Attributed to Rabbi Nehunia ben haKana, master of the first century esoteric school
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Description: The Bahir is one of the oldest and most imprtant of all classical Kabbalah texts. Until the publication of the Zohar, the Bahir was the most influential and widely quoted primary source of Kabbalistec teachings. It is quoted in every major book on Kabbalah, the earliest being the Raavad's commentary on Sefer Yetsirah, and it is cited numerous times by Rabbe Moshe Ben Nachman (Ramban) in his commentary on the Torah. It is also quoted many times in the Zohar. It was first published in 1176 by the Provence school of Kabbalists; the first printed edition appeared in Amsterdam in 1651.
One of the most important concepts revealed in the Bahir is that of the Ten Sefirot, and carful analysis of these discussions yields much of what will be found in later Kabbalistic works, as well as their relation to anthropomorphism and the reason for the commandments. Also included is a discussion of reincarnation, or Gilgul, an interpretation of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom, the twelve diagonal boundaries, and numbers that play a highly significant role in Kabbalistic study. Two unusual terms are found that apparently refer to angels or angelic forces-Tzurah and Komah-plus the revelation of th e various names God-the most mystical being found in 112-and the concept of Tzimtzum, the self-constriction of God's light. Part One provides a modern translation of the text; Part Two is Aryeh Kaplan's commentary.