Sunday, January 6, 2013

Part I Gra & Arizal disagreed? - R Michael Elkohen

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Part 1   In response to the post I wrote regarding Asher Meza an anonymous commenter made two claims in the name of Rav Triebitz:

1) That the AR”I’s Kabbalah or at least elements of it were pagan.

2) That Rav Triebitz holds that there is a machloket between the AR”I and the GR”A.

Initially I rejected both assertions out of hand. The first assertion I rejected because Rav Chaim Kanievski(following a tradition of the Ashkenazi Rabbanim of Jerusalom) wrote in regards to the DorDaim who hold the same view, that anyone holding such a view is an Apikoros in all respects, and should be treated accordingly(Nezer Chaim p 176). So I personally considered it a mitzvah to give the benefit of the doubt to a renowned and respected Posek, against such a claim from an anonymous commenter. When I communicated with Rav Triebitz regarding it, he said, “I don't recall saying that the Ari's understanding is pagan, chas v'shalom.” Which was to be expected.

Regarding the second point I initially rejected the claim because, I could not access the named shiurim to verify, and as it goes against virtually all the Mekubalim, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi for the last 200yrs, I saw no reason to give it credence without verification. Having spoken with Rav Triebitz he does indeed say such, and it is a chiddush that he brings in the name of Rav Weintraub ZTzUK”L. Which is a subject I would like to explore. First it should be noted that I sent Rav Triebitz a number of clarifying questions, and I am still awaiting his response. Secondly it should be noted that even if in the end Rav Triebitz and I disagree on whether this is in fact a real machloket(I will explain shortly), that I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the Rav and mean him no disrespect. If we do disagree in the end, Elu V’Elu.

However before we can delve into the subject at length there is need of several introductions so that the subject itself can be, at least somewhat understood.

First we must understand the chain of tradition of the Kabbalah of the AR”I. This is brought is several books. The new Eitz Chaim which was prepared from the Kitvei Yad of the Rashash has this as an introduction, the Chida brings this in his sefer Shem HaGedolim and Rav Yaakov Hillel wrote a sefer on the subject called Kuntres Kitvonei L’Dorot. In short the Eitz Chaim that we have today was not written by Arizal, nor was it written by Rav Chaim Vital, it was compiled by Rav Meir Papperesh in 1646/5406. Rabbi Chaim Vital authored a number of works. He wrote what is known as the eight Gates, and Sefer HaDrushim, which he handed over to his son Rav Shmuel Vital(who along with Rav Yaakov Tzemach and Avraham Azulai were students of the Marchu, and eventual Rabbanim of Rav Parpparish). However, he had a number of works buried with him. It wasn’t until some time later, as the Chida writes in Shem HaGedolim, that on account of dream that both Rav Tzemach and Rav Azulai had that they were able to excavate the grave and remove those works. Which would be known as Kehillat Yaakov, Otzrot Chaim, Adam Yashar and Mavo Shaarim. They were Rav Chaim Vital’s personal notebooks. By combining them with some other previous notebooks that were in the hands of Rav Shmuel Vital, Rav Meir Papperish was able to author what is today known as Sefer Eitz Chaim, and sefer Pri Eitz Chaim. Those two works would make their way to Europe and into the hands of the Gaon, the Besht and others.

For some reason, uknown to us today, Rav Papperish did not use Sefer Mavo Shaarim(which is considered Rav Chiam Vital’s most explicit and understandable work, and also the very last that he authored). Nor did the rest of the eight Gates make it to Europe in the lifetime of the Gaon. So to a certain extent the Gaon was also under-informed as to the Kabbalah of the Ari.

Second since the Eitz Chaim was written from an amalgamation of the notes of Rav Chaim Vital that he had made over the course of some eighty years, from the very beginning of his study with the Arizal, until the very end of his life, there are several internal stirot to which Rav Chaim Vital writes in Madura Batra(Tzrik Iyun). To which in several places the Rashash and other commentators tell us that these things were not misunderstood by the Rav, but that one would have to search all of the places he discusses said topic to understand what the Rav was actually saying.

In regards to the Sheverah(the topic at hand) this is a quite a complex inyan. Shortly after the Kerem Shlomo moved to Eretz Yisrael he wrote to the Ben Ish Hai to ask how could find himself a Rav in Kabbalah. The Ben Ish Hai’s response is recorded at the beginning of Daat U’Tevunah and I will bring part of it here:

How will I know who is a Hakham Muvhak that I can rely upon and sit before him to learn this wisdom(Kabbalah) and I said to him: Take in your hand Sefer Nahar Shalom and ask him what is written there and ask the Hakham, the Mekubal what is written there in the introduction… If he is able to explain the words of Rabbeinu HaRashash with from the various places in books of the Rabbeinu HaAri, if he divides them and takes them one by one, and if you says to you that he received it from a Rav… then you can trust him… Also ask him if in his mind the words of the Rashash and the Ari are in agreement…

This is an important piece to our understanding for two reasons. First Rav Yaakov Hillel, in his sefer Sefat HaYam, Shaar Alef, Anaf Dalet brings in the name of Rav Wentraub that this is as well as being able to answer the four difficulties that the RaShaSh raises in his not there are essential to anyone who wants to speak authoritatively on the Eitz Haim(btw I am sure the Rav Triebitz meets both of these criteria).

Reason being that in having a thorough knowledge of that piece of Rehovot HaNahar, and the Sheverah will show that Rabbeinu Chaim Vital was mechalak on himself. Also if understood correctly we see the necessary weighting of the texts in attempting to understand these seeming Stiras(contradictions) in the Kitvei HaAri.

In a sense, we can say(as does Rav Yaakov Hillel), somewhat tongue in cheek, that the Rashash is mechalak on Rabbeinu Chaim Vital, even though the Rashash denies that fact in his own sefer. What was he supposedly mechalak with? The other writing of Rabbeinu Chaim Vital! However, in the end there is a general rule of learning Kabbalah, which is that we always try to be macria, not mechalek. Meaning that when we find what seem to be contradictions we try to adjust our understanding so that they both fit. There is a place to be mechalek, which is to understand individual points, but at the end of day, the point is to understand the emet in the words, which the holy Mekubalim for generations have said can only be when one is macria.

Another elemental aspect that needs to be discussed is that the Arizal was not zoceh to moser his entire Kabbalah to his students or to Rabbeinu Chaim Vital. Rav Yaakov Hillel writes on this inhis sefer Ahavat Shalom(there focusing on the Rashash). Others have written on it extensively. It is generally accepted(if not universally so) that the sparks of the Arizal’s soul returned in four individuals in order to finish his revelation of Kabbalah, at a time when the generations were once again worthy. Those four individuals, who lived roughly at the same time, were the Ramchal, the Besht, the Gra and the Rashash. In which each of them focused a particular aspect of the Kabbalah of the Ari and brought it to it’s completion. Thus to ultimately understand the Kabbalah we must be macria those four understandings. Much of the Leshem’s work, probably one of the greatest Mekubalim of previous generations is precisely that. He brings together the understands of the Gra, the Rashash and the Ramchal for instance.

One final note, Rav Eprhaim Goldstein says in the name of Rav Weintraub that it takes a minimum of five years before one begins to gain any real benefit or understanding of his study of Kabbalah. I have heard in the name of Rav Kaduri that it takes a minimum of 15yrs, and still longer in the name of Rav Tzion Brakha. The point is, Kabbalah is one of the hardest areas of Torah to study. One should not think that either from reading these posts, or from listening to Rav Triebitz’s shiurim that they gain anything other than the most basic introduction of introductions. There simply are no short cuts to learning Torah in general and learning Kabbalah in particular.

188 comments:

  1. There were Rishonim who rejected the Kabbala, including Rambam. R Emden also had a view pretty close to the Dor Deim. So were they all apikorsim?

    What has occurred is that Orthodoxy has become less intellectual, and more dogmatic, and opinions of great scholars from older generations are being repressed. INcidentally, the GRA was critical of Rambam suggesting he was misled by philosophy. It was the GRA's lacking of philosophy that led to the Alter Rebbe of Liadi to mock him, referring to him as a "scholar in his own eyes". R Haim Vollozhiner was not happy with this insult, but conceded the point Shneur Zalman had made on the GRA's interpretation of the tzimtzum - and indeed his Nefesh HAchaim was an attempt to harmonise the MOreh Nevuchim with Kabalah.

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    1. Eddie all the above statements are conjecture and are not clearly and unambigiously the views of the above parties. You should have inserted qualifiers such as "some people think" or "it is possible to understand" or "some professors would like you to believe". But to take a complex esoteric literature - both the kabbalistic and the academic and reduce it to a bunch of soundbytes is just ridiculous.

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    2. From what I read from Rav Yaakov Emden's wiki page, he was very much in favor of Kabbalah and considered the Moreh Nevuchim a heretical text.  Rabbi Yosef Eirgas in Shomer Emunim also has Rav Yaakov Emden as one of the Rishonim in the chain of tradition of Kabbalah, not as being opposed to it.  Do you have other Rishonim that you consider to have been opposed to Kabbalah?

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    3. DT, do you dispute that Rambam mocks mysticism in his Guide?

      Do you deny that Baal HaTanya mocked the Gaon?

      Or that in his response RHV took insult and still continued his responsa in NH? And that the first 2 chapters of NH are lifted from the GUide, hence tacitly rejecting his Master's opposition to Maimonism? Or do u also deny that the Gra attacked Rambam, because in some manuscripts his words have been expunged?

      Had I written what you have in response to Avraham1 below, I would bet a few dollars that you would come out against what I (or you) have said!

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    4. Eddie to have an intelligent discussion we need to be looking at the same sources. Please cite where he mocks mysticism and what mysticism was he referring to? Again your comment about the Baal HaTanya - where does he mock the Gra and how does that to the conclusion that it was his lack of philosophy?! Don't know what you meant "tacitly rejecting" The Gra did criticism the Rambam - my problem is that you have the why and therefore's developed when they are simply conjecture.

      And Eddie I disagree with you last accusation also. There are just too many glib statements thrown around on these issues. If you want an intelligent discussion - please cite your sources and how those sources lead to your conclusions. What you have provided is a lot of hand waving. I simply am not interested in hand waving and slogans

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    5. I was planning on using this in part two.  However, here is a link to a letter from the Baal HaTanya regarding the GR"A.  It does not appear to me to be at all mocking.  Rather it appears that he recognizes the truth of what the GR"A says, that is seemingly differs from his opinion, and so his students need to worry about being macria the the two positions.

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    6. R Yaakov Emden believed in kabbalah, but held that the Zohar has been so corrupted that one can not rely on anything written in it. See his mitpach seforim.
      He has many critiques, and perhaps his main one is that nekudos came around toward the end of the Geonim, and it is impossible for Rashbi to have discussed them.

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    7. According to some Gedolim (including Abarbanel and Ramahal) Rambam discovered Kabala by the end of his life and regretted ignoring and contradicting it.

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    8. This is a lie. Rambam labored his entire life to dispel idolatrous and heretical concepts, similar to kabbala's and Zohar's sephiroth. He never would accept it. In his Letter to the Community of Marseilles, Rambam wrote this: "The great sickness and the “grievous evil” (Eccles. 5:12, 15) consist in this: that all the things that man finds written in books, he presumes to think of as true—and all the more so if the books are old."
      So he would not violate his own principle and accept anything, simply due to its location in a book, new or old, regardless of the author, which has also been rejected to be Rav Shimon bar Yochai.

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    9. I'm sorry but after what you tried to pull with the Rivash, you have zero credibility as far as saying what any Rishon said or meant.

      Avraham Abulafia clearly thought that the Rambam was a Kabbalist/Mystic. The Rambam's own son wrote some fairly interesting treatises on Kabbalah and mysticism.

      So unless you can provide a link to the actual Teshuva... I have no reason to believe that you are doing anything more than once again selectively choosing words from a Teshuva, that are not the actual intent of the Teshuva, as that is precisely what you did with the Rivash you quote.

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    10. "Rambam discovered Kabala by the end of his life and regretted ignoring and contradicting it."

      that type of statement would require verified documentation from the rambam or someone extremely close to him to be taken seriously. statements by rabbis who lived hundreds of years later don't cut it, WADR.

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    11. Actually, the RambaN realised at the end of his life that he was misled about Kabala, and rejected it in its entirety. Proof you say...?

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    12. "Avraham Abulafia clearly thought that the Rambam was a Kabbalist/Mystic. The Rambam's own son wrote some fairly interesting treatises on Kabbalah and mysticism. "

      again, he would have to bring strong proof text and not just interpretations. i can interpret stairway to heaven to show that led zepplin were kabbalists.

      and what the rambam's son thought is irrelevant.

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    13. If he only discovered it by the end of his life how is one supposed to prove that? You can't prove he didn't discover it. By the fact that his son and a Mekubal one generation later (and obviously other Aharonim) say that it is not necessarily true but does support the arguemnt that he discovered it. Emunat Hachamim (Avot 6:1)- they wouldn't just say something without basis.

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    14. "If he only discovered it by the end of his life how is one supposed to prove that"

      he only discovered at the end of his life, what does that mean, on his death bed? the Rambam could haven written a letter, a paper, something in which the he clearly discusses kabbbalistic ideas. he wrote that famous letter in which said that invested too much time in philosophy, he could written a similar one about kabballah.

      i don't have to prove that he didn't discover them. since throughout his life the Rambam didn't discuss these ideas, or more to the point, dismissed them, the burden of proof is on those who claim that he changed his mind.

      "By the fact that his son and a Mekubal one generation later (and obviously other Aharonim) say that it is not necessarily true but does support the arguemnt that he discovered it. "

      no, not true at all. children do things against the wishes of their parents. kids of MOs become chareidi. kids of chareidim become MO. in both types there are kids who go OTD. this is true even in the families of great rabbanim. Moshe Rabbeinu's grandson become a worshipper of idols. A son of Rabbeinu Gershon, the Ibn Ezra and if you believe the historians, the Baal Hatanya converted.

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    15. In all fairness what Abulafia claimed was the Kabbalah of the Rambam was one divorced of Sefirot and so forth, and does mate well with the Rambam's idea of what was prophecy and Ruach HaKodesh. Likewise what his son claimed to have received from his father.

      Also in all fairness the idea that the Rambam accepted Kabbalah(as in the books and so forth that he dismissed earlier in his life) was based on a forged letter, and the other various Kabbalists essentially rejected it out of hand, at least by the era of the Achronim. The Ramak, the Ari and Rav Yosef Karo all said it was not so.

      So while it seems clear from some of his own writings as well as those of his son that he was in some tradition of Jewish mysticism, it also seems fairly clear that he was not part of the tradition of Kabbalah as we now know it.

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    16. Regardless if you believe the Rambam discovered Kabala or not, in my opinion the entire argument over Kabala's valditiy is ridiculous. Every sage (maybe a few here and there but the majority without a doubt) has accepted Kabala as a vital part of Judaism. Wether we Pasken like Kabala is a different discussion (see Gevurat HaAri by Hacham Hilel Shalit"a and En Yishak vol. 3 by Hacham Yishak Shalit"a).

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    17. "accepted Kabala as a vital part of Judaism"

      another sentence which can mean 100 things to 100 people.

      however i would add that one can accept all of the rambam 13 axioms without kabballa and in that sense it is not "vital".

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    18. I didn't say if you don't accept it you are violating the Rambam's 13 prinipals and it is obvious I didn't mean that.

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    19. i didn't say, nor did i mean to imply, that you did. what i said was, IMO, very simple - that a person can deny all of kabballah and not be in violation of the 13 axioms. instead of using an adjective (ya'ani vital) i gave a criteria.

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  2. Regarding Dardaim and the authenticity of kabbalah, see http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/10/rav-ovadiah-yosef-on-zohar.html and http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/ZoharEnglish.pdf

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    1. I was aware of Rav Ovadia's reported remarks but I didn't consider them relevant to the discussion for three reasons:
      1) The commenter himself has in the past become quite indignant whenever I have posted Sephardi sources preferring Ashkenazic purity in his halakha(and there the Rabbanim of Yerushalayim have been pretty much of one voice).
      2) Rav Triebitz himself is Ashkenazi and Hareidi, so I assumed he would follow the halakhic decisions of the Ashkenazi gedolim.
      3) Rav Ovadia does say that you cannot call them Kofrim, however in several places he says the teaching itself is apikoros.

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    2. What grounds are there for it being apikorsus? The belief does not deny any of the 13 ikarim, nor any possuk in Torah Shebichtav.

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  3. The Jewish people always always spoke of the importance of mesorrah. Suddenly, the Arizal comes with a plethora of teachings not based on mesorah, and suddenly anyone who disagrees with his ideas is a heretic. What's going on?

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    1. Please! Please tell me what you mean by mesora? Was the Rambam's deviation from Mesora - as noted by the Ravad - of concern to you? Would you note - as the Beis Yosef did that - we had a mesora and suddenly the Talmud was closed and the rules changed? The Shulchan Aruch was a deviation from the mesora as the Yam Shel Shlomo pointed out. Would you say we had a mesora and suddenly the Geonim came? or Suddenly the Rishonim came, or Chassidus came, Chazon Ish had no problem going against Shulchan Aruch, Etc Etc. In sum we follow the mesora - whatever that mean - unless we don't.

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    2. Who says the Ari had no Mesorah? Rav Chaim Vital lays out the Mesorah in his introduction to Shaar HaKadamot. Rav Yosef Eirgas gave a chain of mesora to the Ari in his Shomer Emunim, and Rav Deutch has written a chain of Mesora in his introduction to Sulam HaAliyah. Finally Rav Yaakov Hillel(books and source slip my mind) lists a chain of Mesorah as well. The idea that the Ari invented his Kabbalah is simply a myth.

      What the Ari did was simple. As is written in the Ramak's Pardes, and in the above mentioned introduction by Rav Chaim Vital, After the Ramban's immediate students Giluy Eliyahu HaNavi became exceptionally rare(I think the Ari list a total of four Mekubalim that had Giluy Eliyahu HaNavi bewteen Rav Isaac D'Min Acco and the Ramak). They thus state the those who received the Kabbalah and wrote works on it, had to rely upon their human intellect and on account of this, machloket began to arise.
      The Ramak, and the Ari more thoroughly was macria the various machloket. He brought it back to one unified system(a work started by his final teacher, the Ramak in his Pardes).
      Further to that as writes the Zohar, the Ramak, and the Ari there is supposed to by an Aliyat HaDoror(as opposed to a yerida hadorot) in the things of Kabbalah. So holds the Leshem and so said Rav Triebitz in the video in question.

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    3. @R. Tzadok,

      I think there's a much bigger problem than you have admitted with the "mesorah" of the Zohar itself.

      Perhaps you could please comment on the video shiur by R. Berel Wein linked to below:

      The link below cites the Sefer Mei Menuchot, p. 43a, by the Chasam Sofer's student, Rabbi Eliezer Lipman Naizatts:

      "And this is as I explicitly heard from the holy mouth of Adoni, Mori veRabbi, the Geon Yisrael, Kedosh Yisrael Mechubad, Moreinu HaRav Rabbi Moshe Sofer, zecher tzadik vekadosh livracha, av bet din verosh mesivta of the holy community of Pressburg, that he said before many of his students: if there were the human ability to establish the midrashim of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in their pristine state, to pick them out from that which was attached to them from subsequent generations, its entirety would only be an extremely small sefer, taking up few pages."

      http://parsha.blogspot.com/2011/06/chasam-sofers-position-that-zohar-is.html

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    4. The Arizal and the GR"A and other major Mekubalim say essentially the same thing. Rav Triebitz said that in the shiur you initially sourced.

      Do we reject the Gemarra because not everything written in it is from Rav Yehuda HaNasi? Or how about that the Gemarra was actually written down in 960 not 475, and that there are teachings in it that post date Rav Ashi and Ravina, again as Rav Triebitz points out in a different set of shiurim?

      In essence so long as we apply the same standards to the Zohar as we do to any other chelek of Torah SheBaal Peh, there is no problem.

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  4. http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=19543&st=&pgnum=49

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    1. שו"ת תשובה מאהבה חלק א סימן כו



      ודי באיומים הנזכרים בגמרא וש"ע על שבועת הדיינין שהיא על ידי טענת ודאית בין שהיתה מן התורה בין מדבריה' וזה לשון הש"ע ח"מ סימן פ"ז סעיף כ' משביעין אותו בכל לשון שהוא מבין, ויאיימו עליו קודם שישביעוהו ואומרים לו הוי יודע שכל העולם נזדזע בשעה שאמר הקדוש ברוך הוא לא תשא וכל עבירות שבתורה נאמר ונקה וכאן נאמר לא ינקה, וכל עבירות שבתורה נפרעים ממנו, וכאן ממנו וממשפחתו, ועוד שגורם ליפרע מכל ישראל שכל ישראל ערבים זה לזה כל עבירות שבתורה תולים לו שנים ושלשה דורות אם יש לו זכות וכאן נפרעים מיד, דברים שאין אש ומים מכלים שבועת שוא מכלה אותם אמר איני נשבע פוטרין אותו ונותן מה שטענו חבירו ואם אמר הריני נשבע אומרים זה לזה סורו נא מעל אהלי הרשעים האלה ואומרים לא על דעתך אנו משביעים אותך אלא על דעתנו ועל דעת הב"ד ואם יש צד רמאות יש לדיין לומר לו לפרש בשבועתו כל צד רמאות שיש לחשוב בלבו.

      ואחרי שבארנו שאין בזה דין חלוקה בין הנשבע לישראל להנשבע לשאר העמים דעת לנבון נקל אם יראו המון עם אשר טתו /טחו/ עיניהם מראות שעושין שום השתנות איומים בין השבוע /השבועה/, אשר מעברי לעברי לשבועה אשר מעברי לנוצרי יחשוב בלבו ויוכיח לעצמו שע"כ השבועה מישראל לעם אחר איננה חמורה כישראל לישראל חבירו באשר שמאיימין עליו ביותר ויש לחוש שעל ידי איום הזה שמחמירין עליו בתחלתו סופו להקל בשבועה עצמה חלילה לכן כל משכיל ישפוט בצדק לעשות משפט אחד לכלם כאשר המנהג מישראל לישראל כן מישראל לאינו ישראל בלי תוספת וגרעון.

      ועתה אין מן הצורך להשיב את האיש אשר רצה להמצי' דבר חדש להשביע את האיש הישראלי בספר הזוהר, כי לפי מה שבארנו בהשתנות הסדר יש לחוש לקלקול גוף השבועה ודרך כלל האיש ההוא לצחוק וללעג באזני כל שומעיו מי פתי הישראלי חסר לב אשר בתורת משה עבד ה' ישבע לשקר ובתורת ספר הזוהר הבנויה על שכל האנושי לבאר ולפרש תורת ה' תמנעהו משבועת שקר.

      את זה כתבתי לדעת האיש ההוא שהספר הזוהר כלו קדוש אבל אני אומר הריני נשבע בתורת ה' שבספר הזוהר נמצאו כמה זיופים וקלקולים אשר הוסיפו ועלה אחת מתלמוד בבלי הויות דאביי ורבא קדוש יותר מכל ספר הזוהר הנה אם אמרו חכמי התלמוד על ברייתא דלא מתנייא בי ר' חייא ור' אושיעא מאן ימר דמתרצתא היא דלמא משבשתא היא וספר הזה ודאי לאו בר"ח ורב אושיעא אתמר כי כל הדורות מראש לא זכרו מספר הזוהר מאומה לא בהקיץ ולא בחלום כי הנה אם אמת הדבר שהחבור הזה הוא מהתנא ר' שמעון בר יוחאי אשר ר' יהודה הנשיא קבל גם ממנו כמבואר בהקדמ' הרמב"ם לספרו יד החזק' איך לא זכר את הספר הזה בחבורו ש"ס משניות או בשום מקום ואף ר' יוחנן שחיבר תלמוד /ירושלמי/ ירושלמית אינו מזכירו בשום מקום ורבינא ורב אשי שחברו תלמוד בבלי מאה שנים אחר חבור תלמוד ירושלמי והיו סוף אמוראים ולא שמו רמז בכל התלמוד מספר הזוהר ורבה בר נחמני שחובר /שחיבר מדרשי/ רבות ושוחר טוב וכיוצא בהם הרבה לא זכרו מחבור רשב"י גם רבנן סבוראי והגאונים והרי"ף והרמב"ם ורש"י ותוס' והרמב"ן והרשב"א והרא"ש והטור והילקוט שמעוני אשר אסף ולקט כל המדרשות והמכילתות והברייתות כלם לא ידעו ולא ראו ממנו דבר עד שזה קרו' לשלש מאות שנים ענו ואמרו שמצאוהו ואיזהי /ואיזהו/ כנסיה אשר קבלוהו בכנופיה, כמו תלמוד בבלי וירושל' וז"ל הרמב"ם בהקדמתו לספר יד החזקה אבל כל הדברים שבגמרא הבבלי חייבין כל ישראל ללכת בהם וכופין כל עיר ועיר וכל מדינה ומדינה לנהוג בכל המנהגות שנהגו חכמי הגמרא ולגזור גזירותם וללכת בתקנותם הואיל וכל אותם דברים שבגמרא הסכימו עליהם כל ישראל עכ"ל ויעיין עוד שם ואין אני חלילה מטיל דופי ופגם בכבוד התנא אלדי ר' שמעון בר יוחאי כי הוא היה מחסידי עליון אלא אני אומר לאו גושפנקא דרשב"י ועזקתיה חתום עליה ומי שיש לו חצי דעת יגיד כן שהרי נזכרו בספר הזוהר כמה תנאים ואמוראי' שהיו אחר רשב"י שנים רבות במספר והארכתי בזה במקום אחר מפי סופרים ומפי ספרים כמבואר בס' מטפחת להגאון מו"ה יעב"ץ זצלל"ה שגזר אומר שחלו בו ידים מזייפים וחשד את החכם ר' משה /די לאון/ דיליון יעיי"ש.

      והינה /והנה/ מיום שנתחדש ספר הזוהר הרבה נכשלו ע"י כי כמה דברים סתומים וחתומים אשר המציאו האחרוני' להתעות בני אדם יושבי חשך השכל, צאו וראו כמה קלקולים רבים קלקלו מאמיני הכלב רע שבתי צבי שבור ואחוזת מרעהו ברכי מסאלנוקא /משלוניקי/, ויעקב פראנק שם רשעים ירקב, ותלו דבריהם בספר הזוהר אשר בודאי לא יאונה לצדיק ר' שמעון בר יוחאי כל און.

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    2. Thanks, Koillel Nick for the link to the tshuvah from Rav Eliezer Flekelish, who I understand was the talmid muvhak of the Nodeh B'Yehuda.

      I believe Rav Flekelish is stating there, (among other things) that the Zohar has much forged material in it that did not originate with R. Shimon Bar Yochai, and that one page of Talmud Bavli has more kedusha than the whole Zohar.

      (If I misunderstood the tshuvah, please correct me.)

      R. Tzadok, would you care to respond to this tshuvah?

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    3. You mean do I care to become an apologist for the Zohar?  No not really.  Even in the Teshuva he states את זה כתבתי לדעת האיש ההוא שהספר הזוהר כלו קדוש.  Further as the Rabbanim in recent generations have said that speaking against the Zohar is apikoros, I think the burden of proof lies upon you to show that these great Rabbanim are wrong.  However for those who may have some confusion I offer these.  First there is the letter written by Rav Kook with various haskamot from the Gedolei HaDor of his day denouncing such a belief.  Second is the sefer Emunat HaShem which was written to counter the various proof that Rav Kafach(which is essentially what you are recycling here) brought against the Zohar.  Finally is a decent pieces the folks from Chabad put up dealing the various scholarly criticisms of the Zohar.

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    4. Oh and from the the good folks at the Seforim Blog:

      In Ha-Metzaref, vol. 1 no. 11, Fleckeles again focuses on additions to the Zohar that are not part of the authentic work, but here he adds a new point which is important for an accurate description of Fleckeles’ position. He says that if a Zoharic text is quoted by R. Isaac Luria, R. Moses Cordovero, or R. Menahem Azariah of Fano then you can assume that it is part of the original Zohar, authored by R. Shimon ben Yohai.

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    5. IIRC correctly gershom shalom (i know he isn't liked by the frum, spare us the insults, yea you, in the back, you know who i am talking about) placed the responsibility (not the right word) for shabbatai tzi on the ari"zl's qaballah, not the tzohar's.

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    6. I can't speak as to whether Gershom Shalom does, but I know that the Ben Ish Hai does in Daat U'Tevunah as does the Noda B'Yehuda in Or Yisrael 202.

      Though it should be noted that the only Kabbalah of the Ari that had made it beyond a handful of of his students were the "Meah Dapim." When Rav Chaim Vital was gravely ill his brother stole some of his manuscripts and had them copied supposedly by 100 scribes in the course of a single night. Thus producting a text horribly confused and filled with errors(See the Chida's Shem Gedolim for a fuller version of the story).

      He certiainly didn't see any of the Kabbalah of Ari as we now have it, as Rav Pappaerish didn't even finish compiling the Eitz Chaim until 1646(well into Tzvi's heresy) and then it was only copied for and passed around to various scholars until the mid or late 1700's. The Shmoneh Shaarim never saw the outside of a Jerusalem Yeshiva until 1863, when they were first published.

      Just to give a bit of perspective.

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    7. "He certiainly didn't see any of the Kabbalah of Ari as we now have it, as Rav Pappaerish didn't even finish compiling the Eitz Chaim until 1646(well into Tzvi's heresy)?

      shabbtai tzvi "revealed himself" in 1664. his reign as "messiah" ended in 1666.

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    8. Point? It wasn't actually published until after Tzvi's life. A few trusted scholars were given copies. But it remained in manuscript form until it's first printing in Karatz(קארעץ)in 5442(1781). Now Rav Hillel says that there were Kitvei Yad floating around Eretz Yisrael and Europe before then, but I doubt they were widely available to individuals.

      Now according to this this by age twenty he was eating non-Kosher food, pronouncing Shem HaShem in his prayers and performing other odd and disturbing behaviors. At the age of 22(1648, just two years after the earliest possible date for Rav Papperish to have finished his compilation) he is already calling himself the Messiah.

      I would hope, that then as now, eating non-Kosher food would preclude someone from Kabbalistic studies of any sort, let alone being one of the few trusted scholars to receive a hand copied text of the Eitz Chaim.

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    9. @R. Tzadok - "You mean do I care to become an apologist for the Zohar?": No, I do not mean that.

      I'm asking that you attempt to honestly address the issues that Rav Flekeles raises (if I understood him correctly).

      For example, if the Zohar originated with Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, why is there no mention of it in the Talmud, in the Gaonim, and in the Rif, the Rambam, Rashi, Rosh, etc., these great rabbanim who collected all the midrashim, michaltas, etc., and none of them made any mention of a book called the Zohar?

      "speaking against the Zohar is apikoros":

      So essentially your response to the valid questions raised by Rav Yaacov Emden, Rav Flekeles, the Chasam Sofer and others about the origins of the Zohar is to just call them all apikorosim (L'HAVDIL)?

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    10. if eating non-kosher food didn't preclude him from being accepted as the mosiach by rov ha-am, including gedolim, than it wouldn't stop him from getting his hands on some text.

      anyway, i'd have to look at shalom's book again to find out what texts he had access to.

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    11. I'm asking that you attempt to honestly address the issues that Rav Flekeles raises

      Rav Fleckeles' later clarification as reported by the seforim blog:
      In Ha-Metzaref, vol. 1 no. 11, Fleckeles again focuses on additions to the Zohar that are not part of the authentic work, but here he adds a new point which is important for an accurate description of Fleckeles’ position. He says that if a Zoharic text is quoted by R. Isaac Luria, R. Moses Cordovero, or R. Menahem Azariah of Fano then you can assume that it is part of the original Zohar, authored by R. Shimon ben Yohai.

      Considering the Ramak's larger work, Or Yakar, that alone would leave virtually none of the Zohar in doubt. Add to that what is quoted in his Pardes and by the Ari in the Kitvei, and you have virtually nothing that is not authentic. That is without even including Menahem Azariah who a I really am not familiar with.

      So essentially your response to the valid questions raised by Rav Yaacov Emden, Rav Flekeles, the Chasam Sofer and others about the origins of the Zohar is to just call them all apikorosim (L'HAVDIL)?

      My response is that the Gedolim of the previous generation and this have already handled that question and decided that it was a rejected view and constitutes Apikoros, as recorded in the above noted sources.

      Many of Tosephot were corporealists, today that view consitutes Kefira. Do we then say that Rav Moshe Taku or Rabbeinu Tam were Kofrim? No. However, if someone today holds that view, then he is. Same thing here.

      Why many of the Rishonim don't mention the Zohar... I don't know, and I frankly don't care. It is enough for me that it was accepted as authoritative by the Jewish world as a whole, and that the Gedolim say to speak against it is apikoros. Are the words of our Gedolim not enough for you? It would appear that they work for you when you agree with them, but not so much when you don't. That is sad.

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    12. Rabbi Leff(seen in upper right corner of this blog) says on questioning the Zohar's authenticity.

      Is a person who does not believe that the Zohar was revealed to Shimon bar Yochai counted as a heretic--Dovid from Beit Shemesh--the authenticity of the Zohar has been accepted by Klal Yisrael, and therefore one who does not believe in the Zohar as being a part of Torah she-be-'al peh is, yes, a heretic."

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    13. Shalom, in his book on tzvi, writes that the following were available in 1630 - 60: The SHeLaH, writings of Joseph Solomon del Medigo: Thalumoth Hokhmah and Nobeloth Hokhmah; Yonath Elem by Menachem Azaryah Fano; Megalleh Amuqoth by Nathan Shapiro, kabbalistic commentaries on the Shulhan Aruch by Hayyim Ha-Kohen of Allepo (a student of Hayyim Vital); writing fo Nathan Shapira of Jerusalem and Abraham Herrera. Also, Naphtali b. Jacob Bacharach's Emeq ha-Melekh was a detailed account of the Lurianic system, stressing the messianic functions.

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    14. "I would hope, that then as now, eating non-Kosher food would preclude someone from Kabbalistic studies of any sort"

      one of the points that Shalom makes in his book was about the abundance of kabbalistic texts in the decades proceeding shabbatai tzvi. it was easily available and books were written to explain this stuff for everyone (sort of kabballa for dummies). IIRC Shalom quotes some rav complaining about how people bereft of any knowledge of talmud or halacha were going around talking about this stuff.

      sound like today.

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  5. from my readings (of history books written by professors; anyone with a problem should stop here), the baal hatanya related to the gra with nothing but awe, fear, and respect. he disagreed with him on some points to be sure, but he never, but never mocked the gra.

    the bht tried to meet with the gra twice, the gra (for whatever reason) refused both times and the meeting never took place (but a meeting did take place between the bht and nefesh hachayim)

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  6. Coming back to Rav Fleckeles' later clarification as reported by the seforim blog:
    In Ha-Metzaref, vol. 1 no. 11, Fleckeles again focuses on additions to the Zohar that are not part of the authentic work, but here he adds a new point which is important for an accurate description of Fleckeles’ position. He says that if a Zoharic text is quoted by R. Isaac Luria, R. Moses Cordovero, or R. Menahem Azariah of Fano then you can assume that it is part of the original Zohar, authored by R. Shimon ben Yohai.

    Considering the Ramak's larger work, Or Yakar, that alone would leave virtually none of the Zohar in doubt. Add to that what is quoted in his Pardes and by the Ari in the Kitvei, and you have virtually nothing that is not authentic. That is without even including Menahem Azariah who a I really am not familiar with.

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  7. There is a vast difference between the mesora of the Talmud etc. and that of kabala. The former is a process that presumably occurred in the public arena generation after generation. Much of Kabala popped out of a vacuum; retroactively people pieced together an invisible mesora to explain how it got to us.

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    1. Proof? The texts of the Heikhalot, Bahir, and Sefer Yetzirah were in the public arena. Geonim and Rishonim wrote commentaries on them.

      The Zohar, Ok not so much, but I would think that since Rav Yitzhak D'Min Acco, who received his tradition from the Ramban, found the Zohar to be authoritative after investigating it and it's origins, that should count for something.

      At the very least that he didn't find it in conflict with what he learned from his Rav speaks volumes to it's authority and truth, if not to the authenticity of it's authorship.

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    2. "There is a vast difference between the mesora of the Talmud etc. and that of kabala. The former is a process that presumably occurred in the public arena generation after generation."

      On the other hand, regardless of what you are willing to accept as its content, the "mesora of the public arena" you speak of makes specific references to a concealed and non-public mesora of the secrets of the Torah.

      Your line of reasoning here would "disqualify" even a correct mesorah about what Chazal spoke of.

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  8. The Rav, Rav Soloveitchik said that the differences between the Nefesh HaChaim and Likutei Amorim are minor and most wouldn't have a clue to understand those differences. I heard it from his mouth.

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  9. Pitputim,

    I respect your assertion that you heard Rav Soloveitchik say that the differences between the Nefesh HaChaim and Likutei Amorim are minor and most wouldn't have a clue to understand those differences.

    However, I point out that Rav Soloveitchik is alternatively reported as poiting out that there was a FUNDAMENTAL difference ("הבדל יסודי") between the Nefesh HaChaim and Likutei Amorim. This crucial difference is spelled out by his student ו.ש. ווירצבורג, in the sefer נוטרי מורשת (page ל"ו), based on his discussions with Rav Soloveitchik (see ibid. note 18).
    Available here: http://www.otzar.org/wotzar/Book.aspx?158456&
    (page 33 of the file)

    While I could theoretically agree with you that "most wouldn't have a clue to understand those differences", however I would politely beg to differ as to classifying these differences as "minor".

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  10. @R. Tzadok - "Many of Tosephot were corporealists, today that view consitutes Kefira":

    OK, if you want to go down that road, fine. But's lets apply your shitot evenly across the board.

    "Can there be a greater disgrace and shame than to attribute (even figuratively -- author) to G-d Whom we serve genitalia, penis, testes, a woman and womb (see Zohar Parshas Behar Daf 109 and end of Idra Raba 296), and longing to embrace her and to kiss her as she adorns herself before him. And when he mates with her, he affords her pleasure in her womb, so that their liturgical poet (=Ari) in his brazenness says: "Her husband embraces her, and in her Yesod (=sexual organ), in which he affords her pleasure, he threshes threshings" (Y'chabek La Baalah) -- (from Askinu Seudasa, sung on Sabbath Eve). G-d forbid that we should believe that our holy Rabbis should say such things about Hashem our G-d. ..."

    Cited from p.40 of
    http://www.mesora.org/ToharHayihud.pdf

    (I typed in the English for the Zohar citation and other Hebrew parts)

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    1. Tohar HaYihud really? A "sefer" written by an ignoramous who didn't even have the good grace to put his own name on it?

      Difference being that every Kabbalist will tell you that that is only a Mashal. Just like, oh I don't know, Shir HaShirim which uses the same language to define the relationship between HaShem and Israel.

      And please apply my shita across the board. The Gedolim of our generation, and the previous generation, as I have supplied proof, have said that the Zohar is an authentic, legitimate and authoritative text. Further they have said that to say otherwise is Apikoros at best. So just like being a corporealist today would be a Kefira, because that is the side of the debate that won, and that is how the Gedolim for generations have held, so too to speak against the Zohar is Kefira(or Apikoros) because that is the side of the debate that one, and that is how our Gedolim have held for generations.

      Now, here's an idea. For months you have told the readers of this blog that Rav Gestetner is the only true Gadol in the world. Why don't you contact him, and have him write a Teshuva about whether or not the Zohar is authentic and authoritative, and whether when is permitted to speak against it? Or do you only like Rav Gestetner when the things he says align with your predetermined conclusions?

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    2. Rabbi Michael Tzadok,

      Why is it that kabbalists resort to name calling, instead of offering reasoned proofs for their opinions? Can it be that proof and reason are not engaged in kabbalistic notions? Calling Tohar Hayihud's author an ignoramus makes it appear that this is all the kabbala camp can throw at those who disagree. For even greater sins, Moshe Rabbenu never called Pharaoh an ignoramus. Moshe dealt with facts, reality and reason.

      Rabbi Michael Tzadok, as you claim "Tohar Hayihud" is written by an ignoramus, you should have an easy time disputing his rejections against Zohar and kabbala, and I await your response. But in fact, the author mostly cites great minds throughout the ages who denounced Zohar…I'd like to read your dispute against the following Sages and Rabbis…

      As my full response exceeds the allotted space here, please see my remaining words here: http://www.mesora.org/ToharDefense.html

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    3. Rabbi Moshe Ben-ChaimJanuary 9, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      The wise author of Tohar Hayihud cited kabbalistic ideas of polytheism which surfaced in Provence in the form of "The Book Bahir" which the kabbalists falsely attributed to Rabbi Nehunya ben Hakkanah. They called it the “Midrash of Rabbi Nehunya ben Hakkanah" (and it is by this name that Ramban refers to it in his Torah commentary). Its appearance evoked violent opposition. Rabbenu Meir ben Shimeon (the Meilli) of Narbonne (1190-1263), author of the Sefer Ham'Oros on the Talmud, and the teacher of Rabbenu Manoah of Narbonne (author of Sefer Hamenucha on Rambam's Mishneh Torah), was an elder colleague of Ramban. Both were pupils of Rabbenu Nathan ben Meir. With the approval of his uncle, the great Rabbenu Meshullam, author of the Sefer Hahashlamah, Rabbenu Meir wrote, as follows (his entire epistle, pp 8-12, www.mesora.org/ToharHayihud.pdf):


      "I shall record here, the words of the letter that I wrote some time ago to refute the words of those who speak perversion about God and about the sages who walk in the path of the unblemished Torah and those who revere Hashem. They (i.e., those who speak perversion) are wise in their own eyes, invent ideas and incline toward heresy. They imagine they are bringing proof for their views from the statements of Aggadoth that they interpret according to their [heretical] error. God forbid! The intent of the Sages who made those statements was not in accord with their view and intent (i.e., not in accord with the view and intent of those who incline toward heretical error). May God approve our effort for good, and may He grant us proper instruction.

      It is wrong to associate with God anything else; for it is improper to associate creature with its Creator, [created] substance with Him Who formed it, what has been originated with the Originator, and to say that His Unity is not absolute but that together with them, all is one. For all that is and exists beside Him, He created them and brought them into existence out of absolutely nothing pre-existent -- from the smallest creature to the greatest. "And whoever associates the name of God with something else will be uprooted from the world" (Sanhedrin 63a). This is the proper Emunah (Faith) for all Israelites of religion to believe.

      Whoever strays from this is a denier and a heretic. What need is there for lengthy discussion of the opinions of the fools who direct all their prayers and blessings to divinities who, they, say are created and emanated, who have a beginning and end. For they say in their foolishness that whatever is called "first" and "last" has a beginning and an end, and it is written (Isaiah 44:6): "I am the first, and I am the last, and beside Me there is no God." So have we found in one of the books of their error (i.e., of their heresy) which they call Bahir and so too have some of our scholars heard from their mouths. They have said that one should pray in the day to one created divinity and at night to another divinity who is superior to the former, but who is likewise created, and on Holy Days to yet another."


      Rabbenu Meir also wrote:


      "We have heard that a book has been composed for them which they call Bahir ('Bright') mentioned above, in which they see no light. This book has come into our hands, and we have found that they attribute it to R. Nehunya ben Hakkanah. God forbid! It is utterly untrue! That righteous man never stumbled by means of it, and was not numbered with the transgressors. The language of that book and all its terms indicate that it is by one unacquainted with literary form and style. It contains words of heresy and denial in many places.

      Moreover, we have been told that they have forged the signatures of many scholars of this land, who really did not sign (to endorse Zoharic/kabbala)."



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    4. Rabbi Moshe Ben-ChaimJanuary 9, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Kabbala cites the order of the progressive emanation of the ten Sefiroth, generally presented by the kabbalists as follows: Kether, Binah, Hokhmah, Gevurah, Hesed, Tifereth, Hod, Netzah, Yesod, and Malkhuth, also called Shekhinah. According to Zohar III, llb, 70a: "He is they, and they are He." The author of Tohar Hyihud states that the similarity between Christian trinitarianism and Sefirotic kabbalism has not gone unnoticed, as might be seen from Responsum 157 of Rivash [R. Isaac ben Shesheth (1320-1407) the illustrious talmid of RaN (Rabbenu Nissim), and one of the principal sources of the Shulhan Arukh]. Rivash quotes his great teacher, the famous and illustrious RaN (Rabbenu Nissim), as saying explicitly:


      "Much too much did Ramban commit himself to believe in the matter of that kabbalah."


      Rivash also stresses that RaN said this "explicitly". Rivash does not disagree with his great teacher. As a matter of fact, RaN's uncompromising criticism of Ramban's belief in the kabbalah is quoted by Rivash immediately after Don Yoseph ibn Shoshan's apologetic explanation of the Sefirotic intentions of kabbalistic prayer.


      Rivash also said:


      "I have also informed you that my teacher Harav Rabbi Peretz Hakkohen never at all used to speak or think of those Sefiroth. I also heard from his mouth that Harav Rabbi Shimshon of Chinon (the author of Sefer HaKerithuth), who was greater than all others of his generation used to say: I pray with the intent of this child, i.e., in rejection of the opinion of the kabbalists, who pray sometimes to one Sefirah and sometimes to another Sefirah, according to the subject of the prayer ... And all this is a very bizarre thing in the eyes of those who are not kabbalists as they are, and they (i.e., the non-kabbalists) consider this a belief in dualism (i.e., belief in two or more deities). I once heard one of the philosophical (i.e., non-kabbalistic) persons denigrate the kabbalists by saying: "The Christians believe in trinity, (i.e., the union of three), and the kabbalists believe in the union of ten [Sefiroth]."



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    5. Rabbi Moshe Ben-ChaimJanuary 9, 2013 at 10:21 AM

      A more recent condemnation of kabbalism is the detailed and documented The Book of the Wars of the Lord of R. Yahya ben Shelomoh Alkafih, Chief Rabbi of Sana, capital of Yemen (Jerusalem 1931). Without having seen the Epistle of Rabbenu Meir quoted above, Rav Yahya Kafih raises the same objections to kabbalism, some almost verbatim. He also adds other objections:


      "God forbid that any Jew should believe that R. Shimon ben Yohai or any other of our Sages believed in such things: to exchange Hashem our God, Who "made known His ways unto Moses, His deeds unto the children of Israel" that He is "Merciful and Compassionate, Slow to anger and Abundantly Kind etc." (Psalms 103:7-8), [to exchange Him] for an impatient alien divinity (Ze'er Anpin); and to combine and associate with Him five Partzufim (configurations) whose very existence has not been demonstrated, and to call them "Hashem our God;" but Hashem the true God Whose existence has been demonstrated by many sound and strong proofs, as Rav Saadyah Gaon wrote in his Book of Beliefs and Opinions and [as wrote] the author of The Duties of the Heart, and Rambam in the Guide of the Perplexed and in Mishneh Torah, [Him] we should forsake and abandon and say [of Him] that He has no Name, and that we should serve [instead] the Partzufim (Configurations) and the Forms that, according to him (i.e., the author of the Zohar), were created and developed from Him! ... The goal of our Holy Torah is to distance us from the belief in idols, whether they be physical or spiritual, and to know that Hashem He is God; there is none else beside Him."


      Rav Yahya Kafih continues:


      "These words of the author of Kiesay Eliyahu stand in contradiction to the words of Rambam in the Mishnah Commentary, in Mishneh Torah and in the Guide of the Perplexed; in contradiction to the words of the saintly author of the Duties of the Heart in the Gate of Unity, and Rav Saadyah Gaon in the Book of Beliefs and Opinions and the Rokeah who wrote that God's Oneness is not like that of one of a pair, nor one of a species (or: kind), nor like that of one man who is divisible into many units, nor like the oneness of a simple physical entity which is susceptible to ongoing subdivision. For God, blessed be He, is One, Whose Oneness is uniquely incomparable.

      Kiesay Eliyahu also writes that En Sof (the Infinite) is the Soul of [the Sefirotic Configurations, Partzufim], Attik and Arikh Anpin, Abba and Imma, and Ze'er [Anpin] and his Female (Mate). But our aforementioned Rabbis wrote that God is not a physical entity, nor a force in a physical entity! According to him (i.e., Kiesay Eliyahu ), however, God is a force in a physical entity."


      "Kiesay Eliyahu also writes that Arikh Anpin and Abba and Imma preceded (i.e., in the process of emanation) Ze'er Anpin, who is our God (according to Kiesay Eliyahu), and that the latter (Ze'er Anpin) is called the son of Abba and Imma. But our Rabbis z"l said that God is Eternally Pre-Existent to all else that exists, and that all else that exists is not eternally pre-existent."


      "The belief of kabbalism includes the following four views concerning which our Rabbis have declared that whoever believes thus has no share in the World to Come:

      1) A multiplicity of divinities: En Sof, Adam Kadmaah, Adam Kadmon, Attik, Arikh Anpin, Abba and Imma, Ze'er and his Female Mate; 2) these entities are rarefiedly corporeal, namely [they are] light and En Sof is the Soul of these corporeal entities; 3) Divine Service is not to the First Cause, called En Sof by the kabbalists, but to Ze'er Anpin, who is the last of these [emanated] causes; 4) he (Ze'er Anpin) is an intermediary who draws down the influence from the higher entities which are: Attik, Arikh Anpin, Abba and Imma, and he is in turn the father of Kether of [the world of] Beriah, in the [emanated ] unfolding of the worlds, according to their opinion. God save us [from such views]!"




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    6. Rabbi Moshe Ben-ChaimJanuary 9, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      From Tohar Hayihud:


      "Anti-kabbalists see the attribution of the Zohar to R. Shimon ben Yohai as a fraudulent fabrication, an example of pseudepigraphy. Even the Chassam Sofer, who was not an anti-kabbalist, said to the students of his Yeshiva that of the vast Zohar only a small portion that would make up a very small book of few pages, is attributable to R. Shimon ben Yohai. (Quoted by talmidim of the Chassam Sofer, as stated by Gaon haRav Eliezer Lippman Nizetz, "Mei Menachot", daf 43 ammud 2)



      An even stronger statement is found by Rav Eliezer Pilklush, the outstanding talmid of the Nodeh BeYehudah, and subsequently the Rav of Prague:

      "I swear by Hashem's Torah that in the Zohar there are many forgeries and destructive statements that have been added. One page of the Talmud Bavli [containing] the discussions of Abaye and Rava is more holy than the entire Zohar -- the [authenticating] seal of R. Shimon ben Yohai is not affixed to them (i.e., to the words of the Zohar). ... Anyone with half a mind must admit this, for a number of Tannaim and Amoraim are mentioned who lived many years after R. Shimon ben Yohai ... [This has been] explained by the Gaon Rabbi Yaakov Emden who declared that [unidentified] hands have been at work on it (i.e., the Zohar)."





      Rabbi Michael Tzadok, it is these Sages and Rabbis who view Zohar and kabbala as polytheism and heresy. The author of Tohar Hayihud (www.mesora.org/ToharHayihud.pdf) is not alone, as he quotes the Rivash, RaN, Meilli, and R. Alkafih. Having called the author of Tohar Hayihud an ignoramus, it is clear that you are the one who is ignorant, for he was citing others, yet you chose to attack him, and not the Rivash, RaN, Meilli, and R. Alkafih. So, you either did not read Tohar Hayihud, which makes your attack on the author foolish; or you read it and forgot what you read, again making your opinion valueless. Tohar Hayihud is truly a treasure. I am happy to have helped this work reach 30,000 people. And I continue to meet intelligent people who are starting to abandon Zoharic kabbala beliefs which they held on to, only because they were raised that way; not because they thought about it's views.


      It is clear, Zohar and kabbala have been viewed as heretical ever since they were written. The Sages' and great Rabbis' arguments against Sefiroth as polytheistic, and against Zoharic kabbala, are reasonable arguments. But one cannot say this about those attempting to defend Sefiroth. It appears that kabbalists yearn to deify man, viewing Zoharic kabbala followers as infallible. Such kabbalist notions are not agreeable to the mind, and do not derive from the Tzelem Elohim granted to us by God; no reasoning is seen in their positions. This is because one cannot defend a view of God as divisible, for God is unlike His creations, that are divisible, as Maimonides teaches in his 13 Principles, and as taught by all our sages, and by God: "To what shall you equate Me, so that I shall be similar". (Isaiah 40:25) God clearly states He is not related to His creation. Maimonides teaches, since God is unlike anything He created, He is unlike their properties, such as division. Thus, God cannot be divided among His creations, that part of Him is in something else, or that He has parts.


      Torah is about arriving at truth. The path to truth must be based on reason, intelligence, and proofs. Reason, proof and Toras Moshe Rabbeinu do not share Zohar's Sefiroth and emanations theories, but they tell us that we have one God, about Whom we know nothing, and we are therefore wise not to suggest matters from our imagination, as polytheists and kabbalists do. We are wise to follow God's words: "To what shall you equate Me, so that I shall be similar". (Isaiah 40:25)

      Suggesting what Zoharic kabbala does, violates God's words, and human reason.




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    7. Nice try but I have quoted sources. One dealing with the Rishonim that you mentioned Sefer Shomer Emunim. In which he responds to all of the supposed proofs that the Tohar HaYichud claims to bring. The problem is the author of the Tohar HaYichud conveniently ignores the existance of this fundamental sefer. Why is that? Because he has no argument that will stand against it.

      The second source is Emnunat HaShem, were the Rabbanim and Gedolim of Eretz Yisrael and Teman first elucidate that they believe Rav Yihya Kafach to be a heretic, and then delve into disproving all of his assertions. Again a sefer which the author of Tohar HaYichud conveniently ignores. Who am I that I should offer a better defense then the Gedolim of previous generations. Calling him an ignoramous is actually being kind, the Rabbanim mentioned here, and other I have mentioned in various comments call such a work pure Kefira.

      So while the author(this self-proclaimed Talmid Hakham who cannot be bothered to put his name behind his book) pulls various, and selectly chosen quotes from previous generations(all views which have been rejected by Klal Yisrael) and then selectively sources, mistranslates and in several places makes stuff up, in Tohar HaYichud in a vain, and equally heretical attempt to read Kabbalistic texts literally(even though every single one includes a severe warning that doing so is heresy, including the Eitz Chaim) in an attempt to prove his point.

      If he is the Talmid Hakham he claims, then let him put his name to his sefer, and undertake to disprove the above two works. Then when he has written a proper sefer, let him get haskamot from the Gedolei HaDor, as is proper in such a case. OTherwise he is acting as an ignoramous. Who is he that we should listen to him instead of Rav Kanievsky, Rav Leff, the Eidah HaChareidit, Rav Ovadiah Yosef, the holy Baba Sali, and the list goes on?

      Even if I wanted to write a sefer about something which all the Rabbanim agreed, say Milah or Safrut, where there is no real machloket, I would need to go through the same process, why should this supposed Talmid Hakham be any different?

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    8. @R. Tzadok:

      You continually avoid addressing the fundamental issues here, and instead you employ the same techniques: Cite names of seforim that allegedly "deal" with the matter, accuse your opponents of kefira, apikorsos, and not trusting the Gadolim.

      Please explain how Kabbalistic entities such as Zeir Anpin, Arich Anpin, Abba, Emah, etc. can be reconciled with this statement:

      Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim, I:50:

      "...God's being One by virtue of a true Oneness, so that no composition whatever is to be found in Him, and no possibility of division in any way whatever...just as its impossible that He should be a body, it is also impossible that He should possess an essential attribute. If someone believes that He is one, but possesses a certain number of essential attributes, ...This resembles what the Christians say: that He is one but also three, and that the three are one."

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    9. So to knock down some of your straw men:
      1) Rav Kafach repeatedly quotes Rav Saadia Gaon. Rav Saadia Gaon wrote a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah. This is important for several reasons:
      a) It shows a distinct Geonic transmission of Kabbalah
      b) In it he discusses explicitly the sephirot
      c) It means that his texts cannot be used to call either Kabbalah or sephirot heretical because he himself did not see them that way.
      d) Since he saw fit to actually commit Kabbalah to writing, there is no reason to think that he did not pass on all that he knew to the following generations
      e) Since the Geonim preserved his commentary, and since the Rif was the last one to learn from the Geonim, he also saw fit to preserve the commentary, it would seem most reasonable that a valid tradition was handed down through the Geonim to the Rif.

      Was Rav Kapach ignorant of the Rav Saadia Gaon's commentary or did he conveniently ignore it? Seems to me that it had to be the latter. If he conveniently ignored that what else did he conveniently ignore to suit his point?

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    10. Well, since they are simply alternate names for the sefirot Hokhman, Binah and Tiferet, I don't really see a problem. First we know the Sefirot are not G-d, or even have any actual connection with HaKadosh Barukh Hu.

      Second we know that sefirot thenselves are just alternate names for the Shemot and otiot. However, the Shemot themselves also are not HaKadosh Barukh Hu, since a name is by definition a defining and thus limiting thing, and HaKadosh Barukh Hu can have no boundary or definition, as the Rambam says.

      Finally we know that even an otherwise supposedly rationalist Geon, Rav Saadia Geon, believed in the the sephirot as he wrote a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah discussing them explicitly while also believing entirely in the unity of ultimate Divinity.

      So how can the Torah call HaKadosh by different names? Each one representing something different?

      Why do you refuse to look at the sources I cite? Are you afraid that you will find that you are in error? Why do you refuse to listen to the Gedolim?

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    11. I don't understand why this blog agrees to post Tzadok's words. Pursuit of truth demands a filtering of nonsense and the presentation of sound ideas. Gemara does not include every notion ever imagined; only those that offer intelligent possibilities.

      I truly wish to engage chachamim in intelligent discourse. I compliment the blog owner here for laboring to maintain a haven for Talmud Torah. But let us all be discriminating.

      Thank you,
      Moshe

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    12. The reason I post Rabbi Tzadok's words is simply because it is clearly the correct understanding.

      The arguments you and others have raised regarding the Zohar and Kabbala not only are not convincing but perhaps more important I am not aware of a single contemporary authority that would agree with them. Could you please direct me to a single gadol who approves? Clearly not the Chofetz Chaim or Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky or Rav Hutner. Clearly not Rav Eliashiv etc etc. Obviously not anyone in the Chassidic world and I strongly doubt that Rav Ovadiah Yosef would tolerate hearing them. I simply have never ever heard any gadol state such a position either orally or in writing. The sources you cite are of historical interest and of clear importance in academia - but not in the real world of Torah today.

      Put another way - One Purim in the Pressburg Yeshiva the bachorim dressed up a goy as the Purim Rebbe and had him memorize a drasha. The goy started the drasha and the Chasam Sofer walked out. They asked him how he knew it was a goy since he looked and sounded like a Jew? The Chasam Sofer said - but he didn't move like a Jew when he talked. There is such a thing as a smell test. Your arguments don't pass.

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    13. @Dass Torah: Hashkafa - which we discuss here - is not subject to psak din. No Gadol can tell you what you believe. Either you believe something, or you do not.

      Gadolim can tell you how to "act", but no one ever said Hashkafa is subject to psak. So your approach of citing Rabbanim is inapplicable in this discussion of Hashkafa.

      It appears, herein lies the difficulty. Before I go further, what is your view on this?

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    14. Please be mindful that what Tohar Hayihud presented are the views of Rishonim. Why do you select today's Rabbis over Rishonim?

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    15. And what do you do when two Rishonim, or two of today's Gedolim argue? Who do you choose?

      In Hashkafa, God demands we engage the Tzelem Elokim that He gave EACH of us...not that we mindlessly parrot a Rabbi's view, without thought, and agreeing or disagreeing.

      See Chovas Halevavos:

      "Our sages have said that if a person performs a mitzvah but has no intention of doing it for the sake of Heaven, he receives no reward for it."

      "Whoever has the intellectual capacity to verify what he receives from tradition, and yet is prevented from doing so by his own laziness, or because he takes lightly G-d's commandments and Torah, he will be punished for this and held accountable for negligence."

      "If, however, you possess intelligence and insight, and through these faculties you are capable of verifying the fundamentals of the religion and the foundations of the commandments which you have received from the sages in the name of the prophets, then it is your duty to use these faculties until you understand the subject, so that you are certain of it - both by tradition and by force of reason. If you disregard and neglect this duty, you fall short in the fulfillment of what you owe your Creator."


      Devarim 17:8-10 states: "If a case should prove too difficult for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, between (leprous) mark and mark, or other matters of dispute in your courts, ....you must act in accordance with what they tell you."
      Regarding this passage, Rabbi Bachya states: "the verse does not say,.....simply accept them on the authority of Torah sages,...and rely exclusively on their tradition. Rather, (Scripture) says that you should reflect on your own mind, and use your intellect in these matters. First learn them from tradition - which covers all the commandments in the Torah, their principles and details - and then examine them with your own mind, understanding, and judgment, until the truth become clear to you, and falsehood rejected, as it is written: "Understand today and reflect on it in your heart, Hashem is the G-d in the heavens above, and on the Earth below, there is no other". (Ibid, 4:39)

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    16. What you are failing to grasp is that what Tohar HaYichud presents is a minority view amongst the Rishonim, that was rejected in their own generation, and by the Achronim.

      Can I today say that G-d has a body(l'havdil)? As Rabbi David Sedley points out in this brilliant article, many of the Geonim and Rishonim believed that G-d did indeed have a physical body. However, today that is a view that would have you classified as a kofer gmur. It even violates one of the 13 ikkarim. Which brings us to the 13 ikkarim. When did they become essential? If we were to apply them in reverse from when they were accepted by klal Yisrael, then generations of Geonim and many Rishonim would be considered kofrim and we would have no Mesora at all. However, from the point that they were accepted by Klal Yisrael it is clear that anyone holding a view contrary to them is a kofer.

      The Tohar HaYichud can indeed quote a minority view that was against Kaballah. However, like corporeality of the divine, that view was rejected by Klal Yisrael. It is not longer a valid opinion and cannot be resurrected hundreds of years later as proof of something.

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    17. I am talking to Dass Torah, and to no one else. Please respect my wish to talk with him alone and not interrupt or interject. I am new here, I don't know how the forum owner wishes to manage protocol. But if my wish cannot be respected, Daas Torah, please tell me, and I will leave the forum. Thank you. If my wish can be respected, Daas Torah, please read on.

      Dass Torah: Kindly reply to my initial question... I am reposting verbatim from my entry above:

      Hashkafa - which we discuss here - is not subject to psak din. No Gadol can tell you what you believe. Either you believe something, or you do not. Gadolim can tell you how to "act", but no one ever said Hashkafa is subject to psak. So your approach of citing Rabbanim is inapplicable in this discussion of Hashkafa.

      It appears, herein lies the difficulty. Before I go further, what is your view on this?

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    18. Actually I addressed your question further down the comments secions. See:

      Daas TorahJanuary 10, 2013 12:33 PM

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


      These comments are rather cumbersome in this linear format and realistically there are a number of important issues being discussed simultaneously in different parts of the comments section. At some point I will simply have to divide it up.

      To get back to your comment - please read what I have posted and I would suggest that you write a guest post on the subject so that we can move further discussion to it own separate post. This is also related to the repeatedly stated concern here of why one needs to be concerned with what contemporary sages think rather than just picking and chosing - supermarket style - from the views that have been presented by major rabbis throughout the ages.

      Realistically this post was made with the assumption it would provide some elementary information that would allow a discussion of the Arizal and Gra. I did not anticipate that the most critical questions concerning the nature and authority of mesora were going to be thrashed out here.

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  11. @R. Tzadok - "For months you have told the readers of this blog that Rav Gestetner is the only true Gadol in the world":

    Please stop your lies already! I never said any such thing. You will not find any such posting made by myself on this blog or any other blog.

    I do believe that Rav Gestetner is ONE of the Gadolei HaDor, especially in Choshen Mishpat/Gittin matters, and he is fearlessly promoting authentic Torah principles in opposition to the powerful feminist assault on the Torah.

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  12. @R. Tzadok:

    I think most Torah Jews would agree that the sefer Chovos HaLevavos by Rabbeinu Bachya, since the Middle Ages, has been one of the most widely studied and accepted Torah ethics/philosophy books.

    Can you or the other Kabbalists here please explain how Kabbalah can be reconciled with this excerpt from Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaYichud, Perek 10:

    "the mind can apprehend nothing of Him except His existence (m'tzeyuso)...We should search for the existence of the Creator in the signs of his works in the creation...(we should not) try to apprehend the essence of His glory (havayas etzem kavodo). If we should try to do so...we will lose all conception of His existence, whatever can be imagined in our thoughts is something other than God."

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    1. I don't see the problem. If you read ten pages into Daat Elokim or the Ramchal's Klach Pitchei Hokhma Patach 1 you will arrive at the same idea. Everything we deal with is the Ein Sof(will of HaKodesh Barukh Hu) and below. We never discuss his essence.

      The problem that you are presenting is an utter ignorance of the actual texts while sourcing and proofing texts that have been rejected by the Gedolim for generations. Perhaps you should either study the aforementioned introductory texts or simply admit that you are not in a place to intelligibly discus this.

      You are raising kushiyot that aren't really kushiyot. Rather they demonstrate an absolute ignorance of the most basic fundamentals.

      The question you still haven't answered is this. Why don't you trust the Gedolim? In the sources I provided you will find that the entire Eidah HaChareidit, Rav Kook, Rav Herzog, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Leff, and many other Gedolim who I don't know who say it is Kefira. On the Makil side you have Rav Ovadia Yosef who says it is kefira. Why do you not trust them? What Gedolim do you have that back your position?

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    2. What grounds are there for it being kefirah? The belief does not deny any of the 13 ikarim, nor any possuk in Torah Shebichtav.
      Reason. Not names.

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    3. Chasam Sofer (Y.D. 2:356) R’ Hillel who is quoted in Sanhedrin (99a) as rejecting salvation through Moshiach but asserted [according to Rashi] that G‑d Himself would directly save the Jews. Rashi is without a doubt correct that R’ Hillel was not rejecting the fact of salvation but only the agency of Moshiach… Furthermore, it is obvious that we don’t accept his view. In fact someone today who asserted that there will be no Moshiach because he accepts R’ Hillel’s view is denying the principle of the Torah to follow the majority position. Since the overwhelming majority of sages have rejected this view no one has the right to go against that majority and insist on accepting the sole dissenting view of R’ Hillel. This is no different that the case of R’ Eliezer who ruled in for his community that it permitted on Shabbos to cut wood to make charcoal to make iron for a milah knife in order to do bris mila on Shabbos. Since the majority of Torah scholars rejected this view, anyone who performs these actions on Shabbos before witness and with a warning is liable to capital punishment and he cannot claim that he is following the authority of R’ Eliezer. This that it teaches in Eduyos “Why are the minority views taught” is in fact obviously dealing with a different issue which there is no need to go into here. Nevertheless even though Salvation and the coming of Moshiach are themselves not foundation principles that determine Judaism but a person who doesn’t accept them is rejecting the foundation principle of belief in the Torah and the words of the prophets

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    4. Ask the Gedolim. However, as Rav Leff said, it is part of the Oral Torah and thus in the view of the above Gedolim constitutes a rejection of the Oral Torah(in part if not in whole). Which does violate one of the 13 Ikarim.

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    5. Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 3:6–8,14): [6] These are the people that have no portion in the World to Come but are cut off and lost and judged for eternity because of their great wickedness and sins: [Heretics such as] Minim or apikorsim or those who deny the Torah or resurrection of the dead or the coming of the Redeemer, apostates, those who cause the many to sin, those who detach themselves from the community, those who sin openly and proudly like Yehoyakim, informers, those who intimidate the community for ulterior reasons, murderers, slanderers, and those who obliterate the evidence of their circumcision. [7] Minim are those who say G d doesn’t exist, or that the world has no ruler, or that it has a ruler but there are two or more divine entities, or that there is one divinity but that he has a body and physical attributes, or denies that G d was the First Cause and Rock of the universe or worships the stars or anything other than G d because he views it as an intermediately to G d. Whoever belongs to one of these five categories is a Min. [8] There are three types of apikorsim: 1) those who deny the existence of prophecy and therefore G d has not revealed knowledge directly to man 2) or deny the prophecy of Moshe 3) or assert that G d does not pay attention to the deeds of man.

      There are three types of deniers of Torah: 1) Those who deny that Torah was from G d - even if they assert that even one verse or even one word Moshe made up - they are deniers, 2) or they deny the interpretation of the Torah - the Oral Law - and reject its transmitters as Tzadok and Baysos did, 3) or assert that G d exchanged one mitzva for another or that this Torah is obsolete even though it had been from G d as the [Christians] and Moslems assert. All three are deniers of the Torah…

      [14] Those who transgress one of these 24 sins - even though they are still Jews - lose their portion in the World to Come. There are also others sins that are much more minor than these - but for which our sages said that habitual transgression also has causes the loss of a portion in the World to Come. Therefore, it is best to keep far away from these transgressions. For example giving somebody a nickname or calling him by a nickname, embarrassing somebody publicly, getting honor at the expense of another’s dignity, insulting talmidei chachomim, insulting one’s teachers, degrading the holidays, profaning the holy. However this that the sinners loses his portion in the World to Come is only when he denies without repenting for the sin. …

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  13. @R. Tzadok- "Everything we deal with is the Ein Sof(will of HaKodesh Barukh Hu)":

    Again you're playing the "kefira-Gadolim cards" without ever explaining the dichotomy between the medieval philosopher rabbis like Rabbeinu Bachya, Rambam, etc. and the Kabbalah that came after these rabbis. This is a perfectly legitimate kashya that "Mekubalim" such as yourself would prefer to sweep under the rug.

    If I understood Rav Triebetz's shiurim correctly, then it appears that the Vilna Gaon and the Leshem did in fact reject certain currents of Kabbalah that contradict the Moreh Nevuchim and other seforim like Chovos HaLevavos.

    Your distinction between the Ein Sof and Hashem's essence seems rather contrived.

    "...the Being and Essence of Ein Sof, which has no limitation. The Being and Essence of HaShem is such that it is above time and place - v'les machshava tefisa bay klal - no human thought can at all have any grasp of it."
    Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller
    Rosh Yeshiva of the Telshe Yeshiva, Chicago
    http://identifyingchabad.org/rabbikeller.html

    "G-d is ein sof [everlasting]..."
    Lubavitcher Rebbe
    http://www.chabad.org/therebbe/article_cdo/aid/112228/jewish/What-Is-Judaism.htm

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    1. You are not understanding Rav Triebitz correctly. He actually says toward the end of that Shiur that the Ari held like the Rambam, and it was the Gaon that differed, most likely on account of (then) current trends in philosophy such as DesCartes.

      Like I said, I have no intention of dealing with Chabad at all... I am not Chabad. I do not hold by Chabad, and more than one of my Rabbanim forbade us to read Chabad books, until after we had learned the Eitz Chaim B'Iyun, the Ramchal and the Gaon... However, in classical Kabbalistic sources, whether the AR"I himself, or the Ramchal, or the Rashash, or the Gaon/Leshem, or going back even further to the Remez and the Rif(Rav Yehoshua Finto)... they all understood that Ein Sof was not speaking of the ultimate essence of HaShem. Anything that we can ascribe a name to, even Ein Sof(which reading on in the Kitvei you will find had certain limits) is no longer HaKadosh Barukh Hu.

      As far as the GR"A disagreeing with the AR"I again you are mistaken. As I will show clearly in my next piece, the GR"A first never actually speaks on the Ari. I don't know why. There is obvious correspondence between him and the Rashash on various topics, some only referred to in other Seforim(as most of it was destroyed when Beit El was burnt in 1948), and some things surviving. However, he never speaks directly on the AR"I. Rav Haim Vital, brings three diferent understandings of the Shevirah(since that is the topic of discussion) one of which is identical to that of the GR"A and coincidentally the understanding that the Rashash proves is correct in Rehovot HaNahar.

      Further, as I said, there is no dichotomy between the Zohar, the AR"I, and the medieval philosophers that you quote that is not contrived, and mostly the product of your(or someone else's) overactive imagination. If you would actually take the time to do the reading necessary to enter intelligently into this conversation, by say reading the Shomer Emunim which has already dealt with just about every Kasha you can raise, then we could have a decent discussion.  However, what you are doing is raising uninformed kushyas from your presuppositions, that you are trying to bolster from a single Shiur that you listened to and only half understood.

      Once again you also dodge the question.  Why is it that you don't trust the Gedolim?

      Delete
    2. What do you mean there is obvious correspondence between the GRA and the Rashash? Are there signed letters between the two?

      Delete
    3. cor·re·spon·dence
      noun \-ˈspän-dən(t)s\
      Definition of CORRESPONDENCE
      1
      a : the agreement of things with one another
      b : a particular similarity
      c : a relation between sets in which each member of one set is associated with one or more members of the other — compare function 5a
      2
      a : communication by letters; also : the letters exchanged
      b : the news, information, or opinion contributed by a correspondent to a newspaper or periodical
      See correspondence defined for English-language learners »

      Delete
    4. Thanks. Let me rephrase the question:

      To which definition of "Correspondence" found in the dictionary do you refer?

      Delete
    5. James,

      There were letters between the two. Rav Yaakov Hillel talks about them in his book Ahavat Shalom.

      Delete
  14. @R. Tzadok - "Once again you also dodge the question. Why is it that you don't trust the Gedolim?"

    Actually I was just about to ask you that question.

    I've already relied on in my comments the Rambam, Rabbeinu Bachya, Rav Flekeles, Vilna Gaon, Chasam Sofer, Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller, etc.

    Based on your question, apparently you don't hold that the Rambam, Rabbeinu Bachya, Rav Flekeles, Vilna Gaon, Chasam Sofer, Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller are real Gadolim?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's see:
      Rambam- Nothing that the Ari says disagrees with the Rambam(once again read Shomer Emunim and you will understand that).

      Rabbeinu Bachya- Same as above.

      Rav Flekles- He accepted the Ari, and as I quoted him above, all of the Zohar. You simply picked only one of his Teshuvot while ignoring the one that didn't suit you.

      Vilna Gaon- There is no disagreement between the Vilna and the Ari, and the Vilna fully accepted the Zohar.

      The Chasam Sofer- Didn't like the Zohar, but in this area we do not accept his opinion, as Rav Eidensohn has also pointed out above, just because one Gadol in a past generation held a certain view, does not make that view acceptable.

      Rav Keller- He is saying that Chabad Mashiachists are heretics? So what? How is that related to the AR"I at all? Many great Kabbalists have said the same thing.

      Delete
  15. "Since the overwhelming majority of sages have rejected this view . . ."

    this isn't such a chiddush. the gemara is filled with opinions which we don't go by and if someone were to do things allowed by this or chacham, his food would be treif, he would be mechaleil shabbat, his lulav no good, etc.

    the question is: who are we counting? meaning if the rambam didn't hold by kabballa (or even know about the tzohar) and the rif, and add in a long list of rabbanim, how can rabbis today declare a non-believer to be a kofer?

    having said the above, i recall a conversation with one of my rabbanim. he noted that if someone today were to marshal proofs and show that using an umbrella on shabbat is really mutar (a minor machloket achronim) he would be declared a kofer. if this is true about an umbrella, so to for the tzohar.

    ReplyDelete
  16. @Michael Tzadok,

    The problem is that it is futile to enter into a discussion with you because you are not interested in Emes or refuting the arguments that are found in a Sefer like Tohar HaYihud or Milchemes HaShem, but instead simply say Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlit"a says or Rabbi Leff says etc. this is disingenuous. As a matter of fact Rabbi Leff apologized for his comments and said that he was unaware of the position of the Rivash, Node BeYehuda, and the many other Rishonim and Acharonim who were outspokenly opposed to Zohar and Kabbalah. BTW, I personally asked this very question to Maran HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Kammentsky ZT"L, I asked him if someone is a Kofer if he does not believe in the authenticity of the Zohar or in Kabbalah. He responded "Erz nish ken Apikores uber ehrs Meshugah", he is NOT an apikores but he is Meshugah. Rav Yaakov ZT"L clearly accepted it but also felt that we are not obliged to accept it especially given the many Rishonim that did not. So the fact that Rav Chaim says differently only means that as great as he is in Torah and Halacha, he holds differently he is not the only or the final word on Halacha or Hashkafa.



    Let us take your position a step further. If the HaGaon HaTzadik Hamichaber Sefer Tohar HaYihud is an Apikores for his position, then you would need to include the following as well: Rambam, Rabbenu Avraham Ben HaRambam, Meilli, Miri, RaN, Rivash, Node BeYehuda (who by the way says it is assur to say LeShem Yichud and refused to let anyone who said it to use is Esrog), T'Shuvos MeAhava, Rav Yaakov Emden, Rav SR Hirsch (see letter 18 of the 19 letters), Chasam Sofer, Rav Kafach and many others.



    There are clearly two schools of thought, I would suggest that you deal with the issues at hand, the arguments that are leveled against the sefiros some that Ramchal felt the need to address and modify, and not engage in name calling and what Gedolim may or may not say regarding the issue. address the issue head on if you can, Lhagdil Torah Ulihadirah!



    On an other point regarding Mesorah... the concept of Mesorah is an uninterrupted chain that goes back to Matan Torah (see the first Mishnah in Avos), please show me this "Mesorah" for Kabbalah... it does not exist and as such cannot be part of the corpus of our Torah HaKedosha that we are "required" to accept.

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    1. I really don't understand you. You object to being called an apikorus but are quite content to be called a meshugana by gedolim that you respect. Rav Yaakov is saying that there is something serious wrong with your intellect if you insist on the path that you have selected. That also clearly means that you can't possibly achieve proper avodas hashem by rejected these kabbalistic concepts. And you view this as some sort heter?!

      to put it sharper you are willing to act in a way that Rav Yaakov would look at you as he would a mental patient - saying and doing things which a normal person would never consider. Have you no sense of shame?

      Delete
    2. Why? Why didn't the author of Tohar HaYichud deal with the Shomer Emunim and Emunat HaShem? Why should I spend my valuable time trying to refute his shtut when there are already two sefarim that do just that, but which he conveniently ignored in writting his shtut? Likewise why did you ignore Rav Eidensohn's above comments showing that a previous generation may hold something that is today considered kefira?

      As far as wanting a Mesora. Here you go. We know that the Heikhalot and the Sefer Yetzira were written by Tannaim, who claimed to have received it from the previous generations(so essentially to that point it has the same status as Mishnah). We know that they came down through the Geonim. Rav Saadia Geon even felt that a common language(Arabic) translation should be made of the Sefer Yetzirah, which he himself undertook, as well as a commentary on the text. We know that was further passed on. That Rif ultimately received it, as he was the final destination of the Torah of the Geonim. From the Rif we have his students and other Rishonim. The Ramban, and possibly the Ravaad(a machloket) also wrote commentaries on it.
      The Tur wrote a Kabbalistic commentary on the Torah, claiming his father the Rosh as the source for all he had learned.

      So now having shown that there was a tradition from Moshe Rabbeinu(as the Tannaim believed that the Sefer Yetzirah and Heikhalot traditions came down from Moshe Rabbeinu) we can talk about the sudden revelation of the Zohar. Yitzhak D'Min Acco, a student of the Ramban, who had received the Kabbalah from his teacher, investigated the Zohar, while much of his results were lost, what we do know is that he came to the final conclusion that the Zohar was authentic, both in it's teaching and it authorship.

      But that is a side point. From the Rishonim, the Kabbalah was passed to the Acharonim, and from them to the present day. Hence Mesorah.

      What you do not have is any Mesorah for rejecting the Kabbalah. Rav Kafach only started his rejection some 150yrs after the entire Yemenite community accepted the Kabbalah of the Ari, only disagreeing over if and how it would affect their liturgy. Before that you only have the Rambam and his Son that reject all of Kabbalah out of hand. That does not a Mesorah make.

      Regarding Rav Leff. If you can provide it in his own voice or in his own writing then I will believe it. However, most Gedolim have said not to believe things that are only reported in their names.

      As far as Rav Kanievski, since he wrote clearly that they were Apikorsim according to all respects, again when you produce a printed Teshuva from him in which he states that he retracts his former position then I will believe it.

      Delete
  17. @TorahTruth,

    Thank you very much for being a voice of Torah truths and reason on this blog!

    "There are clearly two schools of thought": I believe you're absolutely correct here. The issues being discussed here seem to have been vigorously debated by both schools at least since the Middle Ages.

    Perhaps you could take a crack at my earlier question to Michael Tzadok:

    How can Kabbalistic entities such as Zeir Anpin, Arich Anpin, Abba, Emah, etc. can be reconciled with the Rambam, Rabbeinu Bachya, etc.?

    Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim, I:50:

    "...God's being One by virtue of a true Oneness, so that no composition whatever is to be found in Him, and no possibility of division in any way whatever...just as its impossible that He should be a body, it is also impossible that He should possess an essential attribute. If someone believes that He is one, but possesses a certain number of essential attributes, ...This resembles what the Christians say: that He is one but also three, and that the three are one."

    Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaYichud, Perek 10:

    "the mind can apprehend nothing of Him except His existence (m'tzeyuso)...We should search for the existence of the Creator in the signs of his works in the creation...(we should not) try to apprehend the essence of His glory (havayas etzem kavodo). If we should try to do so...we will lose all conception of His existence, whatever can be imagined in our thoughts is something other than God."


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps you would stop ignoring my responses.

      Delete
    2. @R. Tzadok,

      I have downloaded the Shomer Emunim PDF you linked to above.

      I do not have time to read through large sections of it.

      Can you provide some citations from that sefer (translated into English if possible), with their page nos., that address some of the issues I've raised? In particular, discussions re: contradictions between Moreh Nevuchim and Kabbalah?

      If you're so sure of your claims then this should not be a problem.

      Also, a PDF article on the hashkafacircle.com mentions that Shomer Emunim Ha-Kadmon in vikuach sheni takes a completely opposite approach to tzimtzum than the sefer Yosher Levav (p. 1:1:12) by R. Emanuel Riki. Both allegedly are based on statements in the Eitz Chaim, so where's the mesora in Kabbalah?

      Delete
    3. Does your request for English translation indicate that your primary knowledge of this topic is from analysis by academics and not from study of the material in the original Hebrew? If you are - it would explain your constant refusal to acknowledge Rav Tzadok's points.

      Delete
    4. @Daas Torah,

      NO, my primary knowledge of this subject is not analysis by "academics".

      I asked for the English excerpts to save time in locating the relevant sections of the original sefer.

      With a few exceptions, most of R. Tzadok's postings either:
      - cited the names of seforim, but NOT relevant passages from those seforim that would address the unresolved issues here.
      - used personal insults (such as ignoramus) against his opponents that you never protested about.
      - simply dismissed his opponent's position as kefira and apikorsos.

      Delete
    5. You have consistently ignored the answers I have given you. Which have been the maskanah of longer discussions in Shomer Emunim. Since you simply refuse, it would appear, to actually read the sefer, I offer you this. Starting with Ot מו on daf מב through to Ot עה you will find the answers I believe to your questions regarding the Ein Sof and the Sephirot.

      As far as Emunat HaShem, sorry you will have to find it yourself there. I am not baki in that sefer, and simply don't have the time to hunt for the various locations.

      However, might I add, if you want to understand the reasons that the Gedolim say to speak against Kabbalah is Kefirah, you may want to actually read the introductory sefarim that deal with these issues, not just sound bytes from them.

      You appear to have read Tohar HaYichud, why have never read the sefarim that our Gedolim base their understanding on?

      Delete
  18. To Daas Torah: I was merely quoting what Rav Yaakov told me and I also indicated that he clearly supported the position of Kabbala. You have non-the-less completely glossed over my point that Rav Yaakov clearly stated that it is not Kifirah to not accept Zohar or Kabbalah despite what was quoted from Rav Chaim Kanievsky. It is quite possible that Rav Yaakov called it "meshugah" because at the time I was a Bocher in Yeshiva asking this Gadol questions on topics that where beyond what most Bochurim discuss. He did not know where I was coming from nor what other philosophical questions I had. I would probably be equally cautious of someone posing questions to me today that go contrary to what is widely accepted by the Torah world (rightful or not).



    Emes L'Yaakov, your questions are very good but need to be directed to those who accept these concepts, they seem to be difficult to reconcile to me.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Rabbi Eidensohn, I am confused about your view, over here you seem to be saying that someone who does not accept the majority opinion is a heretic, yet about a year ago you said you hold it is not heresy. From you post
    "Rav S. R. Hirsch & his contemporary incarnation - Rabbi Slifkin"

    "Volvie said...
    HaRav Moshe Shternbuch shlit"a said
    Slifkin's views are heretical because of
    what position?
    ===========
    Regarding an old universe. He
    acknowledged that there are
    medrashim and rishonim who
    support such a view and that is why
    R Slifkin is not a heretic. However
    since the majority of gedolim do not
    accept and old universe it is heresy to
    have such a position even when
    supported by chazal. To this Rav
    Shmuel Kaminetsky and Rav Belsky
    disagreed."


    "Yossi Goodman said...
    Rabbi Eidensohn, I still don't
    understand where *you* stand. Do
    the majority of gedolim decide what
    is heresy or not?
    =================
    Thought it was obvious - I am clearly
    in agreement with Rav Kaminetsky
    and Rav Belsky's view that presenting
    the minority view or one not held by
    most gedolim is not heresy."

    Personally I think is very dangerous to say that it is heresy to disagree with the majority of gedolim, to give an extreme, but realistic example imagine that the gedolim decide that mr ployni, a Suspected child molester is innocent and a Tzadik, would any mentally stable person give him his child to look after? Because the gedolim said he is a tzadik? This example is completely different to the zohar, but it is fundamentally the same regarding religious authority.

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    1. Important point. 1) I was pointing out that the Chasam Sofer said there is such a thing a psak in hashkofa. 2) the issue of Hillel II's understanding of Moshiach was a view that is presented and rejected in the gemora by Chazal. In contrast the issue of an old universe is described by Chazal and is mentioned in Rishonim and Achronim and has been an accepted view until the question of R Slifkin's books and even today it is not clear that the majority agrees that we have a new universe as I found out that Rav Belsky and Rav Kaminetsy clearly disagreed and I assume there are many others.
      Even Rav Sternbuch acknowledged that there were legitimate sources describing and old universe. His point is that even after many centuries of acceptability that the majority view must be accepted. My point is that an idea with such a long period of acceptance and that two gedolim told me that even today it is acceptable - doesn't become kefira. Rav Sternbuch said the person who holds the minority view is not an apikorus but the view can be.

      In contrast is the issue of kabbala. We know from Chazal about the existence of esoteric mystical views. This idea existed in the period of the Geonim, Rishonim and Achronim. The fact that there have some who questioned the validity of the Zohar in part - doesn't mean rejection of kabbala. In general Kabbala and Zohar have been accepted and I am not aware of any contemporary gedolim who have rejected either. Thus kabbala is comparable to the majority view of Moshiach mentioned in the gemora. The idea of an old universe is different.

      Another way of describing it is that I think that the rejection/acceptance of kabbala is comparable to the acceptance of the integral role of Rishonim and Achronim in understanding halacha. Do you accept that all we need is the Rambam and that the Rishonim and Achronim "messed things up." Would you agree that a person today doesn't have to accept the authority of post Rambam authorities - because there is no authority that can make such a rule and besides the Rambam was a major authority?

      Bottom line - I am not saying there is an automatic rule that an idea which is held by the majority of contemporary gedolim is heresy. I am saying that it is clear that a person can not so easily dismiss contemporary understanding of Yiddishkeit by finding a few authorities in previous ages who held differently. Somtimes a rejected idea is heresy - such as the issues of Hillel II regarding Moshiach- but sometimes it is not.

      Delete
    2. Here too, you are confusing P'dak Halacha with Hashkafa. Yes, we must indeed accept the P'sak Halacha of post Rambam Rishonim and Achronim, but the issue here is one of Hashkafa that is not subject to P'sak as explained. If that were true we should all accept Shabsai Tzvi (Challia) because all of the Gedolim accepted him at the time, yes all (see Sefer Tzitzis Novel Tzvi, by Saspurtas).

      Delete
  20. From the Book Tohar Hiyhud - here is perhaps the mostimportant piece which Rabbi Tzadok ignores and that is the fact (if this is not a forgery) that the same issues occured when the sefer Habahir was "revealed." THe very same sefer that R. Tzadok points to as proof to a mesorah was attacked as a total fabrication by leading rishonim. It would seem then that there is a history of kabbalists doing this sort of thing and we should not be surprised at all that they would claim that the zohar was written by Rashbi. Here are excerpts from tohar hayichud

    Kabbalistic ideas of this kind surfaced in Provence in the form of the sefer habahir which the kabbalists attributed to Rabbi Nehunya ben Hakkanah. They called it
    the “Midrash of Rabbi Nehunya ben Hakkanah" (and it is by this name that Ramban refers to it
    in his Torah commentary). Its appearance evoked violent opposition. Rabbenu Meir ben
    Shimeon (Ham'ili) of Narbonne (1190-1263), author of the sefer hameoros on the Talmud, and the
    teacher of Rabbenu Manoah of Narbonne (author of sefer hamenucha on Rambam's Mishneh Torah),
    was an elder colleague of Ramban. Both were pupils of Rabbenu Nathan ben Meir. With the
    approval of his uncle, the great Rabbenu Meshullam, author of the h'hashlamah, Rabbenu Meir
    wrote, as follows:


    We have heard that a book has been composed for them which they call Bahir ('Bright') mentioned above, in which they see no light. This book has come into our
    hands, and we have found that they attribute it to R. Nehunya ben Hakkanah. G-d
    forbid (chas vashalom)! It is utterly untrue! That righteous man never stumbled by means of it, and was not numbered with the transgressors. The language of that book and all its
    terms indicate that it is by one unacquainted with literary form and style. It contains
    words of heresy and denial (divrei minus vkefirah) in many places.
    We have also heard that in addition a commentary has been written for them on the
    Song of Songs, on Sefer Yetzirah and on Hechaloth. This commentary contains words written in the mode of their heresy. Also a commentary on Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) and on other [Scriptural] books. Inquire and search well,and if they (i.e., these books) are in your midst, remove them from the land so that
    this shall be no stumblingblock unto you. Dig them out as we too have removed those
    found in our midst. And may G-d in His mercy send us a redeemer and gather
    together the scattered of Judah and Israel. May He remove from the midst of His
    people their doubts and perplexities, and turn the heart of fathers to children, and the
    heart of children to their fathers.
    We have written all this with the approval of our master, the great Rav, the light of
    Israel, our teacher R. Meshullam son of the great Rav Moshe, may G-d protect him( the author of Sefer Hahashlamah, who was the teacher and uncle of
    the writer, Rabbenu Meir ben R. Shimeon Hame'ili), and the other sages of the land,
    some of whom knew privately the root of the matter, and what caused us to write [this
    letter].
    "And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that
    turn the many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Amen,
    Amen, Selah.

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    1. Regarding the authenticity of the Sefer HaBahir that is dealt with in sefer Emunat HaShem first here in the hakdama, and then later in teshuva directly dealing with the piece that Tohar HaYichud is parroting from Rav Kapach.  I know these esteemed Rabbanim deal with it in other places in their sefer as well, but I am admittedly not Baki in Emunat HaShem, having only speedily read it once.

      Delete
  21. Additionally, how can Rabbi Tzadok admit that the Chasam Sofer was not crazy about the Zohar and then simply dismiss his view. THis is the great Chasam Sofer!!!!

    And regarding Rav Fleckeles, you dismiss it as one teshuva...in that one teshuva, he basically dimissed 95% of the zohar. It really doesnt matter what he says anywhere else....after making that statement.

    So stop trying to revise history.

    I am not at all crazy about the tohar hayihud because it is anonymous and because the owner of the site does not impress me much with his overly simplistic look at the torah. However, there are real points raised in there including the uproard over the BAHIR which to me is a MAJOR BOMBSHELL. How can you ignore that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because in his second later Teshuva, he accepts 99.99% of the Zohar. I take his later Teshuva to reflect his honest views. Why did he not write with one voice throughout his life? Obviously even if his first Teshuva means what you think it means, he changed his mind after some reflection.

      Delete
    2. You raise an important issue here. From the little I have seen I don't see how any sweeping conclusion can be made regarding the Chasam Sofer's attitude toward Zohar and kabbala based on one citation regarding the Zohar. The Chasam Sofer was truly a great man and a very complex one. He was fighting the haskala and ignorance while trying to advance Torah.

      A similar queston is raised regarding his attitude towards secular studies - there are a number of citations where he condemns and apparently and equal number where he praises secular studies. What was his "true" attitude. [there is an academic article on the subject]


      Professor Marc Shapiro has an article entitled "Rabbi Moses Sofer's Intellectual Profile" where he notes that his two rebbes were kabbalists and that he himself viewed study of kabbla as important. See Toras Moshe vol I page 184 Drashas 1 page 142b. He states "a large part of Sofer's writing deals with kabbalistic themes." He spends several pages describing how important kabbala was to the Chasam Sofer especially to understand the inner nature of Torah.


      Similarly regarding Rav Yaakov Emden - he definitely wrote a sefer regarding the authenticity of the Zohar at the same time praising the holy work. The claim has been made in the introduction to his sefer that he was fighting against the misuse of the Zohar and thus publicly wanted to diminish its stature while privately holding it in high regard.

      I don't think it is intelligent to keep citing one paragraph and not view it in context.

      Delete
  22. Rav Tzadok -you are really disingenious if you can ring proof from Rav Saadia to the kabbalistic tradition of sefer yetzirah when it is clear as day and accepted by all that Rav Saddiah understood the sefer as having nothing at all to do with kabbalah. SO we see that the earlier gaonim and rishonim did not think it was a kabbalistic sefer at all...so the bottom line is and this may be the biggest question: EVEN if the zohar is 100% true, how can it become part of our mesorah when there was a break of 1,000 years!!!!!

    Nobody can honestly answer that question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How is it that you say it is not a Kabbalistic sefer? Or that Rav Saadia did not see it as such? Are the sefirot then not Kabbalistic concepts? Who is this "all" that you are talking about that accepts this novel concept that Sefer Yetzirah wasn't a Kabbalistic sefer?

      Delete
    2. Again, as I said before, you clearly have not learned Sefer Milchemes HaShem where he differentiates between the "real" Sefirot and the Kabbalisic Sefirot. the Sifey Kabblah simply used the terminology of Sefirot found in sefer yitzirah and adopted Kabbalistic concepts. Just like they applied Kabbalistic concepts to the Gemorah with Rabbe Akiva and Pardes. This proved nothing.

      Delete
  23. Please stop posting anonymous comments. It is impossible to have a coherent discussion with a bunch of commentators called anonymous!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim wrote:


    @Dass Torah: Hashkafa - which we discuss here - is not subject to psak din. No Gadol can tell you what you believe. Either you believe something, or you do not.

    Gadolim can tell you how to "act", but no one ever said Hashkafa is subject to psak. So your approach of citing Rabbanim is inapplicable in this discussion of Hashkafa.

    It appears, herein lies the difficulty. Before I go further, what is your view on this?

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

    Just curious to know what you do with the concept of apikorus and min and kofer [see the citation from Rambam above ]- all of which revolved around telling a person what to believe and providing unpleasant consequences for not believing.

    What do you do with the Rambam's 13 principles of faith?

    So yes I agree with you that this issue is a major problem I have with your approach

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for this response, Daas Torah. Please advise where you wish to continue this topic, as you mentioned, you want to move it to its own discussion. I will respect your wish. Kindly instruct me on how to do this, or how to follow you to another discussion so we might earnestly search for truth. I appreciate your honesty and attachment to Emess.

      But I will answer your question regarding the 13 Principles, min and kofer.

      Yes, these people are subject to halachic ramifications. But I am not discussing the "ramifications" (subsequent to someone becoming a heretic). What I discuss is this point: that "belief" is not subject to majority rule. i.e., "rove". That is a function of halacha, not hashkafa. And belief in sefiroth or God's incorporeality are beliefs, which one can only possess on his own, and not through a majority rule. A majority rule cannot make you believe you are standing in Ashkelon, if in fact you stand in Jerusalem.

      Again, please instruct me on how to follow you to another forum or discussion area. Thank you. I will be back in a few hours.

      Delete
    2. Please provide a post - no more than a page long describing your position and supporting sources. I will post it separately on this blog and we can continue the discussion there.

      Send me your post at yadmoshe@gmail.com

      Delete
    3. I will get back to you as soon as possible, hopefully over the weekend.
      Shabbat Shalom, Dass Torah.

      Delete
  25. Chevra,

    I don't think anyone is denying that there existed in ancient times some type of "Kabbalistic" Torah (Chagiga 11b).

    But the real issue is - we are being told by R. Tzadok and other Kabbalah supporters that the sefer Zohar has a "mesora".

    CAN ANY ZOHAR SUPPORTERS PLEASE ADDRESS THIS QUESTION?

    In which authentic seforim or documents did ANY of the major Rishonim such as Rambam, Rashi, Rosh, Ramban, Rif etc. ever write that:

    1) A Kabbalistic sefer known as the Zohar existed at the time of the Rishonim, or else had existed in ancient times
    2) The sefer Zohar was authored by R. Shimon Bar Yochai or other ancient rabbinic authorities
    3) The sefer Zohar was accurately and completely transmitted from the ancient rabbis to the time of the Rishonim


    Please cite the exact sources where Rishonim mentioned Nos. 1, 2, or 3 above. Simply claiming that a Rishon recognized some type of "Kabbalah" is not an intellectually honest answer to my question.

    If the Zohar supporters cannot provide valid answers to questions 1-3 above, how can they possibly argue that the Zohar represents "mesora"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @emes l'yaakov you are simply repeated a rather tired argument. It might enlighten you to read Prof Moshe Idel's Introduction to
      Kabbalah: New Perspectives (Yale UP 1988). There he contrasts Gershon Sholem's obsession with texts as the necessary basis for the study of kabbala while Idel argues that Kabbala is not primarily text based but Oral. Oral transmission is the foundation of the Oral Torah - which includes obviously kabbala.
      Even though there are prohibition of writing the Oral Torah - this was bypassed out of necessity. We are the people of the book - a Muslim designation - not by nature. The switch between an Oral transmission to a written one - especially with advances in technology such as the printing press or computers with databases - has created major difficulties. The accelerated growth of material which needs to be known is primarily a result of this written culture. With an Oral Transmission there are refinements, evolution and forgotting - just as there is with the human mind.

      An example of what I am saying was stated by Rav Moshe Chagiz - one of the major zealot's and opponent of the Ramchal.

      משנת חכמים (ס' של"ב): ובגדר אהבת החברים ומעלתה נקבלה האמת ממי שאמרו. כי האמת יורה דרכו דמסדר ומחבר ספר הזוהר הקדוש, דודאי אדם גדול היה דבאו לידו הקונטריסים, ומן השמים זכו אותו להוציא לאור תעלומות חכמה רמה ונעלמה והא סדרי הקונטרסים על סדר הפרשיות. אך לא חלילה רשב"י, או רבי אבא, עשו סדר זו הנמצא בידינו. כי זה טעות ושטות מפורסם, כעין אותם הסוברים שאנו מאמינים דבר שאינו. שהתלמוד כמו שהוא מסודר אצלינו, היה אצל אברהם אבינו דבר שלא עלה במחשבה אצל עם ה' נושא משך הזרע, ואנו תל"י יודעין שלשלת ספר יוחסין של כל התורה שבע"פ איך ומה נשתלשלה ובא לידינו מיד לפה אל פה, עד משה מפי הגבורה.
      משנת חכמים (ס' של"ג): ומה שתמצא לרז"ל שאמרו דאברהם אבינו קיים כל התורה אפילו עירובי תבשילין אינו אלא על האופן שכתבתי בהקדמתי הראשונה לספר אלה המצות. שהכל נתגלה לאברהם אבינו כמרז"ל על פסוק וה' אמר הכסה ני מאברהם עי"ש. כדי לסתום את פיהם של המקנטרין שחושבים אותנו לשוטים ולפתי מאמין לכל דבר, וחלילה לעם חכם ונבון להבין הא דאמרו על פסוק ואתנ' לך לוחות, אלו עשרת הדברים תורה, זה מקרא והמצוה זה משנה אשר כתבי אלו נביאים וכתובים, להורותם זה גמרא שכולם נתנו לשמה בסיני. דר"ל כך כמו שהוא אצלינו במכתב דזה שקר מפורסם. דהרי קודם רבינו הקדוש כל דברי התורה שבע"פ לא היה רשאי להעלותם בכתב, א"כ נתינה זו שנתן למשה אינו אלא דפה לפה גילה לו הקב"ה דור דור ודורשיו. וכל מה שתלמיד ותיק עתיד לחדש, ורוב כל אותה קבלה היא מה שנשארה ומצויה אצלינו מאומתת ומאושרת ומקויימת אשר אין לנו במה להסתפק עליה הכל כמו שכתבתי שם בהקדמה הנזכר.
      משנת חכמים (ס' שלד): אוף הכי בחבור נורא זה מספר הזוהר אין להסתפק בעיקרן של דברים כהוויתן שיצאו מפי רשב"י וחבריו, ולכן המהרהר אחריו כמהרהר אחר השכינה, אך המסדר עשה התקשרות הדרים כאשר עליו ובאו לידו על נכון כדחזי במאמר שהבאתי לעיל בסעיף שכ"ט.

      Delete
    2. What point are you trying to prove exactly? First you said that the Arizal was Kefira. Then you said certain Kabbalistic concepts did not match with the Rambam. Now you are going after the Zohar.

      Why would any of the Rishonim need to mention it for it to be a valid mesora? Even Rav Yaakov Emden and Rav Rav Flekeles admitted to it's ancient authorship. Not mention luminaries such as the GR"A the Bach, the Magen Avraham, the Rema, the Beit Yosef ect. If all of these Gedolim, for generations have accepted the Zohar, and told us that without doubt it was written by the Rashbi and his students, who are you or I to disagree?

      On the Sephorimblog they birng Rabbi Yitzhak D'Min Acco who investigated the Zohar immediately after it's publication and himself vouched for it's authenticity and Tannaitic authorship.

      Where does Rashi ever name the Midrash that he is quoting? Or the Ramban name the sources of his Kabbalistic knowledge? Thus it becomes an academic debate as to whether the Zohar was copied by them or from them. Our Rabbis have said that it was copied by them. Many academics have said it was copied from them.

      Ultimately this is a situation of Emunat Hakhamim. Either you follow the injunction of the Torah to believe our sages even when they say day is night, or you do not.

      Delete
    3. Rabbi Michael Tzadok January 10, 2013 4:29 PM
      "Then you said certain Kabbalistic concepts did not match with the Rambam."

      Rabbi Michael Tzadok January 9, 2013 5:32 PM
      "Before that you only have the Rambam and his Son that reject all of Kabbalah out of hand"

      Rabbi Michael Tzadok January 9, 2013 4:02 AM
      "Rambam- Nothing that the Ari says disagrees with the Rambam"


      Delete
  26. I think you are missing the point. Firstly let's deal with the concept of Mesorah that Michael Tzadok completely distorts. Mesorah by its very definition requires a transmission from Sinai before ALL of Klall Yisrael. There is no concept of Mesorah being transmited to individuals. Actually that is the primary argument against Christianity presented by R' Yehuda HaLevi in the Kuzari. Anyone can claim a revelation but it is only the Torah HaKedosha that was transmitted for all to see and hear. There is another reason for this type of Mesorah and why anything less than this is not relied upon. I have no doubt that the great Reshonim actually believed in what they received in Kabbalistic learning (by the way much of which was received only in dreams). But ine needs only to look at Torah Sh'Baal Peh and the many Gemora's where there is disagreement among the Amoraim not just on the Halacha but what Rebbi or others said in the Shiur. That is why Mesorah can't be something transmitted to individuals alone because no matter how great the individual (and I assume you don't attribute greater status to Rishonim then to Tanaim and Amoraim) distortions undoubtedly creep in. One more point on "Mesorah". You point to Sefer Yitzira and somehow link this to Zohar and the Kabbalah of the Ari. Where pray tell do you find a single shred of Lurianic Kabbalah or even Zohar in the Sefer Yitzirah? You ask, aren't Sefirot Kabbalah? It is obvious that you never even opend Sefer Milchemes HaShem because throughout his entire Sefer the Gaon Harav Kafach ZTV"L differentiated between real Sefirot and the Kabbalistic Sefirot. The Mekuballim used the terminology found in Sefer Yitzirah and "highjacked" it to adopt Kabbalistic meaning. You then turn and say, you see we have a Mesorah they both refer to Sefirot... now that is circular reasoning if I have ever heard one.

    Psak Din and Hashkafah: Besides the fact that the Chazon Ish says clearly that there is no concept of P'sak Din as it related to Hashkafah (I will find the exact source I don't have it handy just now, simple logic dictates that P'sak is IMPOSSIBLE when talking about Hashkafa. You see you can only have P'sak on a Halacha because as the Talmud tell us Torah Lo Bashomayim. This means that the original Halacha could have been one way but based on the laws of P'sak the Halacha changed. It may very well be that Tefillin were like Rabbainu Tam but the P'sak Halacha is like Rashi. If you excavated Tefilin from Bais Rishon and find them to be like R"T we are still required to wear like Rashi. Why? Torah Lo Bashomayim. Now lets see if this would apply to Hashkafa. The Rambam outlines the Yud Gimel Ikkarim, G-d is one and there is no one like Him. G-d has no parts etc. Lets say there is a P'sak that Chas Vishalom says that there are indeed parts. Can P'sak change the reality that exists? Of course not, so the whole concept of P'sak as it relates to Hashkafa is illogical.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Mesorah: What do you do with things like Shechita? Rav Kapach was at one point the only one with a mesora for shechting quail. He taught Rav Okima, now we have Shechting quail. So obviously one person can possess and pass on mesora.

      Psak Din and Hashkafah: As Rav David Sedley points out very well in his article many of the early Rishonim and virtually all of the Geonim believed that HaShem had a body. Along came the Rambam and he throws down thirteen principles. So today anyone who believes that HaShem has a body is a kofer, meaning that his shechita is treif, his divrei Stam are posul, his kashrut is not trusted, if he touches non-mevushal wine it is yayin nesech, and a number of other things. Is this not psak halakha in the area of Hashkafa?

      Delete
    2. Now you have me completely confused. On the one hand, if someone doesn't accept Zohar in your mind he is an Apikores, yet you believe that one can accept Hakodosh Baruch Hu as being corporal and you feel he is not an Apikores???? Really? You found a single source that believed in a corporal G-d (C"V), he was clearly wrong, and from this you deduce that "many of the early Rishonim and virtually all of the Geonim" believed this? Seems to be quite a jump. Do you believe this? What does Yad HaShem mean to you?

      As it relates to Shechita and quail, there is a very significant difference. When it comes to birds we need a Kabbalah (not to be confused with your Kabbalah) that is transmitted. What birds are Kosher and how to do Schechita on them was never transmitted to a single person, it always existed for everyone. It may be that over time many people or most people forgot it but as long as someone still remembers is the kabbalah/mesorah is valid for everyone. How can you compare this to something that was never handed over the masses???

      Delete
    3. @R. Tzadok - "anyone who believes that HaShem has a body is a kofer"

      Those today who say Hashem has a body are minim according to the Rambam (Hilchos Tshuvah, 3:7).

      Your comparison of the increased strictness of this halacha which involves a core monotheistic issue, to the issue of who authored the Zohar, is not a valid comparison.

      Belief that the Zohar was written in the Middle Ages instead of by ancient rabbis does not violate any monotheistic principles of Judaism.

      Even more important, that same Rambam I quoted also states that one who serves a "meilitz" is also a min. So IF certain Kabbalists ever prayed to Zeir Anpin, would they be considered minim?

      Delete
    4. @EmesLeYaakov
      It is a valid comparison. In both cases we see psak Din in the case of hashkafa. The sum total is that something that was permitted for a former generation to think or speak is now forbidden.

      @TorahTruth
      Did you even bother to read his article or see the points that he made? Did you fail to notice that Rav Moshe Taku was not alone, even if the article bears his name?

      Delete
    5. @Michael Tzadok:

      Yes I downloaded it, printed it and read it very carefully and found it to be riddled with inaccurate statements, out of context quotes and a fundamental misunderstanding of a simple Rashi. For starters David Sedley quotes Rashi 14:31 regarding the Yad HaShem and says that Rashi takes it literally. I would suggest that you look the Rashi up yourself instead of just quoting for this article. That is NOT was Rashi says, Chas Vishalom! Rashi says that Yad mamash but he goes on to say that it needs to be taken in the context of the Pasuk and here it means Gevurah , strength not the hand itself!

      Sedley then goes on to quote R' Yishaya di-Trani who says "When G-d appears to people He takes the form of a person". Again a complete misunderstanding of what it says. Of course it doesn't mean that G-d takes the actual physical for of man but as the Rambam says He takes the form of man in the "vision" of the Nevuah and not C"V in a physical sense!

      The rest of the so called proofs deal with accepting parts of the Torah as metaphorical or not and has nothing to do with a corporal understanding of HeShem Yisbarach.

      So yes R' Moshe Taku was alone... but even with your understanding you contradict yourself "Menai Ubai". On the one hand you write that it is impossible for all the Gedolim to have been mislead about Kabbalah for the past 600 years but you accept (based on your understanding) that many of the Rishonim and according to you nearly all of the Geonim were mislead to believe that G-d is corporal! Can you explain this obvious contradiction? I would hoope you agree that belief in a corporal G-d is Kefirah.

      Delete
    6. @RabbiMichaelTzadok It is not a valid comparison. One is a historical question (who wrote this text? did this person believe X?) the other is a metaphyscial question (is the form of God X?). In the former case, the concept of psak is irrelevant. Paskining can't change history. Paskining can effect metaphysical reality, and in fact, that's what paskining is designed to do all the time. So you are right that sometimes psak can make certain things forbidden now that weren't forbidden before, but historical facts are not in that category of things which can be affected.

      Delete
  27. Rav Carmell writes www.zootorah.com/controversy/RavCarmell.pdf

    "The obligation to follow the assertion of the Sages applies only to halachic matters, as the passage cited at the head of this article emphasizes. Twice it notes that the decision we are searching for refers to a decision in mishpat — “legal matters,” i.e. halacha...."

    "Rav Yosef Albo (ca.1400) wrote a famous book on the principles of Judaism. He warns people to be sparing with the epithet “heretic.” A heretic, he says, is one who knows the truth but deliberately sets out to deny it and denigrate it"

    Not sure how Rav Carmell would learn the gemorah about moshiach.

    Personally I can understand how in the moshiach case the accepted opinion can in fact make Hashem "decide", or however it works, to make the future reality reflect the opinion, however with regard to the fundamental nature of Hashem, or past events, I fail to see how the accepted opinion would have an effect, and at the end of the day I think that Hashem wants us to try strive for the truth, Hashem's nature is not going to suddenly change because of what is and is not accepted, and neither is the past, unless you say that when something becomes in integral part of contemporary yidishkiet, Hashem would not let that happen unless it is true, but do you have a source for that? is it not more reasonable to say that the future has not yet happened so it is fundermentaly different to past events?

    And finally, I am not at all qualified to have an opinion on the authenticity of the zohar, but if the rishonim "messed things up" surely we would still follow them just like we might follow certain things even though chazal might have been mistaken about scientific matters?

    ReplyDelete
  28. @Daas Torah - "emes l'yaakov you are simply repeated a rather tired argument":

    My previous posting on the mesora of the Zohar was not intended to be an argument. I am simply investigating the issue of the mesora of the Zohar without being dogmatic. I am open to hearing sources cited that indicate major Rishonim were aware of the existence of the Zohar, and considered it to be be reliably transmitted from the ancient rabbis.

    "Oral transmission is the foundation of the Oral Torah - which includes obviously kabbala" - Which rabbinic sources at the time of the "publication" of the written Talmud indicated that there was a large, existing Kabbalistic mesora, authored by R. Shimon Bar Yochai, that would not be written down for hundreds of years?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Can anyone seriously think that someone who denies the validity of the Zohar is literally an apikorus? For nearly 1000 years nearly no one knew the Zohar existed, were all those Jews apikorsim?

    Furthermore why would the Jews be required to believe the testimony of one man, Rabbi Moshe de Leon? Rabbi Moshe de Leon was not a Navi. We are not Christians or Muslims that we are required to just have faith in the testimony of one man.

    ReplyDelete
  30. From CRITIC:

    Rav Tzadok ignores the truth about the criticism of the sefer habahir by some great rishonim and instead says that the author of tohar hayihud is parroting Rav Kapach.

    If the quote from the tohat hayihud is accurate, it does not matter whether where he "parroted" it from. You need to deal with the facts. Did leading rishonim have the exact same objections to the bahir as to the zohar and do we see a pattern of false attribution by kabbalists to tannaim in order so that the kabbalistic seforim would gain acceptance?

    Your response about R' Saadiah is ridiculous and plain and simply ignorant. I do not expect you to become an academic scholar and engage in textual criticism and the like, but please allow a bit of honesty into the discussion and your world view! It is a davar yadua that R'Saadia was not a mekubal and that he did not view the seder yetzira as relating to kabbalah at all. Why dont you ask any real mekubal and you will see that even the greates mekubal will know this simple fact? The fact that you seemed genuinely surprised that anyone would think that the sefiros in sefer yetzira are not related to kabbalistic sefiros proves to me that you have not given this topic one ounce of objective thought.

    Can you answer this? Is it possible that even the greatest gedolim of the last 600 years were in that sense just like you (you cant even imagine the sefer yetzirah as a non-kabbalistic text - that is how ingrained your belief is)? THey heard that the zohar is written by Rashbi and never questioned it -similar to how most of us never question that the torah was written by Hashem - resulting in their believing that it is all torah misinai? Is it a possibility, putting aside the strong feeling (that I share) that Hashem wouldnt allow so many tzadikim to get it wrong, that it could be that the zohar was really written by R Moshe De Leon?

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    1. See and I thought that Rav Yosef Kapach, who was the first to publish the Sefer Yetzirah with Rav Saadia Gaon's commentary was to be believed when he wrote in his introduction(and his own commentary) that it was a Kabbalistic work, and Rav Saadia Gaon was dealing with Kabbalistic concepts... I guess Rav Kapach got it wrong.

      That all of the Achronim were wrong... no I cannot accept that. I believe in the Torah. I believe the Torah when it tells us that even if the Rabbis tell us right is left and left is right, that we follow them. I'm sorry to see that you reject this mitzvah d'oraitta.

      Delete
  31. From Critic:

    One of the best anti-zohar seforim is actually written by Shadal. It is very logically written in a respectful tone and makes a lot of sense. for some reason it does not get mentioned much. I do not think that any sefer ever came out to refute its points

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  32. Gentlemen,
    I am a pashuter yid. I just read all 112 comments and I think no one is closer to achieving anything here. I don't think anyone can blame Rabbi Tzadok (he's a Rabbi guys, it would be nice of your to address him with that title) for A) not refuting every single last point you raise, though he does refute some and B) not wanting to abandon Jewish tradition that at the very least is accepted by the vast majority of today's gedolim.

    On the other hand, it seems the rationalists (I'm gonna bunch you guys all in here) have some serious questions. It may be sad to say but somehow I don't think those serious hashkafik questions are going to get answered in a blog comment thread (no disrespect daas torah). That's why God gave us a beis medrash.

    I've read a lot of the academic stuff (Sholem, Tishby, Idel etc.) and most of tohar hayichud (10 pages left!) and the zohar thing that Rabbi Slifkin posted. I'm unconvinced that there's any problem with kabbalah.

    I'm also surprised no one has mentioned R' Aryeh Kaplan's m'halech which is that esoteric matters were transmitted orally (I assume because the gemarah chagigah cited earlier says you can't teach them publicly) for hundreds of years. There is an article on Koshertorah.com somewhere where he makes the point that the reason the Rambam doesn't address these ideas is because you weren't allowed to discuss them in writing publicly.

    So for me, facts on the ground: 1)Kabbalistic traditions (and there were many different ones, heichalot, sefer yetzirah, zohar etc.) were transmitted orally for as long as they've been around until people started publishing them for whatever reason 2)Not sure about psak halacha on deios, but there's certainly no psak halacha on how mesorah works(that I'm aware of) so I'm not sure how anyone can call into question the kabbalah's mesorah (also, there seems to be too much flipping between kabbalah as a whole and zohar)
    3) everyone is getting agitated about who's a heretic ("Are you calling my Rishon/Gadol a heretic?!") I think we need to cool out on that to have a mature discussion. 4)Let's play the rationalist argument out - kabbalah isn't kosher. Now what? How do we untangle it from halacha, mussar, and all other parts of Judaism that it is interwoven in?

    I believe God directs the course of history, and to believe that to say God would let the jewish people mess up for hundreds of years is just too much to handle. Sorry rationalists, I'm with you on the age of the universe and chazal and science but not on this one.

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    1. @ Moshe: It is a very nice concept to take the PC approach and basically say "can't we all just get along". To lump Sefer Tohar Hayihud into the academic camp with kofrim like Sholom is a bit shocking to me. You also assume that the matters in the Gemorah like Maaseh Merhava and Pardes are somehow Kabbalah... how do you know that? You then gone on to say that "fact on the ground" is that Kabbalah has been transmitted orally seemingly giving it the same status of Torah Shebaal Peh. That's the root of the argument. Mesorah is only valid when it is transmitted to all of Klal Yisrael. There isn't a single example of a transmitted Mesorah to only an individual and for a very good reason, it is by its very nature a faulty transmission and very susceptible to error (as I pointed out earlier) hence not a Mesorah. You ask how do we untangle it from Halacha, Mussar etc. Firstly, we never Pasken based on Kabbalah when it conflicts with Halacha. Why? If it is an oral trandition and a valid Mesorah, why not?

      You end with "and to believe that to say G-d would let the jewish people mess up for hundreds of years is just too much to handle" Really? Is that our criteria in Emunas HaShem? I hope not, because we would have been in a lot of trouble in the time of Avraham Avinu or Shabsasi Tzvi when "He did allow us to mess up".

      These are very important and fundamental issues and can't be glossed over no matter how uncomfortable the conclusion.

      Delete
    2. good summary of what is going on.

      However the issue though is more than Zohar or Kabbala but it is also - why believe any contemporary hashkofa or halacha - you can always find some problem with an accepted view or someone who held something else.

      We will probably get into this when Rabbi Ben Chaim sends me his guest post regarding psak for hashkofa.

      This fragmentation and devaluation of what is authoritative is a major danger. It really isn't necessary to show something is invalid - it is enough to raise questions to serious weaken respect for authority.

      For example there is wide consensus on the dangers of get me'usa as has been the accepted view for hundreds of years - so now there are rabbis saying let's simply adopt the Rambam's view. This leads to the question of sofek mamzer.

      So just as you asked above - if kabbla isn't kosher then what happens? Do we simply reject anything connected to it? If a serious yeshiva education is unnecessary because everything is in the Rambam - then we really don't have any rabbinic authority. You can always posken from the Jewish Press or Tradition magazine or find a psak of your liking through a 1 minute google search. What impact does that have on the nature of Judaism and the Jewish community? If we can do away with marriage and just have a pilegesh that allows marriages that you can simply walk away from - what happens to the family?

      On the other hand there is a problem of blindly accepting authority of all kinds and there are dangers of not thinking or being aware of reality. But anarchy is not an acceptable solution.

      I think that we are collectively on the edge of a cliff and the consequences for dissolving authority of all types requires seriously thought and caution. The vehemence and anger that comes through in some of your comments has me worried - not the fact that you might teach me something I wasn't aware of.

      Realistically most of the important things in life can not be absolutely proven or justified. Rationality has severely limimations as a basis of existence. Democracy versus monarchy? Free-will versus determinism? Existence, Morals , religion versus secularism, Arabs versus Jews? et cetra.

      Delete
    3. It seems to me that we are again conflating two distinct issues, one being Hashkafa and the other being P'sak Halacha. I don;t think anyone here has suggested that we abandon the corpus of Halacha and T'shuvos and say we are just Paskening like the Rambam (There are some who do say this but I haven't seen it here). On the other hand when it comes to Hashkafa that is very different as explained before. A subtle but important distinction.

      Delete
  33. @TorahTruth, I only lump them together because they are both espousing what I see to be the same basic position, not to in any way imply, chalilah, that they are similar in any other respect.

    The reason I assume that Jewish mysticism is related to the gemarot about mystical experiences like pardes is because they say they are and I haven't seen anything that either disproves that assertion or any other m'halech claiming to explain it differently

    Regarding shabbetai tzvi specifically I would also include bar kochva in your example and would say that it proves exactly the opposite. those episodes, tragic as they were were resolved in a relatively short period of time. HaKadosh Baruch Hu can certainly allow even the chachamim of the generation to err, there's a whole mesechta on the korban the sanhedrin brings for ruling incorrectly. But that is a far cry from what we are discussing, no?

    Do you disagree with my historical argument? Does it make sense to you that God would cause many, if not most of the great sages and the regular jews who followed them for hundreds and hundreds of years to make such an egregious error? Is there a precedent for that? Is God so capricious?

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  34. From Critic:

    Rabbi Tzadok says that:

    I believe in the Torah. I believe the Torah when it tells us that even if the Rabbis tell us right is left and left is right, that we follow them. I'm sorry to see that you reject this mitzvah d'oraitta.

    WOW!!!! You have it wrong. This is understood by most to apply to the Bais Din Hagadol in the lischas hagazis - though the chinuch extends it further. It certainly does not mean that chachomim cant get it wrong!!!! It does mean that even if they get it wrong, you have to listen to them for Psak Halacha. FOr our discussion which is outside of pure halacha (though of course there are halachicramifications), I do not think anyone would say that you must follow the chachomim and it certainly is not a mitza d'oraita as you claim. Please bring some truth back to the discussion.

    You once again chose not to respond to my points on the opposition to sefer habahir!

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    Replies
    1. No I did respond to you about Sefer HaBahir. I offered you two citations from sefer Emunat HaShem. You simply chose to ignore them. However, my position is that burden of proof is upon you as my position is that of the Gedolim, and has been as you said, for more than 600yrs.

      Now as far as bringing truth back to the conversation, how about you stop saying that all the Gedolim backed Shabbtai Tzvi. He was placed in Cherem in Smyrna, Jerusalem, and later Salonika. His followers throughout Europe faced Cherem as well. While I will admit that some, and possibly even many Gedolim followed him, but not all.

      Even then his actual heresy wasn't openly revealed to all, only is followers(except for maybe the last two years before he converted to Islam). They only heard reports. Not like the Zohar and Sefer HaBahir which the Rabbanim were able to hold in their own hands, investigate and pilpul. Even then how many Jews actually followed Tzvi? 300 hundred families, no more. Only 300 families followed him into his apostasy.

      I see this as no different than the last Lubavitcher Rebbe. Many Gedolim(and again not all, Rav Shach being an example of opposition) waited with baited breath to see if this Rav really was the Messiah he claimed to be. When it turned out that he was not, they shrugged their shoulders and moved on. That doesn't equal universal error.

      What you are claiming is 600yrs of universal error. That is simply unbelievable.

      Delete
    2. Firstly, you are incorrect about the history of Shabsai Tzvi, I would suggest you learn Sefer Tzitzis Novel Tzvi by the Goan Saspurtas who lived in Amsterdam at the time and wrote his Sefer about the entire episode, all the Gedolim followed him. Secondly, the point I was making is that it is indeed possible for a mistake to be made on a wide scale no matter for what period of time. As far as Rav Shach and the Rebbe (now we are going off topic) he never waited with baited breath for anything and only after shrugged his shoulders that is a flagrant distortion of history. Rav Shach called the Rebbe out immediately and felt it to be Kefira, with what has happened to them since only shows how right Rav Shach was.

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    3. Thank you for demonstrating that you clearly have a grave reading comprehension problem. First with Rav David Sedley's article, and then with what I wrote above regarding Rav Shach's protest of the Rebbe. Your confusion now makes a lot more sense. You simply aren't understanding many of the things you are reading.

      I have read several articles and works on the Shabbtai Tzvi affair and I see no reason to take one account by someone who I have never heard of, as the only accurate one, espeically when even secular historians contradict it.

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    4. Well that clears things up... you mind explaining? How can someone claim to have any knowledge of Shabsai Tzvi without ever hearing of Saspurtas or of his sefer. He was the leading Gadol in Amsterdam at the time and his Sefer is undisputed by anyone with the slightest knowledge of the subject matter.

      But again, when you can't answer the questions being raised you resort to name calling and insults... a pity.

      Delete
    5. Probably because the majority of the history I have read regarding Shabbtai Tzvi was written by those who lived through his apostasy in the East, and history books. See for instance this article from the Jewish Encyclopedia  and it's numerous historical sources, that pretty much disproves everything you are trying to say about the Shabbtean affair.  Historians, even those who are Gedolim are rarely unbiased and if Sapsurtas himself was deceived by Tzvi then I can understand why he would like to make it seem like the whole world followed after him, but that simply is not the case. The historical record simply does not bear it out.

      Even the writings of his own people speak of him being driven out of places such as Jerusalem(and thus declaring Gaza to be the new capital of Israel) by the Gedolim and Kabbalists there. Who were these Gedolim? At that time Rav Shmuel Vital(son of Rav Haim Vital), Rav Avraham Azulai, Rav Yaakov Tzemach, and Rav Meir Poppirsh(as well as others).

      As far as your reading comprehension problem, it was not meant as an insult just a statement of fact. You horribly misunderstood Rav Sedley's article. While you criticized him and his scholarship. However, he unlike you, is a recognized Rav and has the guts to put his name behind what he says. So, in my opinion, his words deserve far more weight. Likewise you clearly took my statement Rav Shach being an example of opposition[in context to the Rebbe] as me stating that Rav Shach supported the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, which is the complete opposite of what I said, as is clear from that statement.

      So you want me to take your word that you, and unknown quantity with a demonstrated penchant for misunderstanding what is written, know better than a recognized Rav what Rashi or the other Rishonim are saying? That simply doesn't work.

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    6. From Encyclopedia Judaica by Prof Joseph Dan

      ...Sasportas’ book is the fiercest attack upon Shabbateanism written during the early years of the movement. However,
      I. *Tishby and R. Shatz have proved that the published work
      does not reflect his attitude during the period before Shabbetai Ẓevi’s apostasy. By comparing Sasportas’ original copies with the version prepared for publication, they demonstrated that in many instances he falsified his own letters, changing phrases and adding passages to show that his opposition was far more thorough and resolute from the beginning than it really was, and he glossed over his own hesitation and half-belief in Shabbetai Ẓevi during the months in which the movement reached its peak. The full version of Ẓiẓat Novel Ẓevi was first published by I. Tishby from the only complete manuscript in 1954. For a long time, however, it was known only in the shortened version (Kiẓẓur Ẓiẓat Novel Ẓevi) printed in Amsterdam in 1737, by Jacob Emden in Altona in 1757, and lastly in Odessa in 1867.

      Delete
    7. IIRC gershon shalom also wrote that rav sasportas engaged in a bit of revisionist history.

      Delete
    8. @ Michael Tzadok: I will ignore the topic regarding Saspurtas and Sefer Tzizis Novel Tzvi as it is difficult to debate a topic when one has studied the sefer and another leaves it to what he can find using Google.

      It is true that I post anonymously but I for one and everyone who I asked over Shabbos has never heard of David Sedley so much for a "recognized Rav".

      Now I am afraid you my friend are the one with a reading comprehension problem. At no point did I ever give the slightest indication that Rav Shach supported the Rebbe to the contrary, I said his position has proven true. I took exception to you stating that Rav Shach was waiting to see if the Rebbe was indeed Moshiach... he of course did no such thing and was one of the first to call him out on the issue.

      As to Sedley's paper, why do you hide and divert attention away from every question that is posed to you. Do you not have the answers? He clearly misunderstood a simple and basic Rashi. I will re-post my questions here... please try to be honest and reply to them without your habit of name calling and changing the topic. Please respond to these questions..

      For starters David Sedley quotes Rashi 14:31 regarding the Yad HaShem and says that Rashi takes it literally. I would suggest that you look the Rashi up yourself instead of just quoting for this article. That is NOT was Rashi says, Chas Vishalom! Rashi says that Yad mamash but he goes on to say that it needs to be taken in the context of the Pasuk and here it means Gevurah , strength not the hand itself!

      Sedley then goes on to quote R' Yishaya di-Trani who says "When G-d appears to people He takes the form of a person". Again a complete misunderstanding of what it says. Of course it doesn't mean that G-d takes the actual physical for of man but as the Rambam says He takes the form of man in the "vision" of the Nevuah and not C"V in a physical sense!

      The rest of the so called proofs deal with accepting parts of the Torah as metaphorical or not and has nothing to do with a corporal understanding of HeShem Yisbarach.

      So yes R' Moshe Taku was alone... but even with your understanding you contradict yourself "Menai Ubai". On the one hand you write that it is impossible for all the Gedolim to have been mislead about Kabbalah for the past 600 years but you accept (based on your understanding) that many of the Rishonim and according to you nearly all of the Geonim were mislead to believe that G-d is corporal! Can you explain this obvious contradiction? I would hope you agree that belief in a corporal G-d is Kefirah.

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    9. Now I am afraid you my friend are the one with a reading comprehension problem. At no point did I ever give the slightest indication that Rav Shach supported the Rebbe to the contrary, I said his position has proven true. I took exception to you stating that Rav Shach was waiting to see if the Rebbe was indeed Moshiach... he of course did no such thing and was one of the first to call him out on the issue.
      Still showing you clearly don't understand what I wrote, which is was that Rav Shach was always in the oppostion to the Rebbe. Thank you for once again demonstrating the problem with reading comprehension, even when you are given a clarification.

      So yes R' Moshe Taku was alone... but even with your understanding you contradict yourself "Menai Ubai". On the one hand you write that it is impossible for all the Gedolim to have been mislead about Kabbalah for the past 600 years but you accept (based on your understanding) that many of the Rishonim and according to you nearly all of the Geonim were mislead to believe that G-d is corporal! Can you explain this obvious contradiction? I would hope you agree that belief in a corporal G-d is Kefirah.

      No he was not alone. Again your reading comprehension problem disables you from understanding the sources. However moving on from that I do not contradict myself. My point was and has always been that what is permitted for one to believe may change over time. When many(admittedly not all) of the Geonim and Rishonim had the possibility of some sort of corpeality, this was not a problem. Even the Ramban and the Ravaad rule that, it did not make them kofrim. Now today holding such a belief is clearly forbidden and doing so gains one the halakhic status of a kofer. Likewise with the Zohar. In previous generations it was permitted to doubt the Zohar. In our generation such a belief is forbidden and will garner one the halakhic status of a kofer(or apikoros depending on who you ask).

      I will ignore the topic regarding Saspurtas and Sefer Tzizis Novel Tzvi as it is difficult to debate a topic when one has studied the sefer and another leaves it to what he can find using Google.

      So to be clear we have settled that the Sefer HaBahir was authentic(as you abruptly dropped that subject when presented with evidence). And now we have settled that Shabbtai Tzvi was not universally accepted and that Saspurtus exaggerated both his own objection to Tzvi as well as other's acceptance(since you now want to abruptly drop that subject as well). I am noticing a bit of a pattern. However if you would like more evidence I offer these two articles from the Encyclopedia Judaica, which I am fairly certain you cannot find on google, and which also contradict your claims.

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    10. For starters the issue related to reading comprehension seems to be more of poorly constructed sentences than a reading issue. It is far from clear if the "opposition" you referred to was to the Rebbe or to the "Gedolim"."

      I see this as no different than the last Lubavitcher Rebbe. Many Gedolim(and again not all, Rav Shach being an example of opposition) waited with baited breath to see if this Rav really was the Messiah he claimed to be. When it turned out that he was not, they shrugged their shoulders and moved on."

      To the next point, you are soser yourself menai ubai! You can't on the one hand say it is impossible that we all got it wrong for the past 600 years and at the same time say that (in your mind, though not a shred of evidence) "most of the Geonim and all of the Rishonim) believed in corporeality for hundreds of years. It has nothijg to do with if they are considered Kofrim or not! That is the Stira... think about it.

      As far as Sefer Habahir you must be confusing me with someone else,a s I never once discussed it. But since you ask, no I don't accept it nor did Rabbeinu Manoach, Meilli who said it is a "Mitzva to burn it".

      As to Shabsai Tzvi, I will be happy to engage in that discussion once you learn Sefer Tzitis Novel Tzvi... for now it is enough to conclude that I am relying on an excepted Gadol BaTorah from his time and published by Rav Yaakov Emden and you are relying on the Encyclopedia Judaica ... vehameivin yovin!

      Notice you have not answered any of the questions that I posed on David Sedley's paper... yes, an interesteing pattern indeed.. I will re-post for a third time...

      As to Sedley's paper, why do you hide and divert attention away from every question that is posed to you. Do you not have the answers? He clearly misunderstood a simple and basic Rashi. I will re-post my questions here... please try to be honest and reply to them without your habit of name calling and changing the topic. Please respond to these questions..

      For starters David Sedley quotes Rashi 14:31 regarding the Yad HaShem and says that Rashi takes it literally. I would suggest that you look the Rashi up yourself instead of just quoting for this article. That is NOT was Rashi says, Chas Vishalom! Rashi says that Yad mamash but he goes on to say that it needs to be taken in the context of the Pasuk and here it means Gevurah , strength not the hand itself!

      Sedley then goes on to quote R' Yishaya di-Trani who says "When G-d appears to people He takes the form of a person". Again a complete misunderstanding of what it says. Of course it doesn't mean that G-d takes the actual physical for of man but as the Rambam says He takes the form of man in the "vision" of the Nevuah and not C"V in a physical sense!

      The rest of the so called proofs deal with accepting parts of the Torah as metaphorical or not and has nothing to do with a corporal understanding of HeShem Yisbarach.

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    11. For starters David Sedley quotes Rashi 14:31 regarding the Yad HaShem and says that Rashi takes it literally. I would suggest that you look the Rashi up yourself instead of just quoting for this article. That is NOT was Rashi says, Chas Vishalom! Rashi says that Yad mamash but he goes on to say that it needs to be taken in the context of the Pasuk and here it means Gevurah , strength not the hand itself!

      Ok so you can't understand a simple Rashi. But don't take my word for it, let's look at Rabbeinu Artscroll, which was translated by arguablly better Rabbanim then you or I. It says on the Rashi there:
      את היד הגדלה - THE GREAT HAND. את הגבורה הגדולה שעשתה ידו של הקדוש ברוך הוא0 The great might that the hand of the Holy One, Blessed is He, performed. והרבה לשונות נופלים אל לשון יד- The term "hand" can have many meanings, וכלן לשון יד ממש- but all of them derive form the literal sense of the word hand. והמפרשו יתקן הלשון אחר ענין הדבור- He comes to explain it must must adapt it's meaning to the context.

      I see no reason to read this Rashi anyway that what Rav Sedley suggested in his article. It would appear that you once again have demonstrated your pronounced reading comprehension problem. Rashi's meaning is clear, The great might that the hand of the Holy One Blessed is He, performed. It is a literal hand, the interpretation then falls on what it means by Great Hand.

      Are you now going to insist that the tranlsators of the Artscroll also got it wrong? That it doesn't mean the great might performed by the hand of HaShem? That is what they are saying.

      Now you again say that Rav Sedley misunderstand R' Yishaya di-Trani. Since you couldn't understand the Rashi properly why should I trust you, over him in this?

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    12. This is unbelievable! Artscroll supporting my point exactly and not Sedley's misunderstanding! So lets have a little Shiur and we will leave it for others to determine who is right and who is wrong...

      את היד הגדלה

      THE GREAT HAND. את הגבורה הגדולה שעשתה ידו של הקדוש ברוך הוא0 The great might that the hand of the Holy One, Blessed is He, performed.

      what does YAD HAGIDOLAH mean? It means ES HAGIVURAH - the great might (not C"V hand itself)

      הרבה לשונות נופלים אל לשון יד
      The term "hand" can have many meanings,

      וכלן לשון יד ממש- but all of them derive form the literal sense of the word hand.

      PLEASE READ CAREFULLY... they are all DERIVED from the LITERAL SENSE OF THE WORD HAND (not C"V meaning His HAND MAMASH!)

      והמפרשו יתקן הלשון אחר ענין הדבור

      He comes to explain it must must adapt it's meaning to the context.

      READ AGAIN CAREFULLY, Rashi says that the word YAD must be ADAPTED OT THE CONTEXT... and what is that context here? GEVURAH as Rashi states.

      Now do you understand? As said before Sedley misunderstands di-Trani in the same way. I welcome your response and anyone else who can read this simple Rashi.

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    13. I understand that you are trying to anachornistically read this Rashi in light of the Rambam, and that you have a profound reading comprehension problem. In truth you do violence to the text. You have to force it into the interpretation that you want.

      And you have to conveniently leave out half of the Rashi, skipping entirely, that the hand of HaKadosh Barukh Hu did. So yes I understand. You are quite obviously a troll that is willing to lie to make your point. The only question I have left for you is, did you create your account just to Troll this site? Seeing you have never commented before and the account is less than a month old?

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    14. Not sure what your conspiracy theory is... but you really need to try a little less Gaavah and try to learn...

      Please try to explain this any other way since it was you that quoted Artscroll

      but all of them derive form the literal sense of the word hand.

      וכלן לשון יד ממש

      PLEASE READ CAREFULLY... they are all DERIVED from the LITERAL SENSE OF THE WORD HAND (not C"V meaning His HAND MAMASH!)

      According to you why doesn't it say that it means His hand literally?

      Why don't you ask R' Yaakov Hillel and see how he learns this Rashi... I am curious if it is just his talmidim or he himself, I would tend to doubt it.

      Delete
  35. Discussion of origin of Zohar transferred to another post



    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/zohar-was-not-originally-in-form-we.html

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  36. "Does it make sense to you that God would cause many, if not most of the great sages and the regular jews who followed them for hundreds and hundreds of years to make such an egregious error? Is there a precedent for that? Is God so capricious?"

    truth be told, after the Holocaust, i wouldn't ask any questions about what God is capable of doing.

    just sayin.

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  37. @Ben, being far to young to discuss the holocaust I can only say that, historically there have been, unfortunately, many similar episodes starting with miztrayim. There has never, to my knowledge been a situation wherein nearly the entire Jewish people, for hundreds of years, had a mistaken belief as to what constitutes true torah judaism.

    Does that mean it is impossible? No. Does that mean that a heavy burden of proof lays on those who claim it is currently happening? I should think so. Has that proof been adequately provided by citations such as tohar hayichud? To my mind, absolutely not.

    One other point that bothers me is why tohar hayichud is published anonymously. How do we know that it is the work of an erlicher Jew and not a heretic or someone trying to undermine Judaism? We seem to differentiate it from works by non-observant academic scholars but on what basis?

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    Replies
    1. Moshe

      i not getting into a discussion of toahr hayichud, about which i know nothing. nor am i getting involved in the discussion about disagreements between the gra and the ari"zl, another subject about which i know nothing.

      however the claim, the tanana, that God couldn't allow a mistaken belief to become in am yisrael, strikes me as weak (at best). god could and has allowed plenty of things. he allowed a huge minority (according to historians) to become karaites. he allowed the majority to leave torah judaism entirely. and even if one does believe in the claim that rashbi wrote the zohar, than God allowed the greatest of the greatest rishonim to live and learn and pasken halacha without it.

      you can play these "how could God allow" scenarios all day long. i am too much of post modernist to put any stock in these thought games. in the end, all you are doing is making a statement about yourself, not God.

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    2. The issue of G-d not allowing a mistaken belief is apparently a major factor in not modifying halacha based on recently discovered manuscripts. Such a view is held by such gadolim as Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yosef Soloveitchik!

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    3. where do the Rav and RMF state this?

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    4. I believe it is in the following article which I can't access now. Alternatively I heard it from one of Rabbi Rakefet's tapes

      Rav Moshe Bleich’s essay “The Role of Manuscripts in Halachic Decision Making,” Tradition 27:2:22-55.

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    5. Again, you continue to confuse Halacha and Hashkafa

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    6. Again, you continue to confuse Halacha and Hashkafa

      I'm not certain of the point you are trying to make here. It would seem that you are saying that one cannot mix the two, but in some ways that doesn't make sense. There hashkafot that are halakhically out of bounds of Jewish thought. One cannot believe in multiple deities and be considered anything less than a kofer.

      It would appear that your main objection is to the fact that the Gedolim of recent generations have ruled that your particular hashkafa fits this category of unpermitted hashkafa.

      So while certain hashkafot have never been subject to halakhic psak Din, say hashgacha pratit, others have. Rambam's thirteen principles, and the various discussions in the Rishonim that occured around them show that the Gedolim have the ability to make psak din concerning certain hashkafot. In his generation it was the 13 ikkarim. In more recent generations it was concerning the acceptance of Kabbalah as part of our oral Torah.

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    7. Let me try to explain it to you again then... and the fact that you keep repeating that there is P'sak regarding Hashkafa does not make it so. The fact that Rav Moshe said that you don't change HALACHA because of a manuscript that was found is because the PSAK HALACHA is decided by the Chachamim. The Gemarah says AIn Somchinan al Bas Kol... why? Torah Lo Bashamayim He. That is regarding a Halacha... all the Psak in the world can't change a FACT... Hashkafa is fact based. What HaKadosh Baruch Hu is or is not is fact and is not subject to the rules of P'sak (See Chazon Ish).

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    8. So if a Jew wants to believe in all the gods of Hinduism, that is OK? If a Jew doesn't believe in the coming of Mashiah that is Ok? If a Jew today believes that G-d has a physical body in literal understanding of the Torah, that is OK? If a Jew doesn't believe all the words of the prophets this is OK? If a Jew doesn't believe that the entire Torah as we now have it was given to Moses, but rather that it developed over time is that OK? If a Jew doesn't believe that G-d knows all of his thoughts is that OK? If a Jew doesn't believe in the Resurrection of the Dead, is that OK?

      In all of these things there seems to be psak. What is your proof that there isn't?

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    9. You seem to keep missing the point. Of course s Jew must follow the Torah, it is what defines us. If a Jew believes in Avodah Zarah they are committing a sin against a very basic Mitzvas Asseh and Lo Saaseh, one that is Yehrog Vaal Yaavor. P'sak Halacha lives in the world of Mitzvos and Averos, it does not live in the world of "philosophical view" with the rules that apply to Psak (Acharei Rabbim Lehatos etc). FOr example, lets look at a different Hashkafic view, Torah only versus Torah Im Derech Ertez. I would be absurd to say that since the majority of the Torah world agrees with Torah only that people as a rule can't go to work because it is against the Psak. That is a Hashkafic issue that falls outside of the confines of P'sak Halacha and its rules.

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    10. So then psak Halakha does live in the world of hashkafa, and since our Rabbis have ruled that your views are kefira, there need not be much more said about it.

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    11. No, the Halacha applies to P'sak, therefore whether one can count a Mikubal to a Minyan or eat his Shchita is a question that requires a Psak Halacha... As to whether to accept Kabbalistic concepts or any other Hashkafa is not subject to Psak.

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    12. Yes. That is how our Rabbis ruled. You really expect me, or anyone else to take your anonymous opinion over that of the entire Eida HaChareidit, Rav Kook, Rav Hertzog, Rav Kanievsky, Rav Eliashiv, and on and on?

      Delete
  38. I would also like to say that I am interested in continuation of the initial topic of this post (a possible machlokes between the Gra and the AriZL. And I hope that this extremely passionate and important, but also I believe off topic, discursion will not prevent Rabbi Tzadok from continuing this series

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  39. I think that there needs to be clarification about what people mean when they say "heretic" or "apikorsus."

    I don't believe that Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky literally held that the DorDaim were apikorsim. If someone from the DorDaim was in a serious life or death situation, I do not believe for a second that R'Chaim would say "let him die."

    This is not like denying the Oral Torah, it is saying that X is not part of the Oral Torah. A person who changes a girsa in a Gemara because he believes that it is incorrect might be wrong in his change, but even if he is wrong he is not an apikorus.

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  40. time for me to quote another one of my books. professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz met rav kook when the former moved here (note: no need to flame leibowitz; we all know who he was, thank you). he asked rav kook how he (rav kook) reconciled kabbalah and the rambam. rav kook (a talmudist, halachist, master of kabbalah par excellence) replied that God sent the world a gift in the rambam. whenever anyone goes past the borders set by the rambam, he knows that he went too far.

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  41. Regarding Sefer HaBahir (From Tohar HaYihud)

    Kabbalistic ideas of this kind surfaced in Provence in the form of the xidad xtq ("The
    Book Bahir"), which the kabbalists attributed to Rabbi Nehunya ben Hakkanah. They called it
    the “Midrash of Rabbi Nehunya ben Hakkanah" (and it is by this name that Ramban refers to it
    in his Torah commentary). Its appearance evoked violent opposition. Rabbenu Meir ben
    Shimeon (ilirnd) of Narbonne (1190-1263), author of the zexe‘nd xtq on the Talmud, and the
    teacher of Rabbenu Manoah of Narbonne (author of dgepnd xtq on Rambam's Mishneh Torah),
    was an elder colleague of Ramban. Both were pupils of Rabbenu Nathan ben Meir. With the
    approval of his uncle, the great Rabbenu Meshullam, author of the dnlydd xtq, Rabbenu Meir
    wrote, as follows:
    I shall record here, the words of the letter that I wrote some time ago to refute the
    words of those who speak perversion about G-d and about the sages who walk in the
    path of the unblemished Torah and those who revere Hashem. They (i.e., those who
    speak perversion) are wise in their own eyes, invent ideas and incline toward heresy
    (zepin). They imagine they are bringing proof for their views from the statements of
    Aggadoth that they interpret according to their [heretical] error. G-d forbid! The
    intent of the Sages who made those statements was not in accord with their view and
    intent (i.e., not in accord with the view and intent of those who incline toward
    heretical error). May G-d approve our effort for good, and may He grant us proper
    instruction. ... Amen, Amen, Selah. ...

    It is already some time now that fools have gone forth with distortions concerning the
    [true] faith in G-d and concerning the Prayer and the Blessings that were arranged by
    the Scholars in Council. These distorted views have no root or basis either in the
    Torah of Moshe, or the Prophets and the Writings, or in the Talmud as edited for us
    by Rabbina and Rav Ashi -- in a word, not in the Torah and not in the Received
    Instruction nor in Reason. ... These fools have decided not to render thanks, prayer
    and blessing to the Eternally Pre-existent G-d, Who is without beginning or end. Woe
    unto their souls! What happened to them and what did they see concerning this! They
    have contemned the Holy One of Israel; they are turned away backward in their
    treason. They have caused themselves to wander away from the Eternally Pre-existent
    G-d of the universe, the Eternal Divine Refuge, without beginning and end, beside
    Whom there is no G-d, as many Scriptural verses testify: "I am the first, and I am the
    last, and beside Me there is no G-d" (Isaiah 44:6); "And You remain the same, and
    Your years are endless" (Psalms 102:28); and many other Scriptural verses like these.

    He is G-d in heaven above and in the earth beneath, there is none else beside Him,
    and there is no other alongside of Him. He is a true Unity (izn‘ cg‘), a perfect (i.e.,
    absolute) Unity (dninz zecg‘) without association and combination of Sefiroth (ila
    zexitq sexive sezy) Our G-d, blessed be He, is the Cause of all causes (zeaq¦ d lk zaq¦
    zelr¦ d lk zlr¦ e) the Maker of great things which He brought into existence out of
    nothing (ex nihilo, oi‘n yi m‘ivnd) by His Will alone. He spoke and they came into
    existence, He created them, and when they stood forth, He called them (i.e., to their
    functions). To Him it is fitting to give thanks, to bless and extol Him, to pray to Him
    and to humble ourselves before Him, and to exalt Him and call Him in the
    Thanksgivings and Blessings "Master of all and Creator of all" -- not to His creatures
    (i.e., the Sefiroth) who have a beginning and end. He watches over and rules all, in
    general and in detail, as the Torah testifies: "For all His ways are justice"
    (Deuteronomy 32:4). Nothing at all is concealed from Him. ...

    ReplyDelete
  42. (2)
    It is wrong to associate with Him anything else; for it is improper to associate
    creature with its Creator, [created] substance with Him Who formed it, what has been
    originated with the Originator, and to say that His Unity is not absolute (dnly) but
    that together with them, all is one. For all that is and exists beside Him, He created
    them and brought them into existence out of absolutely nothing pre-existent -- from
    the smallest creature to the greatest. "And whoever associates the name of G-d with
    something else will be uprooted from the world" "(Sanhedrin 63a). This is the proper
    Emunah (Faith) for all Israelites of religion to believe.
    Whoever strays from this is a denier (xtek) and a heretic (oin). What need is there for
    lengthy discussion of the opinions of the fools who direct all their prayers and
    blessings to divinities who, they, say are created and emanated, who have a beginning
    and end. For they say in their foolishness that whatever is called "first" and "last" has
    a beginning and an end, and it is written (Isaiah 44:6): "I am the first, and I am the
    last, and beside Me there is no G-d." So have we found in one of the books of their error (i.e., of their heresy) which they call Bahir (xida), and so too have some of our
    scholars heard from their mouths. They have said that one should pray in the day to
    one created divinity and at night to another divinity who is superior to the former, but
    who is likewise created, and on Holy Days to yet another. During the Ten Days of
    Repentance they have increased perplexity and backsliding by praying to another
    created divinity, and to other created divinities below the former during the rest of the
    year. They have made many distinctions in prayer (i.e., many distinctions in the
    Divinity to whom their prayers are addressed) [the next word is indistinct in the
    manuscript] their deficient understanding. They shall be an abhorring unto all flesh;
    the worm of their folly shall not die, nor shall the fire of their foolishness be
    quenched. For they have desired many divinities, and say in their deficient
    understanding that all of them (i.e., the Sefiroth) are connected with one another and
    all [together] are one.

    ReplyDelete
  43. (3)

    These fools do not let their ears hear what they declare with mouths. For in truth the
    G-d in Whom we ought to believe and to Whom we should pray, Whom we should
    serve, bless and thank is One. If they say that He is more than One, then they deny the
    Torah which says: 'Hashem our G-d, Hashem is One' (Deut. 6:4) and: '... there is none
    else beside Him' (Deut. 4:35). If they say He is One, why do they divide their prayer,
    [praying] to one during the day, and to another one at night? Why do they distinguish
    [in addressing their prayers] between Holy Days and weekdays? Why do they
    differentiate between the Ten Days of Repentance and the rest of the year? How are
    all these distinctions appropriate in relation to Him?
    In truth they should know that G-d is One, and His Oneness is from infinity, without
    beginning or end, without change, as it is written: "I the L-rd change not" (Malachi
    3:6). Therefore He is One before the Sefiroth were created and originated, for they
    have a beginning, and [these fools] also admit that the Sefiroth have a beginning and
    end, and yet it is to them (i.e., the Sefiroth) that their hearts are directed in their
    blessings and in their prayers. Must they not recognize the fallacy of their statements?
    However, their eyes are bedaubed that they cannot see, and their hearts that they
    cannot understand. The end of the matter: all their words are as the chaff before the
    wind and as stubble, empty words without substance; demolition and destruction of
    the Torah; heresy and denial

    If what they say be true, that it is not proper to bless and to pray to the Eternally
    Pre-existent G-d Who is without beginning or end, the Cause of all causes, Whom
    they call in their terminology "seq oi‘" ("En Sof," the Infinite One), and that whoever
    does so is in their eyes zerihpa uvwn "a destroyer of shoots" (i.e., a heretic), and does
    not deserve to see the pleasantness of salvation reserved for those who know G-d and
    fear Him, then how can any intelligent person imagine that this was not made clear in
    the perfect Torah that Hashem gave us for everlasting life, in which it is written:
    "Unto thee it was shown that thou mightest know that Hashem He is G-d, there is
    none else beside Him" (Deut. 4:35). For how are we to know what Hashem has not
    spoken (i.e., has not mentioned in the Torah)? Where, then, has He shown us that we
    might know all these things? And how is it that all this was not made clear to us by.

    ReplyDelete
  44. (4)

    Rabbenu Hakkadosh (yecwd epiax) who arranged (edited) the Mishnayoth, and by
    Rabbina and Rav Ashi who closed and wrote the entire Talmud that we possess,
    which [two works, i.e., the Mishnah and the Talmud] are the main dt lray dxez (Oral
    Torah)? How did they leave all Israel to err and to be banished from ‘ad mler (the
    World to Come) as zerihpa oivvwn, "destroyers of shoots"?
    Woe unto the eyes that see such [words], woe unto the ears that hear such [words],
    woe unto the generation in whose days such [heresy] has arisen! How is it that those
    who declare the declarations of Hashem and are clothed in His fear have not gathered
    strength [to condemn such heresy]? How is it that the sages of the generation (inkg
    xecd) have refrained from speaking out? See ye, is it for nought that the troubles and
    the yoke of exile and the [evil] decrees have assumed unusual proportions against
    us? Is there in this time of ours among all the vain beliefs of the gentiles regarding
    the Unity of G-d anything worse than these [heresies]?
    If they should say that one who blesses [G-d] and prays to G-d, the Cause of all
    causes, the Creator of all, is [not] banished from the world [to come], and does attain
    eternal life, and is not called a "destroyer of shoots" (i.e., a heretic), but they (i.e., the
    kabbalists) think in their foolishness that this is the faith of the multitude, whereas
    they (i.e., the kabbalists) know the secret of G-d and are of those who fear Him, and
    hope to rise to a higher level than the others through this belief of theirs, then these
    fools abandon what is even according to them certain and adopt what is uncertain.
    What is certain is that through this [heresy] they and their souls become desolate, and
    they descend to the lowest level, contrary to their hope and wrong intent. The end of
    the matter: every intelligent person is obligated to reject their words of folly.

    Now we have written all this before you, our Rabbis of every city, in order to reveal
    all these matters, because we fear the signatures of those whom they have misled to
    sign for them. Moreover, we have been told that they have forged the signatures of
    many scholars of this land, who really did not sign. In this way many of the land may
    go astray after them, and through many deceits they will boast saying: "In the land of
    scholars of Torah and Wisdom we have found strength and power" -- lest they should
    say: "our hand is exalted." Heaven forbid, Heaven forbid such wickedness, to incline
    toward these words of heresy! Such as this shall not come to pass in Israel!
    We have heard that a book has been composed for them which they call Bahir
    ('Bright') mentioned above, in which they see no light. This book has come into our
    hands, and we have found that they attribute it to R. Nehunya ben Hakkanah. G-d
    forbid (Chas V'Shalom)! It is utterly untrue!

    ReplyDelete
  45. (5)

    That righteous man never stumbled by means of
    it, and was not numbered with the transgressors. The language of that book and all its
    terms indicate that it is by one unacquainted with literary form and style. It contains
    words of heresy and denial (Divrei Minus v'kfirah) in many places.

    We have also heard that in addition a commentary has been written for them on the
    Song of Songs, on Sefer Yetzirah and on Hechaloth. This commentary contains words
    written in the mode of their heresy (Vnuchtivu devarim bederech menusam). Also a commentary
    on Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) and on other [Scriptural] books. Inquire and search well,
    and if they (i.e., these books) are in your midst, remove them from the land so that
    this shall be no stumblingblock unto you. Dig them out as we too have removed those
    found in our midst. And may G-d in His mercy send us a redeemer and gather
    together the scattered of Judah and Israel. May He remove from the midst of His
    people their doubts and perplexities, and turn the heart of fathers to children, and the
    heart of children to their fathers.
    We have written all this with the approval of our master, the great Rav, the light of
    Israel, our teacher R. Meshullam son of the great Rav Moshe, may G-d protect him
    (Baal Sefer HaHashlama), the author of Sefer Hahashlamah, who was the teacher and uncle of
    the writer, Rabbenu Meir ben R. Shimeon Hamieili), and the other sages of the land,
    some of whom knew privately the root of the matter, and what caused us to write [this
    letter].
    "And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that
    turn the many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Amen,
    Amen, Selah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you(or the supposed Talmid Hakham) that wrote Tohar HaYichud will read and answer the Shomer Emunim, then we will talk.

      Delete
    2. You asked about Sefer HabaHir and I replied with the Reshonim... again divert when you have no answer...

      Delete
    3. No you do not respond with Rishonim. You respond with Tohar HaYichud. You haven't read the rishonim inside yourself. Even the Tohar HaYichud here is simply parroting Rav Kapach's Milchemet HaShem, as I have already shown above his objections were disproven in the sefer Emunat HaShem.

      Delete
    4. So now it is clear... Firstly, I have the Meilli and have learned it inside... as a matter of fact I have a copy of the the manuscript that was found with the Reshonim printed from the Vatican archives.

      But here it is very telling... you claim that Tohar HaYihud is simply quoting Rav Kafach

      "Even the Tohar HaYichud here is simply parroting Rav Kapach's Milchemet HaShem, as I have already shown above his objections were disproven in the sefer Emunat HaShem"...

      but nowhere will you find mention of the Meilli in Sefer Milchemas HaShem... why? Because the Sefer Hameoros of the Meili was only found some 40 years ago in the Vatican archives , how could Rav Kafach have quoted it if it was found after his pure Neshama left this world?

      SO, I am happy to continue to engage in a real and HONEST dialogue, but it requires honesty and reading of the sources not just superficial skimming (like you and Sedley have done to Rashi) and google search, otherwise this is simply bittul Torah...

      Delete
    5. One or two Rishonim do not make an accepted view. Our Rabbanim rejected that view and declared it heresy. The honest conversation stops there.

      Delete
    6. "Our Rabbanim"? I told you that I explicitly asked this question to Rav Yaakov ZT"L and he said just the opposite. For that matter I asked Rav Rudderman ZT"L, Rav Yaakov Weinberg ZT"L as well as a number of other Gelolai HaDor of the time (I assume I significantly older than you) who told me the same thing... while for the most part they didn't agree with the position, to the last one they all said it is certainly not Kefirah and there is no Chiyuv to accept it. Someone even posted this very same idea from Rav Ovadiya Yoseh (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah).

      It is exactly these types of wild generalization statements (like most of the most of the Geonim and many of the Rishonim.. where at best you can point to one obscure Reshon) that leads one to believe you are dishonest in your arguments.

      Delete
    7. And I told you, I don't believe you. It is written in his sefer. So unless you can produce a written statement from him, stating that he retracted, I see no reason to believe you over a sefer he published.

      And since you cannot be relied on there, likewise I don't rely on you for what you say in the names of other Gedolim either.

      Delete
  46. From: Critic

    torah truth:

    I would love to get a copy of the Meili. Is there any way for me to contact you offline?

    And you are 100% correct - R Tzadok totally ignores any points we make. He refuses to acknowledge that there was opposition to the Zohar or Bahir or that the Sefer Yetizrah is not kabbalisitic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because you cannot prove your points.

      What proof do you have that the Sefer Yetzirah is not Kabbalistic? The Geonim believed it to be. Rav Sherrira Gaon, Hai Gaon, the various Rishonim. Now you come along and offer no proof, but say poof it's not Kabbalistic and I'm supposed to believe you?

      I acknowledge that there WAS opposition to the Zohar and the Bahir. However that opposition ceased. There is no valid opposition to those works today, and the gedolim has ruled that anyone who does not hold them to be authoritative is a kofer.

      You can't even provide a serious opposition, in what little you do have. Of those Achronim you quote, they speak with two voices, whether Rav Yaakov Emden, or the Chasam Sofer. That has been pointed out in it's place or any other. You have Yachya Kapach, who was placed in a life long Cherem by all the major Rabbis of Israel AND Yemen.

      Of the Rishonim, you have a couple fairly minor Rishonim... Who's views were ultimately rejected.

      Further you have demonstrated that you can't even read a straight up Rashi. I'm supposed to take your word that you understand anything else?

      Delete
    2. @Critic... I had parts of it translated and posted on the Mesora website a couple of years ago together with a picture of the Ksav Yad... The Ksav is hard to read, I will see what I can do... Perhaps we can communicate through Mesora.org , though I an unaffiliated with it.

      Delete
    3. ... now there is the kettle calling the pot black. Would anyone else like to chime in on how to understand this Rashi.. I am most curious.

      Delete
    4. Oh so you are Moshe Ben Chaim. Got it.

      Why did you need to have parts of it translated, couldn't you read it yourself?

      Delete
    5. You make me laugh... no I'm not Moshe Ben Chaim, I am me... I had it translated for Moshe's blog...

      Delete
  47. Both the Author of this article, and the Host of this blog, seem to have an in depth understanding of how to approach and guide the ongoing discussion, they also demonstrate great amount of humility. beautiful article, blog, and responses to all comments.
    Hatzlocho rabba.

    ReplyDelete
  48. This Blog's author was gracious enough to invite my words regarding this recent Zoharic/Kabbala debate, which cannot be decided based on a halachik mechanism of "majority rule". My thoughts grew to more than a page in length, so I have posted it here for those of you interested in reviewing my thoughts: http://www.mesora.org/ZoharsDeviation.html

    I also cannot seem to subscribe here, as I see no "email" link on my Mac/Safari browser. Therefore, I am happy to continue on the Mesora website in the Discussions tab: http://www.mesora.org/Discussions under the forum: Judaism's Fundamentals>Zohar & Kabbala: The Heresy

    May we each cleave to emess, abandon falsehood when we realize it, and adhere meticulously to God's words. May we each show kavod to God's habriyos and learn in order to help others, not for self-aggrandizement, and certainly not l'kantare. may God show us all His intelligent truths.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Every idea in Torah must reflect God's brilliance. I wish to share a new article on last week's Parsha I just completed. I feel this will increase, or at least enhance, our demand for intelligence, perfection, precision and beauty in all areas of true Torah: http://www.mesora.org/2matzahs.html


    ReplyDelete
  50. @R. Tzadok: as it means that G-d is removed from the world. Notice the neo-Rambamists here claim that such must be the case

    "...there being nothing in what exists besides God, may He be exalted, and the totality of the things He has made. For this totality includes everything comprised in what exists except only Him." (MN I:34)

    "God, may He be exalted, is not a faculty subsisting in the body of the world, but is separate from all parts of the world." (MN I:72)

    R. Tzadok, you may be getting confused again. The Rambam clearly seems to hold that Hashem controls this Universe, but His essence is not present here.

    The Kabbalists and Chassidim may get confused in this matter because they ignore the Rambam's advice in MN 1:34 that one must study natural sciences before divine science. Applying MN 1:34, and MN 2:30 (time itself was created), and by studying 21st century cosmology that confirms the MN, it is apparent that the space-time of this Universe only existed for a finite length of time. The Creator of this Universe existed before this Universe, and therefore the Creator is not a physical object, nor does He exist in the space-time of this Universe, nor does He occupy space so that its necessary for Him to contract Himself for this Universe to exist.

    ReplyDelete

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