Sunday, January 27, 2013

Zohar: Rav Kasher's discussion of its authenticity

Daat

תוכן המאמר:
פתיחה
א. השתלשלות הוויכוחים על הזוהר
ב. ביטול ההוכחות המייחסות את הזוהר לר"מ די ליאון
ג. יישוב לקושיות על סגנון לשונו של הזוהר
ד. כתבי היד שנתגלו מוכיחים קדמות הזוהר
מילואים - המשנה והזוהר
תקציר: המחבר מסביר את המחלוקת בשאלת הזוהר ומחברו, ומביע את דעתו האישית בנושא הנידון.


בשנת תש"א יצא לאור בירושלים ספר בשם
Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
מאת פרופ' ג' שלום, בו מברר באריכות שאלת הזוהר ומחברו ודעתו עם אלה המייחסים אותו לר' משה די ליאון ולא עם אלה שמקדימים אותו.

גם לדעת תלמידו י' תשבי בספרו "משנת הזוהר", שהופיע בירושלים בשנת תש"ט נתחברו החלקים העיקריים של הזוהר על ידי ר' משה די ליאון ואין בספר שום חלק שקדם לו. ובמבוא לספרו הוא מחליט, שיש לראות במסקנת רבו "חתימת המחלוקת הגדולה על חיבור הזוהר ומחברו, שנמשכה דורות רבים במדע היהדות".
הרבה שנים חיכיתי, שיעמוד מי מחכמי ישראל הנאמנים ויטפל בשאלה זו, ברם לשווא חיכיתי. כשאני לעצמי יש תחת ידי בכתב יד חומר לספר "מדרשי חז"ל והזוהר", בו דנתי על מאות מאמרי הזוהר שהבאתי בי"ז כרכי "תורה שלמה" על פי השוואות עם מדרשי חז"ל, בייחוד עמדתי שם על מאמרי חז"ל המובאים בראשונים ואינם במדרשי חז"ל שלפנינו ושייכים לספרות הזוהר ומדרש הנעלם. ר' דוד לוריא בספרו "קדמות ספר הזוהר", ענף שני, הביא מספר מאמרים כאלה להוכיח קדמות הזוהר ואני המשכתי בהבאות כאלו ובעיקר הראיתי על מדרשים וספרי קדמונים שנתגלו מכתבי יד בתקופות האחרונות. כן אני דן שם על הרבה שאלות וחקירות על הזוהר ועל היחס שבין הזוהר וספרי ר"מ די ליאון. וכיון שמרוב טרדותיי אינני פנוי עכשיו לסדר את כל החומר שנצטבר אצלי אמרתי: כדאי לעמוד, לכל הפחות, על נקודות אחדות בנושא חשוב זה.
ראשית כל, עלי להעיר שלאחר שעברתי בעיון על ספריהם של שלום ותשבי על המקורות שעליהם בנו השקפתם, מוצא אני שמאותם המקורות יש להכריע ממש להפך מדבריהם, שהרי נתברר לנו כעת מתוך ספריו הנדפסים של ר"מ די ליאון "הנפש והחכמה" ו"שקל הקודש" ובייחוד מתוך שני ספריו, שהם עדיין בכתב יד, ספר "הרמון" ו"משכן העדות", שאין שום ספק, שר"מ די ליאון לא חיבר את הזוהר, אלא השתמש הרבה בכתבי יד של הזוהר שלפניו ותירגם הרבה קטעים לעברית. בפרקים שלהלן אברר, ששלום ותשבי שגו ביסודות שעליהם בנו השקפתם בהשוואת ספרי ר' משה די ליאון אל הזוהר. ובדרך כלל כל הקורא בעיון בספרי ר' משה די ליאון ייווכח, שסגנונו, דרכי הבעה שלו, ביטויו, תיאור הנושאים ואופני ההסברה וההרצאה של ר"מ די ליאון רחוקים מדרכו של הזוהר כרחוק מזרח ממערב. אין היד שכתבה ספרים אלה מוכשרת ואינה מסוגלת לכתוב, לא רק את אלף ושבע מאות העמודים הנדפסים של הזוהר, אלא אפילו פרק אחד של הארמית המקורית והחיה שבזוהר.
הזוהר הוא יצירה ענקית מיוחדת במינה. סגולה נפלאה יש לו לספר זה לעורר ולהלהיב את בני אדם לקדושה עילאית. זהו ספר המדבר ללב האדם והילכך אהוב הוא ונערץ כל כך בכל הדורות אצל יראים ושלמים. ואין לו דמיון כלל לספרי ר' משה די ליאון, שהם ספרים רגילים, כמו שאר ספרים שנתחברו באותה תקופה במקצוע זה.
את האמת אגיד, שאיני יכול להבין מהלך מחשבתם של שני המחברים הנזכרים, לאחר ששלום עצמו כותב, שאנו מוכרחים להודות, שיש חלק גדול בזוהר, שהארמית שבו מצוינת ונשנית מפי חכמים, שהלשון הארמית חיה בפיהם. וגם תשבי כותב, שיש לו לזוהר סגולות ספרותיות מיוחדות פאתוס נשגב ונמלץ, לשון פיוטית ציורית, יצירה חיה ומגוונת וכו' וכו', הרי נשאלת השאלה: כלום אפשר למצוא אפילו אחת מכל אלו המעלות בספרי ר' משה די ליאון? וכיצד אפשר למצוא אפילו אחת מכל אלו המעלות בספרי ר' משה די ליאון? וכיצד אפשר תוך כדי כתיבה לשכוח הכל ולכתוב שכבר נפתר באופן מוחלט, שר' משה די ליאון חיבר את הזוהר ואין בספר שום חלק שקדם לו

78 comments:

  1. The RamaTz suggested that I was lying about Saadia's view on the Shiur Komah.
    The source is Otzar Hageonim on Berakhot. Saadiah says that ther eis no agreement on Shiur Qomah's authenticity, since there are many pseudodepigraphic works, ie writers use the names of great sages, to gain prominence for their own works.

    As far as the Zohar is concerned, there was no other contemporary of De Leon, who had a receive tradition of these manuscripts. However, this is a matter of faith. For many, a challenge to the Zohar, is liek a challenge to the Oral Law. Hence no rational discussion is possible.
    Thus, when I pointed out to the dangers of polytheism, where there is an Ein Sof, and a higher deity above that, the response was that I am attacking the Vilna gaon, and hence my argument is not valid!

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    Replies
    1. Eddie wrote: As far as the Zohar is concerned, there was no other contemporary of De Leon, who had a receive tradition of these manuscripts. However, this is a matter of faith. For many, a challenge to the Zohar, is liek a challenge to the Oral Law. Hence no rational discussion is possible.

      ==============
      Your statement is absurd. There is absolutely no way of you knowing that
      'there were no other contemporary of De Loen who had receive tradition of these manuscripts." Perhaps you are claiming that you have ruach hakodesh?

      Part of your problem is not acknowledging that the academic anti-Zohar approach is dependent upon beliefs and assumptions which are unprovable. In other words it is a matter of faith for both sides.

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    2. There is nothing absurd about my statement. If it is an absurd statement, then there would be evidence, of other Rishonim who also had these documents. if there is such evidence, then I accept your critique.

      Delete
    3. EddieJanuary 23, 2013 at 12:14 AM
      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,


      EddieJanuary 24, 2013 at 2:16 AM
      ...there is machlokes amongst mekubalim on the subject. I am not privy to the real beleifs of kabbalsits, and whether they live quasi -Sababtean lives where they privately accept pantheism, then issue denials to quieten the rationalist rabbis form attacking them.


      It wasn't that you were pointing out dangers of polytheism or a mistaken understanding of Kabbalah. You were actually claiming that all Kabbalists were closet pagans. This would include luminaries such as the GR"A, Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, the Ben Ish Hai, Rav Shlomo Eliashiv, Rav Yosef Eliashiv, Rav S.Z. Auerbach, the Steipler, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Shach, Rav Aharon Kotler ect.

      That is a fairly heavy claim to level against the leaders of Torah Jewry for generations. You essentially are claiming that you know better than all of them, and what is worse that they were lying to cover their tracks so to speak.

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    4. Eddie wrote:
      There is nothing absurd about my statement. If it is an absurd statement, then there would be evidence, of other Rishonim who also had these documents. if there is such evidence, then I accept your critique.
      =================
      Eddie you fail to distinguish between the possible and the certain. If other kabbalists had the documents then they might have publicized them - but perhaps not. On the other hand if they had publicized them then we would know for sure that they had them. Logically the absence of publication does not mean that they didn't have them - it at most makes it less likely that they had them.

      In fact one of the academic theories of the Zohar is that Moshe deLeon was part of a group of kabbalists who produced the Zohar.

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    5. I accept that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".

      The point I am making is that the Rabbis who accepted the Zohar at that time, did so after reading it ans being overwhelmed by its contents. As far as I know, none of them had a tradition of such a work, and there was no independent tradition in other parts of the world.

      The reason I pointed out Saadia's comments on Shiur Qomah, was that in the case of the SQ, there was wider knowledge and acceptance of the work, and it was still questionable.

      And yes, the Zohar is comprised of several parts,and even Scholem claims that MDL collaborated with several others in its dissemination.

      It is important to point out that, on the one hand the secular Scholem, does not call it a forgery, but pseudodepigraphic, and praises it as a work of genius. On the other, the Gaon, R' Margulies,(who was far greater and better than me) is fully aware of the lack of corroborating tradition, hence his audacious attempt to say that Rambam knew of the Zohar, and that he got his theory of Idolatry from the Zohar, rather than the other way round! In other words, he is trying to establish precisely what i claim is lacking, ie prior knowledge of the Zohar by independent Rabbinic authorities.

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    6. @ RaMaTz

      Rav Shach was a kabbalist? I heard quite the contrary.

      You are arguing by authority, but that doesn't help with the problems eg those in Patach Eliyahu. This has a dualist philosophy, and claims, contrary to the Torah, that there are 2 "reshuot", the ES, and the Essence with no name.

      You can list another thousand names of gedolim , who could be masters of merkavah, but, to use R Vollozhiner'r phrase, this cannot change one iota of the Torah and the monotheism of Hashem Yitbarach.

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    7. Rav Shach was a kabbalist? I heard quite the contrary.
      I know at least two major Mekubalim who said they initially learned from him, and from what I understand he also learned with/under Rav Weintraub.

      but that doesn't help with the problems eg those in Patach Eliyahu. This has a dualist philosophy, and claims, contrary to the Torah, that there are 2 "reshuot", the ES, and the Essence with no name.

      That is because you insist on your errant interpretation of the Petach Eliyahu, in the face of greats like Rav Eliyahu Mani and the Ramchal. I suppose that their words are simply beyond your comprehension.

      So let me try with something simpler, a few pieces from Rav Shimon Agasi's Kuntres Yesodei HaTorah, which he wrote as an introduction for those coming to learn Kabbalah. Rav Agasi was the teacher, in Kabbalah, of the Ben Ish Hai, Rav Yehuda Patiya, and Rav Kaduri:

      It is necessary to know that HaShem Yitbarakh us is and it is worthy to serve Him, and to know his greatness and to perform His mitzvot, for he is our G-d, he is our king, our former, and our maker, him we serve, and to him we pray, and from him we request all of need, before him we pour out our souls in our darkest hour and the time of our distress, for he redeems us and rescues us and answers and is merciful in every time of trouble and distress. In such a way that we perform not a single act of worship to any other at all except to Him, whether the angels, the sephirot, the stars, the mazalot, or the yesodot or anything that they are composed of, because all of them are nothing more than servants and they have no desire or will or judgement or choice whether to good or to evil, rather they serve the the blessed one alone as the prophet says, "Do not be afraid of it- it can do nothing bad; likewise it is unable to do anything good!" Also it is improper to serve them as some sort of intermediary between you and between the Ribbono Shel Olam, for he alone knows all thoughts and sees all hearts, and none aside from him, and about this the Torah warned, "There shall not be to you other gods before me" which means to say: do not believe in your heart that there is any other divinity aside from me.
      2. Anyone who serves one of the creations, whether an angel, or a sephira, or a mazal,, or a star, or one of the four yesodot, or anything they are composed of, even though the worshiper knows that HaShem he is G-d, and worships that creation, on account that it has risen in his mind that is the will of G-d B"H to magnify and glorify who he wishes to magnify and glorify in the manner of a king who wants to divide his glory among the princes/ministers that stand before him, or in order that it should be an intermediary between him and between the Ribon HaOlamim, behold this person is called an idolater.

      That is about as unambiguous as you can get, and if you are understanding the Zohar or any other Kabbalistic work in a way that contradicts this basic introduction, then you are understanding it wrong.

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    8. This statement is correct and it conforms to the Ikkarim of the Rambam, I would say 100%.

      That doesn't ipso facto, as you claim, mean that I am misunderstanding the Patach Eliyahu. The PE is making a statement which potentially contradicts this intro.

      You have to juggle round the meaning of the PE 180 degrees for it to be in line with the Rambam. This intro is about worship.

      So, according to the great gedolim, who should you worship, the E'S yisbarach (the Ramchal refers to the ES like this), or to the nameless above the ES?

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    9. That doesn't ipso facto, as you claim, mean that I am misunderstanding the Patach Eliyahu. The PE is making a statement which potentially contradicts this intro.
      Yes it does. It also means that according to these great Rabbanim you are violating the Mishnah's injunction, כל המסתכל בד' דברים אלו ראוי לו שלא לא בא לעולם מה למעלה מה למטה מה לפנים ומה לאחור וכל שלא חס על כבוד קונו ראוי לו שלא בא לעולם The Mekubalim, and the great Rabbis such as Rav Chaim Vital, the GR"A, the Ramchal, the Leshem have all interpreted this passage to mean that if one cannot intuitively understand how the words of Kabbalah fit fully with the simple and perfect faith laid out by the Rambam or Rav Agasi, than one has no business opening Kabbalistic seforim.

      So, according to the great gedolim, who should you worship, the E'S yisbarach (the Ramchal refers to the ES like this), or to the nameless above the ES?

      Why do you go against the Rambam in his ikkarim, Yesodei HaTorah and Moreh when he says that G-d is unknowable, and that man can only have limited perceptions of G-d? Thus anything that you can name, thus define and understand, ultimately is not G-d but only a limited human perception of G-d. To say otherwise is to violate the Rambam's principles of Jewish faith. It is just that simple.

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    10. Each step of your argument is illogical and does not follow from the previous step:

      " Thus anything that you can name, thus define and understand, ultimately is not G-d but only a limited human perception of G-d. To say otherwise is to violate the Rambam's principles of Jewish faith. It is just that simple."

      Wrong.

      a) Naming something does not mean you can define or understand it. I can name "infinity" without adequately defining it, and less so understanding it.

      b) the name for God in the Torah is not our naming but His. The name was told to Moses, yet he still did not understand H'. Less so, ourselves.

      c) not understanding, does not mean not praying to.

      d) you conveniently forget that Rambam, as I have quoted in the parallel post, negates any other Being than Y-K-W-K
      and prayer to any being other than He.

      Yet, you now claim your dualistic perception is in line with Rambam.


      As for opening kabbalistic seforim, it might be easier if this stuff was not published in Shacharit of the Sephardi Siddur.


      now, which god do you pray to, according to your understanding of PE? Is it the ES or the One above?

      BTW, mock me as you please, bu Avraham also faced a tradition of paganism.



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    11. The Ramatz's reasoning is described in detail in the following Rambam:


      הלכות עבודה זרה פרק א

      א בימי אנוש טעו בני האדם טעות גדולה, ונבערה עצת חכמי אותו הדור; ואנוש עצמו, מן הטועים. וזו הייתה טעותם: אמרו הואיל והאל ברא כוכבים אלו וגלגלים אלו להנהיג את העולם, ונתנם במרום, וחלק להם כבוד, והם שמשים המשמשים לפניו--ראויים הם לשבחם ולפארם, ולחלוק להם כבוד. וזה הוא רצון האל ברוך הוא, לגדל ולכבד מי שגידלו וכיבדו, כמו שהמלך רוצה לכבד עבדיו והעומדים לפניו, וזה הוא כיבודו של מלך.

      ב כיון שעלה דבר זה על ליבם, התחילו לבנות לכוכבים היכלות, ולהקריב להם קרבנות, ולשבחם ולפארם בדברים, ולהשתחוות למולן--כדי להשיג רצון הבורא, בדעתם הרעה. וזה, היה עיקר עבודה זרה.

      ג וכך הם אומרים עובדיה היודעים עיקרה, לא שהם אומרים שאין שם אלוה אלא כוכב זה. הוא שירמיהו אומר "מי לא ייראך מלך הגויים, כי לך יאתה . . ." (ירמיהו


      Since G-d is beyond our comprehension, we can occupy ourselves with created or contracted beings such as those can name and define. That is essentially what you are arguing.

      Delete
    12. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 27, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      Rabbi Michael Tzadok said...You were actually claiming that all Kabbalists were closet pagans. This would include luminaries such as the GR"A, Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, the Ben Ish Hai, Rav Shlomo Eliashiv, Rav Yosef Eliashiv, Rav S.Z. Auerbach, the Steipler, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Shach, Rav Aharon Kotler ect."

      RaP: The GRA did NOT advertize that he was a mekubal, it was something known to few behind closed doors, YOU are the one pushing this now in the open. The Ben Ish Chai was a posek and mefaresh first, he also did NOT run around saying about himself like you do about yourself, "hey guys, see what a great 'mekubal' I am!", Rav Elyashiv was KNOWN to be a mekubal but he NEVER made it public, he, unlike you, preferred to let SOD be SOD !!! Rav Elyashic was a masmid and posek and lamdern always! Same for the Steipler Gaon, who was known first and foremost as a gaon in lomdus, his sefer Kehilas Yaakov is not learned in Litvish yeshivish because he was a "mekubal" but because he was a velt''s gaon and he NEVER "advertized" his hidden knowledge (that he may or may not have had, it is NOT our business!!! because ein lanu eisek benistaros) unlike you who tries to toot your horn about what you think you know. As for Rav Shach and Rav Aron Kotler what a joke you make of them to say they were "mekubalim" where did they say that and who says that about them ??? Even if they knew sisrei Torah, as did the Chazon Ish, but no one says that they were "mekubalim" because for that one needs the unique advantage of having a REBBE in Kabbala and neither Rav Shach nor Rav Kotler nor the Chazoin Ish, had that, and guess what it did NOT bother them at all because they were happy being Geonim in Torah without being the kind of "mekubalim" you falsely claim they were as if the "Baba Sali= Aron Kotler or BESHT=GRA. You are very mixed up and need help with your hashkofas!!!

      "That is a fairly heavy claim to level against the leaders of Torah Jewry for generations."

      RaP: You are the one that is messing up the primary categories of Torah greats by equalizing all as being "masters of Kabbalah" when they were definitely NOT!

      "You essentially are claiming that you know better than all of them,"

      RaP: No, it is what YOU are doing here all the time. Stop it.

      "and what is worse that they were lying to cover their tracks so to speak."

      RaP: You are being outrageous. People are being curious and have opinions, not much else. No one is lying, maybe you are because the premature and forbidden study of kabbalah (from WHO and WHY???? you have not told us so we can complain to him/them) is leading you to say what should not be said and fight with people for no good reasons other than your own to "save kabbalah" from the infidels only you perceive. Again, stop it!!

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    13. You are being outrageous. People are being curious and have opinions, not much else. No one is lying, maybe you are because the premature and forbidden study of kabbalah (from WHO and WHY???? you have not told us so we can complain to him/them) is leading you to say what should not be said and fight with people for no good reasons other than your own to "save kabbalah" from the infidels only you perceive. Again, stop it!!

      You keep demostrating your ignorance with your own outrageous claims. If you would like to talk to my own Rabbanim feel free. Rav Benayahu Shmueli, Rosh Yeshiva Nahar Shalom.

      Even if they knew sisrei Torah, as did the Chazon Ish, but no one says that they were "mekubalim" because for that one needs the unique advantage of having a REBBE in Kabbala and neither Rav Shach nor Rav Kotler nor the Chazoin Ish, had that
      Try again. This statement simply is not true. You can speak with Rav Erphaim Goldstein from Lakewood NJ about Rav Aharon Kotler's knowledge of Kabbalah, from whom he received it, and how he taught a chevra in BMG. Likewise you can speak to Rav Yaakov Hillel about Rav Shach's knowledge of Kabbalah.

      The GRA did NOT advertize that he was a mekubal, it was something known to few behind closed doors, YOU are the one pushing this now in the open. The Ben Ish Chai was a posek and mefaresh first, he also did NOT run around saying about himself like you do about yourself, "hey guys, see what a great 'mekubal' I am!",
      False on both statements. The GR"A wrote books on Kabbalah and had them published in his lifetime. Further he said that one could not understand Pshat without understanding Kabbalah, further he had anyone from the age of 20 in his Yeshiva begin learning Kabbalah.
      Likewise the Ben Ish Hai infused everything he wrote with Kabbalah. Even his sefer for simple Baal HaBatim, the Ben Ish Hai, even if you take only the halakhot section of that sefer, leaving aside the drashot, still before each section of halakha he brings an introductory mashal, from some aspect of Kabbalah, and continually throughout his halakhot refers to the Arizal, the Rashash and the holy Kabbalah.

      Finally I have not said that I am great mekubal. In fact I have said repeatedly that I am not a mekubal at all. I have at best a few introductions and basic understandings.

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    14. , maybe you are because the premature and forbidden study of kabbalah

      Again you are making things up. I meet all of the requirements laid down by the poskim for the last 500yrs for one who desires to study Kabbalah.

      If you need more halakhic sources I can provide them.

      Delete
    15. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 28, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      "Rabbi Michael Tzadok said...You keep demostrating your ignorance with your own outrageous claims. If you would like to talk to my own Rabbanim feel free. Rav Benayahu Shmueli, Rosh Yeshiva Nahar Shalom."

      RaP: Can you post for us a "heter" from your rebbe, or some kind of official indication, that you are permitted to speak about Kabbalah on public forums because of the sensitivity of the subject. Thanks

      "You can speak with Rav Erphaim Goldstein from Lakewood NJ about Rav Aharon Kotler's knowledge of Kabbalah, from whom he received it, and how he taught a chevra in BMG. Likewise you can speak to Rav Yaakov Hillel about Rav Shach's knowledge of Kabbalah."

      RaP: Do you think any of them wants you to run around publicizing this on the Internet?? Neither Rav Shach nor Rav Kotler were mekubalim, neither was the Chazon Ish. Check it out. You obviously don't know what being a mekubal is. It is not enough to know it all, it must be handed down from a known mekubal. Can you name the known mekubalim that eithr Rav Shach and Rav Kotler received their "kabbalah" from?

      "The GR"A wrote books on Kabbalah and had them published in his lifetime. Further he said that one could not understand Pshat without understanding Kabbalah, further he had anyone from the age of 20 in his Yeshiva begin learning Kabbalah."

      RaP: The GRA did not have a yeshiva, it only started after him in Volozhin. The GRA was a nistar known to few. His sefarim and his views were not universally accepted either. Minghag HaGRA is still NOT Minhag Lita nor is it Minhag Ashkenaz. Even as a great Kabbalist his derech was accepted by the Litvish Yeshivas that came after him.

      "Likewise the Ben Ish Hai infused everything he wrote with Kabbalah. Even his sefer for simple Baal HaBatim, the Ben Ish Hai, even if you take only the halakhot section of that sefer, leaving aside the drashot, still before each section of halakha he brings an introductory mashal, from some aspect of Kabbalah, and continually throughout his halakhot refers to the Arizal, the Rashash and the holy Kabbalah."

      RaP: You are being babyish, after all the entire Torah, Tanach, and Talmud are all infused with a higher level of spiritual and Kabbalistic knowledge and layers upon layers of INFINITE meaning and understanding ad ein sof, BUT it is the level of SOD (the "S" in PRDS) and it is not to be publicly spread around as you are doing. No matter waht others have done you have no authority to be "poretz geder", period."

      Delete
    16. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 28, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      "Rabbi Michael Tzadok said...Finally I have not said that I am great mekubal."

      RaP: You talk and shove people around on this topic like a bulldozer who thinks he is one. In the land of the blind the one-eyed "mekubal" is "king", sadly.

      "In fact I have said repeatedly that I am not a mekubal at all."

      RaP: You should place that "user's warning" and "buyers beware" cautionary tab above every one of your posts and comments so that people can that. At least I got you to say it clearly!

      "I have at best a few introductions and basic understandings."

      RaP: Hmm, that's not how you seem to be projecting yourself here, you are not being a good nor welcoming teacher, you are acting in a "my way or the highway" fashion as if you have the monopoly on how this subject of Kabbalah is to be approached and presented.

      "Again you are making things up. I meet all of the requirements laid down by the poskim for the last 500yrs for one who desires to study Kabbalah."

      RaP: Maybe for your own private personal business you can rationalize but what about the rest of the world who you are tooting your own horn to, why do you have to make such a PR type of thing of it, almost with missionary zeal with the zeal of the convert and true believer on a jihad to teach the infidels the "truth" -- again, stop it!

      "If you need more halakhic sources I can provide them."

      RaP: Halacha to back up Kabbalah? It should be the other way, Kabbalah to back up Halacha, and the Halacha le'ma'aseh is for stam people to stay away from kabbalah ALL THEIR LIVES because there is plenty of Torah, Tanach and Talmud to fill everyone minds and bellies -- as the RAMBAM rules and as the velt is noheg, it is bread and meat -- that is the derech in the Litvish yeshiva velt, regardless of which individuals have broken that ban.

      Delete
    17. RaP: Hmm, that's not how you seem to be projecting yourself here, you are not being a good nor welcoming teacher, you are acting in a "my way or the highway" fashion as if you have the monopoly on how this subject of Kabbalah is to be approached and presented.

      You think it is ever permissible for Kabbalah to presented at Polytheism? You think there isn't an obligation to raise one's voice against that? To be mevazeh nearly every Talmid Hakham for the last 800yrs, that is OK by you?

      Halacha to back up Kabbalah? It should be the other way, Kabbalah to back up Halacha, and the Halacha le'ma'aseh is for stam people to stay away from kabbalah ALL THEIR LIVES because there is plenty of Torah, Tanach and Talmud to fill everyone minds and bellies -- as the RAMBAM rules and as the velt is noheg, it is bread and meat -- that is the derech in the Litvish yeshiva velt, regardless of which individuals have broken that ban.
      Wrong again. Here is yet another Teshuva to prove that. You have yet to post any sources backing your supposed universally recognized halakhic position. Why is that?

      Anyway like I have said, if you have a problem with anything that I have written, feel free to contact my Rav, Rav Benayahu Shmueli Rosh Yeshiva Nahar Shalom, and discuss it with him. Likewise you could look up Rav Avraham Chira, who is a native English speaker, as it appears you do not know Hebrew very well, and discuss it with him, he being a Rav in the Yeshiva.

      Otherwise, you might want to calm down and try to think rationally, because as it is you seem to have a rather irrational hate for anything Kabbalistic or Chassidic.

      Delete
    18. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      "Rabbi Michael Tzadok...You think it is ever permissible for Kabbalah to presented at Polytheism? You think there isn't an obligation to raise one's voice against that? To be mevazeh nearly every Talmid Hakham for the last 800yrs, that is OK by you?"

      RaP: There are plenty of things to fight against, Christian and Muslim teachings against Jews and Judaism, Reform and Conservative ideology. Not every rabbi in the last 800 was a mekubal and even if they were they did not run around advertizing it. This is just you on your own personal jihad. Stop it.

      "Wrong again. Here is yet another Teshuva to prove that. You have yet to post any sources backing your supposed universally recognized halakhic position. Why is that?"

      RaP: This "teshuva" of yours is nothing but a letter from Israel's chief rabbis to increase Jewish observance in times of need. During the Holocaust some rabbis also said to study some more Kabbalah they say. Not sure if that is what is needed. Torah study is always good and should always be studied.

      "Anyway like I have said, if you have a problem with anything that I have written, feel free to contact my Rav, Rav Benayahu Shmueli Rosh Yeshiva Nahar Shalom, and discuss it with him."

      RaP: Are you sure he approves of everything you are doing regarding the way you push the Kabbalah stuff down people's throats?

      "Likewise you could look up Rav Avraham Chira, who is a native English speaker, as it appears you do not know Hebrew very well, and discuss it with him, he being a Rav in the Yeshiva."

      RaP: Thanks for the insult. I took a look at his blog and it seems he basically needs donations (what else, money means a lot to Mekubalim, one would think they would be less materialistic and more spiritual, but hey look at all those Baba Sali offspring they are all mega-millionaires from donations and live in mansions, like many Chasidic Rebbes, it is just so fake and fraudulent and so sad you don't want to admit that corrupt aspect of it all) so that it looks like he is just a spacy Carlebachnik, a throwback to the bygone hippie era. His so-called Kabbalah as he describes it on his videos, is more akin to features of Hinduism, is also controversial, not taught in any Litvish yeshivas that's for sure, such as meditating, breathing, no doubt he does levitating, star gazing palmistry, vegetarianism, mind-reading and all the voo-doo that leads down the garden path of big trouble. In the Litvish yeshivas they are still smoking, pacing, drinking, jumping up and down, yelling at each other, frenetic, the opposite of hypnotized zombies that come from Kabbal-yeshivas. In fact I would not advertize his existence if I were you, the hashkofa police might just shut him down.

      "Otherwise, you might want to calm down and try to think rationally, because as it is you seem to have a rather irrational hate for anything Kabbalistic or Chassidic."

      RaP: I do not "hate" that is such a terrible word. To have disagreements and voice opposing or even views that you may think are "ignorant" is not to "hate" but that is how it goes with true-believers, they think that anyone who opposes their cult "hates" them because they have no way of understanding the concept of opposition based on logic. As for a request for a "teshuva" I don't have to be better than the RAMBAM, and I repeat for the umpteenth time that he warns the "hamon am" NOT to delve into PRDS, which is exactly what you are doing!

      Delete
    19. Are you sure he approves of everything you are doing regarding the way you push the Kabbalah stuff down people's throats?

      Why don't you call him and ask him. While you are at it, why don't you lodge your complaints about Avraham too.

      Delete
    20. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 30, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      "Rabbi Michael Tzadok said...Why don't you call him and ask him. While you are at it, why don't you lodge your complaints about Avraham too."

      Hmm, is that waht you Kabbalah rebbi is teaching you, to go out and be a missionary for Kabbalah? It figures! And now you are like Avraham? Great! How is that supposed to make everyone else feel, like they are ovdei avoda zora and you are going to wash their feet? You also miss the fact that at the end of the day all of Avraham's preaching to the "nefesh asher asu becharan" was incosequential because the real mesora was to pass ONLY though his select JEWISH son Yitzchok and no one else.

      So the lesson from Avraham is to keep Kabbalah for the select few, stop teaching it to whom it is not meant, the goyim and the eiruv rav an the am ha'aratzim and even to plain poshut Yidden who have enough on their plates, they can go to Daf Yomi and other shiurim that will keep them busy for their entire lifetimes, on NOT spout it on the Internet like you try to do because Kabbalah is NOT Coca Cola or AJAX that needs PR and salesmanship from you! Don't worry the Torah sells itself!

      Delete
  2. From critic:

    R Tzadok. You are correct in that it is very difficult to fathom that the great tzadikim would get it wrong. THat is why even though my my mind tells me that there is alot of doubt and many issues with the Zohar, my heart is in the same place as yours. However, I have not been able to make that leap of faith. It is not one of the ikarim, for which a leap of faith IS required even if I would not comprehend it, and at the very best there are so many "meshalim" that appear to be Mamash Minus that even amongst great people, there are probably very few of them who understand it in a way that is not Minus. Everyone else - certainly the non-tzadik- certainly is oiver many issurim when studying the zohar/kabbala.

    Here are a few addiitonal points:

    Isn't the fact that the mashal itself is minus a huge problem? You admitted that one of the quotes would be very problematic if not for the fact that the dishonest commenter did not say that it is a mashal. So you believe that if it is a mashal suddenly the problems disappear. Doesn't it concern you that the zohar would use a mashal that in its basic meaning can be understood as total apikorus. We never find this type of thing in the torah. Isnt it totally asur to speak this way even in mashal..It is one thing to have allegory which is not taken at face value - that is poetic prose - but to have the base meaning shout Minus, this is a real issue.

    As to the great tzadikim, by the time of the Gra, it was an accepted "fact" that the zohar was either from Rashbi mamash or was at the very least an authentic tradition of true nistar. Now the Gra as critical of a thinker as he was, likely did not challenge that premise as he would not challenge the premise that torah is misinai. Why would he? To the great Gra, torah, gemara, niglah, nistar, zohar was all from the same author. The GRa was such a genius in his thinking that though he did discover many contradictions between zohar and nigla, he always found an answer to show that they do not in fact contradict except for 2 or 3 places. This is one possible solution to explaining how it is possible that all the tzadikim accepted it. I can't prove it but it is a rational explanation that answers your question and certainly provides a possible solution to the problem that you and I have grappled with.

    As to gedolim getting it wrong, you still havent explained how nearly everyone has gotten it wrong on R Eybeschutz. He is still held up as one of our biggesttzadikim when inf act new evidence shows that it is almost 100% conclusion that he was a closet Sabbetean. SO it could be that the tzadikim got it wrong and it could be that they got it wrong with the Zohar as well.

    Speaking about honesty: You still havent explained the Rabbeinu Bachy's dertush on Beraishis Nara Elokim...where he says "El" Yud" Haim" In other words, the Yud sefiros are G-D.

    You also havent answered how R chayim Vital went around to fortune tellers other than to answer that he sinned in his youth and that it was pre-arizal. When I pointed out that he wrote this autobiography later in life and he did not indicate in his writing that he had sinned in his youth, you chose to ignore me and not respond. So who is being dishonest?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doesn't it concern you that the zohar would use a mashal that in its basic meaning can be understood as total apikorus. We never find this type of thing in the torah. Isnt it totally asur to speak this way even in mashal.
      Wrong on all three counts. No it doesn't disturb me that Zohar uses this form of Mashal. It is an accepted form. The Torah does indeed use it itself. First as I have noted numerous times, in the Ketuvim it brings in Job 1, the Satan laying bets with Hashem. So we have here an angel with Bechira that has the ability to challenge Hashem(if we take it literally). Tehillim 78 tells us that HaShem woke as if from a drunken stupor. Shoftim 9 brings us trees having an argument over who will be king over them... On and on. Then the Torah applies corporeality to HaShem. The Gemarrah and the Midrashim give us examples of the angels revolting against Hashem and calling him unjust in the midst of martyrdom of the ten martyrs.
      Since we have no problems with any of this mashalim in those places, we should not, honestly, have problems with them in the Zohar.

      Speaking about honesty: You still havent explained the Rabbeinu Bachy's dertush on Beraishis Nara Elokim...where he says "El" Yud" Haim" In other words, the Yud sefiros are G-D.
      My answer on this is yet unchanged. I don't have a copy of the Rabbeinu Bachya. If you can link to the exact place, I will look at it, but I do not have time to go searching first for a Rabbeinu Bachya to read and second to search through how many ever blatt he wrote on the first pasuk to find what he said.
      Second, as I have answered you before(while you want to accuse of dishonesty) Rabbeinu Bachya typically, from my understanding brings down first the pashat(literal) meaning of the text, then the Remez(inferences to other things found in the text) then the Drash(allegorical meanings of the text) and finally sod(hidden meanings of the text). Of those four, only the first is to be taken literally, and the others are never permitted to contradict the literal meaning(otherwise you are not understanding them correctly). So since you seem to be an expert on this Rabbeinu Bachya, was this interpretation that you want me to answer about what he claimed was the pashat meaning of the text? If not why are you forcing a literal reading on it? Why are you trying to make it contradict the pashat meaning?

      You also havent answered how R chayim Vital went around to fortune tellers other than to answer that he sinned in his youth and that it was pre-arizal. When I pointed out that he wrote this autobiography later in life and he did not indicate in his writing that he had sinned in his youth, you chose to ignore me and not respond. So who is being dishonest?

      My understanding is that the fortune tellers he went to untilized some form of Kabbalah maasit. I can take you to ladies in Meah Shearim that still do the same thing. Rav Yaakov Hillel writes about it his sefer Faith and Folly.

      Like I said, before Rav Haim Vital openly admitted to being involved in Kabbalah Maasit before the Arizal. It was established from the Arizal that Kabalah Maasit is forbidden. Further Rav Haim Vital brings in other works(most notably Shaar Ruach HaKodesh) the rebuke that the Arizal gave him for having been involved in those things, and the tikun he had to undergo in order to rectify his sin.

      So I really don't see your point.

      Delete
    2. Speaking about honesty: You still havent explained the Rabbeinu Bachy's dertush on Beraishis Nara Elokim...where he says "El" Yud" Haim" In other words, the Yud sefiros are G-D.

      Ok so chavruta called out sick, so I spent the morning trying to track this down. Here is what Rabbeinu Bachya actually says:
      אלהים, על דרן הפשכן
      לשון אלהות, ופירושו בעל הכחות כלם, וינזה
      הטעם לא אמר אל ולא אלוה כי אם א ל ה י ס
      בלשון רבים וכן (יהושע כיד) אלהיס ק ד ו ש י ם
      הוא כי הוא כולל הקדושות כלס, וכן ד ל ן
      הלשון אדוניס קשים בלשון רבים. וזה לגודל
      מעלות האדון ולרבוי מיני הממשלה שיש צו,
      וזה בבשר ודם אף כי בהשס ית׳ אשר יניכי
      הממשלה שלו אין להם מקפר וכל המושליס
      אין ממשלתם רק ממנו, והוא אחד וכחותין
      רבים, וכן מנהג הלשון בשאר המלוח (שינוס
      י״ב מ״ב) ליל שמורים הוא, יום כפורים הוא,
      ועוד יש לפרש כי נקרא אלהיס בבריאת ה ע ו ל ס
      לפי שברא עולמו בחכמה ובתבונה הוא שכתוב
      (משלי ג׳ י״נו) ה׳ בחכמה יקד ארץ כונן שינים
      בתבונה. וע״ד המדרש השם הזה ענינו ש ו ה ע
      וזהו שכתוב (שמות כ״ב כ״ז) אלהיס לא תקלל
      ותרגם אוכקלוק דיינא, ו 5קוק מלא הוא (תהליס
      ע״ה ח׳) כי אלהיס שופע זה ישפיל וזה ירים
      ונקרא בכאן בשם הזה על שם שברא העולם
      במרת הדין. וע״ד הקבלה השס הזה שתי מלוה
      הס אל הם, והנה הנה פי׳ היו״ד (קהלת יי׳ב
      א׳) וזכר את בוראיןמלא ביו״ד והמשכיל יבין :

      Notice no mention of Sephirot is made at all. To give a translation of the supposedly problematic piece, he says, By way of Kabbalah this name is two words which are To Them(El Hem), and here is the the explanation of the Yud(Kohellet 12:1), Remember your creator, which is filled in with a Yud, the one who understands will understand.

      Absolutely no mention of Sephirot whatsoever. He says the Yud is a hint to another pasuk. Which to me seems to want to make the ברא that came before a noun instead of a verb, which would render the verse, "In the begining a Creator to them."



      Delete
  3. @R. Tzadok (in an earlier posting) - "Now as a given we typically take the Zohar as a Mashal"

    OK, so if we are going to take that Zohar as a mashal, please explain:

    1. Why would an authentic Torah "Mashal" suggest that man was created by a deity or goddess called Imma?

    2. Before the Zohar, when were such "mashalim" that refer to independent deities ever employed in Torah literature?

    3. If you claim that Imma and the "partzufim" are not Hashem, then don't they represent either intermediaries or independent deities?

    Moreh Nevuchim I:36:
    "Whoever performs idolatrous worship does not do it on the assumption that there is no deity except the idol...rather is it worshipped in respect of its being an image of a thing that is an intermediary between ourselves and G-d. Scripture makes this clear saying "Who will not fear You, O King of the Nations" (Yirmeyahu 10:7) ...We have made this clear in our great compilation (Mishneh Torah). No on one among the people of our Law disputes this."

    (See Redak on Yirmeyahu 10:7-Hashem should be feared by the Nations since He is King over the idols.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Why would an authentic Torah "Mashal" suggest that man was created by a deity or goddess called Imma?
      It doesn't. As a mashal it is not at all to be taken literally. Go back and read the entire sugya in the Aramaic, and it will all make a lot more sense. I could translate it for you here, but that in and of itself would be a violation of halakha.  Further the Matok U'Mdvah indicates that this entire piece is sitrei Torah which one is not permitted to teach in public.  However I can assure you that even a simple reading of the actual text in the Zohar does not indicate that their is a deity separate from HaShem, and as I stated above if you think that it does, you

      2. Before the Zohar, when were such "mashalim" that refer to independent deities ever employed in Torah literature?
      The Zohar itself does not. However, as far as separate powers with bechira ect... Yes. In Ketuvim, Job chapter 1, the Satan and HaShem lay bets on Job's performance. Whereas we know, as Rav Shimon Agasi pointed out that this must be a mashal, because no angel has bechira.

      3. If you claim that Imma and the "partzufim" are not Hashem, then don't they represent either intermediaries or independent deities?
      No. See above quote from Rav Shimon Agasi. You simply don't understand what a Partzuf is, and frankly this is not the place to elaborate on them.

      Delete
  4. To get back on topic, R Kasher's critique of Scholem's book.

    R Kasher zt'l was a giant scholar. One of his arguments agasint GS is that a man wrote a 1700 page work of genius in 6 years, and still managed to make basic grammatical errors as GS claims. He suggests this claim is implausible.
    However, Scholem points out that other mystics wrote even greater works (in terms of size) in the same amount of time. However, this specific argument of Kasher is not consistent. The inspiration to write something revolutionary does not guarantee grammatical knowledge of the language, or topography of Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This has been a very strong and sometimes emotive series of discussions, and I wish to make some final points and then conclude.

    Both sides made some valid points. In principle, I could agree with RaMaTz, with a sort of Emdenesque position, that only a small part is historically true. The problem is more theological.

    If Kabbalists claim that the G-d of Moses was just an "avatar" created by a nameless being above that, this is seriously problematic.

    regarding Rambam, the kabbalists have a love/hate relationship with him:
    Yes he knew Zohar/ no he didnt
    Yes it is all in agreement with his views/ no it's not
    Yes his views are binding/ no they are not (were rejected)

    It seems like they are desperate to include him in their enterprise, and when finding out logically that they can't, it is sour grapes,a and he is someone misled by philosophy.


    Final questions - who do you pray to, and is there someone else above that is too unknowable to pray to?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Eddie you raise some interesting points. But you seem to view the Rambam as consistent and monolithic regarding teaching the nature of G-d.

    The following from Moreh Nevuch (1:26) indicates that the Rambam does tolerate corporality when the human mind can't comprehend without it. This indicates that the issue of metaphor and reality are not clear cut for the Rambam.

    ידועה לך האמירה שלהם1 הכוללת את כל סוגי הפירושים הקשורים בתחום זה, דהיינו, מה שאמרו: דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם2. משמעות הדבר שכּל מה שבני-האדם כולם מסוגלים להבינו ולציירו3 במחשבה ראשונה4 הוא אשר יוחס כהכרחי לאל יתעלה. לכן הוא תואר בתארים המצביעים על גשמות, כדי להורות על כך שהוא יתעלה נמצא. שכן אין ההמון משיג ברגע הראשון מציאות זולת מציאות של גוף דווקא. לדעתם מה שאינו גוף, או מצוי בתוך גוף, אינו נמצא5.
    וכן כל מה שהוא שלמות אצלנו הוסב על האל כדי להצביע עליו שהוא שלם מכל בחינות השלמות ואין בו שום חיסרון כלל. לכן כל מה שההמון משיג שהוא חיסרון או הֶעְדֵּר אין מתארים בו את האל6. לכן אין מייחסים לו אכילה ושתייה, שינה, מחלה או עוול ולא מה שדומה לכך. ואִילו כל מה שההמון חושבים שלמות, מתארים בו את האל. ואף אם אלה שלמויות ביחס אלינו, הרי מה שאנו חושבים לשלמויות, כאשר מסיבים אותן על האל, כולן בתכלית החיסרון7. אלא שאִילו הם דימו שחסרה בו אותה שלמות אנושית, היה זה בעיניהם חיסרון לגביו.
    אתה יודע שהתנועה היא משלמות בעל-החיים והיא הכרחית לו לשם (השׂגת) שלמותו. כשם שבעל-החיים זקוק למאכל ולמשקה כפיצוי על מה שהתפרק8, כן הוא זקוק לתנועה כדי לפנות אל מה שמתאים לו ולברוח ממה שמנוגד לו9. ואין הבדל אם מייחסים לאל אכילה ושתייה או מייחסים לו תנועה10. אבל על-פי לשון בני אדם, כלומר, הדמיון ההמוני, האכילה והשתייה הם חסרונות בעיניהם כשהם מוסבים על האל, והתנועה אינה חיסרון לגביו, אף כי הזקיקות מחייבת אותה11.
    אך הוכח בהוכחה מופתית12, כי כל נע הוא ללא ספק בעל גודל הניתן לחלוקה. ועוד יוכח בהוכחה מופתית שהאל יתעלה אינו בעל גודל. לכן אין לו תנועה. אין גם לתאר אותו כנח, שכן אפשר לתאר כנח רק את מי שדרכו לנוע.
    לכן בכל אותם השמות המצביעים על כל מיני התנועות של בעלי-חיים, מתואר האל מן הבחינה שאמרנו13, כשם שמייחסים לו חיים14. זאת מכיוון שתנועה היא מקרה צמוד לבעלי-חיים. ואין ספק שעם ביטול הגשמות מתבטל כל זאת, כלומר, ירד, עלה, הלך, נצב, עמד, סבב, ישב, שכן, יצא, בא, עבר וכל כיוצא בהם.
    מיותר היה להאריך בעניין זה, אילולא הסכינה לו דעת15 ההמון. לכן מן הראוי להבהיר זאת לאלה המטילים על עצמם (לשאוף אל) השלמות האנושית, ולהסיר - במעט הרחבה, כפי שעשׂינו - את דמיונות-השווא האלה שקדמו ובאו מגיל הילדות.

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    1. Moreh Nevuchim (1:26) You, no doubt, know the Talmudical saying, which includes in itself all the various kinds of interpretation connected with our subject. It runs thus:

      "The Torah speaks according to the language of man," that is to say, expressions, which can easily be comprehended and understood by all, are applied to the Creator. Hence the description of God by attributes implying corporeality, in order to express His existence: because the multitude of people do not easily conceive existence unless in connection with a body, and that which is not a body nor connected with a body has for them no existence. Whatever we regard as a state of perfection, is likewise attributed to God, as expressing that He is perfect in every respect, and that no imperfection or deficiency whatever is found in Him. But there is not attributed to God anything which the multitude consider a defect or want; thus He is never represented as eating, drinking, sleeping, being ill, using violence, and the like. Whatever, on the other hand, is commonly regarded as a state of perfection is attributed to Him, although it is only a state of perfection in relation to ourselves; for in relation to God, what we consider to be a state of perfection, is in truth the highest degree of imperfection. If, however, men were to think that those human perfections were absent in God, they would consider Him as imperfect.

      You are aware that locomotion is one of the distinguishing characteristics of living beings, and is indispensable for them in their progress towards perfection. As they require food and drink to supply animal waste, so they require locomotion, in order to approach that which is good for them and in harmony with their nature, and to escape from what is injurious and contrary to their nature. It makes, in fact, no difference whether we ascribe to God eating and drinking or locomotion; but according to human modes of expression, that is to say, according to common notions, eating and drinking would be an imperfection in God, while motion would not, in spite of the fact that the necessity of locomotion is the result of some want. Furthermore, it has been clearly proved, that everything which moves is corporeal and divisible; it will be shown below that God is incorporeal and that He can have no locomotion; nor can rest be ascribed to Him; for rest can only be applied to that which also moves. All expressions, however, which imply the various modes of movement in living beings, are employed with regard to God in the manner we have described and in the same way as life is ascribed to Him: although motion is an accident pertaining to living beings, and there is no doubt that, without corporeality, expressions like the following could not be imagined: "to descend, to ascend, to walk, to place, to stand, to surround, to sit, to dwell, to depart, to enter, to pass, etc.

      It would have been superfluous thus to dilate on this subject, were it not for the mass of the people, who are accustomed to such ideas. It has been necessary to expatiate on the subject, as we have attempted, for the benefit of those who are anxious to acquire perfection, to remove from them such notions as have grown up with them from the days of youth.

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  7. From critic:

    The following from R Tzadok is unbelievably dishonest. You finally found the R Bachya and you quote the below, and then you say that he is not mentioning the sefiros and come up with a ridiculous interpretation!!! Oh my!!

    וע״ד הקבלה השס הזה שתי מלוה
    הס אל הם, והנה הנה פי׳ היו״ד (קהלת יי׳ב
    א׳) וזכר את בוראיןמלא ביו״ד והמשכיל יבין :

    Notice no mention of Sephirot is made at all. To give a translation of the supposedly problematic piece, he says, By way of Kabbalah this name is two words which are To Them(El Hem), and here is the the explanation of the Yud(Kohellet 12:1), Remember your creator, which is filled in with a Yud, the one who understands will understand.

    Absolutely no mention of Sephirot whatsoever. He says the Yud is a hint to another pasuk. Which to me seems to want to make the ברא that came before a noun instead of a verb, which would render the verse, "In the begining a Creator to them."


    It is black and white!!! He is saying El Haim which refers to the Yud sefiros!!!! The sefiros are G-D!!!!

    You are so dishonest to interpret this as saying what you suggest. You are saying that El Haim means TO THEM....Funny...so the EL is not G-D but TO? How disingenuous???

    Rav Eidensohn - I think you need to enter this debate and explain to R Tzadok that what he is saying is pure foolishness and that R bachya actually DOES SAY exactly what I said all alog he was saying.

    He points to the pasuk of Uzechor as Boirecha.... and says that Borecha has a YUD. Vhmavin Yavin - menaing Your Creator with a Yud for the sefiros. What a Joke!!!!

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    1. Rav Chavell explains
      אל הם - כאלו "אל" סמוך ו"הם" ירמוז לכל שאר הכחות כלומר כח הכחות כולם (לשון רמב"ן עמ' יג, וע"ש בציון 73 מלא ביו"ד - כלומר בראשית אל הם ומי "הם" פי' היו"ד ספירות, וראייתו וזכור בוראיך ביו"ד מלא, כלומר תזכור לעד לבוראיך ביו"ד ספירות (תורת חיים בשם נפתלי)

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    2. You can try to twist around Rabbeinu Bachya's words however you like, but there is no explicit mention of the Sephirot there. I don't even see a hint of the Sephirot there.

      The Yud could just as easily be the ten sayings with which G-d created the world, as he will go onto Darshan.

      Further trying to say that G-d is ten(Chas V'Shalom) is a direct contradiction to everything that Rabbeinu Bachya has already said here regarding the word Elokim. Who is being dishonest? You are inventing words and ideas that are not native to the text. He specifically said, "והוא אחד" He is ONE. Now you want to say in the last line he has changed his mind? What absurdity!!!

      Further you want to make that claim that this idea that you imagine is in Rabbeinu Bachya is somehow from the Zohar. Ok, so where in the Zohar does it darshan the name Elokim this way? Again you are making things up which are not there.

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    3. Rav Chavell explains
      אל הם - כאלו "אל" סמוך ו"הם" ירמוז לכל שאר הכחות כלומר כח הכחות כולם (לשון רמב"ן עמ' יג, וע"ש בציון 73 מלא ביו"ד - כלומר בראשית אל הם ומי "הם" פי' היו"ד ספירות, וראייתו וזכור בוראיך ביו"ד מלא, כלומר תזכור לעד לבוראיך ביו"ד ספירות (תורת חיים בשם נפתלי)


      Even here he isn't saying that G-d is (chas v'shalom) the 10 sefirot, but that he is power of all powers, meaning that all other powers that exist derive their power from Him, including the 10 sefirot. It still does not contradict what Rabbeinu Bachya said above:
      אלהים קדושים הוא כי הוא כולל הקדושות כלם וכן דלן הלשון אדונים קשים בלשון רבים. וזה לגודל מעלות האדון ולרבוי מיני הממשלה שיש צו, וזה בבשר ודם אף כי בהשס ית׳ אשר יניכי הממשלה שלו אין להם מקפר וכל המושלים אין ממשלתם רק ממנו

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  8. From Critic:

    Dont you think this is a forced explanation??? Do you resally believe this explanation? It is such a contrived explanation to get around the obvious pink elephant in the room! All these peshatim are based on one premise which is that the person who offers the peshat has a basic premise that it can not be possible that the mekubal in question meant what he said no matter how damning the evidence...as such, many creative answers are given such as yours above and some less creative answers such as R tzadok's answer.

    At least yoy provided a peshat. But do you care to comment on R Tzadok's absolutely dishonesty - after all you allowed him to write a guest post so I would think you would take him to task for this nonsense and for trying to fool your audience.

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    1. @ Anon/Critic,

      I am curious to follow your argument. I am not familiar with R' Bachye, could you quote him again and point to the problematic statement?

      many Thanks

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    2. ~ perhaps from these discussions we can see why R' Kook's proposal to study Kabbalah wasn't accepted! ~~~

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    3. A forced explanation??? A forced explanation is trying to claim that Rabbeinu Bachya at all or ever claimed that the Sephirot are G-d(Chas V'Shalom), and that he based this on the Zohar. Let's examine each of your claims:
      1) Rabbeinu Bachya called the sephirot G-d(Chas V'Shalom). There are a number of problems with that claim. First is the Grammatical one. אל הם can have two possible grammatically correct translations. To them or G-d of them. To try to say they are G-d the words would need to be reversed. Second to that the Sephirot are not explicitly mentioned, just a Yud, which means 10. Rabbeinu Bachya in the very next piece discusses how the world was created with 10 sayings, according to the Sepher Yetzirah. So there is no native evidence that he means anything other than that. Further such an explanation(that the Sephirot are G-d, chas v'shalom) would contradict the pashat interpretation that Rabbeinu Bachya himself gave. One of the rules of PaRDeS, is that the Remez, Drash and Sod cannot contradict the Pashat.

      2) You claimed that Rabbeinu Bachya based this drash on the Zohar. Again that understanding is not native to the text as Rabbeinu Bachya does not mention the Zohar here at all. In fact in his entire work, I am given to understand, that he only ever mentions the Zohar twice. Rav Chavell points out that it is essentially the same thing that the Ramban said. The Ramban lived a full generation before Rabbeinu Bachya, and thus it seems far more likely that Rabbeinu Bachya based this comment on the Ramban then the Zohar, unless you are saying that the Ramban had a copy of the Zohar more than 40yrs before Moshe DeLeon published it.

      3) You claim that a grammatically accurate explanation in line with the probable source of the comment is a forced explanation. Here the burden of proof lies upon you. You want to insist on a grammatically incorrect explanation that requires insertion of words into the text in order to show that one of our great Rabbanim was a heretic(l'havdil), and self-contradictory. It would seem far more likely that your own explanation is the forced explanation.

      You claim that I am absolutely dishonest based on my own, grammatically correct, translation that matches with his earlier given Peshat. Admittedly I did not remember the Ramban in question that Rabbeinu Bachya was quoting from, had I, the interpretation of this rather vague Rabbeinu Bachya still would not have been to your liking. Dishonesty implies that I knowingly and willfully tried to mislead, by either excluding information or lying about what was actually said. I did neither. I tried to offer, from my limited understanding a feasible translation of what he said, that was in line with his own stated Peshat above.

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    4. This is the excerpt under discussion

      רבינו בחיי בראשית א:א

      וע"ד הקבלה: השם הזה שתי מלות הם: אל הם, והן הנה פי' היו"ד: (קהלת יב, א) "וזכר את בוראיך", מלא ביו"ד, והמשכיל יבין:

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    5. One can read anything one likes into it, but R Bahye is using a similar phrase as the Ramban "והמשכיל יבין".
      There is no explicit mention of 10 Sefirot here, and what he implies is not clear (to me).

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  9. This is great:

    http://asimplejew.blogspot.co.uk/2006/01/guest-posting-from-rabbi-dovid-sears.html

    R Nachman Breslover's explanation of anachronisms in the Zohar (which were apparent before Scholem was even born).

    Since RAshbi continued teaching even after his death, hence certain language and other issues appear in the Zohar!

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  10. Regarding the Rabbeinu Bachye unders discussion.

    רבינו בחיי בראשית א:א

    וע"ד הקבלה: השם הזה שתי מלות הם: אל הם, והן הנה פי' היו"ד: (קהלת יב, א) "וזכר את בוראיך", מלא ביו"ד, והמשכיל יבין:




    Here are other places where this is discussed.


    רמב"ן בראשית א

    ואמר "אלהים", בעל הכחות כלם, כי המלה עיקרה "אל", שהוא כח, והיא מלה מורכבת "אל הם", כאלו "אל" סמוך, "והם" ירמוז לכל שאר הכחות. כלומר כח הכחות כולם. ועוד יתבאר סוד בזה:

    רמב"ן ויקרא יז

    והוא לשון הכתוב גם כן "לא אלוה", כאילו אמר "לא כח וממשלה", כי אלהים לשון אילות וכח, אל הם, יאמר שאין בשדים אילות ושום כח, ולכך אין צורך בהם כי לא ירעו וגם היטב אין אותם:

    And citing the Ramban is:
    ריקאנטי ויקרא יז

    והוא לשון ג"כ לא אלוה, כאילו אמר לא כח ממשלה, כי אלהים לשון איילות, אל הם, יאמר שאין בשדים שום איילות ושום כח, ולכך אין צורך בהם, כי לא ירעו וגם היטב אין אותם, ע"כ דברי הרב הגדול ז"ל.


    (20) הכתב והקבלה על בראשית פרק א פסוק א
    [ה] להטור וב"י באו"ח סי' ה', טעם אלהים תקיף ואמיץ אשר לו היכולת בעליונים ובתחתונים, כי אל לשון כח וחוזק הוא, כמו ואת אילי הארץ לקח, והיא דעת רמב"ן שכ' ר"פ בראשית, אלהים, בעל הכחות כלם, כי המלה עיקרה אל שהוא כח, והיא מלה מורכבת אל הם, כאלו אל סמוך, והם ירמוז לכל שאר הכחות כלומר כח הכחות

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    1. (21) הכתב והקבלה על בראשית פרק א פסוק א
      [ח] לרלב"ג נקרא אלהים מצד שיושפע ממנו המציאות וינהגהו בהנהגה המתוקנת בתכלית, וכ"ד רי"א שהרצון בשם אלהים המשפיע וממציא כל הדברים בכחו, ונקרא בשם אל, ר"ל היכול החלטיי בהשפעתו, וכ"כ רבינו הגדול הגר"א בפי' ר"פ בראשית אלהים הוא מורה על כח המנהיג כל העולם ומלאו, ומביט אל כל מעשיהם, ושם זה הוא מושאל אל כל מנהיג ומשגיח, כמו עד האלהים יבא דבר שניהם, וכן המלאכים, לכן תמצא אצל זה השם אלהי אלהים, מפני שכל ככב משפיע על כל העולם, והשפעותיהם מתחלפות בהשתנות הככבים, הא' משפיע החיים, הב' עושר, הג' גבורה, הד' בנים, וכן כלם, והש"י הוא אחד באחדות, הוא המשפיע לכל ככב וככב כפי הכשר קבלתו, לכן נקרא אלהי אלהים, ונקרא אלהי אבותינו אלהי אברהם יצחק ויעקב, לפי שהיו מושגחים מאתו השגחה פרטית וכן ויפלו על פניהם ויאמרו ה' הוא האלהים, לפי שהיו מודים בבורא עולם אבל אמרו עזב ה' את הארץ ונעשה הכל ביד המזלות, וכשראו שנוי הטבע, נפלו על פניהם מפני הכלימה מדעתם המשובשת, והודו שה' הוא האלהים המשגיח בפרטית ושומע בקול עבדו, עכ"ד בקוצר, הנה הבין בשם אלהים ענין ההנהגה וההשפעה, והוסיף עוד ענין ההשגחה. ובילקוטי ביאורו (על מכדרשב"י ח"ג ד' קכ"ו) כ' שני השמות אל אלהים אל על כחו הגדול המשפיע לכ"א די מחסורו, ואלהים הוא ע"ש השגחה בתחתונים במעשיהם, ומ"מ אף בעת ההיא משפיע אלא שהוא לפי המעשים בדין, ע"כ דבריו הטהורים. ומבואר דעתו מזה, כי עיקר והוראה הראשית בשם אלהים היא ההשגחה בתחתונים, אמנם הוראת ההשפעה עפ"י הדין הוא רק הוראה צדדית. והנה כל הדעות הנזכרות בטעם שם אלהים לא ביארו לנו טעם ביאורם לפי הוראת שרש התיבה עצמה, כ"א הרמב"ן שאמר שהיא מלה מורכבת

      אל הם, לכן פי' בעל הכחות כלם, ור"ל כי הכחות כלם הם מאת העליון ית', ולכן נקראו אלהים אשר בו כח ואילות כלומר מאל הם, וע"ז טעם הרי"א ואמר, בהוראת שם אל קצרו דבריו, כי אין ענינו בלבד תקיף וחזק, אלא שהוא ג"כ בעצם וראשונה משפיע, ובמה שכתב שאלהים ענינו מאל הם, הוא דבר שאין בו ממש, כי לכל דבריו היה ראוי שיהיה המ"ם בתחלת אלהים, להודיע שהכח הוא מאל, ועוד שלדעתו לא יהיה ענין ליו"ד שבין הה"א והמ"ם, והיה ראוי שיהיה שם אלהים בלא יו"ד, יעו"ש מ"ש הוא, ששם אלהים הוא חבור שם אל עם חצי שם המפורש שהוא י"ה. ואחרי שהרשונו ז"ל לומר ששם אלהים היא מלה מורכבת, גם אנכי לא אחשוך מלחפש שורש להוראה הראשית שבשם אלהים לדעת הגר"א שהוא ענין ההשגחה בתחתונים (אללשויענדער) כי לענין ההשגחה והבטה על הדבר צריכים לעמוד נכח אותו הדבר, וכמאמר המלך החכם (משלי ה') נכח עיני ה' דרכי איש וכל מעגלותיו מפלס, וכן אמר המלך המשורר האלהי, שויתי ה' לנגדי תמיד, כי זהו מעלת הצדיקים באמת לשער בנפשם תמיד, כי מלא כל הארץ כבודו, וכאילו השכינה עומדת תמיד נגד פניהם ורואה את מעשיהם, לכן אמר ג"כ אם אסק שמים שם אתה ואציעה שאול הנך, וע"ש שהשכינה נוכחת תמיד נגד האדם נקראת בשם זה שהיא מלה רומזת על העומד נכח, כבמנחות נ"ג ב', זה, זה הקב"ה דכתיב זה אלי ואנוהו, ובמכדרשב"י (פ' ויחי ד' רכ"ח) רוח קודשא אקרי זאת דאשתכח תדיר עמי' דבר נש, וכן זה ה', זה אלי, וכ"ה במכדרשב"י (פקודי ד' רל"ו), לכן אני אומר ששם אלהים נגזר ממלת אלה, שהיא ג"כ מלה רומזת אל רבים נוכחים (דיא גענענווארטיגען) ויהיה טעם אלהים העצם הנבדל ית"ש שהוא נכח כל אחד ואחד ועומד נגדו להשגיח עליו, ויהיה תרגום אלהים (דער אללגעגענווארטיגע), ומצאתי בעה"יב הקדמת מכדרשב"י ב', על פסוק שאו מרום עיניכם וראו מי ברא אלה שירותא וראשיתא דבנינא אקרי מי, בעי לאתגלי' וסליק אלה,

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    2. (67) ספר מערכת האלקות - פרק חמישי
      והשלישית והעטרה נקראות אלקים ובאור המלה אל הם כלומר הכח שלהם


      (76) ספר עמק המלך - שער י - פרק ו
      וזהו סוד "ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע" [בראשית כ"ח י'] היא הבינה, [שיש בה] ד' אהיה ושלשה ס"ג שיוצאים מהם שלשה אל כידוע, שהוא שם ייא"י שבשם ס"ג הוא בגימטריא 'אל'. וכבר בארנו כי ב' 'אל' במילוי הם ש"ע, וזהו שעש"ע, ושמות אלו של 'אל' הם שרשם משם ס"ג, ושם ס"ג האחוריים שלו קס"ו, בגימטריא יונק, וזהו 'ושעשע יונק על חור פתן' [ישעיהו י"א ח'] הם הקליפות.


      (85) ספר תורה אור למהר"מ פאפירש ז"ל - פרשת בראשית
      ויאמר אלהים יהי אור ויהי אור (א, ג):
      ויאמר אלהים, בעל הכוחות כולם, כי המלה עיקרה אל, שהוא כח, והיא מלה מורכבת אל הם, כאלו אל סמוך, והם ירמוז לכל שאר הכחות, כלומר כח הכחות כולם, ועוד יתבאר סוד בזה:
      ויאמר אלהים, בעל הכחות כלם, כי אל ירמוז וכו' והם על שאר הכחות כלם, ועוד יתברר סוד בזה. ופירוש דבריו, כי הבינה הוא האלהים הוא הנכתב כאן, והוא לשון מנהיג, ונמצא שהמלה מורכבת, כי אל מלשון כח, כד"א [בראשית לא] יש לאל ידי, כח ואל, והנה אל ר"ל כחו של העולם העליון הנקרא הם, כי הם בהיפוך מ"ה והוא עצם האצילות (דוק') [דו"ק]:

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  11. From Critic:

    It is one big joke to R Tzadok. At least Rav Eidensohn tries to give a real peshat based on real sources and not offer a silly apologetic. As R Eidensohn brought down it says EL HAIM and the Yud is in middle. He does not say the word Sefiros but he says "Vhamaskil Yavin" It is obvious that he is discussing the 10 sefiros. I never said it was from ZOhar. I said that R Bachaya was from the early rishonim who was known to make widespread use of the zohar.

    Now Rav Eidensohn wants to say that it means power, etc. and brings various sources including the Ramban who was a great mekubal. THere is no chiddush here. I too know that Elokim refers to G-D as manifested by the fact that He is the All Powerful. That is fine as long as you dont darshan the YUD as R BAchya does.

    But the Ramban (as far as I read) does not offer R Bachyas drush tying in ELOKIM to the TEN - TEN SEFIROS - and saying that the sefiros are G-D. Even if you want to say that R Bachya means the sefiros are powerful, by the very fact that he sees this in the word ELOKIM which means G-D and is KODESH (though it does have a connotation of All Powerful) not CHOL like in YESH L'El YADI, it is quite obvious that his derush is saying that the sefiros and G-D are the same. Rav Chavell peshat that it means To Them is a total Dochek.

    Of course, R Bachya says VHU ECHAD. All mekubalim say that but then when they try to explain how G-D interfaces with the world they tread on some very dangerous ground and say things that may very well contradict their earlier statements despite their owen protestations to the contrary.

    Again it is clear that R Bachya is saying EL HAIM they are G-D. they are one and the same.

    Then he says Es Borecha and adds a YUD to it. Again he is saying the BORAY and the Sefiros are the same. Now you might want to say that all he means is that the Sefiros are contained in the BORAY like a neshama and a guf...but again this is very dangerous stuff and even if it would have merit it is perhaps understood correctly by one out of a million with everyone else believing in heresy though they believe they are kodesh kadashim.

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    1. THere is no chiddush here. I too know that Elokim refers to G-D as manifested by the fact that He is the All Powerful. That is fine as long as you dont darshan the YUD as R BAchya does.

      But he does darshan the Yud.

      Again it is clear that R Bachya is saying EL HAIM they are G-D. they are one and the same.
      There is no gramatically honest reading of the Hebrew that would say that. Even Eddie, who is no fan of Kabbalah, said so.

      This is where I step out. If you can't be honest about what the Hebrew says, and the sources say... there can be no honest debate.

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  12. From Critic:

    By the way, even if you want to take Rav chavell's peshat on R Bachya (though it seems like he is taking the Ramban and trying to fit it into the R Bachya)and accept it....you do not have a way out when R BAchya references BORECHA and highlights the YUD for the TEN SEFIROS. Over there you can nto say that he really means TO THEM or POWER of THEM or whatever other peshat you try to squeeze into R Bachya...Clearly he brings BOECHA as another isntant of the same great SOD...and here it is a checkmate YOUR G-D....contained in it are the YUD sefiroS.

    That is why SHADAL's Rebbe was so aggravated and said CHAS VESHALOM..HE did not believe at first that R BACHYA could have written wjhat he did.

    Rav Eidensohn - please bring some honesty back to the debate.

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    1. So Let's look at בראיך if you divide that as well, ברא he created יten, once again he is not saying that the Eser Sephirot are (Chas V'Shalom) G-d. Deal with it, the Shadal was a polemic, and he was wrong.

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  13. R'MaTz,

    I asked a question which you avoid anwering. You are insulted by the accusation of polytheism, and you takeit as an insult to the previous generations of Gedolim, Sephardic and Ashkenaz alike.
    However, you have to be honest here - who is the Ein Sof, and who is the un-nameable one above him? To which do Kabbalists daven? Did they daven exclusively to the Ein Sof, B'H, or to the Atzmuto above?

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    1. Ok honesty. That is a machloket Mekubalim. There are those who say that the Ein Sof is HaKadosh Barukh Hu(the GR"A, the Kerem Shlomo, the Kise Eliyahu) and thus since He is HaKadosh(i.e. the atzmut) we pray to him.

      There are those who say that the Ein Sof is not HaKadosh Barukh Hu, just his will(i.e. a creation), and according to them we pray to the Atzmut.

      Either camp believes that we pray exclusively to the Atzmut, not to any sephira or levush or partzuf or any other creation(chas v'shalom).

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    2. I shall begin to answer this question, since the pro-Kabbalah camp are being silent on this.
      I rely on an importan sefer, a very holy Sefer . Nefesh HaChaim of R Chaim Vollozhiner. R Haim was the most important student of the GRA and also founder of the Litvish yehiva system, which all began in Vollozhin. He was also the key opponent or discussant of the Alter rebbe of Habad Lubavitch.

      In Gate (Ch.) 2, part 4, he makes some incredible statements.

      He firstly states we have no permission to pray to God Atzmuto, ie Hashem's essence.

      This is followed by the statement that all pray, intent (kavanah) should eb towards the Ein Sof [ which is distinct from the Atzmuto).

      Now, there are some varying debates between the Litvaks and the Habad about which side there is immannece, and which side transcendence. That is something Norman lamm's books can educate us on. however, we have now a clear dualism , one of 2 distinct beings, which has crept into "orthodox" Judaism.

      You can claim all you want about the greatness of the GRA, of RHV, it doesn't add up to a hill of beans.

      You can also say that, "oh, but from His side, all is one, only from our side there are 2 reshuot". This is also nonsense. Actually, RHV makes this point, that the Shem Havvayah was one with Atzmuto , prior to the hishtalshelus, presumably meaning the tzimtum. Again, this is a pack of lies. The Torah says we (in this world) must only have 1 G-d. No others. The same torah tells us that if a prophet entices us to pray to another deity, that prophet must die.

      I presume this is is the secret of the Kabbalah which is not meant to be publicized, in case the "uninitiated" get wind of what is going on.






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    3. Eddie could you post the relevant passages in Hebrew for those who don't have access to the original or don't have time trying to locate the relevant passages?

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    4. I will try to find an online version

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    5. Eddie,

      RHV's Nefesh Hachaim is not a major text for Kabbalists, nor was RHV the primary expositor of the Gra's Kabbalah. In fact, he was not as much an opponent of Hasidism as the Gra.

      There are times when he disagrees with the GRA and accepts the Habad view of Kabbalah (eg Tzimtzum eino kepshuto).

      If you want a fully developed view of the Gra's system, read the Leshem.

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    6. Ramatz, thanks for trying to answer this very difficult question, it is obviously the most fundamental issue there can be in Judaism.

      I haven't found a text I can copy , but it might be worthwhile listening to a few shiurim on the subject.
      My reading of N'H is that he says the reverse.
      I am also looking for some Ramchal on the issue. There is a Machon Ramchal, and I have a sefer which attempts to distill his kabballah, called Rechev Yisrael.

      I would be most happy to be proven wrong in all of my claims, since better for me to be a fool than to be correct in these matters.

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    7. I managed to find this online copy, though the printing is not very good.

      Honestly I have never read the Nefesh HaChaim before, however, giving this piece a quick read through it does not seem to be saying what Eddie is claiming. In fact he says there:
      אלא שכל כוונת לבנו בכל הברכות והתפלות צריך שתהיה לעצמות א"ס ב"ה מצד התחברו כרצונו יתברך אל אל העולמות שמצדם הם כל התוארים והשמות הם מתחלפים לפעול ולהמשיך בהם אור ושפעת קדושה מעצמותו ית' כפי התעוררות המגיע אליהם ממעשי האדם של כל איש מעם סגולה

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    8. Yes, he says to pray the the actual Ein Sof, not the hidden essence. He says earlier on that we have no business with the hidden Atzmut. These, in your scheme, are 2 different entities.

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    9. Eddie,
      If you could copy over the problematic piece I would be more than happy to discuss it with you, but I'm not seeing it.

      What I see him saying is that we do not pray directly(so to speak) to the Ein Sof, i.e. you will not find in all of the different names and titles in the Amidah(or any other prayer given by Chazal) Ein Sof. Rather we find HaShem, Elokeinu, Elokei Avraham, Koneh Hakol ect. The idea being that each of these names and titles are emet and from the Torah, and they each correspond to drawing shefa down from the Ein Sof(to which we have no real hasagah) to the world... Why this would be necessary considering his view of the Ein Sof filling the whole world... I don't understand. It makes abundant sense in the view of the other Mekubalim who hold that the Ein Sof is removed from the world.

      Whether the Nefesh HaChaim holds the same scheme as the GR"A and the Ramchal that even the Ein Sof is a levush for the Atzmut... it does not seem that way. So there you would be mixing apples with oranges so to speak.

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  14. Here are 2 excellent essays on the subjects we are discussin:

    1) on in/coporeality http://www.hashkafacircle.com/journal/R3_DS_Taku.pdf

    2) On varying views of Tzimtzum

    http://www.hashkafacircle.com/journal/R1_DS_Exist.pdf

    The author is R' David Sedley, he looks quite knowledgeable.

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  15. Eddie,

    For your reading pleasure I give you the Ramchals קל"ח פתחי חכמה it is probably the most straight forward of the Ramchal's writings on Kabbalah. Meant to be more or less an introductory text.

    I haven't read all of the Klach, only portions referenced by my own teachers when discussing various aspects, so I don't know precisely what he says regarding the Tzimtzum, but it can be found in Openings 25-30.

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    1. The article by R Sedley names several of the Gdeolim that RamaTz has mentioned, in the history of kabbalah, from the Gra, down to the Leshem, r Dessler, and Lubavitcher rebbe.

      the strange thing is they all are in chaotic dispute about what the Tzimtzum is, and what it implies. Leshem criticses Nefesh hachaim, saying he got it wrong. R N m Breslov puts himself in a false dilemma of pantheism vs "atheism", and he chooses "atheism" , although I think Sedgely is wrong , as this position in Deism.
      R Dessler makes his characteristic claim that there is no dispute at all - but judging by Dessler's sheep-like audience, he can claim that god is made of green cheese,a nd they would agree with him.
      Lubavitcher R says Dessler has no idea what he is talking about!

      So this claim of tradition, authority etc in Kabbalah is just a ruse. The gedolim have no clue what the Kabbalah says or how to reconcile its problems with torah and truth. They are groping in the dark to make sense of the absurd, and each stumbles into his own imagined solution.

      The original question was whether denying Zohar is heresy. The counter question, is whether accepting Zohar is heresy.

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    2. R N m Breslov puts himself in a false dilemma of pantheism vs "atheism", and he chooses "atheism" , although I think Sedgely is wrong , as this position in Deism.

      That is NOT the position of Rebbe Nachman. That is Rav David Sedley's own tongue in cheek interpretation. You can write to him and ask him yourself if you don't believe me.

      R Dessler makes his characteristic claim that there is no dispute at all - but judging by Dessler's sheep-like audience, he can claim that god is made of green cheese,a nd they would agree with him.

      There is sort of dispute. Hopefully later I will have a chance to post a piece from the Shem M'Shimon, that lays out, better the machloket between Rav Irgas and Rav Riki.

      Lubavitcher R says Dessler has no idea what he is talking about!
      Rav Dessler is not alone in that opinion. A great many Mekubalim feel the same way.

      So this claim of tradition, authority etc in Kabbalah is just a ruse. The gedolim have no clue what the Kabbalah says or how to reconcile its problems with torah and truth. They are groping in the dark to make sense of the absurd, and each stumbles into his own imagined solution.

      This is a bogus claim. We could say the same thing about the Gemarra. Do we wait 1hr, 3hrs or 6hrs after eating meat before we eat milk? Do we hold by Rav Chananyah or the Chakhamim when it comes to what needs a blech on Shabbat? Do we eat Kitnyot on Pesach or not? What makes a parsha patucha or parsha stuma in writing Sefer Torah or Tefillin? The list of Rabbinic disagreements over the most basic issues of Jewish law leave us with the same conclusion if we are going to start excluding areas of Torah simply because there are different Shitot on how it is understood.

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    3. "This is a bogus claim. We could say the same thing about the Gemarra. Do we wait 1hr, 3hrs or 6hrs after eating meat before we eat milk? Do we hold by Rav Chananyah or the Chakhamim when it comes to what needs a blech on Shabbat? "

      No, there is not a question of "is there 1 deity or 2 or more?"

      The horns of a dilemma are that you allege that the Tetragrammaton is not God himself, but the Ein Sof - which was a manufactured god after the alleged Timztum.
      Now, this one says we pray toe ht ein sof, and that one says no, we pray to Atmuto.

      What kind of imbecile do you think the Rambam was? He knew all of these problems better than the back of his hand. The GRA, Breslover may have "disagreed" with him, but they are left in such a mess that it shows that in actual Theology and Logic they were mere amateurs.

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    4. No, there is not a question of "is there 1 deity or 2 or more?"
      Well Shlomo Hamelekh seemed to be confused in Mishlei 8, but you have continually dodged that one.

      However in the works of Kabbalah there is no question that there is 1 God and no more. Not a question at all.

      The horns of a dilemma are that you allege that the Tetragrammaton is not God himself Show me where the Rambam says that anywhere. Further if that were the case why is the Tetragrammaton missing from so many of our basic prayers(like Mi Shaberakh?). Further why isn't that the only name we use? Why does the Birkhat Avot need to bring 18 different names an titles for G-d?

      Now, this one says we pray toe ht ein sof, and that one says no, we pray to Atmuto.
      Again not true. They all agree that we pray to the Atzmut. Where there is division is as to whether the Ein Sof is Atzmut, or if it is creation and Atzmut is above Ein Sof. However the essential Kavvana as the Nefesh HaChaim and other point out, is to pray to the Atzmut.

      What kind of imbecile do you think the Rambam was? What does the Rambam have to do with the Zohar? I am fairly certain that he was niftar more than a 100yrs before the Zohar was published.

      He knew all of these problems better than the back of his hand.
      ???? He discusses or dismisses Ein Sof, Tzimtzum, ect? Where, what sefer? What page?

      The GRA, Breslover may have "disagreed" with him, but they are left in such a mess that it shows that in actual Theology and Logic they were mere amateurs.
      Disagreed with him? The GR"A certainly not. You haven't read the GR"A or his works on Kabbalah if you think that for a second. Whether or not Chassidus disagreed(disagrees) with the Rambam... I leave that for people who know more about Chassidus.

      If you want to say that Chassidus is a mess, OK fine. Their books are banned from many Kabbalistic Yeshivot, most notably Beit El.

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    5. If you want to say that Chassidus is a mess, OK fine. Their books are banned from many Kabbalistic Yeshivot, most notably Beit El

      Please clarify -

      Which Chassidic books in particular are banned in Kabbalistic Yeshivot? Why?

      Which alleged Kabbalistic shitot being taught by the Chassidim are being rejected by these Yeshivot?

      I'm asking these questions because I'm seeking the possible origin of certain Kabbalistic concepts in the Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim.

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  16. From Critic:

    Rav Tzadok says that Shadal was a polemic and he got it wrong.

    How about: Zohar was a polemic and R Moses De Leon an his chevra got it wrong? It was a polemic against the Rambam's rational school of thought.

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    1. The GRA, Breslover may have "disagreed" with him, but they are left in such a mess that it shows that in actual Theology and Logic they were mere amateurs.
      Proof? Where does the Zohar ridicule the Rambam? Further while the Rambam did renounce the Shiur Komah, he did not renounce mysticism. In fact he leaves rather detailed instruction on mysticism even in his Yesodei HaTorah. His son wrote even more explicitly in the name of his father.

      As far as the Shadal's authority on Kabbalah, he has none. He had no Rav/Rebbe in Kabbalah. He wasn't a Rav. He began learning it on his own at age 13(well before the required age for a Talmid Hakham) and he wasn't married. He missed the three major requirements(being 20, being married, and being a Talmid Hakham). Halakhically he wasn't supposed to be learning Kabbalah, so why should we listen to him and why should we be surprised that he got it wrong?

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  17. From Critic:

    Eddie

    Do you have any issuesd with the R BAchya? He says El HAIm - the YUD and no matter how you dice it, he is making the drasha on the word Elokim which means G-D in this context and he finds within the shaim of G-D, the hidden YUD SEFIROS. Pretty big issue to me. I would like your take on it.

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    1. He wrote it, you must have missed it.
      EddieJanuary 29, 2013 at 3:08 PM
      One can read anything one likes into it, but R Bahye is using a similar phrase as the Ramban "והמשכיל יבין".
      There is no explicit mention of 10 Sefirot here, and what he implies is not clear (to me).

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    2. @ Critic

      my point was that I personally do not see what he is implying, and although it could be a reference to the 10 sefirot, on this quote alone I can't make that inference. however, I do see your point, and I have seen others make the allegation that He is the 10 sefirot, notably in Tanya.
      The next step of the argument is ,ok if he is implying the 10 sefirot, what is his take on them?

      The problem is worse that we can imagine. Because the Kabbalsits have multiple deities, and one that cannot be named. The Ein Sof is sometiems G-d, and sometimes not. It is the Shem Meforash, but then there is another G-d, unknown to Moses.


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  18. Rav Tzadok

    Let Eddie answer please about R Bachya

    As to Shadal, he was a huge talmid chacham. your claim to the contrary is a bold faced lie and he was certainly within the orthodox camp. He was respected by many right wingers because of the fact that he was such an honest person and had such a brilliant mind. He grew up in a house that was full of kabala and then he decided to delve into it and found it to be sorely lacking and penned his Vikuach...not a polemic at all. Perhaps you can say that R Kapach senior's milchamos hashem was a polemic and singularly focused on the issue of anthromorphism which the mekuballim were able to push aside easily by saying that he understood it too literally. but Shadal's attack is multi-facted and has not been anwered and is very logically presented, so please stop attacking him personally and his book as a mere polemic.

    THe Ramchal was not twenty either and he did not have a beard. Shadal did have Rabbayim by the way and in his vikuach he ran the problematic R BAchya past his Rebbi who was a mekuabl and he said chas veshalom or a similar expression. SO your claims have no basis. Instead of an ad hominem attack on Shadal, why dont you address his points? By the way, his critique of the Zohar IMHO is the best out there though less known than some of the others. He waited many years to publish it so let's presume that he reviewed it many times well into his mature years and that the writing is not merely that of an uneducated child,

    By the way, the Vilna Gaon learned kabala at a much younger age and probably did not have a Rebbe for much of what he learned.

    Oh and by the way, who was the Arizal's Rebbe in kabbala when he picked up the Zohar and sat isolated in the hut off the Nile for 7 years. He had no Rebbi. So your claims are meaningless.

    I guess that it is okay when it is the "good guys" who break the "rules" but when one of the bad guys does the same he is condemned

    Was R Yakov Emden a Rav?For the most part NO - he tried but not really perhaps for a short stint. He was still a great kabbalist and halachist
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    1. As to Shadal, he was a huge talmid chacham.

      No one is a huge Talmid Hakham if he ceased his Rabbinic education at 13. We call that a Bar Mitzvah. Maybe an exceptionally bright Bar Mitzvah, but a Bar Mitzvah.

      he was certainly within the orthodox camp. His involvement in higher criticism gives lie to this statement. Denial of the authenticity of even a single letter of the Torah, according to the Rambam, makes one a kofer b'ikar.

      He grew up in a house that was full of kabala
      You know this how?

      THe Ramchal was not twenty either and he did not have a beard.
      The Ramchal was precisely 20, and who said anything about a beard?

      Shadal did have Rabbayim by the way and in his vikuach he ran the problematic R BAchya past his Rebbi who was a mekuabl and he said chas veshalom or a similar expression.
      So it was lost on you that the Vikuach(which he started writing when he was 13) was an allegorical tale, just like Rav Irgas' Shomer Emunim. In both they are fictional discussions. It was, and to a certain extent remains, a means of polemic(Clint Eastwood tried it at the Republican National Convention for instance).

      By the way, the Vilna Gaon learned kabala at a much younger age and probably did not have a Rebbe for much of what he learned.
      Do you have a shred of evidence for either of those statments?

      Oh and by the way, who was the Arizal's Rebbe in kabbala when he picked up the Zohar and sat isolated in the hut off the Nile for 7 years. He had no Rebbi.
      Patently not true. First there was David Ibn Zimra, who himself wrote commentaries on the two Idras of the Zohar which are remarkably like the Ari's understanding of them. Then there was his uncle Betzalel Ashkenazi(who also supported him financially while he secluded himself with his studies). Finally there was the Ramak.

      Was R Yakov Emden a Rav? As in did he complete a full course of Rabbinic studies and have Rabbinic ordination? Yes he did.

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  19. A few questions. For the non-kabbalistic crowd: 1) what does "sod" mean to you? Can you give an example of "sod" torah? 2) What would it take to convince you of the authenticity of Kabbalah?

    For all: Why is the Rambam's definition of ikkarim definitive? If Kabbalah cannot square with the Rambam, why is that really a problem?

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  20. To Unknown: The reason the Rambam's Ikkarim are definitive is because they are agreed to b all the Geonim and Rishonim, none argue. They are also in complete harmony with the Torah.

    As to Sod, to my knowledge this is not a term that is found outside of Kabbalah. As to what it means? It is the secrets and my the very nature of the term they are secret. Nobody denies that there are things beyond our ability to understand, Masseh Merkava being one of them. Because of their secret nature they are not permitted to be taught except one on one and even then only to a great scholar and according to Rambam only Roshei Perakim.

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  21. @TT re: ikkarim - that's not my understanding. I was under the impression that several rishonim argue (such as the Ramban) can you source that statement? IE can you document that all geonim and rishonim agree to the rambam's ikkarim?

    Follow up question regarding sod then. If the kabbalists do not have the authentic tradition as to what Sod is (or Maaseh Merkava, Maaseh Bereshis) who does? I realize the Rambam listed a lot of classes of angels etc. in the Yad and discusses it more fully in the Moreh. Were those Roshei Perakim or the full thing? Did he have a mesorah for those things? Do we know from whom? Did he pass that on to any of his students?

    I don't believe you answered the question regarding what it would take to convince a non-kabbalist that kabbalah was authentic. I think having that answer would provide for a more substantive discussion

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  22. "Doesn't it concern you that the zohar would use a mashal that in its basic meaning can be understood as total apikorus. We never find this type of thing in the torah." @all the people who made similar comments:
    Come on. The Torah contains the biggest apikorsus of all. Yad Hashem hoya b'mikneh? Na'aseh adam b'TZALMEINU? I mean, how could the Torah write such apikorsus? Ela mai, a moshol doesn't have to conform to the same rules. The Talmud is full of such mesholim. Think about it.

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  23. "To Unknown: The reason the Rambam's Ikkarim are definitive is because they are agreed to b all the Geonim and Rishonim, none argue."

    To Torah Truth: Not true. 2 famous examples are the Raavad holding non-corporeality is not an ikkar, and R' Y Albo holding Mashich is not an ikkar. Of course they held these beliefs are proper and true, but NOT ikkarim.

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  24. What about traditions such as the 72 letter name of God which Rashi bring in Succah. Where did Rashi get that tradition from if it is never spelled out by chazal?

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