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This blog is dedicated to the exploration of mystical wisdom and life experience. It seeks to penetrate beyond the shadows and surfaces of our physical reality to discover vistas of unfathomable depth, beauty and meaning. These mystical realms are closer than you might imagine, for they exist in every multifold aspect of the observed empiricial world, as they do within the consciousness of the observer. In the infinite silence and contracted light, within the ethereal mirage of every passing moment, the eternal search begins and ends...

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

From the WA weekly The Maccabean, November 6, 2002: Discovery of the Shoshan Sodot manuscript


A few months ago Shane Dowling, who works in the library of the New Norcia monastery, discovered a had-written Hebrew manuscript that had been lying for many years wrapped in paper in an old cupboard. Interested to find out exactly what type of manuscript it was, the head librarian, Susan Johnston contacted Rabbi Shalom Coleman and faxed him the manuscript’s title page.
Seeing that the manuscript related to kabbalah, Rabbi Coleman passed the information over to Rabbi Moshe Y. Bernstein, who has a particular interest in the study of Jewish mysticism.
Last week, on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, Wednesday, November 6th, Rabbi Bernstein organised a visit to New Norcia to view the manuscript. Accompanying him were rabbinic colleagues and Jewish Studies staff members Rabbi Elchanan Lewis and Rabbi Moshe Rothchild. Also, joining the rabbinic delegation was David Solomon, an academic expert in kabbalistic translations and manuscripts, who was in Perth for the levaya and shiva for his father, the late Dr. Geoff Solomon.
The Perth delegation met with Abbot Placid Spearritt, Susan Johnston and some of the other monks and monastery workers, where they were presented with a copy of the kabbalistic book-- Shoshan Sodot-- for examination.
The copy at the New Norcia monastery appears to be an antique copy of the original work, which was written by Rabbi Moshe ben Yaakov, possibly a student from the mystic school of Nachmanides (Ramban) in 1495. The book is a veritable encyclopaedia of kabbalistic thought and practice, containing many secrets which the author felt obliged to write down to ensure their preservation through a time of great oppression (the Inquisition and Spanish expulsion) for the Jewish people.
Later, the rabbinic delegation was given the opportunity to visit the monastery library, which contains many other volumes of Hebrew texts, though none of them in the highly esoteric and ancient category of the Shoshan Sodot.
The monastery was kind enough to agree to scan the pages of the manuscript onto a CD, which will be compared with other existing copies of the manuscript. Certain rabbis in Israel and Europe are also being consulted due to the extremely sensitive nature of such an esoteric manuscript.
The mystery of how this extremely sacred text ended up in the New Norcia monastery is still unclear and in the process of investigation. One thing is certain: the story of the discovery of this book in the New Norcia monastery could surely give Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose) a run for his money. Stay tuned for any new developments regarding this exciting discovery!


Vanessa Paloma said...

where is New Norcia? In what country?

Anonymous said...

Australia- New Norcia is in the State of Western Australia