Friday, August 19, 2011

Interlocking fingers: Halacha versus Kabbala & Rav Eliashiv does it

 There is a question regarding interlocking ones fingers. According to the halacha it is permitted but Kabbala says not to do it.

http://revach.net/article.php?id=4871

The Aruch HaShulchan brings L'Halacha (OC 91:7) that in times of Za'am or raging tzorus, one should daven with his hands clasped together and his fingers interlocking. However says the Aruch HaShulchan in times of peace you should not do so because it causes Din Shamayim to be brought down on you.
The Piskei Tshuvos (95:5) brings that Arizal was makpid that you should never hold your hands in that manner and it is bad Mazal. Rav Chaim Palagi writes that one should stop his wife or children from doing this, ever, and especially in times of sickness or the Aseres Yimei Tshuva.

The following video shows that Rav Eliashiv does in fact interlock his fingers.

75 comments :

  1. No surprise. Even though he's the Leshem's grandson, R' Elyashiv is a Litvak after all. Why would he be concerned with a practice only advised by nistar? I doubt even R' Shelomo Elyashiv (the Leshem himself) necessarily followed these practices.

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  2. http://revach.net/halacha/tshuvos/Rav-Vosner-Paskening-Halacha-From-Kabbala/4957

    Rav Vosner: Paskening Halacha From Kabbala

    The Chasam Sofer in Tshuva (OC 51) writes that anyone who mixes Kabbala and Halacha is like mixing wheat and grapes which is an issur of Klei HaKerem that must be burned. Despite the strong language, the Mincha Eluzer says that the Chasam Sofer definitely did not mean this, and he just contrasted it with something else he said for comparison purposes. However with a closer reading of the tshuva it seems clear that the Chasam Sofer did mean what he said. Yet on the other hand we find that the Bais Yosef and the Mogen Avrohom quote Zohar in paskening Halacha. How can this all be reconciled?

    Rav Vosner (Shevet HaLevi 1:2) says that the Chasam Sofer's words must be taken at face value. Moreover not only is it assur to mix halacha and kabbala but it is also assur to to mix kabbala of various sources like the Arizal and the Ramak. The reason is because there are many levels and spheres in Kabbala and we do not know what are fair comparisons and what are off the mark.

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  3. ... and yet we do wash neigl vasr specifically to address the same right-vs-left chessed-vs-rachamim notions as the interlocking fingers thing.

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  4. And what about the practice of bittul Torah on xmas Eve?

    I have never heard a straight answer to that from a pure Mitnaggid.

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  5. If you would like to see more raid on this sugya which some poskim call shlivas etzbaos see sefer Shmiras Haguf Vehanefesh whose machaber Rav Lerner is a rare breed of having learned both in Brisk and Yeshivas Hamekubolim.

    As far as mixing kabbalah and halacha it says in poskim that many Polishe who followed the Ramoh still refrained from putting on tefillin on Chol Hamoed because they were afraid of vos shteit in Zohar. I have not seen anyone criticize this practice, perhaps because the Gra held like that lehalacha.

    Zohar vs Shas? It is pretty much universal that Zohar does not have the same kedusha & tokef of Shas. I believe the sefer Shroshei Minhag Ashkenaz has a discussion on this. It is a machlokes if the Zohar was written by Rashb"y or the Rabbonon Savorye.

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  6. Additional question is what constitutes kabbala? Rav Moshe says that the arizal is not considered kabbala for the psak that when their is a machlokes haposkim kabbalah is machriyah.

    Furthermore the Baal HaTanya says the status of the Arizal was in fact the basis of the Gra's dispute with the Chassidim

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  7. I always thought we don't put on Tefillin on Chol Hamoed is because we need a break from daily rules.

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  8. It was not 100% clear from the video that Rav Eliashev shlit"a interlocked his fingers. If he did not interlock his thumbs, then his fingers were not interlocked.

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  9. tzoorba: In which case we must assume that Rav Elyashev did NOT interlock his fingers here (or anywhere).

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  10. I never quite understood why people try to guess what Rav Elyashiv holds by seeing a video etc....Baruch Hashem he is alive and well, so why not ask him whether one should interlock fingers? That way you can be sure of the answer to the shaila and there will be no need for pilpulim or stam guessing!

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  11. there is no source in the Torah for this superstition.
    The Kabbalists learned their polytheistic sefirot system fromthe Christian Trinity.
    The christians also have the same minhag. When they do not walk under a ladder, it has only to do with the symbolism of a triangle,and breaking the trinity. The kabbalists do the same with 10 fingers.
    Also, the Kabbalists do a favour to their friend Yashke, by not learning Torah on his (alleged) birthday. Hence, they are doing 2 transgressions of the Torah: 1) Lo T'onenu and 2) to forbid study of Torah (a Gezeira made by the greeks and romans agaisnt Israel).
    These are symbolic acts, much like Shabbetai zvi, which they have slipped into mainstream orthodoxy, under the radar.

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  12. Eddie, what sources are you quoting or if not, what qualifications do you have to make such pronouncements?

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  13. Sources,
    Torah - says nothing about sefirot
    Monotheism, does not allow for trinitarian/sefirotarian systems
    Rambam - especailly Yesodei Hatorah, as well as his 13 principles, not to mention his Guide of Perplexed reject the attributes and conclude it to be heretical to claim that G-d has a "Godhead" or "body".
    There is an essay citing numerous rishonim and Hachmei Kadmonim on mesora.org against the deification of the sefirot.

    As for Lo t'onenu, that is an Issur D'Oraita. Since when are we allowed to override a Torah law, becasue of some mystical hallucination somebody had in europe?

    do Litvishe Yeshivot play cards and backgammon on 24th December every year?

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  14. Psak: Eddie has no sources or qualifications, other than his anger at Judaism, to invent his bubbe maisas.

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  15. Eddie,

    Where did you dig up the nonsense about the sources of those that learn Kabbala. Your words sound like kefira to me.

    Litvaks don't stop learning on Nitel nacht. They don't hold of nitel.

    Dovid,

    The video was supposed to prove that Rabbi Eliashev interlocked his fingers. The video didn't prove this according to what I have learned that the thumbs are included in the prohibition and that without them they are not considered interlocked.

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  16. Ahron/Tzoorba,

    If you accept the claim that God is the 10 sefirot and the 10 sefirot are G-d ,

    then it seems that it is you who have a problem with Judaism /monotheism and not me. Nefesh HaChaim writes that you have all the qualifications in the world, but you cannot change one iota of the Torah.

    As for kefira, the Rambam says it is a mitzva to deny any plurality of G-d - hence this is precisely what I deny. If you affirm His plurality, ie the sefirot, then you are denying His Unity. It is pretty straight forward.

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  17. Regarding Xmach nittel, do Litvaks consider it to be a sin to stop studying Torah, or just a misguided custom?

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  18. well qualified sources

    http://www.mesora.org/ToharHayihud.pdf

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  19. Eddie,

    Who is the author of ToharHayihud? Why doesn't he acknowledge what all major poskim and Rabbonim of Klal Yisroel have accepted that the Zohar and Kabbala are pnimiyus hatorah and Zohar was written by the Tanna Rav Shimon bar Yochai.

    Here is a statement from the Mishne Brura about the relationship of halacha to Kabbala.


    משנה ברורה סימן כה
    כתב הכנה"ג בכללי הפוסקים כל דבר שבעלי הקבלה והזוהר חולקין עם הגמרא והפוסקים הלך אחר הגמרא והפוסקים מיהו אם בעלי קבלה מחמירין יש להחמיר ג"כ ואם לא הוזכר בגמרא ובפוסקים אף על פי שנזכר בקבלה אין אנו יכולין לכוף לנהוג כך ודין שאין מוזכר בהיפוך בש"ס ופוסקים יש לילך אחר דברי קבלה וגם במקום שיש פלוגתא בין הפוסקים דברי קבלה יכריע

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  20. tzoorba said...

    It was not 100% clear from the video that Rav Eliashev shlit"a interlocked his fingers. If he did not interlock his thumbs, then his fingers were not interlocked.

    ====================

    where does it say that the thumbs must also be interlocked?

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  21. Eddie,

    The 10 sefiros, albeit not by individual names, are the topic of much of Sefer haYetzirah. Even skeptics place it no later than 2nd cent CE, so we're talking tannaim. R' Saadia Gaon has a peirush on sefer haYetzirah.

    Identifying the belief in 10 sefiros with Qabbalah in particular is simply mistaken. Unless you would count Rav Saadia Gaon as a Qabbalist.

    As for saying they derive from trinitarianism -- they PREDATE trinitarianism.

    The Rambam discusses two kinds of things we call "attributes of G-d": descriptions of what G-d isn't, and descriptions of how His Actions appear to us. In the latter category, "Just as He is called Generous, so too should you be generous. Just as He is called Merciful, so too should you be merciful." (Dei'os 1:6) This seeing attributes in how Hashem runs the world is all Qabbalah is discussing.

    See the Gra's 10 Kellalim, the opening words of the first kelal.

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  22. Micha, you prove my point by your analysis.
    In S' Yetzirah , the sefirot were not Divine being(s) but mystical numbers, and SAadia Gaon was a pure monotheist par excellence.
    The sefirot then elevated, and took higher positions, until they became demigods / or part of the kabbalah "Godhead". This is where the rishonim bitterly opposed this concept as heresy and in fact made the comparison with the Trinity.

    In Hilchot Avodah Zarah, Rambam describes the same exact process of how Idolatry evolved. Initially, people recognized the stars as being created items. Then they said "let us pay respect to G-d's great creations" Eventually, they become fully fledged objects of worship.
    Within Kabbalah, at least in some streams, the Sefirot and God are the same (despite sefirot having plurality and relative differences). And dear Micha, you describe a time when they had not yet become divine "deities", yet by the time of Rashbash they had. And Even in Tanya they are called G-d!
    So when non G-d becomes G-d, this is classical avodah zara, as per Rambam's description.

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  23. "The 10 sefiros, albeit not by individual names, are the topic of much of Sefer haYetzirah."

    According to the Kuzari, those ten sefiros in Sefer HaYetzirah refer to the ten numbers, One through Ten. Just as it deals with all the letters of the aleph bet.

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  24. Re: Nittel

    משנה תורה

    הלכות עבודה זרה פרק יא


    ח איזה הוא מעונן--אלו נותני העיתים, שאומרין באצטגנינות יום פלוני רע, יום פלוני טוב, יום פלוני ראוי לעשות בו מלאכה פלונית, שנה פלונית או חודש פלוני רע לדבר פלוני.

    ט אסור לעונן, אף על פי שלא עשה מעשה אלא הודיע אותן הכזבים שהסכלים מדמין שהן דברי אמת ודברי חכמה. וכל העושה מעשה מפני האצטגנינות, וכיוון מלאכתו או הליכתו באותו העת שקבעו הוברי שמיים--הרי זה לוקה, שנאמר "ולא תעוננו" (ויקרא יט,כו). וכן האוחז את העיניים, ומדמה בפני הרואים שעשה מעשה תימהון והוא לא עשה--הרי זה בכלל מעונן, ולוקה

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  25. also, what precisely does R' Saadia Gaon say in his commentary about Sefirot? there is also a Hebrew commentary on sefer Yetzirah incorrectly ascribed to him, from 1562, so that is something to watch out for.

    Shadal does not refer to the contents of this commentary, but rejects a proof that Saadia Gaon believed in Sefirot which was based on a statement of Ibn Ezra. Also, it is noteworthy that Saadia Gaon rejected as a foreign import a (proto-)gilgul belief, which is quite prevalent in later kabbalistic works, including the Zohar.

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  26. Eddie,

    "Analysis"? Are you claiming you know the relevant sources, never mind analyzed them? You're now responding to the Seifer haYetzirah as though I fave you news.

    FWIW, the sephiros aren't part of the Ein Sof, not even the Or Ein Sof, but the prism through which the Or Ein Sof reaches us. Again, see the opening of the Gra's 10 Kelalim. No one "elevated them to the godhead".

    Open a book before accusing the overwhelming majority of shomerei Shabbos of idolatry.



    RJW, the Kuzari does not say they were merely numbers. See 4:25 again. To quote part, "... Expansion, measure, weight, relation of movements, and musical harmony, all these are based on the number expressed by the word, S’fār. No building emerges from the hand of the architect unless its image had first existed in his soul. Sippūr signifies the language, or rather the divine language, 'the voice of the words of the living God.' This produced the existence of the form which this language assumed in the words: 'Let there be light,' 'let there be a firmament.' The word was hardly spoken, when the thing came into existence. This is also Sēfer, by which writing is meant, the writing of God means His creatures, the speech of God is His writing, the will of God is His speech. In the nature of God, therefore, S’fār, Sippūr, and Sēfer are a unity, whilst they are three in human reckoning. For man wills with his reason, speaks with his mouth, and writes such speech with his hand. These three factors characterize one of God's creatures. Man's will, writing, and word are marks of the thing, but not the nature of the same. The will, however, expressed in the word of God signifies the essence of the thing, and is at the same time His script..."

    The sefiros are numbers, but they are also the speech and writing of ceration -- which is creation itself! "The essence of the thing is His script..."

    I have a hard time following Sefer haYetzirah or RSG's commentary on it, but the best I can glean from what he writes on 1:2, R' Saadia Gaon is saying something pretty similar. (It seems all very Pythagorian.)

    -micha

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  27. Tohar HaYihud is an inherently flawed sefer. It takes certain statements entirely out of their context and at times makes others up completely.

    No Kabbalist sees the Sefirot as Divine, and many, including Rabbi Eliyahu Mani, whom the Tohar HaYihud so maligns, says they don't even exist. He spends a good portion of his sefer, "Kise Eliyahu" belaboring the point that they are only metaphors, much like the finger of Hashem, and the eyes of Hashem, and so forth mentioned in the Torah.

    The Arizal himself makes this point on daf 14c of Eitz Haim. Rabbi Shimon Algasi makes the same point in his commentary on the 13principles of Jewish Faith entitled "Yesodei HaTorah."

    As far as Saadia Gaon's commentary on Sefer Yetzirah, the Arizal says to study it, the Abulafia and the Ramak quote it, what he says at length is quite complicated, however he sees them as creations and not creator, beyond that see inside.

    To say that all Kabbalists are idolators is exceptionally difficult. The GR"A was a Kabbalist, as were his students. The Hassidim... well obviously they were. Most(and I say this only because there may have been one or two that were not) of the major Sephardi Poskim for the last 500yrs were Kabbalists. To say that Kabbalists are idolators is not to cling to some assumed Mesorah, it is to completely reinvent a mesorah.

    Now coming down to the interlacing of fingers. It is brought by Shmuel Vital from the notes that his father Haim Vital had accumulated from the other students of the Arizal in Shaar HaPasukim parashat Eikev. Now a couple of things should be stated about this. First it is arguable as to whether even the RaShaSh held by this, as it was not from Haim Vital himself.

    Leaving that aside, as with a many practices that the Ari sets forth, placing 18 bands upon the lulav, reciting the "prayer" requesting the angels to wait for you while in the toilet(brought in Berakhot), wearing two sets of Tefillin, wearing white on Shabbat, ect... They are simply divrei Hassidut, and not incumbant upon every individual.

    So in the end I'm not really sure why there needs to be a defense one way or the other of what Rav Eliashiv does. Aside from the actual Kabbalists of Beit El(and those Yeshivot that sprung from her) I don't believe that anyone has fully accepted all of the divrei Hassidut brought by the Arizal. So there really no reason to insist that Rav Eliasiv do so.

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  28. Oh yeah Nittle Nacht. I have studied in both Litvak and Sephardi Kabbalistic Yeshivot(including Beit El) and the first time I had ever heard of Nittle Nacht was on a blog. It's not a Kabbalistic thing, its a Hassidic thing. Take it up with the Hassidim.

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  29. Mekubal /Micha,

    I didn't mention the Gra, nor did I atatck the Nefesh hachaim - which is a monotheistic response to Tanya. he also accuses tanya of pantheism.
    Tanya calls the sefirot G-d, based on a verse in the Zohar that "He is the Sefirot and the Sefirot are He."
    There were early rishomnim who made the same allegations against the kabalists - eg R' Shimon Ben Sheshet .

    Incidentally, are you aware that the Rambam was called a heretic by the French rabbis, for being an "incorporealist", ie for saying G-d has no body! This is clear from RambaN's Letter to the French Rabbis! Ramban gently but firmly rebuts the
    notion of the French corporealists.

    As for Tohar HaYichud - he mentions right at the end the astonishing quote of the Hatam Sofer, that he did not believe in the authenticity of the majority of the Zohar!

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  30. rmb:

    i am certainly far from a kabblist, so I don't know what to make of that quote from the kuzari, or whether this does or does not signify the sefirot we know of. but shadal discusses 4:25 here and here, and explains it in similar manner, even invoking Pythagoras.

    kt,
    josh

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  31. Mekubal:

    There is a concept of Pan(en)theism - which was rejected by Nefesh hachaim. However, it is central aprt of Hassidic thought, esp in Tanya. I have also seen it in the thought of R Kook (who was half Chabadnik).
    Pan ENtheism is a hiddush on Spinozan pantheism. It claims that the world is infused with G-d, but God goes beoyonf the world. So if this panthistic idea compares a fried egg to its deity, the yolk is the world, and the white is the rest of the deity. This is nothing short of avodah zarah.

    Re: xmach - of course Sephardim do not indulge in such nonsense! Xtianity was not prevalent in Islamic countries, hence the influence did not enter their vocabulary.

    But is a very much a European Hassidic practice, which has spread to some non hassidic (but B'H not the Litvish yeshivot).

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  32. Eddie,

    The NhC doesn't accuse the Tanya of any such thing. The power of the NhC's response to the Tanya was that he doesn't provide a critique; instead R' Chaim Volozhiner simply spells out a compelling alternative using many of the same sources.

    You also misrepresent the anti-Maimonidians. Did you read the Raavad? He is attacked for ignoring maamarei Chazal simply for not fitting Aristotle. He is also attacked for cannonizing believe in a non-corporeal G-d as an iqar -- even though his attackers themselves agree that G-d is non-corporeal. The Rambam made a law out of something that they believed happened to be true, but wasn't a mandatory belief. (And after having seen R' Moshe Taku's sefer, the idea isn't as absurd as I would have thought.)

    Second, they didn't like the brashness of the entire concept of Mishneh Torah.

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  33. Micha,

    I am pleased this has become an interesting discussion.

    Yes, RAbad makes the famous gloss on Rambam's comment about corporealism. He uses the term "greater and better than you [Rambam] held this view"!!
    It is widely held that RaBad himself was not a corporealist, but he was defending many whose opinions had been distored by midrashim they did not fully understand.

    But Nachmanides did write to the French Rabbis - it is available in Chavel's translation of RabaN's works.
    The addresses of the Iggeret of Nachmanides were themselves corporealists, who called Maimonides a heretic.
    And Nachmanides speaks very highly of the french Rabbis, so they were obviously Gedolim.

    As far as I am aware, this was a major critique by R' Haim Vollozhiner , implicit of the Tanya. The idea of "memaleh kol almin" he strongly criticizes. I will try to find the exact quotation for you.

    Btw, R Kapach, the scholar of Maimonides par excellence, makes a note in Guide of the Perplexed, in 1; 36, that Rambam's retort about pantheism is a response to Rabad's criticism mentioned above, of his MT! i.e. the MT had reached Raavad, he wrote his glosses, and they in turn reached Rambam!

    Finally, Nachmanides , in the letter to the French Rabbis, agrees to the partial ban on Guide (promulgated by the French) only in as far as the rambaM himself said it should not be taught publicly, and this is what the RambaN maintained!! A perfect harmonization of the biggest machloket in the last 1000 years!

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  34. Eddie,

    When you say that Kabbalists are by nature Polytheists, and that Kabbalah is polytheism, you are inherently attacking Rabbanim such as the GR"A, the Hid"a, the Ben Ish Hai, the Nefesh HaHaim ect.

    If your problem is with Chassidim, then state that explicitely, and Chassidim will defend their own. However, you paint a great many Gedolim and Tzaddikim with a very broad brush by simply stating that Kabbalah, which you seem to know very little about, is polytheism.

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  35. ... and the Bahir, the Raavad, the Ramban, most of the baalei Tosafos, R' Yosef Caro, the Ari, the Maharal, the Ramchal, every seifer that follows the same chessed vs gevurah logic to tell you the order for washing hands upon waking up and before hamotzi, every Jew who says Qabbalas Shabbos (or at least Lekha Dodi in particular), etc....

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  36. Qabbalah is panentheistic, not pantheistic. And in fact, closely resembles the Rambam's Yesodei haTorah, if you look at 1:1-5, 2:3-9. The gap between the rationalists and the Qabbalists isn't as far apart as all that. (A point repeatedly made by the Leshem.)

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  37. The addressees of the Ramban's letter were not coporealists. They too were outraged by the Rambam's excluding corporealists, but were not themselves. Much like the Raavad. (And your "widely held" is explicit in the Raavad's words. Again, open the books yourself!)

    And in any case, if you are distinguishing between the Ramban and the recipients, then you already acknowledged that the Ramban's Qabbalah is not corporealism!

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  38. Since we got here, here is the argument for corporealism in a nutshell.

    We can't understand G-d at all. The Rambam uses this idea to deny the existence of real attributes of G-d. (He has another argument, involving G-d's unity, but this is one of them.) Therefore we never talk about G-d but what He isn't or what example He sets for us in His "Actions", and the problem of not being able to comprehend the topic is avoided.

    R' Moshe Taku, in what we have of his Kesav Tamim, also starts with the assumption that we can't understand G-d. But then he continues that therefore we cannot use reason to exclude the possibility that G-d has attributes or even a body. Since reason isn't applicable, we must accept tradition uncritically. If the verse says "the Hand of G-d" it must somehow be so -- who are we to throw arguments of logic against it?

    Not silly at all, if you think about it. The Rambam's objection (and R' Saadia Gaon's, apparently Unqelus's, every name we know of but RMT) to taking the pesukim at face value is itself a logical argument about the inability to fit G-d within anything we can reason about!

    And in an incredible reversal of your absurd claim about triniarianism and the sefiros, let me note that R' Moshe Taku accuses the rationalists of having a vision of G-d that comes more from the Moslem Kalam than from mesorah!

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  39. Mekubal,

    you make a good an honest point.

    My response is as follows:

    a) Tanya does equate the 10 sefirot to the One g-d of Israel. This is at best trinitarianism, and at worst polytheism. I dont mean it is "3", but it is the same claim the Christians have made, ie 3 is one , which is total nonsense and considered heresy by most Rabbis and Jewish scholars.

    b) Here is the real problem. Whilst nefesh Hachaim is (as far as I have seen) strictly monotheist - there are not many today who will accept that Tanya is heretical. Rather, they have a belief that every Seer written, by an accepted Gadol, is part of the Torah Sh B'Al Peh, and was retroactively given to Moses on Har Sinai.

    Unless one rejects both of these claims, ie that Tanya is a true book of Torah, and b) that everything ever published is automatically
    "Torah", then one acquiesces with the heretical claims made in that book.

    It is not clear to me what the claims of the earlier Kabbalists were/are, eg what R Haim Vital believed for example.

    I approached a very knowledgeable MO Rav, who is expert in both Hassidism, and Mitnagdism - and he claimed that the GRA also held by the Ein Sof/Sefirot Unity. I have no way of knowing the truth of that statement, other than the Nefesh HaHayim states that praying to any of the Sefirot , even in the highest world of Atzilut, is "kitzutz b'netiot" - ie heresy.

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  40. micha said...

    Qabbalah is panentheistic, not pantheistic. And in fact, closely resembles the Rambam's Yesodei haTorah, if you look at 1:1-5, 2:3-9.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Micha, you must have a special edition of the Yad. In the standard version, he rails agaisnt pantheism/panetheism.

    Your claim is refuted by the verses you cite! eg 1: 5

    אינו לא שניים ולא יתר על שניים, אלא אחד, שאין כייחודו אחד מן האחדים הנמצאים בעולם: לא אחד כמין שהוא כולל אחדים הרבה, ולא אחד כגוף שהוא נחלק למחלקות ולקצוות; אלא ייחוד שאין ייחוד אחר כמותו בעולם


    There is a conceptual difficulty for those who have little or no scientific training, to understand that physical dimensions of distance (length) and time, are just as material as mass. Many people hence assume that G-d must be somewhere, and must have a size and shape. this is precisely what Rambam is trying to dispel.

    Incidentally, there is the whole ma'ase of the Shiur Komah, which Rambam eventually turned against and said it should be expunged.

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  41. micha said...

    " The NhC doesn't accuse the Tanya of any such thing. The power of the NhC's response to the Tanya was that he doesn't provide a critique;"
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Does NhC have to spell out the name and author of a book, or is a conceptual attack sufficient?

    Eg, if the Torah forbids homosexual behaviour, does it attack gays, or just provide them with an alternative lifestyle?


    In Shaar 3, ch 9, NhC starts in the 3rd paragraph "V'Zo hayta..."
    This was the the whole basis for ancient idolatry.
    He simply restates rambam's thesis in Hilchot A.Z. how the ancients started respect all of creation, gradually raising it's kedusha via pantheism.
    Hence, his anti-pantheistic attack.
    The terms pantheism and panentheism may sound like some clever distinction, but in terms of Torah, they are both avoda zarah.
    Pantheism would claim that the earth, saturn, mount fuji, and even a clay buddha are all infused with divinity. this is quite basic, and covered in the sources we have mentioned.
    Panentheim simply says that beyond our pantheistic universe, there is an eternal G-d, but it still holds that saturn, jupiter, buddha etc are all infused with the same level of divinity.
    You can call it whatever you like, but it is a) idolatry, and b) attacked by Nefesh Hachaim (as well Rambam , of course).

    ReplyDelete
  42. The NhC invokes the sephiros repeatedly. He obviously isn't implying that the reification of the middos we see in how HQBH runs the universe into sefiros has gotten to the level of dor Enosh.

    You misdefine panentheism. You also don't address my point that the Rambam's chain of tzuros in Yesodei haTorah 2 is blatantly another metaphor for the same concept as qabbalah's notion of Atzilus.

    Nor does the Tanya identify the sefiros with G-d. Frankly, you're just making stuff up now, rather than realizing your brash opening sentence was grossly in error.

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  43. Micha, you are being intellectually dishonest. You obviously have no knowledge of Sefer HaTanya, shaar hayichud.
    It is laughable that you are denying something that is widely held and known by anyone who has studied this book.

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  44. In Shaar Hayichud, the baal hatanya actually quotes form the Rambam you mentioned,
    יג [י] הקדוש ברוך הוא מכיר אמיתו, ויודע אותה כמות שהיא. ואינו יודע בדעה שהיא חוץ ממנו כמו שאנו יודעין, שאין אנו ודעתנו אחד. אבל הבורא--הוא ודעתו וחייו אחד, מכל צד ומכל פינה: שאלמלא היה חי בחיים ויודע בדעה, היו שם אלוהות הרבה--הוא וחייו ודעתו; ואין הדבר כן, אלא אחד מכל צד ומכל פינה ובכל דרך ייחוד.

    to justify the claim the Ein Sof 9G-d) and the sefirot are one and the same thing.


    However, this is a false analogy

    as Rambam says : אבל הבורא--הוא ודעתו וחייו אחד, מכל צד ומכל פינה: שאלמלא היה חי בחיים ויודע בדעה, היו שם אלוהות הרבה--הוא וחייו ודעתו; ואין הדבר כן

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Since you claim I wrongly define panentheism, kindly supply your definition.


    Rambam clearly says that all created beings are non divine.

    יב [ט] כל הנמצאים חוץ מן הבורא, מצורה הראשונה עד יתוש קטן שיהיה בטבור הארץ--הכול מכוח אמיתו נמצאו. ולפי שהוא יודע עצמו ומכיר גודלו ותפארתו ואמיתו, הוא יודע הכול ואין דבר נעלם ממנו.

    This is form the highest, to the smallest flea.

    The only modification I would make to my orignal brash statement, is that those who see the sefirot as "divine" have stumbled into idolatry.

    There are 2 ways of denial.

    The first is to deny that Tanya makes such a statement, which can only be made by someone unfamiliar with its content.

    Once you have checked the Shaar Haichud, you can deny the rambam perhaps, or take the cop out route that left is right , and right is left.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Eddie,

    You started by declaring nearly every observant Jew an idolater, and you're closing with name-calling. (FWIW, I've learned enough Tanya to realize you're relying on secondary or tertiary sources.) There is nothing to be said.

    Because I left teasers about the overlap between Qabbalah and the Rambam's hashkafah, I'll leave this comment chain with a link to my blog series on the subject, and end on a more productive note.

    -micha

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  46. http://www.chabad.org/library/tanya/tanya_cdo/aid/7992/jewish/Chapter-6.htm

    והנה מהתכללות המדות זו בזו, נראה לעין דאיהו וגרמוהי חד, שהן מדותיו

    From the mutual inclusion of the attributes, their opposite natures notwithstanding, it is evident that “He and His causations” — i.e., His attributes — “are One,”

    כי מאחר שהן ביחוד גמור עמו, לכן הן מתייחדות זו בזו וכלולות זו מזו

    for since they are in complete unity with Him, they therefore unite with each other and are comprised of each other.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This is a mainstream Sefer of Orthodox Jewry. It is accepted by most Rabbanim, with the exception of the Yemenite Dordaim; and the purist Litvishers, if there are any left.


    There are 2 separate issues

    a) Does the Tanya make this statement, ? yes look at Shaar hayichud 6 - 8.

    b) How widespread is this view within Kabbalah?
    That is a wider discussion. Accodring to Norman Lamm, it is even held by the GRA. I find that hard to believe. Th statements in the Zohar should nto be read as "pshat", although obviously do.

    As for "name calling" - I have quote book, chapter and verse . It was you who suggested I am falsifying these quotes. Nobody in Chabad, or any other circles that accept this book, deny that it makes the statements I have quoted.

    "I've learned enough Tanya to realize you're relying on secondary or tertiary sources." Obviously not enough.

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  47. I already pointed you to the core discussion in the Tanya on sefiros. Here it is again, in case you didn't notice it was linked http://www.chabad.org/library/tanya/tanya_cdo/aid/369893/jewish/page.htm.

    Since I am sure you don't confuse yourself with your outfit, I am also sure that you would agree that the Tanya identifies HQBH with the sefiros.

    I also pointed you to an analysis of Qabbalah from a more Litvisher bent. Certainly more mainstream, given today's demographics, than Chabad.

    -micha

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  48. As long as the other spheres, be they stars, angels or sefiros , remain, just like the humble flea, a created being, that is fine.
    G-d's "self-knowledge" is not like ours,and Rambam, where we have both quoted, maintains that if there was any shade of difference between the Knowledge and the KNown, there would, G-d forbid, be a multiplicity of deities.

    Kabbalah has 2 choices: 1) it can make a product differentiation with the rationalists and simply claim its "entities" are higher than the planets and angels, but nonetheless created (like the gnat).

    2) They can be so exalted, thet they become the Ein Sof. The second position is heresy.

    It is interesting/ironic that the past 2 Chabad rebbes claimed to be the embodiment of the Ein Sof! R' Aaron Kotler was furious at these statements. But they did not get very far in the Haredi world, whereas the easy target of the left wing MO became fair game for one and all.
    Again R' Shach was somewhat more sucessful in his critique of Chabad, but this was until the messianic debacle. the mere hint of idolatry was not sufficient to dispel the myths of the grandeur of the Rebbe - such that acclaimed non hassidic Mequbalim as great as R'Kaduri and R' Eliahu, as well as the staunch ultra Haredi R Moshe Stern - Debreziner rav all signed the declaration of the rebbe's presumed (bechizkat) messiahood!

    The point being, mere idolatry has not deterred anyone, except for the exceptionally sober Lithuanian roshei Yeshivot.

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  49. "Atzmus Umahus vi er hat zich areingeshtelt in a guf gashmi" was an invention of the last Lub Rebbe. While he made that claim about his then-recently-niftar predecessor, he is the only rebbe to make the claim.

    You're also backing off a distance... You opened by making an ignorant statement about qabbalah, then you focused on the Tanya, and now a chidush that dates to 1951.

    It's also not 100% what it sounds like, but that requires a really long detour into Lub acosmism. Again, a derivative of panentheism. In short, I would accuse it of being overly Buddhist, not Xian.

    -micha

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  50. Heresy-hunting leads to causeless hatred, especially when it presumes to declare heretics gedolim down through the generations who are central pillars of our tradition. Much wiser is to realize that all of our words are metaphors, which we can use to vitalize and deepen our attachment to Hashem and holiness, and there is latitude in our beautiful tradition for different viewpoints, each with their modicum of truth, none of them the total and only truth excluding all others. Panentheism is not heresy. Neither is the neo-Platonic views of Solomon ibn Gabirol and so many other great Jewish thinkers. The metaphorical quality of the statements of the Zohar are insisted on throughout that work, and even are emphasized heavily precisely in the introductions to the most anthropomorphizing portions of it such as Idra Rabba.

    The way I see it, and speaking metaphorically, we were all at Mt. Sinai and received illumination from the Torah, and indeed there are, the Sages tell us, 600,000 different perspectives on what was revealed there, each one true from that receiver's place and as appropriate to that person. How then can we be sure that any particular view does not express what comes from Sinai? When that view, or the person expressing it, denies the light that others present there beheld, and even the testimony of Clal Yisrael, and claims the sole truth for him- or herself only.

    That there are 600,000 true perspectives does not mean that anything goes, and any view whatsoever is valid, and one of the ways in which we can discover the limits separating truth from wilful self-indulgence, arrogance and causeless hatred is precisely this test, that the proclaimer does not hesitate to declare every other faithful affirmation, even by the greatest spiritual guides in our tradition and the consensus of the whole of Israel over time, false and heretical.

    Indeed, some of those 600,000 views are less narrow and more inclusive than others, and can embrace more depths and perspectives than others. These come closer to the larger truth of things. Truth too has gradations. The person who denies this depth and multi-dimensionality of perspectives has not been present with Clal Yisrael at Mt. Sinai, or has obscured its reality in his/her soul. This is one of the signs of that condition.

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  51. We never saw your definition of panentheism.

    I already modified my original statement, I agree it was wrong to paint all kabbalists with the same brush.
    But I used the same phrase that the early rishonim used against their contemporary Kabbalsits who would pray to a different sefirah each day.

    Interestingly, that you also backed down, first alleging that I was falsifying the Tanya, now admitting what is written there.

    As for the interlocking of fingers, it is precisely this type of minhag which is the more radical superstitious kabbalah - and those who accept the Tanya.

    You also , sir, seem to be oblivious to my argument by association. Whereas it may not be a favourite sefer in perhaps Brisk or Ponovezh, Tanya is accepted as Torah Sh B'al Peh by majority of Orthodox rabbis. This would include even Rav Kook - who I admire greatly.
    In contrast, Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed is rejected by majority of yeshiva welt - and essentially banned in most Yeshivot.

    Micha, is being "buddhist" somewhat more "kodesh" than being xian?

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  52. No, I said and still say the Tanya doesn't identify the sefiros (or the rebbe) with G-d. I twice pointed you to Igeres haQodesh #15, which is entirely about what is sefiros. "Clothing", not essence. What I did say was that the last LR said things I have problems with, but given the Tanya's position that tzimtzum is an illusion, it's not so extreme as to violate the 3rd iqar. That's what I meant by "Buddhist". In panentheism, G-d is more than the sum total of existence, but everything that exists is of G-d. Saying a rebbe is someone who can rise above the illusion of tzimtzum to existentially experience the G-dly nature we all posess can be fit into the iqarim, at least in the looser Ani Maamin or Yigdal forms.

    But in either case, RMMS wasn't the Tanya.

    The anti-Maimonidians had one strong argument... Their philosophical structure, the Qabbalah, is far more home-grown and a product of aggadita than the Rambam's Aristotilianism. That was also the Gra's and RSRH's objections -- even though both had much positive to say about secular study. At some point, you just whittle away one thing too many to make it fit that external thought-system.

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  53. Conversations like this are a good example of what is called "dvorim betillim". There are plenty of sources in Chassidus Chabad (and probably elsewhere) that discuss the question "How can you reconcile pluraliry of spheroes with achdus of Hashem?"

    Saying that there is a contradiction is like saying "Galileo said that all objects fall with the same speed. But look: the feather falls more slowly than a stone! I just upshlogged Galileo!" Maybe you should read until the end of the chapter.

    Tzemach Tzedek discusses this topic at length in Derech Mitzvosecho, Mitzvas Hamanas Elokus (I think, starting chapter 4 or so). Plus, there are probably hundreds of ma'amorim from the other Rebbeim Chabad (hemshech Somech Hei from Rebbe Rashab discusses this topic at length, bringing the shittos of oiros pshutim vs. oiros mitzuyorim: whether the keilim create spheroes, or whether the concept of spheroes was already included in potential in the light), hundreds of writings from other mikubolim, etc.

    Re: nittel nacht: just because they don't do something in a particular "kabbalistic" yeshiva doesn't mean this inyon is not from Kabbala.

    ReplyDelete
  54. See also Chapters 10 and 11 from the second Rebbe of Chabad (with English translation here).

    In there he says that when the spheroes are included in the Essence of Oir Ein Soif (which is not to be equated with G-d's Essence!), we cannot even say that the spheroes are unified, since they are one thing, not ten things in unity. They exist only as potentials for the Essence of the Light to express itself as. Only at the later levels can we say that they are unified...

    Needless to say, Light is not the same as G-d's Essence. But at the same time, it is not a creation either. Kabbalah introduces a third element. Instead of saying that there is only G-d and creation, it says that there is G-d, G-dliness, and the creation. See Derech Mitzvosecho by Tzemach Tzedek quoted above.

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  55. Re: the video:

    1) he is definitely crossing the thumbs at the beginning
    2) no, it's not surprising at all
    3) the crossing of fingers is not the strangest thing about this video

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  56. Not posted here before but have been following this discussion with interest.
    Eddie, was your initial blanket statement about kabbala just to be davka? Because you're clearly aware that the Gra, R Chaim Volozhiner, R Kook etc, all of whom evidently come into your category of 'good' rabbis, were all very into kabbala in all its variations. Yet you repeat the secular academic claim (nonsense, I might add)about kabbala as a whole being borrowed from the Persians/Xians etc. I know you backed down from the blanket statement but isn't there still problem, l'shitascha, with the greatest sages of the last 500 years being baalei kabbala? I don't see a resolution to that in your comments

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  57. Re: nittel nacht: just because they don't do something in a particular "kabbalistic" yeshiva doesn't mean this inyon is not from Kabbala.

    Let me put it this way. It is not written in any of the classic Kabbalistic seforim(S"Y, Bahir, Zohar, Kitvei Ha'Ari). The Yeshiva of the RaShaSh(the equivalant of the Besh"t for Sephardim) don't do it.

    Hence it is a Chassidic custom. Is it based on Kabbalah... I don't know, I haven't actually looked into the Chassidic explanations, that is not my derekh.

    I am not meaning to deride any Chassidishe custom. I'm just stating that it has not been the minhag of the Mekubalim, and their Yeshivot. Even Shaarei Shamayim, the(I believe) only Ashkenazi Kabbalistic Yeshiva do not keep the custom of Nittle Nacht.

    Thus I am fairly confident in saying that it is not a Kabbalistic custom(meaning by and large the customs of the Mekubalim).

    ReplyDelete
  58. Micha-- It's clear that Eddie is not versed whatsoever in the sefarim he is quoting, and is rather repeating stuff he's read in English - most probably gathered on the internet.

    I've found that you can never win an argument with people who are ignorant on the subject they are discussing.


    I'm also impressed with your knowledge on the topics.

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  59. I don't think accusations of ignorance are helpful abra. In fact it seems clear that Eddie does have first hand knowledge of the sources he's citing, even if he's made a pig's ear of interpreting them l'aniyas da'ati.
    His main problem seems be taking English-defined terms such as pantheism, Godhead etc and trying to use them to analyse sifrei kodesh, rather than understanding these works on their own merit from first (Torah) principles. Judaism always suffers when foreign words are used to understand it. R SH Hirsh insists again and again that Torah needs to be understoodd from within itself, as Micha referred to.

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  60. Quite a lot of comments, as this has moved to another page.

    @ Micha: The Iggeret you quote makes a typical pantheistic statment, ie 2 of the sefirot are supposedly Divine testicles, and the "divine light " coming form them are compared to human sperm. Wonderful, mayeb we should add this to Yigdal.

    http://www.chabad.org/library/tanya/tanya_cdo/aid/7960/jewish/Epistle-15.htm

    ובחינת עצה זו נקראת נצח והוד

    This deliberation, regarding how best to present the concept, is referred to [by the terms] Netzach and Hod.

    שהן כליות יועצות

    These [attributes] are35 “the kidneys that advise,” in a manner similar to their physical counterpart,

    וגם תרין ביעין המבשלים הזרע

    and they are also (in spiritual terms) the two testicles that prepare the spermatozoa,36

    Like their physical counterpart, the attributes of Netzach and Hod adapt the effusion of the concept.

    שהיא הטפה הנמשכת מהמוח

    i.e., the drop that issues from the brain.37


    "In panentheism, G-d is more than the sum total of existence, but everything that exists is of G-d. Saying a rebbe is someone who can rise above the illusion of tzimtzum to existentially experience the G-dly nature we all posess can be fit into the iqarim, at least in the looser Ani Maamin or Yigdal forms."

    Yes, Micha , thanks for the definition. In other words, G~d is like an infintine fried egg, sunny side up, but the physical - spinozan world is just the yolk in the middle, whereas the white is the ethereal infinite part.

    The problem with ideologically fixed Rabbis, is that when they are talking falsehoods or nonsense, or simply cannot fathom the truth or falsehood of statement, they retort to "you do not understand"

    MIcha, you must be very thick to think you can make such a claim, and then pretend it is within the Maimonideadn canon.

    Basically, your statement is one of heresy - as far as Rambams is concernred. You are confessing that you belive that G-d has a physical section, and an infinite section. So not only is your concept of a physical god, but also a dualistic one.

    Next, I already quoted the Shaar haichud of the Tanya - where he claims the sefirot are unified in G-d. I need say no more. Nobody has addressed that issue - perhaps it is too scary to look at.

    ---------

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  61. @ Ben, you make some good points.

    In answer to your qn: Yes, my initial blanket statement was somewhat davka, I shoudl have qualified it. It was in the context of the thinkers who see the crossing of fingers as forbidden.

    Regarding the question fothe great Rabbis of hundreds of years who follow Qabbala - as long as it does not transgress the Torah, that is fine.
    It is problematic - to say the least, when you have a 2 -tier torah. eg, Rambam , and the Torah itself , forbid astrology. Even the Talmud says "ein mazal l'yisrael".

    Here is the interesting point - whilst ther eis a secualr/academic claim of the Qabbala being "imported" from other places, there is also a rabbinic claim for this! Several gedolim queried the authenticity of the Zohar, as well as the Bahir. Saadia Gaon denied the concept of gilgul!!
    If you study the Rambam, carefully, esp Hilchot A.Z., Moreh Hanevuchim, and his teshuva on Astrology, you will see he is atatcking the early mysticism of his day. He banned a book called Shiur Qomah, which was a major mystical tract of his time!

    I suggest you read Micha's definition of panentheism. This is not anything that fits in with Monotheism of Saadi, and Rambam. It is simply a spin on spinoza, rather extending the domain of G-d outside of the physical world.
    This idea , as far as i udnerstand Nefesh Hachaim, was rejected by R' Haim Volozhiner. I dont think RHV's position is logically perfect, but it is certainly trying very hard to avoid the dangers of pan(en)theism.

    The test is like this: If you have an asherah tree, and a stone Baal, the stuff which is forbiddne int he Torah. Do these contain any Divinity (Hashem) in them?

    Monotheism will say NO. These are totally foreign, just like all created matter.

    Pantheism will say yes, and in fact everything is G-d, all is One.

    Panentheism is simply an extension of pantheism, except that whilst everything is G-d, G-d continues beyond His physical core (universe) to a spiritual infinity.

    The problem is R'Kook also held by this concept. I used to be a complete Chossid of r' Kook, but I no longer see his thought to be completely kosher.

    Ramchal also worked very hard on a purely monotheistic view of Kabbalah. The critique - the book called Tohar HaYichud which I linked earlier, also takes Ramchal to task. I Havent read Hokker U Mekubal in depth, so I cannot comment on it.

    My view is that great Rabbis were aware of dangers of certain concepts leading to strange, heretical or antinomian beliefs and actions.

    Hence R Chagiz banned the Ramchal, and the same R Hagiz also cast doubt on the authenticity of the Zohar.

    So before anyone attacks me, please be aware that Giant Rabbis, incl R Emden, Hatam Sofer and earlier Rishonim, have been critical of Kabbalah.

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  62. Eddie,

    1- I'm no fan of the Tanya

    2- Using Google to quote sections of the Tanya can't replace actually learning it. You're taking a metaphor -- the role of the sefiros in how G-d runs the universe paralleling the human condition. Nothing about what G-d is. As the opening to that chapter -- which I quoted -- tells you.

    Do you really think you know Judaism, and the majority of O rabbis and Jews for the past 500 were duped?

    Again, your statements are brash, conceited, your accusations empty, and you don't even use the word pantheism correctly. Eddie, grow up.

    You now have one month to figure out how to apologize to millions of Jews, alive and dead, for accusing them of heresy. I won't tie you up here.

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  63. Eddie,

    Honestly your arguments are anachronistic at best. When you say, If you study the Rambam, carefully, esp Hilchot A.Z., Moreh Hanevuchim, and his teshuva on Astrology, you will see he is atatcking the early mysticism of his day. You assume ex post facto an argument that may not(and arguably did not) exist at the time. Considering that other Rishonim(most notably R' Avraham Abulafia) learned much of their system from the Moreh, should tell you that you are not reading it with the same eyes that other Rishonim read it with.

    As far as Tohar HaYichud is concerned, have you not wondered why the author remains anonymous? To put not too fine a point upon it, it has almost no scholarly value. It is a polemic of carefully selected quotations and misquotes which leaves the majority of the text, especially the relevant parts behind in order to prove a point. Taken along with the numerous misquotes(I will give the benefit of the doubt that he didn't intentionally make up certain quotes) you have a work that in both Rabbinic and Academic circles would be considered as an absolute academic failure, and would be accompanied by claims of academic dishonesty.

    Now as I have previously stated I don't have a great deal of experience with Chassidic hashkafa, and even if I were to read a Chassidic text I would do so through the lens of my own learning in the Kabbalistic academies of Jerusalem.

    The Arizal goes to great lengths to state that there is no connection between the Ein Sof and the created order. Nor is there any connection between the Or Ein Sof and the created order, rather only a "reshimu"(Eitz Haim Sha'ar 1:4). According to the Rashash(found on 14b of the Eitz Haim) states that even that "reshimu" known as the Kav Or Ein Sof, only extends to the world of Atzilut.

    His grandson the Divrei Shalom(24d), and his chief student the Torat Hakham(72b) go on to explain all of this at length as to why even this reflection of the radiance of the Ein Sof, cannot descend below the realm of absolute spirituality. See also the Shemen Sasson's commentary on Eitz Haim(same Sha'ar and Chapter, letter 27).

    All of that to say that Kabbalists saw a great difference and separation between the One G-d, and the created order, so that even the means by which He interacts with the world is only through a hyper-spiritual created order that acts as a bridge of sorts between himself and his creation.

    Ultimately if you want to understand this, I suggest you read Shomer Emunim HaKadmon, followed by Kise Eliyahu. Those two seforim constitute an introduction to the Kabbalah of the Arizal. If you want to understand how the system of the Arizal(as well as the Bahir and the Zohar) fit into absolute monotheism, without panentheism, then study those(neither is exceptionally light reading). However, before you set about criticising 500yrs worth of Gedolim, you really do need to spend some time with the original texts. Because quite honestly an effectual rebuttal cannot be made in a blog post, nor can it be said better than those respective Gedolim have already stated it.

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  64. Micha, your definition of panentheism is no different to mine. It is in contradiction to what Rambam writes throughout his Sefarim. ie G-d has not physicality whatsoever, has no division, is a perfect Unity, a Unity which is qualitatively different from what we know.

    Acording to your logic, the hindu neighbours I have, who have their medusa type idols everywhere, have differnt pieces of Elokim simply made of gold, but these are all within G-d.

    It is typical that you use the tired old formula
    "Do you really think you know Judaism, and the majority of O rabbis and Jews for the past 500 were duped?"
    instead of showing how panentheism is certainly kosher (which it cannot be).

    As for Google , it is also funny how you claim my links are treif , but yours are kosher, despite them being from the very same Chabad website!

    It is hardly "conceited" to stand by Maimonides' monotheism. Where does the magical figure of 500 years come from? Wasn't the Torah given 3300 years ago, and Maimonides lived 1000 years ago. Has there been a second Sinai in the past 500 years that I didn't hear about?

    And remember what R H' Volozhiner said in relation to the level of the Gra vis a vis Maimonides. Yet, the Gra said that Maimonides was misled by the "accursed" philosophy.
    A careful reading of the Nefesh Hachaim, which am sure you have done many times, shows that R HV was in part, refuting his own rebbe's criticism of Maimonides.

    And I repeat one last point of the NH - even 1000 masters of Maaseh Merkavah cannot change one iota of Torah - let alone change the Emunah of Israel which has served us for thousands of years.

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  65. Eddie, I like your egg analogy. They are making God into an egg. A rabbi I know actually says that's an incorrect understanding of the kabbala, (although he uses a different food item in his example), but here are rabbis at this site explaining kabala to us and making God into an egg. Very strange.

    Rabbi Michael Tzaddok wrote:

    "have you not wondered why the author remains anonymous?"

    Perhaps because his life would be in danger if he put his name to his work? Anyone aware of history knows that the dardaim were persecuted violently over their views. And we all know how a text like this would go over in a chassidic community like Meah Shearim. It would make the "shabbes" rioting look like a petting zoo.

    " To put not too fine a point upon it, it has almost no scholarly value."

    So says you.

    Logically, however: Anonymous authorship does not necessarily denote lack of scholarly value. So I'm not sure how/why you connected these two statements.

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  66. Let me put it this way. It is not written in any of the classic Kabbalistic seforim(S"Y, Bahir, Zohar, Kitvei Ha'Ari). The Yeshiva of the RaShaSh(the equivalant of the Besh"t for Sephardim) don't do it.

    Hence it is a Chassidic custom. Is it based on Kabbalah... I don't know, I haven't actually looked into the Chassidic explanations, that is not my derekh.


    It is not your derech to look into explanations of something before you discuss it?

    Well, so, perhaps before you declare that it is not a kabbalistic minhog, you should investigate what it is based on and what the explanation is. Here we go, talking about whether or not this is "chassidic or kabbalistic" custom, and we don't even know the basis for it.

    As a general rule, Chassidic Rebbeim were mikubolim (at least earlier generations of Chagas Chassidus and all seven generations of Chabad Chassidus), and with rare exceptions, most of their minhogim were based on Kabbala. There are minhogim like wearing certain clothes that are not necc. based on Kabbala (even though the fact that earlier rebbeim wore white and later rebbeim started wearing black is also based on Kabbala; or, for instance, the fact that Chagas Rebbeim wear shtreimel everywhere, and Chabad Rebbeim wore shtreimel only in Lubavitch).

    The fact that it is not explicitly written in sifrei Kabbala is not surprising. It is not written in the books of microbiology that one must wash one's hands after the bathroom; it's only written so in the books of medicine. But modern medicine is based on biology.

    The fact that Sefardim mikubolim don't follow it also doesn't surprise me: they did not live in the Christian countries, and Christianity did not affect them so much.

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  67. Okay Eddie, another couple of points. Firstly, i'm sure you'll agree that Rambam's non-panentheistic definition of monotheism does not have to be accepted by everyone. Certainly not as far as making other views into heresy. It's true that most authorities take the 13 ikkarim as absolute, but the ikkarim do not explicitly exclude panentheistic positions. Especially if you understand anthorpmorpic descriptions of the sefiros as metaphor in the same way that anthropomorphic pesukim are by the Rambam himself.
    Secondly, and this is generally poorly recognised, NO gadol baTorah of any period has denied the authenticity of kabbala per se. Yes, R Emden stated that the Zohar is not genuine, but said nothing about the rest of Kabbala. (BTW, it's there's good reason for thinking that he stated this for political reasons, but more later if you wish). Yes R Saadia Gaon didn't beleive in gilgulim but did write a commentary on Sefer Yetzira. Rambam said nothing about kabbala since he didn't know about it. (if he knew about it, do you really think he wouldn't have commented, given his propensity to make clear statements about his views on everything else?) So no authority has made any blanket statment about kabbala. This is a rather important fact in context. It means that every authority who knew of kabbala has happy that is was consistant with the rest of Torah. Therefore, it IS consistent with the rest of Torah, as will be obvious to anyone with a grounding in both.

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  68. Eddie has misunderstood what panentheism is, so his arguments about it are baseless. Panentheism holds that G-d is utterly transcendent and beyond the universe, just as Rambam says, infinite and indescribable, but also fully present at every point in it. The mocking analogy to an egg is nonsense, inasmuch as an egg is an entirely finite thing. When we say that were HaShem to withdraw from any portion of the universe, it would cease to exist, or that at every moment every thing is created anew by HaShem, as said in our Modim prayer at the heart of the Amidah, this is all consonant with panentheism. Actually, only if HaShem is utterly transcendent and beyond time and space can He be also fully present at every smallest bit and moment of time and space, for unlike any finite being there can be no barriers to HaShem.

    Also, just as a matter of idle curiosity, how does Eddie explain our Torah teaching that every human being is in the divine image? According to him, that should be heresy. Of course it is not. The Kabbalah is all about the divine image, both in humanity and in the universe more generally, and there is nothing heretical about using such metaphors.

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  69. A great many things can have a basis in Kabbalah, that claim can be made of just about any custom of one digs deep enough and extrapolates far enough.

    However, typically speaking, Minhag HaMekubalim as has been written in the sifrei Halakha are specifically those minhagim given by the Ari(such as not interlocking fingers). So while it may be a Chassidic custom(i.e. based on some Admur's personal pilpul of Kabbalistic sources), no it is not a Kabbalistic custom.

    Regarding whether it is my derekh to search things out in Chassidic seforim, my answer to that is no. A qualified no, in that Rav M. Sharabi, Rav Hedayya and Rav Kaduri instructed their students not to study Chassidic works for various reasons. My first Rav in Kabbalah was Rav Kaduri, since then I have come to learn in Beit El under Rav Hedayya, and in Nahar Shalom(Rav Sharabi's yeshiva) so in following in the instruction of my own Rabbanim, no I don't open Chassidic seforim.

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  70. @Student V:

    I say it has almost no scholarrly value for the numerous reasons that I went on to cite. It has no scholarly value because it is a case study in academic dishonesty. I say it has no scholarly value because if I were to employ his very methods, I could make Rabbanim of the Gemarra and even the Rambam seem to be polytheists(l'havdil).

    If you want to understand the purpose of a discourse connective within a paragraph you must read on.

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  71. A great many things can have a basis in Kabbalah, that claim can be made of just about any custom of one digs deep enough and extrapolates far enough.

    However, typically speaking, Minhag HaMekubalim as has been written in the sifrei Halakha are specifically those minhagim given by the Ari(such as not interlocking fingers). So while it may be a Chassidic custom(i.e. based on some Admur's personal pilpul of Kabbalistic sources), no it is not a Kabbalistic custom.


    Seems like semantics to me. There is a minhog that the matzos for the seider should be concave-up (looking like bowls), because they represent keilim of the spheroes. The concept of the keilim is a kabbalistic concept. The practice of connecting that to the matzos may or may not be kabbalistic, and the practice of using concave-up matzos again may or may not be of Chassidic origin. If you want to call that Chassidic minhog, that's fine. But it is still rooted in Kabbala, and since our friend here has a problem with Kabbala and everything associated with it, he should still blame Kabbala for it.

    Re: nittle nacht: it seems this concept existed before the Chassidim. For instance, Maharsha kept it. Chassidic Rebbeim gave it a Kabbalistic explanation. It may be that only Chassidim today are makpid on observing it (perhaps for Kabb... I mean, spiritual reasons). But calling it as a result a Chassidic custom is the same as calling being makpid on cholov Yisroel keilim "chassidic". I suppose we should take that as a compliment.

    Regarding whether it is my derekh to search things out in Chassidic seforim, my answer to that is no. A qualified no, in that Rav M. Sharabi, Rav Hedayya and Rav Kaduri instructed their students not to study Chassidic works for various reasons

    Chassidic or Kabbalistic? Be it as it may, that's fine; my point was that without knowing Chassidic explanations to Chassidic customs, it's difficult to say whether the customs are Chassidic "chiddushim" or derive from Kabbalah.

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  72. To Michael Tzadok: The reason for the Rav's anonymity is his concern for his family and his well being. Even the Rambam's Seforim were burned in public and in modern days Rav Kafach ZT"L was terribly persecuted and even jailed for his Hisnagdus to Kabbalah. As for the quotes in Sefer Tohar Hayihud they are all well documented and are either taken from the direct source or quoted from Sefer Milchemes HaShem. I would like to know where you find any quotes manufactured. I have cross referenced all of them to the original of to SM"H. I assume you also find the Nodah B'Yehuda to be misquoted? I assume you find the Rivash (#157) to be misquoted too? Is the Meili misquoted? Perhaps the Ran too is misquoted when he says that the Ramban forced him self Yoser Medai L'Hamin Inyan Hakabbalah? Is maybe the T'shuvas MeAhava misquoted? BTW, i recently found another T'shuva from T"M where he is Me'id that his Rebbi the Nodah B'Yehudah refused to allow anyone who said L'shaim Yichud to use his Esrog.. But of course it is easy to obfuscate the issue by claiming a misquote and not dealing with the real issue of the legitimacy of Kabbalistic thought in Yahadus...

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  73. Regarding the fact that some gedolim do interlock their fingers Rav Yitzchak Meir Morgenstern quotes the Dinover's commentary on the Zohar as showing that this inadvertence is an indication that there has been a negative degree in heaven due to the sins of the generation.

    והא דחזינן כמה פעמים אצל גדולי הדור שא בצ עתיהם הם משולבות זו בזו, יש לדעת שאין הם עושים
    זאת בכוונה אלא זה נעשה מחמת גודל עוונות הדור, שזה גורם להביא דינים בעולם ו , כן עוונותיהן של
    בני הדור גורמים להם לשלב אצבעותיהם בטעות . וכמו שכתוב להדיא בהגהות מהרצ על א" הזוהר
    הקדוש ( ל"הנ ' פר סוף ויקרא , ) וזה לשונו נר : לי אה הכוונה כאשר ו"ח נסכם הדין למעלה, הנה יארע
    אל האדם בלא כוונה לשלב אצבעותיו ימין בשמאל .ל"עכ .

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  74. "the Baal HaTanya says..." Source please. thank you

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