Assignment 6: A Merkebah Text

1. Read pages 78-91 on your own. This is an excerpt of a merkebah text called the Hekhalot Rabbati. Also read Scholem, "Merkevah Mysticism and Jewish Gnosticism", pp. 40-63.

2. With your study partner, go over the text again. What did each of you find
a) interesting
b) baffling
c) maddening
about the text? Did the same aspects interest or bother both of you? List three primary reactions each of you had. Together, generate three ideas about the problematic or interesting aspects of the text.

3. What purposes might this text serve? How does it relate to Ezekiel's vision? Why would anyone want to "descend to the merkevah" given its difficulty and danger? Are Scholem's explanations convincing in solving the problems you found? Why or why not?

4. Write up the results of your discussion in a 1-2 page typed paper.