Biography of Abrahán Abulafia (1240-1291)

Jewish mystic and Kabbalist, born in Zaragoza, which initiated a new orientation of the Kabbalah, Kabbalah practice, other than the Catalan and Castilian schemers. He soon left Spain to travel to East in search of the mythical River Sambatyon and the ten lost tribes, whose return should announce the arrival of the Messianic times, who sensed imminent. It is very possible that in those trips came into contact with Muslim mystics, Dervishes, etc., that might influence their peculiar teachings. Then traveled to various countries in Europe, by Castilla and Catalonia, spreading their prophetic and messianic ideas before enthusiastic disciples and angry opponents; at the request of these recent Solomon ben Adret launched against him anathema. Had to leave Sicily as a result and took refuge on a small island, Comino, near Malta, where he died.

For Abulafia the important thing was not what the most famous Kabbalists, had done up to then try to penetrate into the structure of the Godhead or examine the processes that take place inside, but knowing and applying certain techniques that make possible the ascension of man to mystical and prophetic, ecstasy up to communion with God. Leaving aside the Kabbalistic speculations about the divine nature, Abulafia insists the mode of reaching the ecstatic with the divine union saying the divine names, using combinations of letters, techniques such as breathing, music and singing, or movements of the head and body. His cabalistic system is given the name of practical Kabbalah (by the methods and techniques used), Kabbalah ecstatic or prophetic (by trances in which the Kabbalist was involved), or also Kabbalah of names (by your constant reference to the letters of the different divine names). His interpretation of the biblical text was based on the conviction that the Mystic is able to reduce the letters of the text to an amorphous matter can give to that new way, discovering new meanings through different combinations of letters in it.

In the last years of his life, convinced of his messianic mission, writes about fifty works of practical Kabbalah (as Sitre Torah (the mysteries of the Torah), a mystical commentary on the Guide for the perplexed of Maimonides; Sefer has-sem (book name), explaining the divine name of seventy-two letters; Sefer has-cedut (book of the testimony), exposing the revelations has received and his conscience be a messianic function; Imre sefer (beautiful words), on combinations of the letters of the divine name, etc.), as well as some poems.


M. İdel, Messianism and mysticism, Riopiedras, 1994.

Scholem, g., historical development and basic ideas of Kabbalah, Riopiedras, 1994.

-, Big issues and personalities of the cabal, Riopiedras, 1994.