The Sepher Yetzirah By Aryeh Kaplan
This is a classic version of a cornerstone text in Jewish mysticism and hermeticism, therefore I am surprised that there is no article regarding it in SA. This brief review will attempt to humbly remediate that situation.
One of the most important features of this document is that it give us access to the erudition of Aryeh Kaplan, we get to compare information from different traditions of Jewish Mysticism (the directions from section 1:5 and 1:13 is a good example) the book includes constant references to Biblical verses that shed light on the meaning of the SY, and also provides explanation of the differences in meaning (sometimes small but always significant) of the Hebrew words.
It is also important that the text always remains interesting and practical, Kaplan every now and then dares to cross the threshold of mysticism and enters the field of Magick. The text focuses heavily on the topic of meditation, and hence some of us that are familiar with other books on the subject (in my case IIH) cannot resist to build some links between them. Kaplan's definition of Chakhmah/Binah consciousness rings very familiar to the Bardon student.
The very appealing feature is that Kaplan provides some meditations, methods that will enable the initiate to bind himself to the Sephiroth, the first method is described simply as "running and returning" (those familiar with QBL will understand what this means, those who are not, I encourage you to read the book, hard study and practice have always been the philosophy of SA) the other method is described as "embedding the beginning in the end", both of them represent different levels of initiation. Also emphasis is placed on observing Gods commandments to access the Sephiroth, so I expect this section to disturb some people that think they can do whatever they want and always ascend in their Magickal path.
For me also a very important point made by this book is that some well known practices that are usually maligned by some occultists (for instance the LBRP and the MP, that are sometimes referred to as extravagant and false inventions of the GD and other orders) are not completely invalid from the standpoint of Jewish Mysticism. The SY clearly states that our fingers have Qabalistic attributions, and explains the tension that occurs when we unite our hands or have them separate, hence Qabalists engage in physical activities to develop their association with the Sephiroth. It also emphasizes the importance of using Holy Words and praying.
Some points as always may remain polemic for some people, like the relation made by Kaplan to circumcision and the ability to determine the character of ones children and circumcision and the capability of returning safely from some spiritual levels.
But I would like to make crystal clear that I endorse this book as fundamental reading for the honest student of Hermeticism, and would appreciate if a participant of the forum would like to share his/her experience using the meditations found in it. I am very excited to start applying what I have learned so far.