Ma'avar Yabbok

Ma'avar Yabbok
Aaron Berechiah ben Moses of Modena
Aaron Berechiah ben Moses of Modena (d. 1639), was an Italian kabbalistic writer and compiler. Aaron was a cousin on his mother's side of Leone Modena. For the benefit of the pious members of his native Modena, Aaron compiled his Ma'avar Yabbok (“The Crossing of the Jabbok” (cf. Gen. 32:22), Venice, 1626, and often reprinted) comprising the readings, laws, and customs relating to the sick, death-bed, burial, and mourning rites. David Savivi of Siena published an abridged version under the title Magen David (Venice, 1676), and Samuel David b. Jehiel Ottolengo, another entitled Keri'ah Ne'emanah (ibid., 1715). Aaron also compiled Ashmoret ha-Boker (“The Morning Watch,” Mantua, 1624; Venice, 1720), containing prayers and supplications for the use of the pious confraternity Me'irei Shahar in Modena, as well as Me'il Zedakah and Bigdei Kodesh (both Pisa, 1785), containing prayers and passages for study.

Maavor Yabok was published in 1626 in Mantua Italy. Berechiah was among the students of the kabbalist Moshe Cordovero. Maavor Yabok means "Crossing of Yabok" and comes from the well-known verse Gen. 32:23, "And he (Yaacov) rose that night, and took his two wives, and his two handmaids, and his eleven children, and passed over the ford of the Yabok." There are over 100 chapters in all the various sections of the book.

Berechiah states that this work is a collection of various smaller works whose purpose is to allow those living in this world to pass to the next in order to be worthy of seeing the Divine face to face. Yabok is, for Berechiah, an acronym for the words "The unification, (Ha-Yichud), the Blessing (Ha-Berachah), and the Holiness (HaKedusha)" that summarize the rituals and meditations which bring the practitioner into the presence of the divine by convincing the "resurrector" to allow him/her to enter the next world.

Maavor Yabok is the primary source document for the Tefila (prayers) that are used by Chevra Kadisha groups and includes customs and rituals pertaining to the sick, dying, and dead, in the light of various kabbalistic texts. This class will be particularly helpful for Chevra Kadisha members who desire to know more about the origins and prayers of Tahara.
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