The Seventh Telling: The Kabbalah of Moshe Katan
by Mitchell Chefitz
The Seventh Telling may be read for its narrative
and romantic value alone, but if the reader so desires,
this brief guide will assist him or her in unraveling
some of the novel's secrets.
In Chapter 8 you find a table formulating the Four Worlds, some
didactic teaching concerning them, and the story of The Curse of Blessings.
Review the teaching concerning the Four Worlds, then,
in pairs, read the story of The Curse of Blessings. Find the Four
Worlds within the story.
table is a formulation of the Four Worlds in the World of Creation,
expressing the barest principles.
didactic teaching is an extension into the World of Action, replete
story is a teaching of the Four Worlds in the World of Formation,
through interaction and relationship.
does the experience differ -- looking at the formula in the table,
reading the didactic teaching, and telling the story?
you tell the story without referring to the text? Can you tell
the story to someone who has not yet read the book?
In Chapters 9 and 10 you find two recitations of The Partner story,
one told as it might have been in a Hasidic community in Europe,
the other in an American framework. The story speaks of an evolving
relationship with God. From the World of Action we see God as Ruler.
From the World of Formation, Parent. From the World of Creation,
Partner. Consider how the story might apply to your life situation
or that of your family or community. Can you rephrase it? The book
speaks of a bartender and a lawyer. How else might the story be
told? Can you tell it that way, to the group and outside the group?
The sages of Jewish tradition take care to consider the repetitive
acts of nature as miracles, more so than the apparent anomalies.
The sun standing still, water flowing upstream . . . such occurrences,
they say, were written into nature just before God finished creation
on the sixth day. The miracle is that we exist at all. In pairs
retell the Elijah story found in Chapter 10.
does it resonate?
you see the miraculous in the ordinary?
In Chapter 10, the story of the little girl who wanted to say the
Sh'ma is a meditation. One person in the group might tell it as
a guided meditation, but note: tell it, don't read it. The person
who guides a meditation has a responsibility to experience it as
s/he guides it. Others will follow the experience of the leader.
If you read it, it is just a story. Yes, a story can be miraculous,
but a meditation can be deeper.
you identify all seven immanent sefirot in the story?
Each of the sixteen chapters is introduced by a graphic. The sixteen
graphics form a pattern. The pattern is a meditation. In pairs,
analyze the sixteen squares. Note that they turn both clockwise
and counter-clockwise simultaneously.
you construct the pattern as you meditate, illuminating one square
at a time, ultimately holding all sixteen squares before you?
is an advanced exercise. You may need to build up to it slowly,
first by learning the breathing exercise described in Chapter
6, inscribing the letters of the Divine Name on your body, and
then proceeding through less complex visualizations.
The Seventh Telling is consciously written to yield in each
of the worlds. In the World of Action, it is a narrative. In the
World of Formation, a romance. In the World of Creation, an allegory.
the sefirot as described in Chapters 8, 10, and 12. Consider the
nature of each of the developed characters. Which of the sefirot
might each character represent?
the World of Emanation, the book is a meditation. Considering
the whole of it as a meditation may lead to the discovery of your
own stories, and such a discovery may be transformative. This
is not a risk to take lightly.
The framework of the Kabbalah expressed in The Seventh Telling
is presented differently than it might be in an academic course.
The term Kabbalah in academe generally applies to Jewish spiritual
discipline from the time of the Zohar (13th century) on. The
Seventh Telling refers to all of Jewish spiritual discipline
as the Kabbalah, and divides it into two categories, Ma-aseh Beraysheet
(the Work of Creation - speculation concerning the nature of existence)
and Ma-aseh Merkavah (the Work of the Chariot - inner work concerning
one's place in existence). This is an attempt to show the progression
of Jewish spiritual discipline from the earliest times to the present
day. It becomes clear that the voice of women has been missing from
this progression, that the framework of the Kabbalah was developed
by men for men. Now that women are taking an active role, can you
make any predictions about the future direction and development
of the Kabbalah?
you enjoyed The Seventh Telling, be sure to watch for the
publication of the sequel, The Thirty-third Hour, in January, 2002.