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Sefer Hakana Chapter 45 translation – Reviewers and Volunteers Welcome!

Recently, my chavrusa and I spent a while translating much of Chapter 45 of Sefer HaKana. Sefer Hakana is a little-known text of kabbalah, that is a reflection on the kabbalistic nature of each of the 613 mitzvos. Chapter 45 in particular is on blowing the shofar. Exactly when it was written is uncertain – it is generally ascribed to Nehunya ben HaKana, who is in the Talmud and dates back to ~ 200 AD, but the text itself bears a lot of hallmarks of the Safed Mystics around 1500. I was interested in because I wanted information on Tanin’iver, AKA the blind dragon of apathy who may be the same as the dragon who lives at the abyss of the center of creation in Treatise on the Dragons by Nathan of Gaza (not that a source by Nathan of Gaza can be considered authentic kabbalah). Unfortunately, Tanin’iver only seems to make an appearance in Chapter 45, and even then not much of one.

Regardless, this was fascinating to translate. There is a lot going on here – non-standard names of sefirot, the relationships between the sefirot such as one being a form of another, the two halves of Yesod, and a lot of mystical speculation as to what happens on Rosh Hashanah.

There is, however, one problem: Neither of us really knew what we were doing. I know very little Hebrew but am passable in kabbalah, and my chabrusa knows Hebrew much better than me (but not enough to avoid getting stuck on various terms) but has never studied Kabbalah. Collectively, we made a mediocre translator at best. It is unlikely he and I will be returning to this, mostly because he kept getting frustrated and saying we have no idea what we are doing and our translation is not very good (correct on all counts). Still, all translations have to start somewhere, and I don’t want to see this one die out. As such, I have (with permission of all involved) posted our work onto Sefaria here. This constitutes the first ever English translation of any part of Sefer HaKana.

If anyone is interested, I would super duper appreciate it if you could read it and provide corrections. Parentheses are notes or explanations. It is definitely not a flawless translation, not anywhere even remotely close, so please do not hesitate to rip it to shreds and rewrite entire large sections if you think you can do better. I hope that this can be the start of a larger effort to translate this obscure work of Jewish mysticism!

[Note: Art/media flair chosen because a translation is a type of media. Please let me know if a different flair is better.]

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