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ISAAC THE BLIND (; ISAAC BEN ABRAHAM OF POSQUIÈRES):

French cabalist; flourished in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Isaac is considered the founder of the Cabala; or, rather, he transmuted the mysticism of the Geonim into the present form of the Cabala. He is therefore called by Baḥya b. Asher "Father of the Cabala" (Commentary on the Pentateuch, section Wayishlaḥ). Joseph Gikatilla (Commentary to the Pesaḥ Haggadah), speaking of the "Ma- 'aseh Merkabah," says that cabalistic science was handed down from Mount Sinai from person to person until it reached Isaac the Blind. Other cabalists, like Shem-Ṭob ibn Gaon, Isaac of Acre, and Recanati, expressed themselves similarly. Among Isaac's pupils was Azriel (Ezra) ben Menahem of Gerona. It was Isaac who gave names to the ten Sefirot, and who first adopted the idea of metempsychosis. Recanati (Commentary on the Pentateuch, section Wayesheb) declares that Isaac the Blind could tell whether a man's soul was new or old. He is generally supposed to have been the author of a commentary on the "Sefer Yeẓirah" (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 2456, 12). Later scholars attribute to him the authorship of the Bahir.

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., vii. 60 and note 3;
  • Jellinek, Auswahl Kabbalistischer Mystik, i. 24;
  • Landauer, in Orient, Lit. vi. 215;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 450.
K. M. Sel.
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