Puerta de Cielo. Spanish kabbalistic work by Abraham Cohen Herrera.
אין זה אם בית אלהים וזה / שער השמים /
Puerta de Cielo/y lus para entrar en la capacidad/y ynteligencia de la Cabala cuyos/misterior y contemplacion son lhega/dos al Entendimiento umano./Lo compuso y fundo en lengua Espa/ nhola el Docto y Eminente S. Abram Coen de Errera q[ue] la aprendio de su/Maestro Israel Sarruco desipulo/del R. Ishack Luria./Trasladado del original com gran/de cuidade por ordem de Ishack/ de Matatia Aboab, por mano de/su sobrino Semuel de David Curiel/En el anno de la Cria/cion del mundo/5435/en Amsterdam.
Spanish kabbalistic work by Abraham Cohen Herrera. Copied by Samuel de David Curiel. Amsterdam, 1675.
p. I: Annotation in Portuguese by Samuel de David Curiel about the great value of this book and its rarity – there was only one other draft, which had belonged to Isaac Aboab da Fonseca, its whereabouts being unknown. He advises that the book must be kept as a jewel, because it was valued at more than 200 patacas. Curiel also informs the reader that he has added a table of contents in the end of the manuscript.
f. III: Title.
f. IV: Annotation in Portuguese with Dutch translation: the book was presented to Ets Haim as a gift by Rabbi Jacob Ferrares with the intention of keeping it safe from inappropriate use in the future. Amsterdam, 26 Hesvan 5603 (18 October 1842).
f. 1r-165v: Text.
f. 166r-176v: Table of contents.
f. 177r: blank.
f. 177v-178r: Kabbalistic tree by B. Godines, 5435 (1675). The Ilan Sefirot chart is showing the structure of the divine emanation according to the Kabbalah. In the centre of the drawing, the diagram of the Sefirot and, between them, the symbols of the Sanctuary: eight flying cherubim, the tablets of the Decalogue, the Menorah, the table of the shew bread and the altars. Above the Sefira ‘Keter’, a circle without visible connection with the Sefirot below, representing ‘Ein Sof’ (infinity) and the mystic fountain within. Around the Sefirot, an orchard with four trees: vine, apple, palm and olive. Beside their fruit drawings, letter combinations of Kabbalistic divine names. Among the leaves of the apple and the olive trees, symbols of the Zodiac and the seven planets. The whole drawing illustrates the order necessary for the dwelling of the ‘shekhina’ (divine presence) on earth. In the margin an annotation explaining and warning that the drawing is based on the ‘ilan’ printed in 1629 by the apostate Philippe d’Aquin (Mordekhai Crescas of Carpentras before his apostasy), whose conception differs from that of the Jewish Kabbalists.
Puerta del Cielo and Libro de la Casa de la Divindad, both by Herrera, are the only two kaballistic works originally written in Spanish. In Puerta del Cielo, Herrera tried to conciliate the teachings of the Sefer Yezirah, the Zohar and the Lurianic school with the Neoplatonic metaphysics, following the syncretic model of Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. Puerta del Cielo was translated to Hebrew and published by Isaac Aboab da Fonseca in Amsterdam in 1655, with the title Sefer Sha’or Hashamayim. In 1677, Knorr von Rosenroth published a Latin version of the work, which gained wide recognition. In the following centuries, it influenced the thought and the work of philosophers as Spinoza, Leibniz or Hegel.
This copy presents the original ten books of Herrera’s work. In the Ets Haim library, there is another copy by Samuel Abaz George, 1740 (EH 48 B 19), which is incomplete (without the two last books).
See K. Krabbenholft, “Structure and Meaning in Herrera’s Puerta del Cielo”, Studia Rosenthaliana, 16, 1982, pp. 1-20; Alexander Altmann, “Lurianic Kabbaka in a Platonic Key: Abraham Cohen Herrera’s Puerta del Cielo”, Hebrew Union College Annual, 53, 1982, pp. 317-355; F. Niewöhner, “Abraham Cohen de Herrera in Hamburg”, Zeitschrift für Religions und Geistesgeschichte, 35, 1983, pp. 163-167; N. Yossa, Myth and Metaphor. The Philosophical Interpretation of Abraham Cohen de Herrera of the Lurianic Kaballah, Jerusalem, 2004; Miquel Beltrán, “Consideraciones sobre la Naturaleza de Ensof y la Teologia Negativa en Puerta del Cielo de Abraham Cohen de Herrera”, Miscelánea de Estudios Árabes y Hebraicos. Sección Hebreo, 61, 2012, pp. 47-67.
Spanish / Paper / 29,6 x 20,4 cm. / IV+178 ff. / Current Iberian hand / Title page drawn, coloured and in calligraphic lettering by B. Godines in 1675 / At the end a beautifully executed kabbalistic tree and tables, by the same artist.
Fuks 119. Kaplan 176. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.