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כשיוצא אדם בלילה | When a person goes out at night: an apotropaic invocation of angelic protection in the Seder Rav Amram Gaon (ca. 9th c.)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

כשיוצא אדם
[יחידי] 
בלילה
בלא שעה
אומר:

When a person goes out
[alone][1]The addition of “alone” is found in Ms. Opp. Add. Q° 28 (Bodleian Library) also known as the Manuscript O for Seder Rav Amram. Levene, Marx, and Bharyo note that “When the Tosefta defines the halakhic category of a fool, it mentions among other things ‘one who goes out at night alone,'” Tosefta Terumot 1.3. ‎
at night,[2]See Bavli Berakhot 43b on the dangers of traveling at night. 
at no specific hour,
they should say:

מימיני אל
ומשמאלי עזיאל
ומלפני נמואל
ומאחורי שעשואל.
שכינת אל על ראשי.
May El be on my right,
and on my left, Uziel,
and Nemuel before me,
and behind me, Sha’ashuel.
Shekhinat-El is above my head.

הצילני ה׳
מפגע רע
ומשטן רע.
Save me YHVH
from an evil affliction
and from an evil satan.[3]lit. accuser.

This “angels on all sides” formula for protection while traveling at night can be found on page 60 of the Codex Sulzberger manuscript of the Seder Rav Amram Gaon, transcribed by Dr. Daniel Goldschmidt (Mossad haRav Kook 1971) on p. 184. Codex Sulzberger is widely considered the best of all the surviving manuscripts of Seder Rav Amram. Named after Mayer Sulzberger (1843-1923), the manuscript first became known through the research of the scholar Alexander Marx in 1907. The full manuscript may be viewed online courtesy of the digital library of the Jewish Theological Society of America.

This invocation is discussed briefly within the context of other liturgical and theurgical works containing an “angels on all sides” formula in “‘Gabriel is on their Right’: Angelic Protection in Jewish Magic and Babylonian Lore” by Dan Levene, Dalia Marx, and Siam Bharyo in Studia Mesopotamica (Band 1: 2014) pp.185-198. The authors include a chart listing the various numinous entities associated with each direction in a number of comparative bowls, amulets, and other texts.

This is the second of four posts on textual variations of this formula: in an amulet bowl SD12 (mid-first millennium CE), in the Maḥzor Vitry (11th c.), and in a 20th century siddur.

The translation as it appears here differs slightly from that published in the article. –Aharon Varady

Source(s)

Seder Rav Amram Gaon (Codex Sulzberger, JTSA) page 60

Seder Rav Amram Gaon, ed. Daniel Goldschmidt (Mossad haRav Kook 1971) p. 184

 


 

Notes   [ + ]

  1. The addition of “alone” is found in Ms. Opp. Add. Q° 28 (Bodleian Library) also known as the Manuscript O for Seder Rav Amram. Levene, Marx, and Bharyo note that “When the Tosefta defines the halakhic category of a fool, it mentions among other things ‘one who goes out at night alone,'” Tosefta Terumot 1.3.
  2. See Bavli Berakhot 43b on the dangers of traveling at night.
  3. lit. accuser.

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