Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Varying Views on Tzimtzum by Rabbi Michael Tzadok

Guest Post by Rabbi Michael Tzadok Elkohen

The discussion of Rav Kasher’s article regarding the development of the Zohar, toward the end turned to a conversation about the views of the tzimtzum based around a very erudite article by Rav David Sedley.   
 
A claim was that different shitot regarding the tzimtzum mean a lack of valid mesora in Kabbalah. First I personally feel that this is a bogus claim.  If we look at the area of Halakha where we have a very clear and well defined mesora that was always out in the open, we have find radically differing opinions, whether between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, the later Tannaim, Achronim, Savarim, Geonim, Rishonim, Achronim, and modern day poskim.  Differing shitot about what a specific text means does not a mesora break.  If it did, we would have no Torah(Chas V’Shalom).

Second it is possible to say, that at least from the Arizal until today that there is an unbroken tradition.  Rav Shmuel Vital, Rav Yaakov Tzemach and Rav Avraham Azulai were three students of Rav Chaim Vital, the Arizal’s chosen successor.  Those three together moved to Jerusalem and set up a Kabbalistic Chevra, from whence would emerge the Rashash and Kabbalists of Beit El(who exist to this day and who have multiplied to various other Yeshivot).  

That being said, just because there is an unbroken tradition that does not immediately invalidate the other Shitot in understanding the texts at hand.  Those shitot need to stand or fall based on their own internal logic and their ability to stand against various kushiyot brought against them.

That being said I offer this piece from Rav Shimon Agasi’s Shem M’Shimon which addresses the two primary views found amongst the Mekubalim(sorry he seems to exclude Chassidim from that classification) and attempts to reconcile them into what is essentially the Shita of Beit El.  In keeping with the halakha I have not translated the piece.

ואז צמצם עצמו וכו' נ"ב כבר ידוע שיש מחלוקת גדולה בין חכמי מקובלים האחרונים ז"ל בענין הצמצום אם הוא כפשוטו או לאו דהרת מהר"י אירגאס ז"ל בס' ש"א ויכוח ב' סובר שאינו כפשוטו אלא ר"ל שצמצם כוחו הבב"ת כדי להמציא עולמות ב"צ שאעפ"י שהאסב"ה הוא בלי גבול יש לו כוח בגבול שיכול לצמצם ולהגביל כוחו הבב"ת ולפעול בכוח מצומצם ומוגבל שיוכלו הנמצאים בעלי הגבול לסבלו ולקבלו עד"ש והאלהים יענו בקול בקולו של משה שר"ל בקול שהיה יכול לסובלו והכריח הענין מיוד טענות וכתב שכל מי שרוצה להבין ענין הצמצום כפשוטו הוא נופל בכמה שיבושים וסתירות על רוב עיקרי האמונה יעש"ב.
ובא רעהו מוהר"ר עמנואל חי ריקי ז"ל בס' יושר לבב וכתב דאדרבא כל מי שמעלה בדעתו שאינו כפשוטו הוא פוגם בכבוד קונו בחשבו שעצמותו ית' נמצא אף בגשמים השפלים הבלתי נכבדים ואף בנבזים ח"ו יע"ש בדבריו מדף ז' ואילך.  והגם שטענה זו של הרב יושר לבב ז"ל טענה טפשית קראו לה הבאים אחריו מ"מ פשט דברי רבינו ז"ל מורים כדבריו ז"ל וכמו שהוכיח הוא מכ"מ יע"ש.  וכן הבינו כל מקובלים שקדמו למהר"י אירגס ז"ל שהצמצום כפשוטו וכמו שנראה מדבריהם ז"ל.  ומעבר מזה הטענה הח' של מהר"י אירגס שטען הכמות אינו אלא בגשם והאסב"ה הוא תכלית האפיסה מהגשם והגבול והכמות ואם צמצום הוא כפשוטו הרי הוא בעל כמות ח"ו ועוד טען בטענה הט' שכל בעל מקום הוא גשמי ובעל שיעור ותמונה מוגבלת בעלת ששה מרחקים שהם מעלה מטה וד' צדדים וכ"ז אינו באסב"ה כנו' ואם הצמצום הוא כפשוטו נמצא שהוא בעל ח''ו יע"ש.
הנה ב' טענות אלו הם חזקות ואמיתיות שא"א להניד.  ומה גם למה שהוכיח הוא ז"ל עוד אח"ז שהרוחניים אינם תופסים מקום לפי שמהותם הוא שכל נבדל וכל עניינם הוא השכלה שכליית שכל גדול משכל ושכל עמוק משכל עד האסב"ה שהוא מקור השכל עמוק עמוק מי ימצאנו וכמו שהאריך הרחיב והסביר לנו דבר זה הרב החסיד ר' ברוך קאסובר ז"ל בספרו עמוד העבודה יע"ש.  וכיון שכן איך יתכן עוד לו' שהצמצום הוא כמותי ח"ו ולא כוחיי, ואעפ"י שבמקום גבוה כזה קצר מצע שכל האנושי להחליט כזה או כזה קצר לחלוש השכל כמוני מ"מ כשאני לעצמי יותר נ"ל לו' כהרב ש"א ז"ל השצמצום אינו כפשוטו אלא ע"ד משל ומליצה דכל חכמה זו היא מיוסדת עד"מ ודמיון ואינה כפשוטה וצריך האדם להפשיט גשמיותה מעליה ולהבין הפנימיות שבה ובלאו"ה נמי אני ההדיוט תמיה על הרבנים ז"ל הנ"ל דלמה העמיקי עיון חקירתם על ענין הצמצום שהרי כ' רז"ל וז"ל טרם שנאצלו הנאצלים וכו' היה אור עליון פשוט ממלא המציות וכו'
והשתא נחזה אנן מילוי זה דקאמר הוא מילוי כמותי או כוחיי אם תאמר שהוא כמותי נמצאת אתה או' שהאסב"ה הוא בעל כמות ח"ו וכיון שהוא בעל כמות ע"כ שהוא מוגבל ויש לו סוף וזה א"א להיות כלל וע"כ צ"ל שהוא מילוי כוחיי ור"ל שכוחי הבב"ת היה ממלא כל המציות ואין מקום פנוי וריקני חוץ ממנו וכיון שהמילוי היה כוחיי א"כ גם הצמצום שהיה אח"כ הוא צמצום כוחיי לא כמותי ח"ו ומן המוקדם נבין וה' יאיר עיננו להבין הדברים על אמיתותם כמאמר נעים זמירות ישראל גל עיני ואביטה נפלאות מתורתיך אכי"ר.

48 comments:

  1. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 30, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    "Tzimtzum"? is that like Tzimmes?

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  2. This article is interesting in that it discusses whether the Tzimtzum is Pashut or remez/Sod, ie do we understand it literally or as a metaphor.

    It mentions a particular Sephardi school of kabbalists, leaving out major Ashkenaz Kabalists, who also disputed the meaning of tzimtzum.
    Each group also claims to be the sole legitimate heir to the Arizal.

    Just as an example of the esteem that the Hassidim and Mitnagdim held their leaders in:
    R' Levi Yiztak of Berdichev once said to the Baal HaTanya, that he should not worry about St Petersburg (Russia), he could wipe his forehead with his hand and destroy the whole city.
    The Gra, when he was 13 created a golem, but then destroyed it because he was too young to do such a thing.

    Now these are just myths and vain fantasies, like the Greek myths. The gedolim allegedly have supernatural powers, like heroes in comic books. Yet, empirically, they always fail to have such powers when they are being persecuted. The previous Lubavitcher rebbe (who claimed to be One with the ein Sof) had to flee to america, and could do nothing to stop the Nazis. R MM Schneerson, was unable to save his father, and also had to flee. Same goes with R Wasserman, etc.

    Rambam teaches that wherever you see machloket about a point in Torah, you know it wasn't from Sinai. This is perhaps a precedent for Dor Deim.

    Once you have a machloket , or even agreement on Dualism, there is no room for claiming that this is authentic tradition.

    In gemara, most of the differences was resolved, eg Hillel vs Shammai.

    So the nature of these kabbalsitic machloket, as well as the content, make it radically different from halachic disputes.

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    Replies
    1. Rambam teaches that wherever you see machloket about a point in Torah, you know it wasn't from Sinai.
      Halakha Moshe M'Sinai to tie the tefillin parshiot with cow hair. Machlokhet Rishonim whether it has to be on the outside of the klaf the wraps the parshiot or on the parshiot themselves.

      So is this halakha Moshe M'Sinai or not?

      Your argument doesn't make sense.

      Once you have a machloket , or even agreement on Dualism, there is no room for claiming that this is authentic tradion. No argument. There is no dualism. First you claimed pantheism. When you were shown to be wrong there, you picked up this dualism line. It also is not true.

      It mentions a particular Sephardi school of kabbalists, leaving out major Ashkenaz Kabalists, who also disputed the meaning of tzimtzum.
      Let's see, as Rav Agasi points out, this was a Chiddush of Rav Irgas. He says it was not accepted by any of the Mekubalim before him or after him.
      Now he notably excludes the Chassidim. Not going to get into that.
      That leaves you with Rav Chaim, the Nefesh HaChaim. Rav Yaakov Hillel in his sefer Vayashev HaYam 1:1:5 brings a letter from Chaim Volozhon to his nephew in which he was modeh to the understanding of the Rashash(and thus the GR"A as well) after the sefer Rechovot HaNahar reached his hands. The sefer wasn't even printed until 1805, don't know how long it took to migrate to Vilna but it would have been near the end of Chaim Volozhin's life.

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    2. Eddie,

      Although each group claims to be an heir to the Arizal, only one group can claim a Mesora AND authentic versions of the primary sources.

      The Chassidim and early Ashkenazim had no direct relationship to Rav Haim Vital, nor did they have correct texts.

      The only real Mesorah on Kabbalah is through Vital and Bet El.

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    3. Looks like I picked a good week to be away... So, Michael Tzadok is at it again.. he says..

      "Second it is possible to say, that at least from the Arizal until today that there is an unbroken tradition. Rav Shmuel Vital, Rav Yaakov Tzemach and Rav Avraham Azulai were three students of Rav Chaim Vital, the Arizal’s chosen successor. Those three together moved to Jerusalem and set up a Kabbalistic Chevra, from whence would emerge the Rashash and Kabbalists of Beit El(who exist to this day and who have multiplied to various other Yeshivot)."

      What our dear friend fails to understand is that simply repeating something doesn't make it true.

      Mesorah is NOT a tradition that can be traced backed a generation or two or even 5 or 6.... Mesorah is a tradition that can be traced back to Moshe M'Sinai! Anything less than that can't be binding because it is not MePi HaGevurah all it proves is that that is what the Ari said... so what? The Christians also claim to have a "Mesorah" yet we don't accept it because it can't be traced back to Sinai, a fundamental argument of R' Yehuda Halevy (Kuzari).

      I will also note the first line of the piece he posted...

      "ואז צמצם עצמו וכו' נ"ב כבר ידוע שיש מחלוקת גדולה בין חכמי מקובלים האחרונים ז"ל בענין הצמצום אם הוא כפשוטו או לאו "

      How you can compare this type of "Machlokes" with a Machlokes in Halacha between Shamai and Hillel is astounding. A Machlokes in Halacha is a diesagreement with how to "apply" HaShem's Law. We have the authority to define that law based on the tools that we were given at Sinai... Issues of of G-d's existence and His relationship to the world (like belief in Tzimtzum)is not accorded this ability to define. Belief in Tzimtzum is either Kefirah or not. A literal understanding of it is is either Kefirah or not. No Machlokes or Torah personality can change that.

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    4. There is a clear and unbroken tradition of Kabbalah and Kabbalistic texts. You have yet to prove that there is not. Here the burden of proof lies with you.

      However if you are going to say:
      Rambam teaches that wherever you see machloket about a point in Torah, you know it wasn't from Sinai.

      Then we have no Torah. It is that simple.



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    5. "There is a clear and unbroken tradition of Kabbalah and Kabbalistic texts"

      I'm afraid the burden of proof is on you... you have yet to demonstrate an unbroken tradition back to Sinai... in you very own posting above you only go back to the Ari. So again your approach is to say it enough times that people believe it. Sheker Ain Lecha Raglayim!

      "However if you are going to say:
      Rambam teaches that wherever you see machloket about a point in Torah, you know it wasn't from Sinai."

      I never said any such thing...

      We have Machlokes on the application of Torah Law provided we use the tools the Torah gave us to decide these laws... that is quite different from acceptance of a philosophy(especially one that on its surface goes against the Ikkurai HaTorah) that was challenged from its first presence on the Torah scene.

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    6. @ RAmatz
      "There is a clear and unbroken tradition of Kabbalah and Kabbalistic texts. You have yet to prove that there is not. Here the burden of proof lies with you.

      However if you are going to say:
      Rambam teaches that wherever you see machloket about a point in Torah, you know it wasn't from Sinai.

      Then we have no Torah. It is that simple."

      Firstly how do u get the italic font?

      No, the burden on proof lies on the claimant for a New testament or religion.

      Since Zohar is not mentioned in the Tenach, was not known in the Talmud, and was not in Rambam or Saadia's works, we have to be stringent to verify if there is a traditon.
      This is Hatam Sofer's pricniple of Hadash assur min haTorah, if you like, just like we dont accept Chabad's messianic claims, or reform, because they are bringing something entirely new to the table.

      The Rambam quote was mine. I asked R Cardozo about this once, in Jerusalem. He said that Rambam took this from the Yerushalmi ,and that it means after a Sanhedrin or bet Din decision, ie if there is ongoing machloket, then the inyan cannot have come from Sinai.

      Now this quote is very philosophical, and I see it as a way of reverse engineering to see what came from Sinai and what didn't. But Ramatz is also correct, in that if we use it without limits, it effectively denies the entire Talmudic enterprise.

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    7. Let's see texts that go back to the Tannaim: Sepher Yetzirah, Sefer HaBahir, and the Zohar(initially called, as Rav Kasher points out in his article Raza Rabba), the Hekhalot(there are a few others that I have named before, but can't remember now, and don't have time to look up). Now if the Tannaim, Amoraim, Geonim and Rishonim considered these texts to be Torah, they are Torah. Burden of proof rests on you to prove that they are not.

      Now if either the Bahir(which was circulated before the Rambam was born) or Raza Rabba(the name the Zohar was going by then) or the Sepher Yetzirah were contrary to any of the Rambam's ikkarim why didn't he speak out against them? He spoke out again the Shiur Komah because in his view(despite Geonim saying it was an allegory) it contradicted his ikkarim. But none of the others.

      So really burden of proof is on you. But while you are here, and since you are talking again, let me ask you a question. Why is it impossible to get a copy of the Tohar HaYichud in Hebrew? Why has it not been shown to any of the Gedolim? Seems to be me that not only is that a shady way to operate, it is because you and your group know the response your(already condemned heresy) would receive.

      Delete
    8. Eddie wrote:

      Since Zohar is not mentioned in the Tenach, was not known in the Talmud, and was not in Rambam or Saadia's works, we have to be stringent to verify if there is a traditon.
      This is Hatam Sofer's pricniple of Hadash assur min haTorah, if you like, just like we dont accept Chabad's messianic claims, or reform, because they are bringing something entirely new to the table.

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

      You have a serious problem using the Chasam Sofer's principle in a way he didn't since he clearly accepted kabbala as did his rebbeim.

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    9. Regarding the Rambam's claim that a dispute shows that it can't be from Sinai. This is a very problematic assertion. Since Chazal clearly say that the entire Torah was given as Sinai. The Chasam Sofer rejects the Rambama's assertion here

      חידושי החתם סופר (ביצה ה:) בריש סוגיא דדבר שנאסר במנין "החלק השני מה שבא בקבלה איש מפי איש הלכה למשה מסיני. ובזה לא ימצא מחלוקות, וכבר עמדו על הרמב"ם בזה דהרבה מחלוקות מצינו בהלכה למשה מסיני, ולולי דמסתפינא הייתי מקיים מקצת דבריו ז"ל ולומר, בודאי מצינו שנחלקו בקבלה ואיך היתה או אם היה הלכה למשה מסיני בזה או לא, כי זה קיבל מרבו כן וזה כן, על ידי השכחה והצרות נתבלבלה הקבלה ובא בה פלוגתא, אך אחר שעמדו למנין בדור אחד מחכמי ישראל והסכימו רבים לדעת אחד מהם שכך היה הקבלה ונתבטלו דברי היחיד, שוב לא שייך מחלוקות בדור שאחריו שיחלוק עם הדור שלפניו ולסמוך על דעת היחיד שכך היה הלכה למשה מסיני, כי זה איננו דבר דתליא בסברא כי אם בקבלה, וכיון שהראשונם סמכו על הרוב שקבלו נגד דעת היחיד, אין כח בבית דין שלאחריו לחלוק על הרוב בזה, והא נכון מאוד אם לא ימצא דבר מתנגד לזה"

      See in great detail the Chavis Yair

      חוות יאיר (סימן קצב) ...כי כל דבריו [הרמב"ם] תמוהים וא"א לעניית דעתי וקולשת שכלי לחולמם ולקרבם אל דעת נוטה ודעת תורה בש"ס. (ואין דבריי דרך מי שמשיג ודוחה דברי מי שקדמו רק כמודיע צערו לרבים במה שלא ירד לפלנות חקרי לב ודעת קדושים).
      ונחקרה ונשובה על האחרון ראשון. כי יאמר שכל מחלוקת שאינה בפי' כתובים או ע"פ י"ג מידו אינו ענין לומר שא' משני דעות שנחלקו בו הל"מ. וע"כ עליהם ארז"ל שלא היה מחלוקת בישראל עד הזוגות ומשם נתרבה והלך. איך יקבל השכל אם לא היה להם קבלה עד מרע"ה איש מפי איש איך השוו כל חכמי ישראל לדעת אחת בדברים הבנוום ע"פ השכל ויש פנים לכאן ולכאן?
      שנית למודים הנלמדים מי"ג מידות הם מסיני כמ"ש וא"כ לא שייך בהם שכחה. והרי התלמוד מלא במחלוקת בהם והיר ג"ש שלכ"ע צריך שיהיה ללומד בקבלה על מרע"ה ובלי ספק שמרע"ה ביאר הג"ש ביאור היטיב והרי נחלקו בה...וזה בא ע"י שכחות המלות או המקומות כי הלילה לומר כי קבלת מרע"ה מסיני או מסירתו ליהושוע היה חסר הבנה. ואפילו האומר כל התורה מן השמים חוץ מק"ו זה ה"ז אפיקורס...
      שלישית דפ"ק דברכות דריש מקרא ואתנה לך את לחות האבן וגו' שגם משנה ותלמוד ניתן למרע"ה מסיני ולפי דעת הרב לא ניתן קר פי' מקראות ודברים הנדרשים במידו' שהם חלק פחות מא' ממאה מדינים הנזכרים במשנה וגמרא.
      גם על כל אמר משה קיבל תורה מסיני ומסרה ליהושוע...יש מקום עיון רב מאד. דאם ר"ל דכל דעות הנזכרים במשנה ותלמוד וחלקי הסותר נאמרו לו וכמשמעות גמר' גחגיגה על פסוק כלם נתנו מרועה אחר ור"ל דעות המטמאין והמטהרין הפוסלי' ומכשירי'...ופי' הריטב"א דמ"ש אלו ואלו דא"ה ר"ל שהקב"ה אמר למרע"ה שיהיה ההלכה מסורה לחכמי הדור. מלבד שדבר זה תמוה כי מה יועיל דבר שבאמת טמא (...ונוכל לומר אה"נ ניתן לחכמים כח זה והתעוררות עליונים תלוי בחכמים התחתונים דומה למ"ש רז"ל בירושלמי ... נמלכו ב"ד לעבר השנה בתוליה חוזרין. וגעתי קלה מלקבל זה באובנתא דלבי וחלילה להרהר על דבריהם)...מה שיסכימו כחמים שהוא טהור ומה יועיל הסכמת הרופא באמרו על סם המות שהוא סם חיים נסבול פה זה ונסתפק בתירוץ שבאמת אינו מספיק ונאמר שאין תגבורות הטומאה והקליפה מכל נגיעה ואכילה וביאה וכל מעשה נתעב רק מצד שהוא רע ונמאס בעיני ה'. וכי יאמר ה' שיהיה ביד ב"ד לנהוג בור כרצונם לא יזיק מאומה...

      Bottom line - a dispute is not a proof that it is not from Sinai

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    10. There is no question there are disputes as to what is Halacha L'Moshe m'Sinai

      There are a number of terms which are understood to be Halacha LeMoshe. Halacha. The Shaloh brings from the Klali HaGemora of Rav Yosef Karo that it is not always Halacha LeMoshe MeSinai and that furthermore there can be dispute as to whether something is Halacha LeMoshe MeSinai. The Shaloh cites the term d'var Torah which is sometimes used to denote Halacha LeMoshe MeSinai. The Netziv (Introduction to She'iltos) notes that the term g'miri is viewed as Halacha LeMoshe MeSinai by Rashi and Tosfos. He disagrees, however, and asserts the term denotes a halacha which results from analysis and a vote from the expression nimnu v'gamru. He supports this contention by the fact that the Rambam (Introduction to Mishna) only lists as Halacha LeMoshe those that are specifically cited as Halacha LeMoshe or that use the term b'emes amru (Yerushalmi Shabbos). This explanation is similar to that offered by the Chasam Sofer. The Chasam Sofer (Beitza 5a) states that there can be debate as to whether something is Halacha LeMoshe. This is the result of forgetting and troubles that confuse the tradition. However, periodically there were votes as to what is a legitimate part of the Mesorah. Once there is a vote, the majority determines what is part of the Mesorah and the minority opinion is rejected. Therefore it is not relevant that there is further dispute in the next generation that they should rely on the rejected minority opinion. Future generations have no ability to go against the majority as to what the Mesora is since this is not dependent upon logic.

      Delete
    11. Sometimes Rabbinic laws are described as Halacha L'Moshe

      The Mishna (Yadayim 4:3) states “Rabbi Eliezar says don’t pay attention to your vote. I have a tradition from Rabbi Yochanon ben Zakai who heard from this Rebbe and his Rebbe from his Rebbe until Halacha LeMoshe M’Sinai that in Amon and Moab there is Maaser Ani during Shiviis.” The Bartenuro (Yadayim 4:3) notes that this is not really a Halacha LeMoshe M’Sinai because it is not a Torah Law. He notes, however, that it seems from the Tosefta (Yadayim 2:7) that it is a genuine Halacha LeMoshe M’Sinai. Tosfos Yom Tov (Yadayim 4:3) also indictates that the Tosefta asserts that it is genuine. He suggests that the description of Maaser Ani as being Maaseh Zikeinim (Rabbinic) was only before the Chachomim heard the testimony of Rabbli Eliezar. The Tiferes Yisroel (Yadayim 4:3 #44) comments that there are opinions that it is genuine while others hold that it was such an strong and ancient Rabbinic decree that seemed like a Halacha LeMoshe M’Sinai. Kesef Mishna (Matanas Aniyam 6:5) also says it is Rabbinic and says the Rambam (Matanas Aniyam 6:5) holds that way also even though the Rambam calls it Halacha LeMoshe M’Sinai. The Rambam (Terumos 1:1) clearly states that Maaser is only a Torah Halacha in Israel and not in Amon and Moab.

      Delete
    12. "Let's see texts that go back to the Tannaim: Sepher Yetzirah, Sefer HaBahir, and the Zohar(initially called, as Rav Kasher points out in his article Raza Rabba), the Hekhalot(there are a few others that I have named before, but can't remember now, and don't have time to look up). Now if the Tannaim, Amoraim, Geonim and Rishonim considered these texts to be Torah, they are Torah. Burden of proof rests on you to prove that they are not."

      Tanaim? What Tanaim? Oh you mean you want to explain Arbah Nichnisu L'Pardes as meaning Kabbalah so there yoiu have proof? Sorry Charlie... You can't read into the Gemarah what you want and then say it is a proof!

      Sefer Yetzirah? Been through this before.. again Sefer Yetzirah is not Kabbalah and the Sefiros that are referenced there have nothing to do with the Kabbalistic Sefiros.

      Sefer Habahir... again... The Meili and many of the Reshonim of his time denounced it and in fact said it was a Mitzva to burn it... doesn't sound like a reliable source of Meserah to me!

      So I'm sorry to say the proof rests with you from a source other than a Kabbalistic source... that is what we call circular reasoning.

      Delete
    13. RTanaim? What Tanaim? Oh you mean you want to explain Arbah Nichnisu L'Pardes as meaning Kabbalah so there yoiu have proof? Sorry Charlie... You can't read into the Gemarah what you want and then say it is a proof!

      Sefer Yetzirah? Been through this before.. again Sefer Yetzirah is not Kabbalah and the Sefiros that are referenced there have nothing to do with the Kabbalistic Sefiros.


      Pardes was Kabbalah, and you have yet to prove otherwise. You are the once coming with an interpretation that is foreign to Judaism.
      Sefer Yetzirah- Have you actually read Saadia Geon's commentary? It would seem not, and again you have other Geonim that mention the work, and again, all of the other Rishonim(and everyone since, as well as other Geonim that mentioned it) considered it Kabbalah.
      Sefer HaBahir- The Meili was the only Rishon who(possibly) opposed the Bahir. However who is he? If you take the secular scholarly argument that the Bahir is(one of two)a surviving portion of Raza Rabbah, and as the consensus even among secular scholars state, that it had to have been written no later than 900, who is the Meili to go against it? Why didn't the Rambam? Why didn't the Geonim, many of whom quoted it, under the title Raza Rabba, in their Teshuvot?

      On that note though, if you think that we should toss away any work that a single sage disputed, what do you do with Kohelet, Shir HaShirim, Esther or the Rambam for that matter?

      So I'm sorry to say the proof rests with you I'm fairly sure that you misspoke here, but in your error their is truth.

      from a source other than a Kabbalistic source...
      So you want to me to exclude virtually every Geon, Rishon and Acharon(aside from maybe three or four) and thus provide you with a source? I'm also assuming that you would reject secular scholars like Moshe Idel...
      I'm sorry but I don't know what religion you think you follow, but it is not Judaism.

      Delete
    14. Pardes was Kabbalah, and you have yet to prove otherwise. You are the once coming with an interpretation that is foreign to Judaism.

      Rambam and Meiri... how about them for starters?

      Delete
    15. Rambam and Meiri... how about them for starters?
      Neither of them say that. You are reading it into what they are saying. So that doesn't work.

      You have yet to answer to the questions I put above.

      Why is it impossible to get a copy of the Tohar HaYichud in Hebrew? Why has it not been shown to any of the Gedolim? Seems to be me that not only is that a shady way to operate, it is because you and your group know the response your(already condemned heresy) would receive.

      One additional question. If you reject 99% of our Rabbanim and Gedolim for the better part of the last 2000yrs, where is your Mesora? What religion to do you belong to?

      Delete
    16. I follow Yahadus based on Toras HaShem Temimah... the same Toras HaShem that nowhere states that one is required to accept Kabbalah... On the other hand that same Toras HaShem would classify someone with a mistaken view of Yichud HaShem as a Kofer (at least according to most Reshonim)... That is the religion I follow... Ain Le Aisek B'Nistoros.

      Delete
  3. Thank you for posting Rav Sedley's article and the Shem M'Shimon text.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What does k'peshuto mean? Does it mean that there are those that believe it was a physical process? How is that defensible?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No so much a physical process per se, as it means that G-d is removed from the world. Notice the neo-Rambamists here claim that such must be the case, and eino k'peshuto implies an automatic pantheism which they claim is anti-thetical to Judaism.

      Though as Rav Shimon Agasi points out, in their extremes both views violate the Ikkarim of the Rambam.

      Delete
  5. Firstly how do u get the italic font?

    You must enclose the text in one set of the HTML code tags shown below, and
    Substitute < for (
    Substitute > for )

    (i)Text between these tags will be Italic Text(/i)
    (b)Text between these tags will be Bold Text(/b)
    (u)Text between these tags will be Underlined Text(/u)

    ReplyDelete
  6. R Tzadok

    Your maligning of Shadal is very wrong and so disrespectful. you have no idea who he was. He was a true Yirei shamyaim so I do not know where you come off with your chutzpadik remarks about him.

    He did write his vikuach in his youth. He was surrounded bu friends who believed in kabala and he for whatever reason did not feel so comfortable with it and did an in depth analysis and then wrote his sefer which eh showed to his friends as a way to defend himself. This was not a polemic as you have erroneously claimed. He then decided to not publish it because he saw that so many were involved in kabala and were good G-D fearing jews who actually drew musar from kabala and he did not want to confuse them even though he totally believed in his position. He waited 25 years and decided to publish it only after he met someone who had come across the vikuach - there were a few copies around - and pleaded with him to publish his work. Shadal writes - and I am not sure I understood his reference correctly - that he decided to publish it because of the chassidim and the denigration of kavod hatorah. He then adds that he asks Hashem that his words should increase emunah and not chas veshalom cause any issues in emunah.

    This clearly is a special person, truthful, independent, not a rabble rouser, concerned for kall yisroel, willing to withhold his sefer because he did not want to cause waves.

    Yet you say he stopped learning when he was 13 and that he was a kofer bikar. you are really incredibly shallow I must say.

    continued...

    ReplyDelete
  7. From critic:

    You responded to my comment about Shadal's Rebbi which the vikuach mentions with a sarcastic and condescending remark saying that perhaps I did not realize that the book is a made up story. This was your proof that Shadal did not learn from a REbbi because I had "foolishly" not understood that the sefer was a work of fiction.

    I know that the sefer was a "made up story" but there are true parts to it and this is one of them. In fact, on bottom of the page, Shadal even says when his Rebbi died and that he was a brother of Horav Hmefuar R Avraham Kolonia. His Rebbi, he calls my REbbi Muvhak R Mordechai Yitchak Polonia. THis is all clearly and factually true...though you must have thought that Shadal invented all of this. He also tells the story about what happened when he read the R BAchya to his Rebbi and the story takes place when Shadal was 16...yet you claim that Shadal did not learn after 13 and did not have a Rebbi. Here is the story with his Rebbi and you can see that it was plain to both of them that R BAchya meant They are G-D - the Yud Sefiros...not your explantion that it means To them or Rav Chavell that it means that they have power.

    Know that I was 16 years old, and I was attending before my primary teacher {rabbi muvhak} the pious sage Rabbi Mordechai Yitzchak Kolonia, zlh"h (*), who was at the end of his days a blind man, and I would read before him, and write from his dictation his derashot.

    And it was that day that I read before him the verse {in Kohelet 12:1} וּזְכֹר, אֶת-בּוֹרְאֶיךָ, בִּימֵי, בְּחוּרֹתֶיךָ and I said to him: Rabbi! The word בוראך is written with a yud.

    And he said: Silence! What are you putting forth out of your mouth? Is this not a scribal error?

    And I answered and said: But my master, it appears to me that in have already seen in Rabbenu Bachya that he darshens this yud, and behold it appears that there is no scribal error here.

    And he said to me: Take the sefer Minchas Shai.

    And I took it, and I found written therein: בּוֹרְאֶיךָ written plene with a yud, and see in Bachya at the beginning of parashat Bereishit.

    And my rebbi said to me: Take sefer Bachya.

    And I took it, and I sought in it, and I found that he darshens the word אלהים as two words, אל and הם, and that this is the explanation of the yud of וּזְכֹר אֶת-בּוֹרְאֶיךָ written plene.

    {The implication is El Hem, they are God. And the yud implies 10, such that there are ten of them. Thus, the Sefirot.}

    And my rebbi was astonished and he said: Forfend! The Sefirot are not Divinity!





    You are Mamash Motzee Laaz on a great man!


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just deal with it. He stopped any formal Jewish education at the age of 13. Anything he says after that is made up.

      As far as Rabbeinu Bachya, deal with it. He got it wrong.

      Delete
  8. From Critic:

    As to Ramchal, any book you pick up and any document about the famous controversey you will see that one of the issues was that he did not have a beard. If it doesnt meet your worldview does not mean that it did not happen. In fact some chassidim have opposed him for that very reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't care that he didn't have a beard. The Chalban doesn't have a beard. So what? Why is that even a contention for you?

      Delete
    2. Is the Chalban accepted by your Rabanim? I have heard Rav Yaakov Hillel say dismissive things about him.

      Delete
  9. From Critic:

    As to Arizal, it really does not matter that his Rebbi was Radvaz or that he learned with the SHitah. He likely learned NIglah from them. It is a fact that he was given the ZOhar by an Uncle and fell in love with it and secluded himself for 7 years and learned WITHOUT a Rebbi, so for you to claim that his Rebbi in kabbal was the Radvaz is laughable. Perhaps he learned some from the Radvaz but clearly those 7 years when he became the great Arizal he absolutely did not have a Rebbi!

    ReplyDelete
  10. From Critic:

    As to Arizal, it really does not matter that his Rebbi was Radvaz or that he learned with the SHitah. He likely learned NIglah from them. It is a fact that he was given the ZOhar by an Uncle and fell in love with it and secluded himself for 7 years and learned WITHOUT a Rebbi, so for you to claim that his Rebbi in kabbal was the Radvaz is laughable. Perhaps he learned some from the Radvaz but clearly those 7 years when he became the great Arizal he absolutely did not have a Rebbi!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a fact that he was given the ZOhar by an Uncle and fell in love with it and secluded himself for 7 years and learned WITHOUT a Rebbi, so for you to claim that his Rebbi in kabbal was the Radvaz is laughable.

      What is laughable is that you make these statements in total ignorance.

      Just reading through Rav Chaim Vital's introduction to Shaar Hakdamot you will find that the Arizal learned Nistar from Rav Ibn Zimra, and his uncle Rav Betzalel.

      Further if you had actually read Rav Chaim Vital's autobiography instead of just pulling quotes from somewhere else, you would have found that even when the Ari secluded himself, on Shabbat he would learn all day in the Beit Midrash with his Rav, reviewing what he had learned during the week.

      You are simply demonstrating a total ignorance of primary sources.

      Delete
  11. From critic:

    As to R Tzadok's point about Shadal and higher criticism - it is a total lie! He believed in lower criticism...in textual emendations...though he said it was ASUR to change any sefer torah of course. He did not at all believe in Higher Criticsm which believes that the Torah is no Divine. So please do not further malign a truly great man and intellect and a very moral person.

    What does this say about your credibility?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He believed in lower criticism...in textual emendations...
      According to the Rambam he was a kofer b'ikar.

      though he said it was ASUR to change any sefer torah of course.
      Source?
      He did not at all believe in Higher Criticsm which believes that the Torah is no Divine.
      Not true on either count. You can believe that the Torah was divine, but still believe higher criticism/source criticsim. I suggest you talk to the blogger DovBer about that. Since he does believe in higher criticism and that the Torah is divine...

      So please do not further malign a truly great man and intellect and a very moral person.

      So let me understand this. You have no problem maligning a Rishon like Rabbeinu Bachya(as well as a number of others) by making up things and reading what you want into what they say. But when it comes to a man who both made up these lies about Rabbeinu Bachya(and accuses a number of other Rishonim and Achronim of being essentially Kofrim) you get upset?

      What does this say about your credibility?
      Everything that I have said can be backed up with textual sources and basic Hebrew grammar.

      You have yet to offer a single source for your own wild claims.

      Delete
    2. Whether or not he was Shomer Shabbos I have been unable to ascertain. However he did explicitly write in his Iggerot Shadal #238 that he rejected several of the Rambam's ikkarim and was generally opposed them, and their halakhic ramifications. Sorry I haven't been able to find an online version of it.

      Delete
    3. I "like" the way RAMATZ uses the Rambam selectively , above he writes "According to the Rambam he was a kofer b'ikar.".
      Any Maimonidean Philosophy/Halacha that supports his ideology, Ramatz is quick to accept. Anythign that opposes his kabbalistic views, he rejects, or relies on others rejecting the same Rambam.

      Point in case, the enigma of Aryeh Kaplan.
      This give a very frum biography of Kaplan http://heichalhanegina.blogspot.co.uk/2006/02/music-meditation-and-prophecy-as.html

      He got a big semicha and studied st major yehivot. He may have done a stint in a conservative shul, but that didnt make him conservative.
      His The Handbook of Jewish Thought is a clear manifesto for pantheistic heresy, where he claims that G-d infuses the entire earth with his essence. Now, if we use RAMATZ's quote above, it also applies to Mr Kaplan.

      I hope, bli neder, to write a guest post (RDE willing), on Rambam and Kabbalah.
      I found in Nefesh Hachaim that R Haim writes that in agreement with his kabbalah, the rambam writes in the Moreh that G-d's soul is the soul of the world, in the same way that man's soul is the soul of the body. Nothign can be further from the truth, Rambam is totally misrepresented as a closet pantheist.
      More to come...

      Delete
    4. I "like" the way RAMATZ uses the Rambam selectively , above he writes "According to the Rambam he was a kofer b'ikar.".
      Any Maimonidean Philosophy/Halacha that supports his ideology, Ramatz is quick to accept. Anythign that opposes his kabbalistic views, he rejects, or relies on others rejecting the same Rambam.


      Where have I rejected anything of the Rambam? Rav Kapach sure. The Shadal, you bet. The Rambam, absolutely not. I may argue your interpretation of the Rambam, but not the Rambam himself.

      I found in Nefesh Hachaim that R Haim writes that in agreement with his kabbalah, the rambam writes in the Moreh that G-d's soul is the soul of the world, in the same way that man's soul is the soul of the body.
      Prove it. Please demonstrate from the Rambam that the world could exist apart from G-d giving it life, and thus that the world is not dependent upon G-d for it's existence.

      Nothign can be further from the truth, Rambam is totally misrepresented as a closet pantheist.
      You say that because you do not understand what Pantheism is, and you do not understand what the Nefesh HaChaim is saying.
      First Pantheism is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the universe (or nature) is identical with divinity.

      That is not the position of the Nefesh HaChaim(nevermind that he reversed himself on parts of his sefer). The Nefesh HaChaim's point is that G-d gives life to all of the world and lacking that creation would cease to exist, and come apart, just as a body does lacking a soul. It is a metaphor, that you want to read literally, which is the fastest surest way to come to error in reading Kabbalistic texts, as again you would know if you had the proper introductions into these texts:
      והיום הזה ראיתי כי הקןראים בספרי המקובלים לפי תומם, מבלי עיון וחקירה, לא יבינו דבריהם על אמיתותם, ויכשלו בכמה עיקרי האמונה. שומר אמונמים ויכוח שני מ"ו

      Quite honestly you are coming to these texts with preconceived notions of what you are going to find, and you are already 99% sure that it is going to be Kefira, so you read into them what you want, being Mevazeh many many Talmidei Hakhamim for generations in the process.

      A little bit of humility would be nice. If you honestly think you are a better Talmid Hakham then the GR"A, the Beit Yosef, the Rema, the Nefesh HaChaim, Rav Chaim Kanievski ect. then at least tell us who you really are. Second to that, show some actual proficiency in the primary texts of Kabbalah and their mefarshim before you declare yourself an expert on what they are saying and what they mean.

      Delete
    5. A Professor said recently not to use wikipedia as a scholarly reference.

      Immanentism, where Godliness is infused in the world, is an ancient pagan / Sabean belief, which Maimonides sets up to demolish in his Guide.

      I accept that R'H does some flip-flops in his Sefer, and that he is trying to fight a more radical "immanentism" of the Tanya.

      As far as Maimonidean thought is concerned, the presence in the world of G-d is corporealistic, and heretical.

      "Prove it."

      Just read the Rambam, and see that he is being misquoted by R' Haim. In my guest post I give the references.

      Delete
    6. As far as Maimonidean thought is concerned, the presence in the world of G-d is corporealistic, and heretical.

      So you are claiming that the Rambam states that G-d has physical limits? This was the Rashba's problem on the first mishnah of the Bahir, and Rav Agasi's problem with Rav Riki's shittah above. If you say that G-d cannot be in the world at all you are saying that G-d has physical limits, which directly contradicts what the Rambam wrote in his Yesodei HaTorah.

      Delete
    7. As far as Maimonidean thought is concerned, the presence in the world of G-d is corporealistic, and heretical.
      So you are saying that G-d has physical boundaries and is limited.

      Just read the Rambam, and see that he is being misquoted by R' Haim. In my guest post I give the references.
      I did and I found this:
      ז ואלוהינו ברוך שמו, הואיל וכוחו אין לו קץ ואינו פוסק, שהרי הגלגל סובב תמיד, אין כוחו כוח גוף. והואיל ואינו גוף, לא יארעו מאורעות הגופות כדי שיהא נחלק ונפרד מאחר; לפיכך אי אפשר שיהיה אלא אחד. וידיעת דבר זה--מצות עשה, שנאמר "ה' אלוהינו, ה' אחד" (דברים ו,ד).

      ח הרי מפורש בתורה ובנביא, שאין הקדוש ברוך הוא גוף וגווייה: שנאמר "כי ה' אלוהיכם, הוא האלוהים בשמיים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת" (ראה דברים ד,לט; יהושוע ב,יא), והגוף לא יהיה בשני מקומות. ונאמר "כי לא ראיתם, כל תמונה" (דברים ד,טו), ונאמר "ואל מי תדמיוני, ואשווה" (ישעיהו מ,כה); ואילו היה גוף, היה דומה לשאר גופים.

      Which says pretty clearly that G-d is in the world.

      Delete
  12. From Critic:

    Daas Torah,

    What type of question is that? The MEkubal makes up a bunch of nonsense and you actually think it is true?

    Shadal was not shomer shabbos???? What????? this is really wild and shows you how dishonest hamekubal is.

    I would suggest that both of you read his vikuach and try to respond to his points

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am dishonest? When have I said that the Shadal wasn't shomer shabbat? I even answered honestly that I have no idea, however I do know that he wrote explicitly that he rejects the Rambams 13 principles, and gave a source.

      Delete
  13. From Critic

    r tZADOK - I never maligned R BAchya - I said that he is stating the the sefiros are G-D.

    You are maligning SHADAL by attacking his qualifications...all false charges. you have not dealt with anything he said

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually I, with a little help from Rabbi Eidensohn and Eddie, proved rather decisively that when it came to his (mis)quote of Rabbeinu Bachya that he got it entirely wrong.

      Further claiming that Rabbeinu Bachya even thought, let alone wrote something that is absolute Kefira, is maligning him.

      As far as a point by point refutation of the Vikuach... I don't see the point in reinventing the wheel. Again if you are going to enter this debate,I thought you would have known that the Shadal's Vikuach had already been soundly rebutted.

      Delete
  14. As to Arizal, it really does not matter that his Rebbi was Radvaz or that he learned with the SHitah. He likely learned NIglah from them. It is a fact that he was given the ZOhar by an Uncle and fell in love with it and secluded himself for 7 years and learned WITHOUT a Rebbi, so for you to claim that his Rebbi in kabbal was the Radvaz is laughable.

    Chida, Shem Gedolim 332:
    האר"י ז"ל והרב יצחק אפומאדו והרב יצחק פאסי היו שלשתם תלמידים יושבים לפני הרב הגדול הרדב"ז ז"ל. והאר"י ז"ל כשהיה בן טו"ב שנה יום אחד נכנס ואמר לפני הרדב"ז ג' שיש כאן ששמם יצחק ותמה הרב על דרכיו ואמר לו מה כונתך בני ומה חידוש אמרת, אמר לו רבי כונתי ששלשתנו שוים בשם וכל אחד נפרד לענין אחר, אני אתעסק בקבלה וחברי כמה"ר יצחק אפומאדו יצא שמו ככל העולם בחכמת העיון וחברי הח"ר יצחק פאסי יהיה גדול להפציר על כל ענין ולעשות בהפק ונתקימו דבריו.
    Now first let me say that earlier in the Ot the Chida tells us that that Ari was signing Haskamot and letters from the Hakhamei Mitzriam when he was already 15(in that he was a lot like the Taz). So it should not surprise us that since he was already married and Baki in Shas and Poskim that his Rav granted his request. However, here we find that when the Ari was 17 he started studying Kabbalah under the Radvaz. It wasn't until he was 22 that he spent 6(not seven at least according to the Chida) years in his hut, where he still returned the to the Beit Midrash to learn with the Radvaz every Shabbat. Then from 28 until he was 35 he studied with the Radvaz. At 35 he moved to Jerusalem where his uncle Rav Betzalel initially refused to allow him to teach Kabbalah publicly. He later became convinced of the Ari's brilliance and relented. He then moved to Tzfat where he studied for a brief time under the Ramak, who left him in charge of his school of Kabbalah after his death(initially to the displeasure of the Marchu).

    So we have the Ari studying Kabbalah under the Radvaz for five years before his seclusion. A sufficiently brilliant Talmid Hakham(which is an understatement in relation to the Ari) out to be self-sufficient in his studies after a period of five years instruction.

    so for you to claim that his Rebbi in kabbal was the Radvaz is laughable.
    What is laughable is your ignorance of primary sources in a field you want to argue about.

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  15. R Tzadok

    I will look at the chida.

    How do you interpret the Bais Yosef's famous answer to a question from the Ari where he rebuked him for not understanding basic peshat?

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  16. From Critic:

    R Tzadok - You have done it again!!!! You rip into Shadal as an unworthy source claiming at the very least that he was an ignorant boor who did not have a Rebbi or learn after 13 and that he an apikoris.

    Yet, you found a staunch defender of the kabala in Rabbi Benamozegh!!! IS this a joke or were you serious? A little bit from Wikipedia about this great Rabbi! So you trust him and believe that he totally refuted Shadal. THis is incredibly dishonest and proves my point that it would be impossbile to convince you as are entrenched in your position and it is too late for you to admit error. As long as the source in question is pro kabbala, you are on board with him - no matter how sketchy his credentials. IF the person is against kabbala as the Shadal was, he must be an oisvorf.

    Unlike you, I will read this Rabbi's "refutation" and ssee if perhaps his points will convince me that Shadal was wrong.

    Benamozegh's works are noted for his free and uninhibited use of various non-Jewish religious sources, especially the New Testament and ancient pagan mythology. Benamozegh even considered the Gospels to be a highly valuable Jewish Midrash, comparable to the Talmudic Aggadah. He respected Jesus as a wise righteous Jew, but criticized the religious innovations of Paul.

    In his theological works, Benamozegh suggested to explain the Christian dogmas of Trinity and Incarnation as an oversimplified and corrupt version of the Kabbalistic panentheistic doctrine of Divine emanations.[3] While he disagreed with the Trinitarian Christian theology, he considered it, unlike most other Orthodox rabbis, an erroneous misunderstanding of subtle Kabbalistic doctrines and not a major deviation from monotheism. Moreover, he claimed that Christianity is too monotheistic in comparison with the Kabbalah which views all pagan deities in their essence as partial manifestations or faces of the Absolute. Similarly, Benamozegh criticized the Christian view of Jesus as incarnated God on monistic or panentheistic grounds. According to Benamozegh's Kabbalistic view, the entire world is an incarnation of Shechina, the feminine aspect of Divinity. He believed that Hinduism is closer in this respect to mystical Judaism than Christianity.[4]

    Benamozegh's universalist views were recently promoted by Adin Steinsaltz, who made a somewhat similar attempt to unify all major world religions and philosophies.[10][11]

    Benamozegh considered himself, simultaneously, an Italian patriot and an cosmopolitan. He believed that authentic mystical core of the Jewish tradition, which he called "Hebraism" as opposed to more isolationist exoteric Judaism, is profoundly universal and capable of uniting all world religions and nations into one brotherly cosmopolitan network. While Benamozegh believed in the unique spiritual mission of the Jews, his idea of Jewish chosenness was far from narrow particularism. According to his worldview, the Jews are chosen to serve the humanity as a priestly people, by proving a common mystical ground that transcends the boundaries of the nations and religious traditions. He also emphasized the impact of other cultures on Judaism, starting from the ancient Egyptian paganism, as well as the great role of the proselytes in the Jewish history. Unlike some exclusivist Kabbalists, Benamozegh believed that Kabbalah is a universal theology that unites all human beings and views them as equals.

    At the same time, Benamozegh was a staunch Italian patriot. He even wrote a daring formulation, based on the Jewish declaration of faith: O Israelites, that you will always love Italy, that you will love her with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. Apparently, according to his panentheistic philosophy, Benamozegh viewed the Italian soil as a specially beloved expression of the Shechina

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