Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What do Kabbalists believe regarding HaShem and His unity? Rav Eliyahu Mani's pirush on Petach Eliyahu

guest post by Rav Michael  Tzadok  Since there seems to be some confusion about what Kabbalists actually believe concerning HaShem and his unity, I thought I would offer this translation of Rav Eliyahu Mani's pirush on the Petach Eliyahu, from his sefer Kise Eliyahu.  This covers the first two pages of it(according to the Recent Ahavat Shalom printing).  
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Eliyahu HaNavi, may he be remembered for good, opened and said: Master of the Universe You are one, but not in counting  The master of the universe clothes, is the Ein Sof, B”H and it is clothed in the sephirot and the upper worlds.  He is one but not in a way that can be counted, just as the Rambam Z”L wrote, This God is one. He is not two or more, but one, unified in a manner which surpasses any unity that is found in the world; i.e., He is not one in the manner of a general category which includes many individual entities, nor one in the way that the body is divided into different portions and dimensions. Rather, He is unified, and there exists no unity similar to His in this world.

Your are the most supernal of all the supernals and they are all the worlds and all of the supernal aspects that we do not have even the ability to speak about, and the Ein Sof B”H is supreme over all of them for he is the emanator of all of them and gives them all life.

Most hidden of all the hidden for all of the various aspects that the Ein Sof B”H emanated they are concealed one within another, and all of the greater are concealed within thouse that are lower than them, and the Ein Sof B”H is hidden with the aspect that is the greatest of all.

No mind can grasp you at all there is no mind that can grasp or understand him at all, and it is not possible for any intellect to understand, and to think and to know him even if it were to spend eternity in the attempt.

You are the one who brought out ten rectifications, and they are called the ten Sephirot these are the ten sephirot that the Ein Sof B”H emanated.

In order to govern through them the worlds which are not revealed and the worlds which are revealed For there are aspects about which we are forbidden to even ask, and these are called the hidden worlds, and there are worlds about which we are able to ask and these are called the revealed worlds, and there are aspects about which we can ask but we cannot quantify, and there are aspects about which we can ask and even quantify, for the Malkhut is called a revealed world about which we can and quantify.

And within them you conceal yourself from the sons of men. For the Ein Sof B”H dresses within the aspects that are below him, and it is the same with with each of the aspects one after another.

And you tie them together and unite them For the higher aspect is the the interior and soul(neshamah) of the aspect that is beneath it, and the Ein Sof B”H is the soul of every soul, and give them life like the soul(neshama) does to the body, and as the soul, if it is separated from the body it immediately begins to decompose, for it binds and unifies it’s four elements and by being within it it gives them life.

35 comments:

  1. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 22, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Today, Tuesday, January 22, 2013 is election day in Israel, and the best you can do is post pontifications by R Michael Tzadok about the Sefiros?

    You posted a bit about the shenanigans of Amon Yitzhak, who by now won't get in to the Knesset since the voter turn-out among the secular is too high for him to pass the threshold to get even one seat.

    But there is so much that applies to TODAY that you could be posting about, such as the arrival of the Satmar Rebbe from Williamsburg, Brooklyn in Israel who addressed a rally telling them NOT to vote (doesn't he have enough to do in America like stop child abuse at home?) that was sponsored by the Eidah HaChareidis (the Satmar Rebbe supports Weberman but opposes voting in Israel, now isn't that looney don't you think?), is that your position also, not to vote so you ignore what's going on around yopu and instead talk about the chalomes of the Kabbalah?

    What about some DA'AS TORAH about the latest Israeli elections?
    How about the views and statements of Rav Shteinman and the Gedolim who are involved in telling Charedi Jews in Israel to vote today. It will effect the question of befits to Charedim and the issue of the draft.

    What about some posts about the other Charedi parties like Shas and the views of Rav Ovadya Yosef? Is it good that Aryhe Deri is back and will he help or ruin Shas?

    How about the Religious Zionist parties, especially the growing Bayit HaYehidi party headed by the 40 year old Religious Zionist politician of American parentage Naftali Bennet who speaks English better than even Netanyahu?

    What are Gedolim and Rabbanim saying about what is going on today on election day Tuesday, January 22, 2013 in Israel??? Some Da'as Torah about that please??? Prattling on and on about the Kabbalah just does not slice it.

    Very disappointing to see you avoid what is right in front of your nose and is critically important.

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    1. RaP I am surprised that such a perceptive person could make such a statement! Israeli politics is much more difficult to comprehend than kabbala. It doesn't make any sense until its over. If you have some clarity I would be glad to publish a guest post from on the subject.

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    2. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 22, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      "Daas Torah said...RaP I am surprised that such a perceptive person could make such a statement! Israeli politics is much more difficult to comprehend than kabbala."

      RaP: Love that line. I am really enjoying it, that "Israeli politics is much more difficult to comprehend than kabbala."!!!! Great line, really!

      "It doesn't make any sense until its over."

      RaP: But you could have at least give some attention to it, not just to Amon Yitzhak's ramblings that will now haunt him.

      "If you have some clarity I would be glad to publish a guest post from on the subject."

      RaP: Okay, let me think it over and see if I can come up with something worthwhile. May as well use that Political Science education I once got...

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  2. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 22, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    "What do Kabbalists believe regarding HaShem and His unity? Rav Eliyahu Mani's pirush on Petach Eliyahu guest post by Rav Michael Tzadok"

    Michael you sound just like you were working for the controversial Philip Berg's Kabbalah Centre people (who are persona non grata in all frum communities), how different are you from them when you teach this stuff to a worldwide audience?

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    1. Michael you sound just like you were working for the controversial Philip Berg's Kabbalah Centre people
      Um no. Phillip Berg's Kabbalah center doesn't teach the Kise Eliyahu, for good reason. No one would stick around if they did. Once again, this isn't Kabbalah. I'm not teaching sitrei Torah or Maaseh Merkava here. Rather, in this case, I have used a text meant to clarify basic issues of the faith. Much like Shomer Emunim.
      (who are persona non grata in all frum communities)Halavai that they were, however that is not the case. Bergs people are throughout most major Jewish communities. They are much more likely to be accepted in Frum communities than they are in actual Kabbalistic Yeshivot and Chevrot, because the Mekubalim actually see the danger they pose.

      how different are you from them when you teach this stuff to a worldwide audience? Again I'm not teaching Kabbalah publicly. In fact you can shiurim on things much more explicit than this put out by major Rabbanim, including Litvakim. This is dicussing the fundamentals of the faith. Nothing more. I don't understand why you are over-reacting to much.

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  3. Ten sephirot, no ten sephirot... hidden, not hidden... totally superfluous for the average person.

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  4. This is pantheism.

    If you claim that G-d has an "aspect" in the moon and in clothed in mount Fuji, like other pagans do, it is the same thing. Stop pretending that you are monotheists, and just admit that you are pantheists who have destroyed the Torah of Moses.

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    1. If you claim that G-d has an "aspect" in the moon and in clothed in mount Fuji
      If being the key phrase there. What the Kabbalists claim is that Hashem is omnipresent and that nothing exists without His will, presence, and providence.

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    2. You have to come clean about the Sephirot. Are they created beings, or demigods? If they are created, then they are no different from the Planets, or how Rambam saw the planets. If they are above creation somehow, with Divine essence, then this is pantheism - for which Maimonides has no kind words.

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    3. The Sephirot. They're created beings. Angels actually according the Rambam's definition of Angels:
      Since they possess no body, what separates the form [of the angels] from each other? Their existence is not alike. Rather each one is below the level of the other and exists by virtue of its influence, [in a progression of levels,] one above the other.

      Everything exists by virtue of the influence of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His goodness. Solomon alluded to this [concept] in his wisdom, saying (Ecclesiastes 5:7): "Because above the one who is high there is a watcher [and there are others higher than them]."
      (Yesodei HaTorah 2:5).

      That my friend is precisely how the Zohar and the AR"I explain the sephirot. In fact certain sephirot of certain worlds are said to correspond with very specific angels from Kabbalistic literature. Though I do not think that is appropriate for an open discussion.

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  5. From Critic:

    Your piece from R David Katz on the Noda Beyehuda was very interesting. It connects to the discussion on the zohar in that the eybeschutz/emden affair is a perfect example of an instance where almost all klal yisroel has kashered R Eybeschutz when in reality the Pnei Yehoshua, R Emden and the Noda Beyhuda all agreed that he was a Sabbetean. Noda Beyhuda agreed in approach only as he did not want a major scandal erupting and weakening people's faith. At the end, he had enough and wrote a letter asking the empress not to allow R Eybeschutz back into the country.

    Point is that clearly Hashem has allowed all of us to be fooled and believe in flasehood for many years and this includes many gedolim and tzadikim. So Rabbi Tzadok would then agree that it is a possibility at least that the same has happened with the zohar itself. Of course, R Tzadok may respond that R Eybeschutz was bot a sabbatean but this flies in the face of all the research done including by frum researcher such as R Katz and Rabbi Sid Leiman

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    1. Point is that clearly Hashem has allowed all of us to be fooled and believe in flasehood for many years and this includes many gedolim and tzadikim.

      If they believed in falsehood, they were not Tzadikim. The Rambam makes that clear in his Yesodei HaTorah. So it is not so clear that this has happened.

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    2. R Tzadok may respond that R Eybeschutz was bot a sabbatean

      I don't see that it matters that he was. In fact if he was, that far more helps my case than if he wasn't.

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    3. And of course the perennial Prof. Scholem also reached the same conclusion about Eybeshutz. Eybeschut's son came out of the closet as an open Sabbatian - but that in itself isn't sufficient proof for the father.

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  6. From Critic:

    R Tzadok - so you are paseling nearly all of our gedolim in the last 2 hundred years who all believed and still do in the great Rebbe R' Yonoson as the chassidim like to call him while at the same time they rip into R Yakov Emden as an insane zealot who had a personal agenda. It is common knowledge that this is the frum communities view of the whole affair, so if he was a sabbetean they all got it wrong...and they all still learn from the seforim including halacha of a MIN and KOFER. SO how exactyl does that help your case? It proves that great people can get it wrong and that Hashem does not necessarily step in to clarify things for them. Same for Zohar. You could not fathom that Hashem would allow such a mistake to be made. Well it is possible, dont you agree?

    As to your claiming that they were not tzadikim because they believed in flasehood well you are eliminating most of our major figures.

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  7. From Critic:

    R Tzadok,

    Can you help me understand the famous Rabbeinu Bachya who states on Beraishis Bara Elokim that Elokim is for: "El Haim" the first 2 letter and the last 2 letters of elokim. They are G-D (yes, you may interpret that he means like G-D or another forced interpretation). Who are they? The YUD in middle of the word. The Ten Sefiros.

    As you know there was a machlokes mekuballim with many believing that the sefiros were part of Hashem and that is what Rabbeinu Bachya apparently is referring to and seeing it in the pasuk. Others could not stomach that so they believed that the sefiros are not G-D, but if they are created beings so what is so great about them so they say that they Emanate from G-D, whatever that means, which puts them outside of G-D yet not "normal" creations of G-D. A sort of compromise so that they did not believe in what they felt was the kefirah of the other mekubbalim

    Surely you realize that many great mekubbalim believed like Rabbeinu Bachya - all based on the Zohar of course. You may want to answer that they all got it wrong and the Arizal cleared this big mess, but what does that say about many great people who are accepted authorities in may areas of halacha and hashkafa?

    As to the other interpreation of emanation, again what does that mean? I dont think there were more than a handful of people who ever honestly believed that they understood it (and that is if we accept the premise that it is true at all)

    Many of us would be more comfortable if we were to believe in sefiros with simply saying that they are highest level super angels possessing an even finer FORM than the malachim who were given jobs to perform...not that they are "EL" or emanations from Hashem.

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    1. Can you help me understand the famous Rabbeinu Bachya who states on Beraishis Bara Elokim that Elokim is for: "El Haim" the first 2 letter and the last 2 letters of elokim. They are G-D (yes, you may interpret that he means like G-D or another forced interpretation). Who are they? The YUD in middle of the word. The Ten Sefiros.

      So let me understand this. First you tell me that all of the Rishonim intially rejected the Zohar. Now you tell me that a contemporary of Moshe DeLeon accepted enough to the point that he wrote a Torah commentary based on it? If you wouldn't mind picking a side, that would be great.

      I would be happy to explain the Rabbeinu Bachya just as soon as you provide either a link or the actual text.

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    2. Yes, the Kabbalists play a duplicitous game. In private, and in their own books, they claim that He is the Sefirot, an they are him (G-d forbid!). When you challenge them as I did R ' Tzadok above, they come up with some cockamamee excuse/denial, saying "oh they are only angels".

      So, like quantum mechanics, they are and are not , hence they are demigods. Thus Kabbalah is idolatry, a la Hagaon R Yicheyeh Kapach.

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    3. Eddie you are the one who is playing games. Where do they say that G-d is identical to the Sefirot etc etc?

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    4. Yes, the Kabbalists play a duplicitous game. In private, and in their own books, they claim that He is the Sefirot, an they are him (G-d forbid!).

      So you are accusing Gedolim such as the GR"A of closet paganism?

      It is bad enough to simply say that they were duped into granting authority to a work that didn't deserve it. However, to say that they are closet pagans... That is too much.

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  8. From critic:

    R Tzadok: I never said that all rishonim rejected it. ALl I or anyone else has said is that there was serious doubt and some serious opposition. you cant seem to accept the possibility that it is not an authentic book.

    DO you recall the Yerushalmi forgery? At the end it was exposed but the forgery was so well done that it almost was successful. Great tzadikim would have learned it and wrote perushim but at the end of the day...it would still be a forgery. same may have happened with the zohar

    Rabbeinu Bachya was one of the first rishonim to make extensive use of the zohar in his pirush on chumash - that is 100% clear - no big deal. I never denied that, though I do not believe that he was an actual contemporary of Moses De Leon. I believe he lived a short time after.

    Why do you say that I should take sides? Perhaps I am looking for the truth but am not convinced that zohar is the answer. I am open to it being correct but there are many questions

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  9. From Critic:

    Eddie is not playing games. that is a low blow. It is pretty obvious that mekuballim to appear to be doing what Eddie says they are.

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  10. From critic:

    r tzadok - look in beraishis for the R Bachya and let me know what you think

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  11. From Critic:

    See al chochmas hakabal from Shadal - a giant of emes in my opinion

    Rgearding the appearance of a yud in the word Bor'echa in Kohelet, he says:

    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!

    And I heard this and did not understand, and I stood shaking, how Rabbenu Bachya {bar Asher} could say something upon which it correct to say "Forfend!" And I knew the aforementioned rabbi who extremely great in wisdom, and also the wisdom of kabbalah was not concealed from before him, even though all his days he did not wish to speak in it a word.

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  12. From critic:

    and more...an early mekubal who explicityl said that gilgul is not an authentic belief:

    Take to me the sefer haEmunot of Rabbi Shem Tov and see.

    {The author now narrates:} And I went and took the sefer haEmunot of Rabbi Shem Tov, and he found written in it (gate 7, chapter 8): "Know that that which a few of the early ones thought that there is transmigration from man to beast, I have also found to a few people who travel the paths of kabbalah, something which is not fitting for anyone of intellect to introduce into his heart."

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  13. From critic:

    and more:

    The author: There is in my hand the sefer Brit Menucha, upon which the Arizal said that all its words are words of Divine Inspiration {ruach hakodesh}, and I recall that he mentions in his introduction the order of the chain of tradition of the wisdom of kabbalah from the first generations. And now, I will show it to you, and you will put your eyes upon his words.

    And I arose to take the sefer, and the man came after me in order to see my library {?}. And I took the sefer Brit Menucha, and I read before him in the introduction, and these are his words there: "And Ezra and his court transmitted it to Shemaya and Avtalyon, etc., and Shemaya and Avtalyon transmitted it to Hillel and Shammai, and this Hillel was Nearyah, of the descendants of David from the seed of the kingship who is mentioned in Divrei haYamim, etc. And Rabbi Akiva to Rabbi Yehuda haNasi, until it reached the hand of Rabbi Shimon." End quote.


    The guest: And what will you answer about the third {point}? Hillel was Nearyah from the seed of Zerubavel, from the seed of royalty, from the seed of Shlomo? But do we not find in the Talmud that Rabbenu haKadosh {=Rabbi Yehuda haNasi} (who was seventh from Hillel) was not from the seed of Shlomo, but rather from the seed of Shefatiah ben Avital, and also this genealogy was not to Hillel from his father's side but rather from his mother's side, for so do they say in Yerushalmi (which is brought down by Tosafot in the beginning of Sanhedrin) that the Exilarch was from the males and the Prince in Eretz Yisrael was from the females. And in Bereishit Rabbah (parasha 33) it is made explicitly clear that Rabbenu HaKadosh was from Yehuda from the female side, but from the male side he was from Binyamin.

    And what will you answer about the fourth {point of difficulty}? Rabbi Akiva transmitted to Rabbi Yehuda haNasi? Is it not so that on the day Rabbi Akiva died Rabbenu haKadosh {=Rabbi Yehuda haNasi} was born?

    The author: This is difficult.



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  14. From critic:

    and more...

    And now, come please with me to another place, and see how one of the early and preeminent kabbalists says explicitly that that Sefirot are themselves Divinity. Take please the sefer Maarechet HaElohut.

    And I took the sefer, the the man read before me from the end of the Maarechet haShemot {Pirara printing, page 43 and page 57) like these words: "There is furthermore to know that the matter of the Emanations which were mentioned and which I will further discuss in Avodat haSeder is not a matter in which there is a changes or a new thing in that which emanates or which in emanated, something which had not been before the emanation, forfend. For we have already mentioned that the emanations, which are the Sefirot, are Divinity, etc., etc.

    And understand this fundamental, for it is the fundamental of all fundamentals, the foundation of the entire building, together with what we will always mention in this service, that these ten Sefirot are themselves the Divinity Yisbarach, as we have mentioned, and that the Divinity is unified in them without any separation or difference, and this is the foundation of the entire building." End quote.

    Is his opinion not made clear that the Sefirot are themselves Divinity?

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  15. From critic:

    and more regarding the magid of the bais yosef who says that those mekuballim including Recanti and minchas yedhuda who say that the sefiros can not be divinity are wrong and that the sefiros are actual divinity

    And now, an additional thing I will place opposite your eyes, and from it you will see whether there is disagreement among kabbalists. Take please to me the sefer Shnei Luchot haBrit.

    And I took the sefer and the man read in it before me (Amsterdam printing, page 34b), and this is its language: "And to complete this idea, I will repeat the opinion of the words of the maggid {angel} who was to the great rav, the Bet Yosef z"l, etc., {namely} that that which brought the author of Minchat Yehuda (he is Rabbi Yehuda Chayyat) to say what he said, that is it in the pattern of the vessels of the boat, etc., may his Master forgive him, may that All-Merciful forgive on that position. And still, he will not be punished for those words which he said, for since he did not say it with intent to sin before Hakadosh Baruch Hu, but rather it was a complete error, etc., and all these ten Sefirot are really united as one, and they themselves are Divinity, for behold, they are in Ein Sof like a flame tied to a coal, and this is in the pattern of the soul in the body of man with the limbs, in that all is one, and all is entirely united, without any aspect of separation in the world, forfend. And Kingship, which is Matronita, and the other Sefirot, all is one with complete unity with the Ein Sof, and all was, all is, and all will be.

    I {=the author} said to him: In truth this is difficult in my eyes, for Rabbi Yehuda Chayyat, Rabbi Menachem Rikanti, Rabbi Eliezer of Germaiza, and that chassid the Rivash brought, all of them are kabbalists in name but are not kabbalists in truth, since all of them did not know Hashem and His Sefirot.

    And still, against my will I admit to this, and I say that all these Sages were not true kabbalists, and the true kabbalah was with the Ramban, Rabbenu Bachya, and the author of Maarechet haElahut, since it appears from their words that they believed that the Sefirot were themselves Divinity.

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    1. So you are saying, if I do not mistake you and your words, that nearly(if not) all of the Gedolim for the last 700yrs were closet Pagans? More you are saying that we should believe the words of a polemic against Kabbalah over the actual books that the Kabbalistis wrote as introductions for their students so that they would not stray from the pure faith into any form of heresy? Personally I find both premises impossible to believe.

      So let's start even above the Sephirot, which are simply emanations of the Ein Sof, let us speak of the Ein Sof itself. Is the Ein Sof, G-d? Says the Ramchal, Klach Pitchei Hokhmah Patach 1:
      The oneness of the Ein Sof: You already know that we are not talking about G-d Himself, meaning about the essential nature of the owner of this Will. Everything that we discuss relates only to His Will, which is all-powerful and unlimited. Of this we are permitted to speak, yet even here there is a limit to how far our minds can reach, as will be discussed below. Nevertheless, since we are not dealign with His Essence but with His Will, it is more permissible to seek understanding...
      Thus only His Will, the Will of the Emanator, namely the unified Ein Sof exists, because only G-d exists of necessity. In other words, just as we must beliee in the oneness of God's existance, that G-d alone exists of necessity, so we must believe in the oneness of His power and will. Just as His existance is necessary, and it cannot be otherwise, and he alone is the necessary cause, while everything else derives from Him, so too, His will and power are necessary, and it cannot be otherwise. His power alone holds sway, and all toehr wills exist only in accordance with this Will. Thus no other willl exists except through Him...

      The entire structure is built on this foundation, namely on the oneness and unity that we have explained. The entire structure refers to all that was brought into existence by God, including both the lights, the Sephirot, and the separate realms and beings(the worlds and creatures that are derived from and governed by the Sephirot). This entire structure is founded on unity, in the sense that is a single, complete unity that manifests the truth of this oneness and unity in the parts of the structure itself. The sephirot that may be seen in it, the bodies(the ctreated realms and beings) that exist in it, how they are governed and all that happens to them, all ere made as parts of a single order which points to and actively reveals the underlying oneness.


      So if even the Ein Sof is not divinity in and of itself(see also the Shemen Sasson and Leshem Birurim on Shaar 1 Anaf 1 of Eitz Chaim as well), then certainly neither are the sephirot which are emanated from the Ein Sof.

      As far as Rabbeinu Bachya, I don't have a copy. So if you could either post the original Hebrew text or link to the proper page, I will gladly respond to it.

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  16. "For the higher aspect is the the interior and soul(neshamah) of the aspect that is beneath it, and the Ein Sof B”H is the soul of every soul, and give them life like the soul(neshama) does to the body, and as the soul, if it is separated from the body it immediately begins to decompose, for it binds and unifies it’s four elements and by being within it it gives them life."
    The Ein Sof is the soul of every soul?

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    1. In the sense that HaKadosh Barukh Hu is what gives life and existance to all creation, and that if He were to remove Himself from any part of creation for the shortest space of time it would cease to exist entirely, yes. Again you are zeroing in on three words of a much longer explanation.

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  17. A fundamental problem in the subject of Yichud HaShem is the apparent paganism in Kabbalistic writings that attribute sexual acts to Hashem or to higher beings than man.

    The Rambam's third yesod is the complete denial of any physicality in connection to Hashem. In Hilchos Teshuva 3:7 the Rambam paskens that one who maintains that Hashem has a body or a form is a MIN.

    R. Tzadok, since you are attempting to discuss Hashem and His unity, perhaps you could respond to these excerpts from ToharHaYichud (from www.mesora.org)?

    But while in all other instances the kabbalists refrain from employing sexual imagery in describing the relation between man and G-d, they show no such hesitation when it comes to describing the relation of God to himself, in the world of the Sefiroth ... The "sacred union" of the King and the Queen - Zohar I, 207b uses the term ‘Zivuga Kadisha'; III, 7A - the Celestial Bridegroom and the Celestial Bride, to name a few of the symbols, is the central fact in the whole chain of divine manifestations in the hidden world.... In God there is (according to the kabbalists) a union of the active and the passive, procreation and conception ... This sexual imagery is employed again and again and in every possible variation ...Dimly we perceive behind this mystical image the male and female gods of antiquity, anathema as they were to the pious Kabbalist ... The critics of Kabbalism have fastened on this point as proof of its essentially pagan character ...[The kabbalists] attributed to G-d the most indecent and lowliest of the five senses, i.e., sexual mating. ...Can there be a greater disgrace and shame than to attribute to G-d Whom we serve genitalia, penis, testes, a woman and womb (see Zohar Parshas Behar Daf 109, Idra 296) ... 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" -- (from ‘Askina Seudasa‘, sung on Sabbath Eve).

    R. Tzadok - Should you attempt to just dismiss this issue as "apikorosos", "kefira", "ignorance", etc. without making a substantive response to the issue raised, you will be simply confirming the validity of ToharHaYichud's charges against the Kabbalists.

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  18. A fundamental problem in the subject of Yichud HaShem is the apparent paganism in Kabbalistic writings that attribute sexual acts to Hashem or to higher beings than man.

    The Rambam's third yesod is the complete denial of any physicality in connection to Hashem. In Hilchos Teshuva 3:7 the Rambam paskens that one who maintains that Hashem has a body or a form is a MIN.

    R. Tzadok, since you are attempting to discuss Hashem and His unity, perhaps you could respond to these excerpts from ToharHaYichud (from www.mesora.org)?

    But while in all other instances the kabbalists refrain from employing sexual imagery in describing the relation between man and G-d, they show no such hesitation when it comes to describing the relation of God to himself, in the world of the Sefiroth ... The "sacred union" of the King and the Queen - Zohar I, 207b uses the term ‘Zivuga Kadisha'; III, 7A - the Celestial Bridegroom and the Celestial Bride, to name a few of the symbols, is the central fact in the whole chain of divine manifestations in the hidden world.... In God there is (according to the kabbalists) a union of the active and the passive, procreation and conception ... This sexual imagery is employed again and again and in every possible variation ...Dimly we perceive behind this mystical image the male and female gods of antiquity, anathema as they were to the pious Kabbalist ... The critics of Kabbalism have fastened on this point as proof of its essentially pagan character ...[The kabbalists] attributed to G-d the most indecent and lowliest of the five senses, i.e., sexual mating. ...Can there be a greater disgrace and shame than to attribute to G-d Whom we serve genitalia, penis, testes, a woman and womb (see Zohar Parshas Behar Daf 109, Idra 296) ... 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" -- (from ‘Askina Seudasa‘, sung on Sabbath Eve).

    R. Tzadok - Should you attempt to just dismiss this issue as "apikorosos", "kefira", "ignorance", etc. without making a substantive response to the issue raised, you will be simply confirming the validity of ToharHaYichud's charges against the Kabbalists!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Once again I refer you Shir HaShirim and Rashi's commentary there. Futhermore I would refer you to the words of the Arizal himself regarding everything he wrote,
      ואמנם דבר גלוי הוא כי אין למעלה גוף ולא כח בגוף חלילה. וכל הדמיונות והציורים אלו לא מפני שהם חך ח"ו אמנם כדי לשכך את האזן לכשיוכל האדם להבין הדברים העליונים הרוחניים בלתי נתפסים ונרשמים בשכל האנושי לכן נתן רשות לדבר בבהי' ציורים ודמיונים כאשר הוא פשוט בכל ספרי הזהר וגם בפסוקי התורה עצמם כולם כאחד עונים ואומרים כדבר הזה כמש"ה עיני ה' וירח ה' וידבר ה' וכאלה רבות וגדולה מכולם מש"ה ויברא אלהי"ם את אדם בצלמו בצלם אלהי"ם ברא אותו זכר ונקבה וכו' ואם התורה עצמה דברה כך גם אנחנו נוכל לדבר בלשון הזה עם היות שפשוט הוע שאין שם למעלה אלא אורות דקים בתכלית הרוחניות בלתי נתפשים שם כלל וכמש"ה כי לא ראיתם כל המונה וכאלה רבות. ואמנם יש עוד דרך כדי להמשיל ולצייר בה הדברים העליונים והם בחי' כתיבת צורת האותיות כי כל אות ואות מורה על אור פרטי עליון וגם תמונה זו דבר פשוט הוא כי אין למעלה לא אות ולא נקודה וגם זה דרך משל וציור כדי לשכך את האוזן כנז' וב' בחי' ציורים אלו אם ציור האדם ואם ציור אותיות שתיהם מוכרחים להבין ענין האורות העליונים כאשר תראה ספרי הזוהר בנויים עפ"י ב' בחי' הציורים האלה עכ"ל
      Every introductory work of Kabbalah says that these things are only mashalim and metaphors. That if one tries to understand them literally, that is kefirah. So as far as Tohar HaYichud goes, no it is not apikoros or Kefira, it is definitely not ignorance as he quotes selectively from Kise Eliyahu and Shomer Emunim. It is straight up and up motzei shem ra to insinuate that Mekubalim now or ever took these things literally.

      It is a non-issue. The Gemarra says that HaShem lays Tefillin, so I suppose we should throw out the Gemarra too by this logic. Chas V'Shalom. It is a simple matter, understood by all, and constantly reinforced, most especially in the introductory texts, that NONE of this is literal. It is simply the best mashal for our minds to be able to understand it.

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    2. The first of the Vilna Gaon's 10 klalim for studying Kabbalah is that all of Kabbalah describes how we perceive G-d, not how G-d actually is. It isn't much different from the Rambam's discussion of the attributes of G-d that describe His actions. Neither interfere with the essential notion of Unity.

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