Friday, January 18, 2013

Unity of G-d vs belief in His physicality - Rav Tzadok

This is a very fascinating essay dealing with understanding the mitzva of yichud Hashem and the difference between a philosophical understanding and the kabbalistic one. He then relates this difference to differing concepts of Divine Providence (hashgocha protis). This leads into a discussion of teaching kabbala and why it was permitted to publish the Zohar and other kabbalistic works.

Rav Tzadok (Sefer Zichronos - Mitzva of Yichud HaShem): There is a positive commandment concerning the unity of G-d. This is learned from the verse (Devarim 6): Hear O Israel the L-rd our G-d the L-rd is One. The explanation of this “hearing” is understanding. This idea is explained in Chovas Halevavos (Shaar HaYichud) that one does not fulfill his religious obligation by merely reciting with his mouth that G-d is unitary while in his heart he doesn’t truly view G-d as truly one. The Rambam includes in this mitzva of unity the obligation to accept that G-d has no body or physicality and that He has no material aspects.  Similarly we find that the Chovas Halevavos explains that the faith in G-d’s unity means that a person knows how to distinguish between true unity and a transient one. The Rambam(Hilchos Teshuva 3:7) writes: Five are classified as heretics, Those who say the world is without a ruler, or that there are two or that there is a single deity but that that He has a body and physical form or that He is not alone in being the first and creator of everything else. [The Raavad understands this to mean a belief in pre-existing matter] or one who treats stars or other entities as intermediaries to G-d.

However in my opinion – concerning the avoidance of ascribing physicality to G-d – there is a different specific prohibition and it should be counted as a separate negative commandment. The prohibition against physicality is found in Devarim (4:15): One should be exceedingly careful in realizing that G-d has no form… It is  well known (Eiruvin 96) that the language of “taking care” means an actual Torah prohibition…. This particular verse is not a prohibition against making images but rather a prohibition concerning thinking or believing that G-d has some type of physical form….

This issue of avoiding attributing physicality to G-d is discussed in great deal by the sages of earlier generations in their writings. In fact one of the prime reason that the Rambam wrote the Moreh Nevuchim was because of this issue. The reason this is such a concern is that the literal understanding of many verses and discussions found in Agada seems to indicate that G-d does have some physical characteristics. It is especially needed in the middle ages because many observant Jews believed that G-d was actually physical. Others, while rejecting the idea of a fully physical G-d, nevertheless, viewed that He was made of light or wind or other lesser physical material – which still violates the prohibition of physicality. This is discussed in detail by the Rambam’s son – Avraham – in his letter defending his father’s Moreh Nevuchim. There he says that whoever believes even this lesser type of phsyciality is a heretic and has no portion in the World to Come. In this he is simply expressing the views of his father – the Rambam. … In contrast, while the Ramban and Raavad agree that it is a sin to believe that G-d has any physicality – but since it is easy to err in this matter because of the language of the Bible and Agada – such believers are not considered heretics. They disagree with the Sefer Ikkarim (1:2) who asserts that an honest mistake in this matter is not considered a sin at all.

On the other hand, the Tashbatz(Ohev Mishpat 9) asserts that one who naively believes in G-d’s physicality – is nevertheless considered an idol worshipper albeit in purity. Recanti (Parshas Yisro) also asserts that who ever invalidates one of the attributes of G-d even in thought is included in the category of idol worshippers. In other words, Recanti asserts that who ever separates the aspects of G-d and treats them as distinct entities is violating the prohibition against physicality and also the requirement to believe in G-d’s unity. This is discussed in detail in the Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 2:10) and also Moreh Nevuchim. One is not even to imagine some image of G-d…<

In sum, all this concern to avoid ascribing physicality to G-d is specifically connected to the prohibition (Devarim 4:15). It includes not only ascribing any physicality but also to separate His attributes, believe in secondary manifestations, or even that the world is eternal or that matter is eternal. Belief in secondary manifestations of G-d is incompatible with monotheism. Similarly belief in eternal matter is belief in a power other than G-d since it has existed as long as G-d and must of necessity be distinct from G-d.

In contrast to these authorities, I believe that Chazal had a different understanding of the mitzva of Yichud. Even the Rambam (Sefer Mitzvos Positive Command #2) describes Yichud as the acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven (in contrast to what he said before). We also see this different understanding in Berachos(13b): “Once a person has accepted G-d’s dominion above and below and in the four directions of the compass – nothing else is required.” We see clearly from these sources that Yichud is not meditation about the nature of G-d Himself. In other words it is not concerned with whether a person believes that G-d has subdivisions or changes – which was the understanding of the mitzva of Yichud expressed by the Chovas HaLevavos, Rambam and the others previously cited. These matters which they describe as the mitzva of Yichud really are already covered by the commandment found in Devarim (4:15). Their understanding of Yichud is not related to G-d’s dominion over the world which is part of the alternative concept of Yichud.

In truth those who have a philosophical concept of Yichud - focused on divorcing G-d of all physicality - run into another problem. They end up denying Divine Providence, the concept of reward & punishment, the ability to influence G-d by prayer and good deeds. In other words they end up with a heretical position. And even some of the most pious of the earlier eras as well as their gedolim were attracted to philosophical analysis of these issues. Consequently some of them came to reject that Providence applies all creation and they insisted that it only applied to man. Such an understanding of Providence is against Chazal as found in Yerushalmi (Shevi’is 9:1) and Bereishis Rabbah(79:6) which state that, “Even a bird will not be caught unless it is decreed in Heaven.” Ironically these great men - who thought that through their analysis would come to the true understanding of Yichud – in fact came to the opposite. That is because it is the opposite of Yichud to think that some aspect of creation can be separate from G-d and can exist without His constant Providence. Therefore even though they acknowledged that G-d created everything and that His Providence applies to things in general, nevertheless this is not genuine Yichud. That is because they believed that after creation something which interferes with the Yichud of creation with G-d. [to be continued]

27 comments:

  1. The big problem is to think of haShem without a picture and with no finite understanding. It can't be done with the mind. Therefore, to know HaShem we must invoke the soul which is infinite and does not need physical boundaries. If this is true, than the true Yichud is a contradiction in terms to anyone who is not on the level of working through his neshomo.
    We have also two levels of the soul, and two levels of HaShem, as taught in the gemora Brochose. One level is the hidden and the other level is when it fills a physical place, such as the soul having two phases, hidden in its hidden place in the body, one, and spreading through the body, two. Knowing haShem is also in these two phases. Knowing the HaShem as He is hidden that is beyond the mind, and knowing HaShem as He related to people, as He sustains them, and when people think of this latter level, they have a Yichud that fills a finite space whereas the first level is a Yichud beyond finite thought, and is perhaps a product of ruach hakodesh not the mind, similar to the thoughts of the Aruch in Even in the name of Rav Hai Gaon that the great Cabalists saw sights in heaven as if they were there but they were not and all of this was a process of Ruach HaKodesh. Dealing with something beyond the finite is a heavenly matter that has no finite thought to contain it. So what is Yichud? Yichud could be on both levels. The Yichud of simple people who say that we are sustained and the whole universe is sustained by the hidden Presence of HaShem, and the seeking of HaShem by increasing the capacity of the soul to know heaven, which is Ruach HaKodesh, and each person has some connection with his soul to invoke this somehow, but it is much harder.
    The Schechina is designed to bridge the gap between haShem's true Presence and people. See Rashi Chagiga 13a DH hen that the maaseh merkovo deals with the form of the Schechinah and its appearance. This is because the Schechinah is holy, but it is designed for people with ruach hakodesh to see a kind of form rather than blank faith. We have no idea what people with ruach hakodesh who see the Schechinah see and how they think they are seeing something, as usually a sight is finite and this is obviously beyond that. There is some kind of process of Shechina that very holy people can see with ruach hakodesh, as the soul has a way of seeing infinite things, but in the infinite realm, there are various things, and in a sense, they all are separate structure and visions, but they are beyond the finite and are completely removed from physical things.

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  2. שנת ש״ל הית׳ אשה חכמה מדברת עתידו' וגס הית' 3קיאה 3חכמת טפות השמן. והיו מאומתים כל ד 3ריה. ואשאל ממנה על השמן 3לחש כמנהג על השגת 3חכמת הק 3לה. ולא ידעה להשי 3ני עד אשר ל 3שה רוח קנאה ותתחזק 3לחשים ותקם על רגלה ותישק רגלי ותאמר תמחול לי כי לא הייתי מכרת גדולת נשמתך והנה אינך מערך נשמות חכמי זה הדור כי אם מדורות הראשונים התנאים כפי מה שראיתי 3שמן הזה. והנה תשובת שאלתך הראו לי בשמן הזה כתובה באותיות בזה הלשון:
    הנה על האיש זה השואל המשילו רז״ל במדרש שיר השירי' על שלמה המלך ע״ה לבאר מים חיים נובעין ומתוקין מאוד עמוק עמוק מי ימצאנו.
    ואין אדם יודע לשאוב ממנו עד שבא פקח אחד וקשר חבל בחבל וירד ושתה. כן אתה חושק וצמא לידע חכמה אחת הנקרא קבלה. ועליה אתה שואל. ודע כי תשיג אותה בענין המשל הנז״ל מה שלא השיג שום חכם מהקודמים אליך מכמה דורות. וזה יהיה על ידי חכם אחד גדול שיבא בסוף זה השנה לצפת מצד דרום כמו ממצרים והוא ילמדך זאת החכמה עכת״ד. וכן היה שבשנה ההיא בא מורי ז״ל מן מצרים ולמדתי ממנו חכמה זו

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  3. I suspect that before Jews became involved in philosophy the sages were not interested in the nitpicking details of yichud at all. As far as I remember, the Torah does not speak against imagining G-d as having a body, but only against creating graven images. That would explain why the Tanach and Chazal constantly speak of G-d as having physical properties. It didn't bother anyone. A practical exercise - find writings concerned about these issues BEFORE Jews became involved with philosophy. The placing to heart the Chovos Halevavos was so concerned about means not deep understanding but strength of conviction.

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  4. There is a difference between the Philosophical view (eg Rambam) and a pshat view. There are statements in the Torah of Moses speaking to G-d "face to face" , of experiencing a presence eg the burning bush, etc. The philosophical view is perhaps arrived at through reasoning and logical derivation. that doesn't means it denies providence.
    What I am suggesting is that there is a thrid view, which may be the most authentic - which is neither kabbalistic nor Aristo-Philosophical, but based on the explicit statements of the Torah which we we must accept whatever else we do or think.

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  5. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    "Unity of G-d vs belief in His physicality - Rav Tzadok

    This is a very fascinating essay dealing with understanding the mitzva of yichud Hashem and the difference between a philosophical understanding and the kabbalistic one. He then relates this difference to differing concepts of Divine Providence (hashgocha protis)."

    RaP: The Shulchan Aruch does not require learning of Kabbala and neither does normative Halacha nor does the Torah itself require it! The Torah wants Jews to observe the Mitzvos and most important "dibra Torah beloshon bnai odom" the Torah speaks in the language of man, and not in the esoteric language of voodoo and mumbo-jumbo even if it's "kosher voodoo" and "Kabbala mambo jumbo." Rav Tzadok's works are widely admired, but they are not part of ANY known Litvish yeshiva's required standard curriculum.

    Indeed, from the point of view of Litvish talmidei chachomim in Litvish yeshivas it is quite okay NOT to know ANYTHING about the writings of Rav Tzadok, just as it is okay NOT to know anything about the writings of the Baal HaTanya and it's okay NOT to know anything about Rav Nachman's ideas and, this may shock you, it is okay NOT to know anything about what is inside the Zohar.

    So if you would like to post things about that, fine, but please realize that in the Litvish yeshiva velt these are still regarded as obscurantist writings not meant for the "hamon am" or ever.

    What IS required in the curriculum of the Litvish yeshiva velt is the greatest knowledge possible and developing skills in learning, understanding and explaining of the maximum number of Masechtas of all of the Talmud Bavli with based on Rashi and Tosfos and with all the major Rishonim and Achronim and relevant meforshim and ideally with knowledge of the Shulchan Oruch. Then it is regarded as a real accomplishment to become proficient with Talmud Yerushalmi.

    To know various types of Medrash is important, but not critical. All else, like study of Kabbalah, Mussar, Nistar, PRDS, Hashkofa, Machshova, Mada, Chasidus, Limudei Chol is NOT a requirement in the Litvish yeshiva velt, never was, is not and never will be. So yes, feel free to read up what Rav Tzadok says, run some posts, why not Rav Tzadok could use some good PR, but it is really not that relevant or important to either what goes on in the life of a Litvish yeshiva and it's talmidim or in real life either!

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  6. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 18, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    "This leads into a discussion of teaching kabbala"

    RaP: Well it should not. Nobody in the Litvish yeshiva advocates to "teach kabbala" because that is just outrageous. Period. While some folks have pointed out that there are some scattered shiurim here and there, it is not clear to what degree they have the blessings and approbations to do this in those institutions and just how many people are involved in this. sounds more like a rebellion. If anything, they are the exceptions that prove the rule because as long as the vast majority do NOT get caught up in this and in fact shun it, then the question is why is that allowed in the first place for the few?

    In Chasidic yeshivas and in some Sefardic yeshivas and in some specific places where "Nistar" or "Chasidus" or "Kabbalah" is studied they are not part of the mainstream mesora of limud haTorah in the derech of Yisrael Sabba.

    "and why it was permitted to publish the Zohar and other kabbalistic works."

    RaP: Please, if you want to discuss why the Zohar was printed and other works of Kabbala, it has nothing to do with what Rav Tzadok said or did not say or thought or did not think. One point of caution, while the popularization of the Zohar PRECEDES the false messiah who became an apostate to Islam Shabtai Tzvi (1626-1676) and his school of thought, not by much though since it was the ARI (Isaac Luria, 1534-1572) who was the main popularizer of the Zohar, anything "mystical" that comes after the heresy and demise of the Shabtai Tzvi debacle must be carefully examined to know if is was inspired in some way, either knowingly or unwittingly by Sabbatean mystical teachings and seforim that were still abounded long after Shabtai Tzvi left the scene, and that was based on trusting Shabtai Tzvi as a great teacher and expounder of Kabbalah, which he in fact was.

    R' Tzadok HaKohen Rabinowitz (1823-1900) was a Litvak who became a Chosid in his own right. Who knows what that means? Some would say he succumbed to an alien form of religion ch"v.

    To use this as a precedent is to argue that the Litvish yeshiva velt must do what he did, abandon its opposition to open teaching and spreading of Kabbalistic teachings -- how would they then produce the great minds and talmidei chachomim??? -- although how much he actually taught people in his life is not so clear, since he was mostly a profound thinker, scholar and author and he left no "movement" after him just his written works, perhaps because as a hybrid "Litvak-Chosid" he was like a mating that takes place between two separate species and that ultimately remains sterile and incapable of reproducing itself.

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  7. @ Dovid E.

    You say:

    "The big problem is to think of haShem without a picture and with no finite understanding. It can't be done with the mind. Therefore, to know HaShem we must invoke the soul which is infinite and does not need physical boundaries. If this is true, than the true Yichud is a contradiction in terms to anyone who is not on the level of working through his neshomo."

    This as complete misunderstanding of both Yichud HaShem as well as Shechina. The distorted view of Kabbalistic thought is that Shechina is somehow separate from HaKadosh B"H (C"V)... of course this flies in the face of the basic understanding of Yichud HaShem and the Rambam in Hilchos Yesodai HaTorah that says His Yichud is different than any other Yichud known and has no parts.



    א. יסוד היסודות ועמוד החכמות לידע שיש שם מצוי ראשון והוא ממציא כל נמצא וכל הנמצאים משמים וארץ ומה שביניהם לא נמצאו אלא מאמתת המצאו:

    ב. ואם יעלה על הדעת שהוא אינו מצוי אין דבר אחר יכול להמצאות:

    ג. ואם יעלה על הדעת שאין כל הנמצאים מלבדו מצויים הוא לבדו יהיה מצוי ולא יבטל הוא לבטולם שכל הנמצאים צריכין לו והוא ברוך הוא אינו צריך להם ולא לאחד מהם לפיכך אין אמתתו כאמתת אחד מהם:

    ד. הוא שהנביא אומר וה' אלהים אמת הוא לבדו האמת ואין לאחר אמת כאמתתו והוא שהתורה אומרת אין עוד מלבדו כלומר אין שם מצוי אמת מלבדו כמותו:

    ה. המצוי הזה הוא אלהי העולם אדון כל הארץ והוא המנהיג הגלגל בכח שאין לו קץ ותכלית בכח שאין לו הפסק שהגלגל סובב תמיד ואי אפשר שיסוב בלא מסבב והוא ברוך הוא המסבב אותו בלא יד ובלא גוף:

    ו. וידיעת דבר זה מצות עשה שנאמר אנכי ה' אלהיך וכל המעלה על דעתו שיש שם אלוה אחר חוץ מזה עובר בלא תעשה שנאמר לא יהיה לך אלהים אחרים על פני וכופר בעיקר שזהו העיקר הגדול שהכל תלוי בו:

    ז. אלוה זה אחד הוא ואינו שנים ולא יתר על שנים אלא אחד שאין כיחודו אחד מן האחדים הנמצאים בעולם לא אחד כמין שהוא כולל אחדים הרבה ולא אחד כגוף שהוא נחלק למחלקות ולקצוות אלא יחוד שאין יחוד אחר כמותו בעולם אילו היו אלוהות הרבה היו גופין וגויות מפני שאין הנמנים השוין במציאותן נפרדין זה מזה אלא במאורעין שיארעו בגופות והגויות ואילו היה היוצר גוף וגוייה היה לו קץ ותכלית שאי אפשר להיות גוף שאין לו קץ וכל שיש לגופו קץ ותכלית יש לכחו קץ וסוף ואלהינו ברוך שמו הואיל וכחו אין לו קץ ואינו פוסק שהרי הגלגל סובב תמיד אין כחו כח גוף והואיל ואינו גוף לא יארעו לו מאורעות הגופות כדי שיהא נחלק ונפרד מאחר לפיכך אי אפשר שיהיה אלא אחד וידיעת דבר זה מצות עשה שנאמר ה' אלהינו ה' אחד:


    So then what is Shechina you ask? As the Rambam expains in the Moreh, Shechina is OUR PERCEPTION of HaKadosh B"H... it is the the "vision" that we may see in a Nevuah... it is nothing more than how our "inner eye" may perceive Him in our vision but not C"V a separate division on Him. Yichud id Yichud ... One is one and other explanation goes against this and is opposed to what Rambam states above.

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  8. "In truth those who have a philosophical concept of Yichud - focused on divorcing G-d of all physicality - run into another problem. They end up denying Divine Providence, the concept of reward & punishment, the ability to influence G-d by prayer and good deeds. In other words they end up with a heretical position."

    I must say, I read this several times and don't understand what he means by this... perhaps you can explain.

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    1. "I must say, I read this several times and don't understand what he means by this..."

      gam ani


      Michoel

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    2. This doesn't sound too different from R' Hirsch's criticism of Rambam: if you have "made" God's perfection too absolute and His separation from the physical world too complete, then you almost have made Him into a force of nature; "forced" to act in a "predictable" way. And if His actions are so "forced," by the absolute perfection that informs them, then how could He ever react to events on this world like our prayers?

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    3. "And if His actions are so "forced," by the absolute perfection that informs them, then how could He ever react to events on this world like our prayers?"

      given that the rambam holds that prayer (as we do it today) is a poor man's substitute for meditating on God, this isn't really a question

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  9. According to R' Michael Tzadok, the Arizal forbade "practical kabbalah" and Abraham Abulafia was "lucky" that the Pope died before their planned meeting. That this is the only recorded miracle in the history of Kabbalah, is poignant fact. Many claim that kabbalsits are mircle workers, that the Ari and his Tsfat followers had supernatural powers. hassidic rebbes and Sephardic "baba"s make a lot of money by claiming to have these superman like powers.
    I have never seen anything occur from any of these so-called mystics. On the contrary, the insane way of thought or irrationality of Yeshiva rabbis has caused unmentionable financial and personal damage to myself and to others I have known.

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    1. Eddie,

      There are reports of miracles happening around figures such as the Arizal, the Rashash, and the Baba Sali. The same with the GR"A, the Chafetz Haim, and the Steipler. Rav Yaakov Hillel writes in his sefer Faith and Folly:
      If a person craves spiritual elevation and closeness to God, Practical Kabbalah is not the way to achieve it. We have seen that if a person (1) were so totally righteous that even the Angel of Death became his friend, (2) knew the Divine Names, and (3) were purified with the ashes of the red heifer by Eliyahu HaNavi- all of which are impossible- he would still be limited by the inherent limitations of Practical Kabbalah.
      There is, however, a way to achieve greater success: by studying the Torah, fulfilling mitzvot, and refining one's character. Commenting on the verse "Devorah wa a prophetess" Eliyahu HaNavi taught his disciples, "I call heaven and earth to witness that anyone- man or woman, gentile or Jew, freeman or slave- can have Divine inspiration come upon him. It all depends on his deeds.
      R. Chayim Vital testified that... The Arizal did not atain his knowledge of the Torah's secrets by using Practical Kabbalah; that is forbidden. Rather, because of his piety, asceticism and purity...
      Even in Recent times there have been individuals who attained such high spiritual levels that their advice and their words were directed from Heaven and never erred, their prayers and blessings bore fruit, and they saved many from distress. All of this was achieved through amazing self-sacrifice. They invested tremendous toil in Torah and prayer, in the performance of every detail of each mitzvah, and in refining their character. They acquired a thorough knowledge of the Talmud and of halachic rulings, sanctified themselves through separation from worldly pleasures, and cleaved to G0d and His Torah day and night. They were extremely demanding of themselves.
      These world-famous Tzaddikim were modest and tried to hide their greatness; they lived simply and fled from honor, fame and wealth.


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  10. Critic:

    Does anyone care to comment on the excerpt above in hebrew from R Chaim Vital about his visits to fortune tellers....It is the second comment - the "3" are actually the hebrew letter "bais"

    Of course when this sefer was printed, the cry of forgery was heard. however, it is a proven fact that R Chaim Vital did write this sefer.

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    1. I've never heard that it was a forgery...

      It's simple really. It was the autobiography(and an apparently honest one) of Rav Chaim Vital. Most people accepted practical Kabbalah before the Arizal came on the scene.

      Even aside from this work, it is obvious that Rav Chaim Vital had been involved with forbidden practical Kabbalah from the number of Tikkunim for it's different practices that the Arizal gave directly to him(as opposed to one of his other students).

      Now if you had stories of Rav Chaim Vital going to fortune tellers after he became a student of the Ari, then that would be an issue.

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  11. From Critic:

    Torah Truth - You can take a simpler approach and not get ino an argument over whether later generations can know more and whether that contradicts mesorah

    The issue is not whether later generations can know or understand more than earlier generations. Obviously, new sevoros are "invented" all the time so of course it is a development and we can have new insight, but the mekuballim are saying much more - that large areas of insight were given by giliu eliyahu or ruach hakodesh to the later generations - now that is something that is counterintuitive that the later generations should be "greater" in receiving supernatural knowledge than earlier generations who did not receive it. The mekuballim claim that the later mekubalim are greater in that sense and that is troubling. As R Tzadok has said...this does not hold true for nigleh - only nistar...which is quite odd. Of course, another issue with this mesorah of kabbala is that they did not simply add or modify things as would be expected in the natural course of human thought, but totally reinvented the way we view the G-D head and His attributes.

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  12. From Critic:

    Fortune tellers are not practical kabbalists. It sounds more like the stuff you would find in the Far East. Also,it does not appear that R' Chaim VItal wrote about these episodes as a "sorry chapter" in his life which he later did teshuva for. In fact, he seems to be relating a very normal experience in the life of kabbalist-types and makes no comments about it being asur. I assume that he wrote this autobiography after meeting the Arizal but I do not have definite knowledge of this.

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    1. I beg to differ. Whether it is modern day lead ladies, or then, there are plenty of seforim in the realm of Kabbalah Maaseh that deals with fortune telling, palmistry, ect.

      Rav Hillel wrote an entire book on these things. Like I said, because there was a tradition of them, most people did not consider them assur before the Arizal.

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  13. From Critic:

    R Tzadok, what about the Baal Shem? All the stories/legends certainly indicate that he was into practical kabbala and use of Divine Names.

    How would you classify Yichudim? Is that practical kabbala? FOr isntance, the Arizal and his students performing all sorts of yichudim at gravesites.

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    1. I don't know of the Baal Shem... I'm not a Chasid, so I can't answer that one way or another.

      Regarding the Yichudim brought down by the Arizal, no there is no problem with those. However, they are only there to purify and elevate one's soul, and they are strictly meditations.

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  14. Rav Tzadok: "Consequently some of them came to reject that Providence applies all creation and they insisted that it only applied to man...That is because it is the opposite of Yichud to think that some aspect of creation can be separate from G-d and can exist without His constant Providence" (End Quote)

    If Rav Tzadok is referring to the Rambam here, then his statement does not accurately describe the Rambam's position. Rav Tzadok may be in fact grappling with the great difficulty in reconciling concepts of Kabbalistic pantheism with the earlier teachings of the Naviim and the Rishonim.

    The Rambam is NOT relying on "philosophy" here, an easy catchall target for the kabbalists that makes it appear as if the anti-kabbalist Gadolim such as the Rambam derived all their opinions from their own logic.

    Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim 3:17:
    "I am not relying upon the conclusion to which demonstration has led me, but upon what has clearly appeared as the intention of the book of G-d and of the books of our prophets...divine providence watches only over the individuals belonging to the human species and that in this species along all the circumstances of the
    individuals and the good and evil that befall them are consequent upon the deserts...I never found in the book of a prophet a text mentioning that G-d has a providence watching over one of the animal individuals, but only over a human individual."

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    1. Rav Tzadok may be in fact grappling with the great difficulty in reconciling concepts of Kabbalistic pantheism with the earlier teachings of the Naviim and the Rishonim.

      Huh? Let's define Pantheism.
      Pantheism is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God,[1] or that the universe (or nature) is identical with divinity.[2] Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, but believe that interpretations of the term differ.
      Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of Baruch Spinoza,


      That is not what Kabbalah teaches at all. While Kabbalah does believe in an infintely close deity, it does not believe that creation is the Deity(Chas V'Shalom).

      There is a large divid between the idea the continual existance of creation is derived from HaShem's continual providence and that HaShem(Chas V'Shalom) is embodied in the creation.

      The Kabbalists would say, that there is no hashgacha pratit for the concerning the majority of animals. HaShem isn't concerned with which snake eats which squirrel today in the Amazon rain forrest. Hashgacha pratit would only be directed at those thing which directly affect Jews. Your own cow would be affected by Hashgacha pratit, because it would directly affect you, and thus your hashgacha pratit, extends to that. Now granted if we factor in chaos theory, then hashgacha pratit is everywhere. However, for now so speaking, the majority of creation is affected and controlled by a hashgacha klallit. Meaning that HaShems continual will and providence sustain creation, but HaShem is not (necessarily)micromanaging all of creation.

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  15. Just to clarify further - the Rambam does hold by some type of providence over animal species, but not providence over individual animals.

    Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim 3:17:
    "You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:16)..All these texts refer to providence watching over the species and not to individual providence."

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  16. @Rabbi Michael Tzadok - "Pantheism is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God...That is not what Kabbalah teaches at all.":

    Please explain the meaning of this statement from Tanya, Shaar HaYichud, Chpt. 7 that quotes the Zohar:

    "...in Ra'aya Mehemna, in Parshas Pinchas...He encompasses all worlds (sovev kol almin)...He fills all worlds (malei kol almin)..."

    According to your understanding of Kabbalah, is the Universe real or is it just an illusion?

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  17. "...in Ra'aya Mehemna, in Parshas Pinchas...He encompasses all worlds (sovev kol almin)...He fills all worlds (malei kol almin)..."

    According to your understanding of Kabbalah, is the Universe real or is it just an illusion?


    First prove to me that this quote is actually in the Zohar. Parashat Pinchas covers some 40blatt and Rayah Mehemna makes up roughly half of that. I don't have time to search for a Zohar that may not exist, and a number of the unsourced Rayah Mehemnas in Tanya don't really exist.

    Aside from that, assuming that it is real, are you truly going to suggest that the Rambam thinks that HaShem isn't omnipresent? That seems like a far more pagan idea to me.

    Is the Universe real? Of course it is. The Kitvei, and other Kabbalistic seforim, make it abundantly clear that the Universe is real.

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  18. are you truly going to suggest that the Rambam thinks that HaShem isn't omnipresent?

    A Lubavitch sefer I have cites Yirmehayu 23:24 "es ha shamayim v'es ha aretz Ani maleh", as if the Rishonim held like the Kabbalah. However Radak on this pasuk seems to say this pasuk is a mashal because Hashem does not have a body that occupies space, rather the pasuk refers to Hashem's hashgacha. In Moreh Nevuchim of course there are similar concepts.

    First prove to me that this quote is actually in the Zohar.

    The Tanya claims it is in the Zohar:

    "He grasps all and none can grasp Him…. He encompasses all worlds…and no one goes out from His domain; He fills (or permeates) all worlds..."
    http://www.chabad.org/library/tanya/tanya_cdo/aid/7993/jewish/Chapter-7.htm

    Doesn't this indicate that the Lubavitch and/or Kabbalistic claim that Hashem must "fill this Universe" was unknown to the Rishonim, and might have even been considered minus as it attributes some type of physicality to Hashem?

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    1. The Tanya claims it is in the Zohar Your point? The Tanya claims several things as Zohar, which even Lubabs such as Rav Steinsaltz admit are not. Why the Baal HaTanya claimed they were, I do not know but they are not.

      Let's look at your Radak:
      אני מלא, כמו וכבוד ה' מלא את המשכן כלומר שהיה ממלא את המשכן כי נאמר זה על האור שנברא כי אני מלא רוצה לומר אני ממלא כלומר בכל מקום אני וזה דרך משל כי הוא יתברך איננו גוף שיהיה ממלא מקום אלא רוצה לומר כי השגחתו בכל מקום בשמים ובארץ ות"י יקר מלי

      Honestly I don't see how that is all that different from what the Rambam says in Yesodei HaTorah 1:8
      Behold, it is explicitly stated in the Torah and [the works of] the prophets that the Holy One, blessed be He, is not [confined to] a body or physical form, as [Deuteronomy 4:39] states: "Because God, your Lord, is the Lord in the heavens above and the earth below," and a body cannot exist in two places [simultaneously].


      Now for the claimed Zohar. Without the ability to look up Zohar and see the various commentaries, you are going to have deal with how I understand a simple reading of it:
      איהו תפיס בכולא ולית מאן דתפיס ביה כו' He preceives all but nothing perceives him So far don't see how that would differ from the Rambam, that HaShem is essentially imperceivable in this world, and the best we can have, even Moshe Rabbeinu at the height of his Navua is an imperfect perception of Hashem as our own minds can handle.(see Yesodei HaTorah 1:10)
      איהו סוכ"ע כו' ולית מאן דנפיק מרשותי' He surrounds all of the worlds and nothing is outside of dominion So HaShem is without any limit, including that of physical creation, meaning that the physical universe does not limit HaShem(yes my brain is starting to hurt trying to comprehend that) and nothing at all is outside of Hashem. Meaning everything is within and relies upon his providence. Once again this seems to coincide with Yesodei HaTorah chapter 1.
      איהו ממכ"ע he fills all of the worlds Now from a simple reading of the words, I see no reason to understand this any differently than the Rambam or the Radak. By filling we mean that HaShem is infinite and omnipresent, and that his providence is everywhere.

      I really don't see what the difficult is with the words. I have not looked to see what the Baal HaTanya has done with the words, but the words themelves match with the Rambam.

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