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It seems fairly widely accepted that Sefer Yetzirah, one of the primary books of Kabbalah, is attributed to Avraham Avinu. Why is that?

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For the same reason that the Zohar is attributed to R. Shimon Bar Yochai. The last section of Sefer Yetzira says, or implies that Abraham was the teacher of these principles in the Sefer Yetzira.

Chapter 1 section 3 reads:

  1. The ten numbers formed from nothing are the Decad: these are seen in the fingers of the hands, five on one, five on the other, and over them is the Covenant by voice spiritual, and the rite of Circumcision, corporeal

This quote references the brit of the parts, where Gd promises Abraham that we will become a great nation.

And then at the end, Chapter 6 section 4 reads:

  1. After that our father Abraham had seen, and pondered over, investigated, and understood these things, he designed, engraved, and composed them, and received them into his power (hands). Then the Lord of all appeared unto him, made a covenant with him, and kissed his head, and naming him after his own name, called him his friend; and as it is written, completed a covenant with him and with his seed forever, who then believed on God, the Tetragrammaton, and it was imputed to him for righteousness.

This section is read to be a reference to the food prepared for the 3 angels / guests.

Since nobody else is mentioned, this is taken to mean that Sefer Yetzirah is a book of Abraham's. Meaning these were the things he did.

However, the book is also attributed to Rabbi Akiva. And is never referenced before the first century.

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"our father Avraham" - Avraham was his own father? –  ray Dec 29 '13 at 19:24
    
@ray That is why Avraham is not likely the actual author. Just like R. Shimon bar Yochai is not the author of the Zohar. The question was "why is it attributed to him", not "who wrote it". –  avi Dec 30 '13 at 10:57
    
who says Rashbi is not the author of the zohar. perhaps better explanation is that parts were appended to the zohar and likewise S.Y. –  ray Dec 30 '13 at 11:33
    
@Ray Ok, whatever you say. shearim.blogspot.co.il/2011/10/… –  avi Dec 30 '13 at 11:37
    

Mystics[3] (the Chida) assert that the Biblical patriarch Abraham used the sefer yetzira to create the calves prepared for the three angels who foretold Sarah's pregnancy in the Biblical account at Genesis 18:7

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sefer_Yetzirah

However, in the above link some attribute it to Adam who passed it onto Noach and then to Avraham

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