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Eryk the Red
I just (finally) got my copy of Street Magic. Haven't read too much, and though I like the attention that Jewish mysticism has been given (both with the presence of a Jewish magical tradition and the existence of Shedim, which are basically the demons of Jewish mystical tradition), I can't help but see some little problems in the text. It's just the fluff, really, and mostly have to do with the words used. There are no such things as "sephiroths". Sephiroth is plural, and most would spell it "sefirot" to better communicate its pronunciation. (seh-feer-oat) Also, Jews generally do not use the "Qabbalah" spelling. That is more commonly associated with the "pop Qaballah" practiced by celebrities. Jews tend to prefer "Kaballah" or "Cabala" or some similar variation. Or they just write it in Hebrew, where there is no confusion about spelling. wink.gif

Most of the rest is a matter of taste. I don't think I would have imagined Kaballists summoning elohim (angels, but not like christian angels; Jewish angels do not possess free will). It would have made just as much sense that they conjured the spirits of the world around them and bound them into service. (Jewish mystical worldview used to include the existence of a variety of creatures that could be thought of as demons or fairies.) Elohim are direct servants of God, so I could imagine certain free spirits being perceived as such, especially when bringing some kind of punishment or blessing upon the Kaballist.

Making Kaballah a possession tradition was spot-on, though. It's a great way to represent the crafting of golems.

Basically, I think part of the problem is the misconception that Kaballah is simply a magical tradition. More accurately, it's a theological tradition with mystical elements. Jewish teachings have traditionally (less so now, but this would likely revert after the Awakening) thought of magic as simply something that exists in the world. It is rarely thought of as powers God grants you. You seize the power yourself. That's what makes magic dangerous. That's why Jewish law forbids magic that is "not done in the service of the Lord". (Note that that law only applies to Jews. Non-Jews are not expected by Jewish tradition to follow any restrictions outside of basic moral ideas like "don't murder, don't steal...")

Basically, Kaballists would likely view magic similarly to hermetics. They might disagree on many issues, but they would recognize magic as a scientific force. Their Kaballic studies would color their understanding of magic in some ways, but most importantly, those studies would form the path to their enlightenment and their understanding of God. Universal Magical Theory would not run counter to Kaballah, and I could imagine some (though not all) Kaballists accepting UMT as truth (or at least an approximation of truth).

That's kind of a long ramble. I guess that's the burden of knowledge. Sometimes you can't help but let it intrude on the fantasy. Now I understand why the "gun enthusiasts" get all riled up.
Well as it stands they are stat wise almost identical to hermetics except for task spirits and possession. On the spelling front while your point is perfectly sensible every western sourse I've ever read uses sephiroth. Qaballah seems to be spelt randomly in every book I've ever read about cabala. The elohim I suspect is just a known name for spirits that the writers used. The names used for the spirits are always a bit dodgey in SR as a practicing wiccan I summon embodiments of deities for work i do. A SR wiccan does different things, this is just to do with how the tradition reacts with the absolute rules that underlay magic in SR so the names of spirits may vary, also if you know more tailor the fluff to your knowledge.
Eryk the Red
The issue with sephiroth is primarily that it is the plural form. Sephirah would be the singular. And elohim means "gods". It is a word used to refer to God Himself (because He is infinite), or the celestial host (the angels), or God and the host collectively. So calling them elohim establishes the belief that angels are being conjured.
The Qabbalistic tradition that appears in Street Magic is the secular (pop) version (hence the issues with the spellings). This tradition is the popularized and streamlined version which is much more widespread and easier to pick up. Like Shadowrun's Hermetic tradition (which is based on Classic or Renaissance Hermeticism which in turn synthesizes several different sources with the Codex Hermeticum foremost),

References are made however to the Orthodox Qabbalistic tradition (or Cabala or Kaballah or Qaballah) which is what Eryk is talking about, which in fact has a number of religious strictures on practice that mean it is mostly unplayable (including only being taught after you reach the age of 40, have been blessed by an initiated rabbi, and only if you are married... among other nuances). This was one of the reasons why MitS also spotlighted the pop version rather than the Orthodox and Talmudic Cabala. I decided I already rubbed enough people the wrong way with Islamic magic to unnecessarily introduce Orthodox Cabala into the basic traditions.

One of the differences between the two is how they regard elohim. To the secular, popular version Elohim are minor emanations of the Sephiroths (yep, again with the spelling) which in turn are archetypes of the faces of God. They are angels in the sense that they emanate from the higher kingdoms but they are not direct expressions of divine power.

The Orthodox tradition of Cabala believes elohim are direct emanations of god and exist outside the above and outside the worlds (they interact with each Sefirot differently as each Sefirot is an aspect of the divine Self). However, there was neither the space nor the need to get into this level of detail.

I suggest introducing Orthodox Cabala with a slightly different cosmological interpretation, but following the same basic structure as the current Qaballistic tradition.
Eryk the Red
I guess it was an issue of expectation vs. reality. Being the GM, I wasn't looking for playable traditions. wink.gif I have a bunch of very quirky background characters in the game, and I had intended to use the Qabbala tradition to model a true kaballist character. Not that it's so hard to change a few things here and there for my own needs (especially since no rules changes are really necessary). But, again, the problem was I thought I was getting one thing but I actually got another.
Demonseed Elite
Yeah, from a developer perspective, it's generally better for us to put material in which is playable by the largest amount of people. It's easier for a GM to tweak the playable material to what he wants than it is for GMs to try to make something playable that we restricted. It was something that happened often in earlier editions of SR, but something we're trying to avoid in SR4.
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