"The book of formation of the world": "Sefer Yetzirah" and "Hilkhot Yetzirah"

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The Babylonian Talmud contains a tale about the creation of an artificial calf by two sages who dealt with hilkhot yetzirah, or laws of formation (b. Sanhedrin 65b). Already in the eleventh century CE the phrase “Laws of Formation” was being used to refer to the short, enigmatic, and influential treatise Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation), which depicts the creation of the world by means of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The connection between hilkhot yetzirah and Sefer Yetzirah is of great consequence in determining the period in which the latter was edited, as well as its reception history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-179
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Brill Academic Publishers. All rights reserved.


  • Golem
  • Jewish magic
  • Jewish mysticism
  • Kabbalah
  • Rabbinic literature
  • Sefer Yetzirah

RAMBI publications

  • Sefer Yezirah -- Criticism, interpretation, etc
  • Talmud Bavli -- Sanhedrin -- 65b -- Criticism, interpretation, etc
  • Mysticism -- Judaism
  • Magic in rabbinical literature


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