Kabbalah, also spelled Qabalah or Cabala, is the term traditionally used to describe the mystic and secret teachings in Judaism. The word kabbalah is derived from the Hebrew root kbl meaning ‘to receive’. In rabbinic literature kabbalah referred to any tradition received orally. Its definition changed around the 10th century CE when it started to refer more specifically to a secret form of received Jewish tradition that dealt with issues relating to the Divine names.
By the 13th century CE, as the word kabbalah became more widespread in literary sources, its significance – secret knowledge or understanding – imposed itself as the principal meaning of the term. This type of hidden wisdom that has been conveyed over the centuries, attempts to clarify the relationship between the Divine and earthly worlds.
The branch of Jewish mystical tradition that deals with the use of magic is known as practical kabbalah. This 18th-century CE manuscript comprises a series of magical, and partly medical, prescriptions and preparations that were based on its ideas and teachings. Examples include magical recipes and instructions on how to improve memory, how to produce ink that makes letters invisible, and how to get rid of worms.
Pen and ink diagrams such as those representing the seals of the angels (folios 98v–99r) are interspersed with the text. The Hebrew semi-cursive script strongly suggests an Italian origin, but the name of the copyist and the exact place of production are not given.
Browse through the entire manuscript on the Digitised Manuscripts website.