pietist ). Reflecting their eclectic use in the Bible, the meaning they assign to kavod is multi-valiant. They built a metaphysical model around it being a two-tiered divine emanation (rather than creation) that permitted human interaction with divinity. In Pietist sources it is tied, through Ezekiel 1:26, Psalm 72:19, or 1 Chronicles 29:13, to the anthropomorphic visions of the prophets, theurgic power of the divine name, or identified with Torah (Perush ha-Merkavah, folio 59a; Sefer ha-Shem, folio 203a); Sefer ha-Hasidim repeatedly links divine glory with human dignity (48, 56). Regarding the experience of kavod as a reward for faith, Isaiah 33:17 and 60:1-3 are offered as proof the pious will be vouchsafed to blissfully bask in the glory (Ibid., 9, 10). In compositions such as the liturgical hymn Shir ha-kavod, the Pietists try to reconcile all this by envisioning a hierarchy of glories in order to accommodate all the biblical possibilities.

According to the Kabbalistic work Sod ha-Egoz, God uses nine different kinds of appearances—corresponding to the nine times God uses the phrase “Jacob my servant” in the Hebrew Scripture—while becoming visible/apprehensible to Jews. These different forms include light, clouds, Angels, and humanoid body parts, such as a hand (Lev. R. 1:14). This may be related to the concept of divine speculum, which is also nine-fold.

The kavod loses prominence of place in Spanish Kabbalah and later mystical schools, as it is subsumed within the new theosophic complex of divine emanations known as the sefirot.

Judah Halevi (d. 1141) garbs traditional notions of the glory in philosophic terminology, declaring the word kavod summarizes all the “spiritual forms” emanating from God’s mind that can be apprehended by mortals (II:4; IV:3).

In his Guide, Maimonides (d. 1204) recognizes the unregulated, nontechnical use of the word in the Bible. Accordingly, he argues one may accept different understandings of the term without erring, though his personal opinion is that the kavod is whatever causes us to think about God; glory that in nature which attests to God’s existence (Guide I:64; I:19).

The Glory is frequently referenced in the Prayer book. Biblical language concerning God’s glory is explicitly incorporated into the Kedushah (Isa. 6:6) and in the Aleinu (Ps. 79:9) prayers, for example, while the Sabbath hymn Shir ha-Kavod, Song of Glory, artfully mingle mystical theosophy about the kavod with anthropomorphizing rhetoric about God that draws heavily upon Song of Songs, Chapter 5.

Perhaps the least understood of these is the appearance of an angel that is God. This is the Malach Adonai, a phenomenon that occurs several times in the Bible (Gen. 18, 22:15-16; Ex. 3:2) and is the basis for those angels mentioned in Talmudic and mystical tradition, such as Akatriel-YaH, which have names incorporating the Tetragrammaton and are, at times, identified as the “God of Israel” (Ber. 7b; Ma’aseh Merkavah). SEE CHERUB, THE UNIQUE.;DREAM; FACE OF GOD; MALACH ADONAI; METATRON; PROPHECY AND PROPHETS.

1. J. Levenson, “The Jerusalem Temple as a Devotional and Visionary Experience,” in Jewish Spirituality, vol. 1, Green, 32-41.

2. Wolfson, Through a Speculum that Shines, 125-32.

Glory, Song of: ( 59630/Shir ha-Kavod). A mystical poem composed among the Rhineland German Pietist . This hymn has become a part of Jewish liturgy and preserves their beliefs in an alphabetic acrostic, also known by its opening words, Anim Zemirot:

I make pleasant songs, and weave verses/

Because for You my soul longs.

My soul desires to be in Your hand’s shade/

To know all of Your deepest mystery.

[The word pair of raz and sod, synonyms for “mystery,” is hard to translate.]

In the very first stanzas, common themes of mystical theology are in place—the lust for secret knowledge, and the desire for intimacy steeped in emotional, almost erotic terms. And the key to the mystical theology of the Pietists is the word KaVoD (glory):

When I speak of Your Glory/

My heart yearns for your love.

Therefore I will speak of Your Glories/

And Your Name I will glorify in songs of love.

To the author of Shir ha-Kavod, “Glory” is the visible manifestation of God. It’s the part of God that is graspable by human experience, which is yet not God:

I will recount Your Glory, though I have not seen You/

I describe You though I have not known You.

There’s another common mystical motif, that of paradox: recounting what has not been seen, describing what cannot be known. It is the Glory that makes the agnostos theos, the unknowable God, yet accessible and relatable, hidden and manifest simultaneously. The Glory is, according to the author, what the Prophets saw, what yields Angels and anthropomorphic images of deity.

Note also that in stanza four it reads “Glories,” not “Glory.” That’s there because for the Chasidei Ashkenaz, there are two Glories, a masculine “upper” Glory and a feminine “lower” Glory. The upper Kavod is obscure, but the lower Kavod can be perceived. From where did this two-fold emanation get derived? From a biblical encounter between Moses and God “… you will see My back, but My face cannot be seen” (Ex. 33:23). Thus too the Talmud teaches one should pray with “eyes directed below and heart directed above” (Yev. 105b). Look at the lower Kavod while you imagine the unimaginable upper Kavod.

The masculine and feminine element comes from the Song of Songs, and Shir ha-Kavod uses the image of the male lover taken from there (chapter 5)—“His locks are curled and black”; “dazzling and ruddy is He”; “His head is like pure gold”—as a description of Kavod. That also leaves open the possibility—unstated in the poem and therefore underdeveloped, but present nonetheless—that the people Israel itself is the female counterpart, the lower Kavod:

He beautifies Himself through me, because He desires me/

And He shall be for me a crown of beauty.

The poem goes on using a letter of the alef-bet to start each stanza (some twice), subtly linking the Kavod to the word mysticism found in earlier mystical works like Sefer Yetzirah.

The poem concludes with an envelope stanza that reuses the verb “to yearn”:

May my contemplation be sweet to You/for my soul yearns for You.

The use of the Hebrew word root Ayin-Resh-Bet here also has mystical connotations. It means “sweet,” invoking the sensuous aspect of the mystical experience. But the same root means “to mingle,” (sh’ti v’airev means “warp and woof”). This both parallels the opening line (“and songs I weave …”) with the image of interwoven thoughts and reflects the mystic’s desire to merge with the divine.

The Song of Glory is recited at the end of Shabbat morning services in many traditional congregations, often sung by a young boy.

Gnostics and Gnosticism, Ancient: Ancient Gnosticism was a dualistic religious ideology with occult characteristics. Scholars identify two types. Mesopotamian Gnosticism (Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism) taught that two forces, good and evil, were eternal and in eternal conflict over control of Creation. The second type, Mediterranean Gnosticism, teaches that good and evil are the result of a cosmic disruption of a primordial harmony.1 The latter form flourished around the Mediterranean basin in the Greco-Roman era. This second variety of Gnosticism may have grown out of Judaism, though too little is known to draw any conclusions. Whatever the case, Judaism and Gnosticism are linked together in the ancient world because many Gnostic traditions are dependent on the Hebrew Scriptures and their traditions, especially through Gnostic-flavored interpretations of Genesis and Ezekiel.

The fundamental belief shared by ancient Gnostic systems was that there are actually two divine powers: a good but remote deity who utterly transcends the material universe, and an evil creator god, most often called the Demiurge and usually equated with the God of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Demiurge creates material existence for his own ends, trapping spiritual entities and imprisoning them in bodies of flesh. Because of this, according to the ancient Gnostics, the world as we experience it is the result of a dreadful accident at best and an evil conspiracy at worst. Most humans do not understand the true nature of things because the Demiurge deludes them into accepting the world as beneficent. It is only through being initiated in the esoteric “gnosis” of the higher, immaterial god that a person can hope to be saved from the burden and torments of material existence.2 Along with a disdain for the material world, ancient Gnosticism devalued the Body and particularly sexuality, which was the mechanism by which new Souls are imprisoned in flesh by the Demiurge and his minions, the Archons. Thus Gnosticism exhibited a strong ascetic streak, often embracing celibacy and bodily mortification.3

On account of its dualism, its hostility for the Creator god, and its distain for physical creation, the Rabbis were vociferous in their opposition to the ancient Gnostics and their teachings. In fact, most references to heretics and heretical ideas found in Talmudic and Midrashic literature seem to be directed toward Gnosticism in its various forms (Chag. 14a-16a; Gen. R. 1:4; Sanh. 94a).

Gnosticism was gradually extinguished in the West by the hegemony of the Church, which viewed it as a Christian heresy, but it continued to flourish in the East for several centuries, mostly in the Manichean religion. The spread of Islam eventually undermined its viability in the Middle East and Central Asia. Gnostic ideas, however, continued to pop up throughout the Middle Ages in groups like the Bogomils and Cathars. Many modern scholars have recognized that there are Gnostic elements present in classic Kabbalah. The mystical system of Isaac Luria, with its emphasis on the notion that the world as we know it is a cosmic accident that needs correcting, comes the closest to a full-blown re-emergence of Gnosticism within Judaism.4

1. H. Jonas, The Gnostic Religion (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979), 112-46, 237.

2. Couliano, The Tree of Gnosis, 50-145; K. Rudolph, Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1987), 59-67.

3. M. Williams, “Divine Image—Prison of Flesh: Perceptions of the Body in Ancient Gnosticism,” in Fragments for a History of the Human Body, M. Feher, ed. (Cambridge, MA: Zone Books, 1989). Also see Idel, “Sexual Metaphors and Praxis in Kabbalah,” 212.

4. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, 260; Fine, Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos, 144-46.

Goat: (59643). The goat is symbolically linked to Jacob, who had three significant events in his life involving goats—his deception of his blind father Isaac in receiving his blessing (Gen. 27), his deception of his father-in-law Laban while in his service (Gen. 30), and his being deceived by his sons in the incident surrounding the selling of Joseph (Gen. 37). In what may be a continuation of this “deception” motif, a goat (known as the “scapegoat”) is also offered “to Azazel” every Yom Kippur >as part of the atonement ritual for Israel (Lev. 16), a ceremony that parallels the Babylonian Akitu ritual. For all these reasons, the goat has become emblematic of sudden reversal and change of fortune. A goat kid is also the symbol of the zodiac sign Gedi.

The Talmud credits several extraordinary feats to the goats of righteous men, including the killing of bears and wolves. Goat’s milk has multiple medicinal uses, including the treatment of angina and ailments of the spleen (B.K. 80a; Tem. 15b). The Midrash, Me’am Loez, gives an elaborate explanation that the Yom Kippur scapegoat offering is a bribe given to the accusing angel Satan/Samael, in order that the angel will withhold his criticism before God (Achrei Mot/Kedoshim).

It was once popular to serve goat’s head at the Rosh Hashanah festive meal as a good luck charm of future prosperity. The practice is still observed by some Mizrachi families in Israel and the Middle East.

To medieval Christians, a horned goat was a symbol of Satan. Jews, regarded as allies of Satan, were stereotypically portrayed in Christian polemical illustrations as riding astride a billy goat, often sitting backwards.1 SEEANIMALS; SUBSTITUTION.

1. G. Jensen, The Path of the Devil: Early Modern Witch Hunts (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), 155.

Godhead: The ultimate state of God, often related the concepts of the incomparable, hidden, unknowable God, deus absconditus in Latin. According to Maimonides, the anthropomorphisms commonplace in the Bible are all figurative expressions that fail to reflect the real nature of God (Guide, Section 1). God has no Body and is essentially unknowable. Mystics, by contrast, make a distinction between the unknowable aspect of God, the Ein Sof, and that aspect of God that intersects with Creation. This knowable part of God can be graphed, as in the sefirot, or even envisioned as quasi-anthropomorphic forms (MdRI Shirata 4; R.H. 17b; PR 21).

Sefer ha-Bahir without hesitation adopts the language of the Bible and describes God as having seven “forms”: right and left “legs,” right and left “arms,” a “torso,” a “head,” and an androgynous Zer Anpin (82). The Kabbalist Joseph uses more measured language:

What is the meaning of words like “hand,” “leg,” “ear,” etc. that we read in the Torah [that imply God has human form]? Know and believe that regarding these concepts, even as they testify to His greatness, no one can truly understand [the meaning] of these entities … and even though we are fashioned in the image and likeness of God, do not imagine that such an “eye” is in actuality the form of a divine eye … Know and understand there is no essential or structural similitude between God and we mortals. (Sha’arei Orah 2b)


Gog and Magog: (59659). First mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39, Gog is the “Chief Prince” of Magog. He will be involved in the eschatological wars with Israel at the end of time. He will be defeated by God, the divine warrior and defender of Israel, and his corpse buried in the Land of Israel.

Across Jewish history, various national and tribal groups have been labeled “Magog” based on the ever-shifting geo-political trends and anxieties of the age. Mythically, in rabbinic writings, Gog and Magog are understood to be synonyms and are linked to the traumatic events around the coming of the Messiah (Sanh. 97a-b). Later sources identify the king of Gog as Armilus, a monstrous offspring of Satan. Eventually the two words become the archetypal term for a war of evil against God, and serve as the closest Jewish analogy to the Christian notion of Armageddon (A.Z. 3b; PdRK 79; Ed. 2:10; Shab. 118a; S of S R. 8:4).

Gold: (59661/Zahav, also Paz; Charutz; Ketem). Because of gold’s untarnishable surface, it is a symbol of eternity (II Enoch 8:4). It also has a number of occult associations. Gold is the most frequently mentioned metal in the Bible. According to Talmud Yoma 44b, there are seven kinds of gold listed in Scripture. Gold comes from Havilah, a mythical land bordering the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:11). The instruments of the Temple sanctuary, itself a symbolic Eden, were made from or plated in gold. In sefirotic theosophy, gold is the color of Din, the attribute of justice.

Along with gentile practitioners, Jewish alchemists were very interested in obtaining the knowledge to transmute other substances into gold. Gold has many magical uses. It is a surprisingly common ingredient in medicinal potions. Various methods of divination using gold are known to Jews, such as using gold coins in making divination rods for hunting treasure, or the use of gold divination discs. For good measure, such discs can serve as amulets afterward (ShR; Shimmush Tehillim, Ps. 16). SEE COLOR; METAL.

Golden Calf: At precisely the moment that God was with Moses atop Mount Sinai giving the instruction that the Israelites were not to make idols, the people were sinning below by building a golden calf and calling it the “God of Israel.” Aaron, the brother of Moses, played a crucial role in letting this offense happen (Ex. 34).

In their close reading of the biblical account, the Rabbis note that the Bible hints that the Israelite women refused to surrender their jewelry for the project. Because of this loyalty, God granted women an extra monthly day without work, at each new moon (Tosafot to R.H. 23a).

When Moses saw what had happened, he smashed the tablets of the Ten Commandments and the supernal letters on the stones immediately flew back to heaven. Some commentators claim Moses broke the tablets not out of anger, but for the sake of “plausible deniability”; if the people never actually saw the Commandments, they would be less culpable in God’s eyes.

In some later mystical thought, the Calf became synonymous with the dangers of mystical speculation. According to this interpretation, the Israelites witnessed the same divine chariot described by Ezekiel, but misinterpreted the angelic “oxen” face to be that of God, thus inspiring them to build the calf (Hechalot Rabbati 259; LOTJ 3:400). SEE IDOL, IDOLATRY; TEN COMMANDMENTS.

Golem: (59657). “Form/Humanoid.” A man-made being, usually an anthropoid, animated through the creative power of the Hebrew alphabet. Belief that one could make artificial humans was widespread among magical practitioners of antiquity. Though there is a possible allusion to the idea in Scripture (Ps. 139:16), the specific basis for this is found in Sefer Yetzirah, which teaches that man may become a “lesser creator” by learning to manipulate the occult power of the alphabet when combined with divine names (6, Long Recension). This is because God used words, the alphabet, and, especially, divine names in the work of making the cosmos (Gen. R. 4:2, 12:10; Bahir 59). The biblical proof text for this creative process comes from a passage from psalms:

By the word “YHVH,” the heavens were made. (Ps. 33:6)

Now that’s not the conventional translation—your Bible probably translates it as “By the word of the Lord, the heavens were made.” But the construct “of” is assumed, and the occult translation is equally valid. So if we know how to use the Tetragrammaton and other divine names of power, humans, too, could do as God does.

Some commentaries to Sefer Yetzirah claim biblical figures made golems. The commentators believe Abraham used Sefer Yetzirah’s power, noting the wording, “the people they made in Haran” (Gen. 12:5); the prophet Jeremiah also made a golem.

The idea was a theme in the Talmud (Sanh. 38a). Two anonymous Talmudic Sages were able to create a “one-third” size calf for Sabbath meals (Ber. 55a; Mid. Teh. 3). More cryptic is the report that Rava “created a man,” who he then sent to Rabbi Zeira, who caused the creature to return to dust:

Rava stated: If they wish, Tzadikim could create a world. Rava created a man and he sent it to Rabi Zeira. Rabi Zeira spoke with it and it did not respond. Rabi Zeira then stated, “You are created by my colleague, return to your dust.” Rav Chanina and Rav Oshiah would sit every Friday and study the Sefer Yetzirah and create a calf that has reached a third of its potential development and subsequently eat it. (Sanh. 65b)

By the Middle Ages, belief in the ability of mystical adepts to make a golem from a combination of dust and occult power was well established.1 The medieval savant Solomon ibn Gabirol used his wisdom to create a maidservant for himself.

Since the animation came from using the secret name of God, the golem could then be returned to inanimate Earth by saying the divine name in reverse. Alternate traditions require not only the use of God’s name in the formation ritual, but also that the word emet (truth) be written on the forehead of the creature. Erasing the letter alef would leave only the word met (death), thereby slaying the golem (Sefer ha-Gematriot).

The golem became a staple of Jewish folk legends in Europe, the most famous golems being the one created Rabbi Elijah of Chelm and the one made by Rabbi Loew of Prague to protect the community against anti-Semitic violence. Though golem tales were published through the 13th century, the story of the Golem of Prague as known today is the largely creation of an early 20th-century rabbi and writer, Yudel Rosenberg, and his book, Miflaot Maharal, “The Wonders of Rabbi Judah Loew.”


The Golem of Prague by Saul Aronsohn

Like many other golem tales, over time the Prague golem grew in power and in unpredictable behavior and the creator was forced to destroy his creation, thus curbing his own hubris and teaching him humility. There is a story that the Vilna Gaon also attempted to make a golem.

There are several golem “recipes” on record. This is one outline of the creative golem recipes that do exist. Here’s an example:

Whoever studies Sefer Yetzirah has to purify himself, don white robes. It is forbidden to study alone, but only in two’s and three’s, as it is written … and the beings they made in Haran, (Gen. 12:5) and as it is written, two are better than one, (Eccl. 4:9) … It is required that he take virgin soil from a place in the mountain where none has plowed. Then he shall knead the soil with living water and shall make a body and begin to permutate the alef-bet of 221 gates, each limb separately, each limb with the corresponding letter mentioned in Sefer Yetzirah. And the alef-bets shall be permutated first, then afterward he shall permutate with the vowel—alef, bet, gimel, dalet—and always the letter of the divine name with them, and all the alef-bet. Afterward, [all the letters with each of the vowels, as with the alef:] ah, ah, ai, ee, oh, and then e’. Afterward, the permutation of [alef with a letter from the divine name plus the vowels], alef-yud, and similarly in its entirety. Afterward he shall appoint bet and likewise gimel and each limb with the letter designated to it. He shall do this when he is pure. These are the 221 gates. (Sodei Razaya).2

Another method also requires a circle dance be performed around the inert form of the creature. This procedure is meant to mimic the Midrashic description of how God created Adam (Sanh. 38b; Gen. R. 24:2; PR 23:2; MhG 96; Pseudo-Sa’adia).

By most accounts, a golem has no free will or the power of language, though some stories have the golem utter words of warning from heaven. As a soulless entity, the golem is not required to fulfill the commandments. There are even theoretical discussions of the rights and obligations of golems under Jewish law.

1. M. Idel, The Golem: Jewish Magical and Mystical Traditions on the Artificial Anthropoid (New York: SUNY Press, 1990), 54-72.

2. Ibid., 108.

Goliath: Goliath of Gath was a biblical giant exceeding nine feet in height. He was probably killed by the youthful David using a sling. The word “probably” is necessary because the Bible itself gives contradictory testimony as to whether David actually did this feat (2 Sam. 21:19). Although ostensibly a Philistine, he is identified as one of the Refaim, a race of biblical giants who were the descendants of fallen angel.

According to the Sages, David and Goliath were related, for Goliath was the child of Orpah, the sister of Ruth, who was David’s great-grandmother. Orpah bore three other giants besides Goliath. Goliath was born of a hundred fathers (polysperma):

And there went out a champion [benayim] out of the camp of the Philistines etc … What means “benayim?” Rab said: That he was built up [mebuneh] without any blemish. Samuel said: He was the middle one [benoni] of his brothers. In the School of R. Shila they explained: He was made like a building [binyan]. R. Johanan said: He was the son of a hundred fathers and one mother [ben nane]. “Named Goliath of Gath” R. Joseph learnt: [This is] because all men pressed his mother like a wine-press [gath] (Sot. 42b; Tanh. Vayigash 8). David used occult powers to overcome him, striking him first with the evil eye. An angel then helped the diminutive David by smothering Goliath’s face in the ground after the boy toppled him with the sling stone (Lev. R. 21.2). Goliath had a giant brother, Ishbi-benob, who was slain by one of David’s warriors. (Ruth R. 1:4, 14; Midrash Shmuel 20:106-108, 21:109; Tanh. Emor 4; Zohar III:272a)

Goral: (59680). “Lots.” SEE LOTS.

Goralot, Sefer ha-: “Book of Lots.” A late medieval book of demonology and spirit possession.

Grapes: SEE FRUIT.

Grass: Every blade of grass has its own angel who compels it to grow (Mid. Konen 2:24). Mourners at a funeral throw grass over their shoulders as they leave the grave to signal to the spirit of the dead person that it is to remain with the Body for now. SEE ANGEL AND ANGELOLOGY; BURIAL.; DEATH; GHOST; MEMUNEH.


Great Name, Book of: Modern title given to an anonymous text of Hechalot literature. It has sometimes been published as part of Hechalot Rabbati.


Grinder: (59696/Shechakim). Third of the seven heavens. From this level of heaven comes the manna and all other miraculous sustenance (Chag. 12b). It is the sefirot of Hod and Netzach, the source of divine potency (Bahir 74, 185). The emanation of divine righteousness is channeled through this precinct (Isa. 45:8; Sha’ar Orah, gate 3).

Guardian Angels: (59703). These are Angels who oversee nations and individuals. According to the Midrash, the angels Jacob witnessed ascending and descending were the changing watches of guardian angels (Gen. 28:12). Every person has two such angels watching over him or her, one who assists when the person strives to do right, the other who clears the way if the person chooses to pursue sin:

If a person makes himself to be a righteous person and speak the truth, he is given an Angel who guides him along the path of righteous people and truth is always spoken to him. If a person makes himself to be wicked, to corrupt and speaks lies, then an angel will be attached to him who will corrupt him/her and mislead them in life. If a person makes himself a “chasid,” an especially kind and thoughtful person, accepting everything painful, then a special angel is given to the person which can guide along the pathway of the exceedingly righteous, giving them strength to sustain any pain. (Tanna Deve Eliyahu Zuta 3:4)

The most famous of these are the two angels that escort each person on the Sabbath:

It was taught, R. Jose son of R. Judah said: Two ministering angels accompany man on the eve of the Sabbath from the synagogue to his home, one a good and one an woeful. And when he arrives home and finds the lamp burning, the table laid and the couch [bed] covered with a spread, the good angel exclaims, “May it be even thus on another Sabbath,” and the woeful angel unwillingly responds “amen.” But if not, the evil angel exclaims, “May it be even thus on another Sabbath,” and the good angel unwillingly responds, “amen.” (Shab. 119a)

But there are many varied traditions about the role of angels in the life of individuals (Tan. 11a; Chag. 16a; Shab. 119b; Sefer ha-Gilgulim 1). SEE NATIONS.


Two guardian angels by E. M. Lilien

Guf ha-Briyot: (59707). “The Body/Vessel of Creatures.” The source of human Souls. The word Guf is derived from Hebrew for “Body/corpse.” The Guf ha-Briyot can also be referred to as the Otzer (Hebrew for “treasury”). In some traditions the Guf is located in the celestial plane of Aravot, other times it is located beneath God’s Throne of Glory, which resides “above” Aravot. Though some cite Isaiah 57:16 as the source of the concept, Isaiah never uses the word, so the Talmud offers one of the earliest direct references to the Guf and teaches that the Messiah will not come until the Guf is emptied of all its souls (Yev. 62a-63b; A.Z. 5a). This is given a longer, if more enigmatic treatment in a work of early Kabbalah, Sefer ha-Bahir:

In its [?—there is no clear antecedent, perhaps the World to Come discussed earlier] hand is the treasury of souls. In the time when Israel is good, these souls are worthy of going forth and coming into this world. But if they are not good, then [these souls] do not go forth. We therefore say, “The son of David will not come until all the souls in the Guf are completed.” What is the meaning of “all the souls in the Guf [Body]”? We say this refers to all the souls in the body of The Adam [Kadmon]. [When they are completed] new ones will be worthy of going forth. (Bahir 184)

The peculiar idiom of describing the treasury of souls as a “body,” as indicated, is connected to the mythic tradition of Adam Kadmon, the primordial human. Adam Kadmon, God’s “original intention” for humanity, was a supernal being, androgynous and macrocosmic. When this spiritual Adam sinned, his cosmic-sized soul burst asunder and humanity was demoted to flesh and blood, bifurcated and mortal creatures. Every human soul is therefore just a fragment (or fragments) cycling out of the great “world-soul” of Adam Kadmon. Hence, every human soul comes from that “guf,” the supernal body of Adam Kadmon. Part of the project of humanity it to effect the Tikkun, the restoration, of the soul of Adam Kadmon.

In keeping with other Jewish legends that envision souls as bird-like (derived from the biblical notion that the dead “chirp”—Isaiah 29:4), the Guf is sometimes described as a columbarium, a dove cote. This connects it to a related legend: the “Palace of the Bird’s Nest,” the dwelling place of the Messiah’s soul until his advent (Zohar II:8a-9a).


The Guf: The Treasury of Souls by Moses Ephraim Lilien

The guf ha-briyot embodies the mystical notion of the whole universe being permeated with consciousness. It also reinforces the notion of the interconnectedness, the brotherhood of humanity which is at the heart of the Genesis account. The legend of the Guf amplifies this essential spiritual as well as biological relatedness (Ned. 13b; Shab. 152a; PR 2:3; Bahir 126; Zohar I:119a).

Guf ha-Dak: ( 59717). “Sheer Body.” This is the Kabbalistic concept, also called the tzelem, of a containing field that surrounds the Soul after it has separated from the physical Body; it is the physical body as it is manifest on spiritual planes. Different from an aura, this is the body the soul dwells in while it resides in Edenand/or Gehenna (Zohar I:7a, 224a-b; Zohar II:11a; SGE). It conforms to the contours of the physical human shape.

Gufei Torah: ( 59719). “Embodiments of Torah.” At first used as an expression for “the essential teachings” of the Torah, in mystical parlance gufei Torah refers to the “external” or obvious aspects of the Torah—its laws, commandments, and plain meanings. This is in contrast to the “soul” of the Torah, which refers its esoteric interpretations:

Come and see: There is a garment that is visible to all, and when those fools see someone in a garment that seems superior, they look no further. But the essence of the garment is the body; and the essence of the body is the soul. So it is with Torah. She has a body: the commandments of Torah, that are called “the body of Torah” [gufei Torah]. This body is clothed in garments, which are the stories of this world. Fools of the world only look at that garment, the story of Torah, and they know nothing more, and do not look at what is beneath that garment.

Those who know more do not look at the garment, but rather at the body under that garment. The wise ones, servants of the King on high, those who stood at Mount Sinai, look only to the soul, the root of all, the real Torah. In the time to come, they are destined to look at the soul of the soul of Torah. (Zohar III:152a)

Guidance, the Book of: (Arabic, Kativ Alahudah). A magical handbook, written in a mix of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic, found in the Cairo Geniza (T-S K 1.143). It contains many magical formulae, including spells for love, divination, influence, healing, birth, subduing demons, and amulet making.