A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

reader comments: abracadabra

15 May 2005
Under the lemma abracadabra I see some comments.

It might be of interest that the kabbalist Areyh Kaplan in his commentary on Sefer Yetzirah, (Sefer Yetzira The Book of Creation, revised edition, Weiser Books Boston MA, York Beach ME, 1997) page xxi, states about the beginning of Genesis, Bereshit BaRa Elohim the following:

In many ways this expression is reminiscent of the word abracadabra (ABRA K'ADaBRa (repeated in hebrew))) which literally means, "I will create as I speak".

In the footnote 106, printed on page 348 it is stated:

It is significant that, when written this way, Abracadabra contains the word BRA (Bara), meaning to create, while the remaining letters add up to 26, the numerical value of the Tetragrammaton. (...).

(The Tetragrammaton is the name of God that cannot be spoken out loud: JHVH) (Numerical value is the system of gematria in which a word has a value, based on the value of the letters.)

I hope this is of interest for your site.

Jan Willem van Ee

The Netherlands

reply: It's of interest but I think mostly because it exemplifies the very human trait of finding meaning where none was intended. See my entries on confirmation bias and subjective validation.

Jan Willem van Ee replies:

Of course you are right, but is that not the quest for human understanding, finding meaning where there was none before? Finding understanding is necessary and is a constructionist enterprise. You only can find meaning when you have a tool to find meaning with. This is, in my opinion, exactly what is at stake here. The beginning of the Bible says that G'd, here named Elohim, one of the names of G'd, SAID something, and it came into being. The Gospel of John, also the beginning is an allusion to that. Thus, by saying something it comes into being. Not only G'd can do this, also the human race is capable of it. Abracadabra in a way states this. When you take away BARA the rests sums up to 26 which is in the gematria the number of JHVH. So what abracadabra ultimately means is that by saying abracadabra man has the same position and potention [?] as G'd with respect to creating.

I find this an interesting thought, that only can be generated through something that had no meaning, than after the moment you have a tool to give it meaning.

Some people take this even further to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. It becomes something only when you pay attention.

Congratulations for your website, it is a "Fundgrube" of all sorts of interesting information.

24 Apr 00 
I always enjoy reading your dictionary (it's the first place I turn to for my skeptical research). I noticed the entry for "abracadabra," and wanted to suggest another source for the term. According to a Princeton professor of Hebrew I knew, the phrase "avrah ke dibrah" translates roughly into "it happened as it was said." Magicians would use the phrase in the course of working their tricks. The words would be similar in Aramaic and other related languages.

Sheryl Zohn

Fri, 21 Jun 2002
To expand on Sheryl Zohn's definition of the word ABRACADABRA. In Aramaic, it is part of a sentence uttered by ancient magicians and healers . ABRA/CAD/ABRA. "It will pass when it will pass". (When it's time for it to pass).

Meyer Klein

Last updated 19-Oct-2015

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