Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zohar was not originally in the form we have today

 This is an attempt to properly manage the outpouring of major hashkofa questions that have appeared in the comments section of the post regarding the Arizal and the Gra. I am taking one of the questions there with my response.
http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/part-i-gra-arizal-disagreed-r-michael.html
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Chevra,

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

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

CAN ANY ZOHAR SUPPORTERS PLEASE ADDRESS THIS QUESTION?

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

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

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

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

@emes l'yaakov you are simply repeated a rather tired argument. It might enlighten you to read Prof Moshe Idel's Introduction to Kabbalah: New Perspectives (Yale UP 1988). There he contrasts Gershon Sholem's obsession with texts as the necessary basis for the study of kabbala while Idel argues that Kabbala is not primarily text based but Oral. Oral transmission is the foundation of the Oral Torah - which includes obviously kabbala. 
Even though there are prohibition of writing the Oral Torah - this was bypassed out of necessity. We are the people of the book - a Muslim designation - not by nature. The switch between an Oral transmission to a written one - especially with advances in technology such as the printing press or computers with databases - has created major difficulties. The accelerated growth of material which needs to be known is primarily a result of this written culture. With an Oral Transmission there are refinements, evolution and forgotting - just as there is with the human mind.
An example of what I am saying was stated by Rav Moshe Chagiz - one of the major zealot's and opponent of the Ramchal.   Mishnas Chachomim 232-234

Rav Moshe Chagiz (Mishnas Chochomim #332): Included in the proper requirements for love of one’s companions is to accept the truth from anyone who says it. The truth is clear that the editor and arranger of the holy Zohar was definitely a great man. He obtained material in written form. He then merited from Heaven to redact and publish it’s  exalted and sublime wisdom according to the order of the Torah. However this redaction and publication of the book which we have today, that is called the Zohar, was not  Heaven forfend  organized  by Rav Shimon bar Yochai or Rabbi Abba. It is a serious mistake to belive such a thing which blatently foolish. A similar mistaken belief is the belief that the Talmud that we have today is exactly that which Avraham had. This mistaken belief is something which should not even occur to G-d’s people who are Avraham’s direct descendants. We – thank G‑d - know how the Oral Torah developed  and how it was transmitted to us by oral transmission from Moshe who received it from G‑d. Mishnas Chochomim #333): And this that our Sages say that Avraham fulfilled the entire Torah even eiruv tavshilin  - it is not to be taken literally but only in the manner that I wrote in my first introduction to Eilu haMizvos. While it is true that everything was revealed to Avraham as our Sages learned from Bereishis (18:17), And G‑d said, How can I conceal from Avraham what I am about to do?... but we need to shut the mouths of critics who think we are fools and idiots who believe everything. Similarly, G‑d forfend that this wise and understanding people should understand literally the statement of our Sages (Berachos 5a), The verse “And I will give you the Tablets” refers to the Ten Commandments while “Torah” is refering to the Five Books of Moses, “And mitzvos” is referring to the Mishna, “which I have written” is referring to the Prophets and Writings , “to teach them” is referring to the Talmud – that this teaches us that all of this was given to Moshe on Mt. Sinai. It is clearly false to say that our Sages meant to tell us that Moshe received all of this the way we have it written down today.That is because prior to Rabbi Yehuda haNassi the entire Oral Torah was prohibited to put in written form. Consequently it is obvious that G‑d transmitted the Oral Torah (Mishna and Gemora) to Moshe not in written form. Rather it was only orally that G‑d revealed to him every generation and its authorities as well as all that which the diligent student would ask in the future. The majority of that transmission is that we remains and exists amongst us that has been validated,  certified and established so that there is no basis for us to question it. All of this I have already written in the Introduction I mentioned before. Mishnas Chochomim #334): And so it is with this awesome composition – the Zohar. There is no basis to question that the essence of the words as they are – came from the mouth of the Rashbi and his colleagues. Therefore whoever raises doubts about it is no different than one who raises doubts about G‑d. Nonetheless the one who redacted it made the connections  and continuity as he saw fit as is clear from the selection of the Zohar that I presented before in section 329.  
Mishnas Chochomim #329):Zohar (2:190b):’ “When they came into his presence R. Simeon at once saw from their faces that something was troubling them. He said to them: Enter, my holy children! Come, O ye beloved sons of the King! Come, my cherished and dearly loved ones, ye who love one another!-for R. Abba once said that Companions who love not one another pass away from the world before their time. All the Companions in the time of R. Simeon loved one another with heart and soul, and therefore in his generation the secrets were revealed; for he was wont to say that students of the Holy Torah who do not love one another cause a departure from the right path, and what is even more serious, cause a blemish in the very Torah itself, for the Torah is the essence of love, brotherhood, and truth. Abraham loved Isaac, and Isaac loved Abraham. They embraced one another; and Jacob was held by both in love and fellowship, intermingling their spirits each with each. Therefore members of the fellowship follow that example in order not to cause any blemish in the Torah.  As we have said, R. Simeon, having observed a certain sign in the faces of the newcomers, welcomed them with words of love; and they answered him saying, Of a truth the spirit of prophecy rests upon the Holy Lamp, and so we should have known”.... we see from this that even though all the words of this selection are true, it clearly indicates that the Zohar we have was only composed some time after the lifetime of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai by means of someone else who used his own mind to determine its form.

53 comments:

  1. I don't know Prod Idel but he is making a serious mistake in my humble opinion. Oral Torah (Torah SheBaal Peh) is the transmission of the Torah that was received by all of Klal Yisrael not a private transmission to an individual. The reason for this is obvious, any individual can claim a transmission or make a mistake in a transmission. The entire concept of Mesorah is invalidated when it is left to only an individual. Keep in mind this is the same concept that is used by the Christians, Lehavdil, who claim a transmission to an individual and one of the primary reasons we categorically reject it.

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    1. So according to this reasoning how would the legitimate "secrets of the Torah" (which were not transmitted publicly) not invalidated.

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    2. What "legitimate secrets" are you talking about?

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    3. Chagiga (11b): MISHNAH THE [SUBJECT OF] FORBIDDEN RELATIONS4 MAY NOT BE EXPOUNDED IN THE PRESENCE OF THREE,5 NOR THE WORK OF CREATION6 IN THE PRESENCE OF TWO, NOR [THE WORK OF] THE CHARIOT7 IN THE PRESENCE OF ONE, UNLESS HE IS A SAGE AND UNDERSTANDS OF HIS OWN KNOWLEDGE. WHOSOEVER SPECULATES UPON FOUR THINGS, A PITY8 FOR HIM! HE IS AS THOUGH HE HAD NOT COME INTO THE WORLD, [TO WIT], WHAT IS ABOVE,9 WHAT IS BENEATH,10 WHAT BEFORE, WHAT AFTER.11 AND WHOSOEVER TAKES NO THOUGHT FOR THE HONOUR OF HIS MAKER,12 IT WERE A MERCY13 IF HE HAD NOT COME INTO THE WORLD.

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    4. With all due respect,this Mishnah is saying that there are topics of the revealed Torah M'Sinai (Mesorah) that should only be taught to others in small groups of varying size, because of the sensitivity of the topics. That is worlds apart from saying that there is a portion of Torah that was only transmitted to an individual.

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    5. Have you read the Rashi there or later regarding PaRDeS? He clearly sees them as being mystical in nature.

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    6. Nobody is arguing that there are things that are beyond our ability to understand. Of course HaKadosh Baruch Hu created everything and that is beyond our ability to understand that is "Nistar" in the sense that it is hidden from us... but that fact that there are hidden areas to us doesn't equate them with what you call "Kabbalah". So what is your point?

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    7. It should also be noted that Rambam says that maaseh Bereishis is the wisdom of the natural world while Maaseh Merkavah refers to the metaphysical world.

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  2. On the other hand, the reference point might have some validity.
    The Gemara frequently references itself, Midrashim and even Ben Sira. It never ever quotes the Zohar.
    Ramban, in his commentary on Chumash, constantly talks about mystical secrets but never ever mentions the Zohar.
    Suddenly the Zohar appears and people now say it was always there!
    Is that not significant?

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  3. It seems rav Ovadiah did not think that the Dardaim were heretics www.zootorah.com/controversy/ZoharRavOvadiah.jpg

    גילוי מרעיש: דעת הגר"ע יוסף שליט"א על
    ה"דרדעים" והיחס אליהם
    לאחרונה יצא לאור הספר "מעיין אומר," שהוא שו"ת
    בקצרה שכתב משמשו של הגר"ע יוסף והאחראי על
    קבלת הקהל בימי שישי, הרב יהודה נקי.
    בחלק א,' הלכות בית כנסת, דף רכ"א, כותב המחבר
    בהערה:
    "לגבי הדרדעים, זכורני ששאלתי את מו"ר נר"ו
    ]הגר"ע יוסף,[ איני זוכר בבירור אם היה לגבי צירוף
    למנין או לקנות ספרי תורה ומזוזות מסופר דרדעי, האם
    דינו ככופר בדבר אחד מהתורה, שפסול.
    ואמר לי מו"ר שקשה לומר כן, שהרי הזוהר היה גנוז
    שנים רבות, ואחר שנמצא הם מצאו בו כל מיני קושיות,
    שלדעתם, מראה סתירה לנאמר בתורה, ולכך אי
    אפשר לדונם ככופרים. וממילא מובן למה נזדעזע
    רבינו] " כשמישהו אמר כשבית כנסת דרדעי יש
    להורסו כדין בנין עבודה זרה, ואמר "חס ושלום "].

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  4. To quote the previous Chief Rabbi Jakovovits ztl, "To those with faith, there are no questions, and to those without faith, there are no answers."

    Similarly, those who have faith in the Zohar, cannot and will not tackle the issues logically or scientifically, and those who do not accept it, will not be satisfied by the explanations given about how it was part of the Mesora.

    Today, there are several Modern thinkers, including R' Ben Chaim of Mesora, who deny it, and have provided sources of Rishonim who were also skeptical as to its authenticity.

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    1. The quote goes back at least to the Chofetz Chaim. It doesn't mean that those with faith blindly accept everything. Please reread the Chovas HaLevavos. In fact in my Daas Torah I provide a long section dealing with major Rabbis who said it is necessary to understand matters of faith to the best of our intellectual ability and not accept matters without understanding. faith comes in regarding matters which are beyond intellectual investigation.

      What it does mean is that a person who believes in the system will note questions and will investigate them to the best of his ability - but his faith is not dependent on getting answers. This is summarized by the famous story regarding the studet who asked his rebbe regarding the conflict between the gemora saying that Yaakov did not die and the fact that he was embalmed. The reply was "one doesn't die from a question."

      Being labeled a "modern thinker" is not an automatic evidence of superiority and correctness. Again the issue is not black and white as should be obviously to those who have been following the discussion.

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

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

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

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    1. where in the world would Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky ever have stumbled upon a dordai?

      and WADR, a one liner is not a teshuva.

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    2. As Mr. (Rabbi?) Waxman wrote a one liner is not a teshuva. Second of all, the teshuva was about including them in minyan. R'Chaim didn't say they had no chelek in olam haba or we would let them die, chas v'shalom. He also said they are "like" apikorsim, he didn't says they are apikorsim.

      Finally, it is important not to take literally sharp statements against groups whose views are perceived as dangerous. Similar statements were made about Chassidus but there too we need to differentiate between sharp rhetoric and literal halakhic rulings.

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    3. The question was whether they could be counted in a minyan. The answer: They are as Apikorosim in all of their laws. Which seems to indicate that they are to be treated like Apikorosim in every way, unless you have a different translation of בכל דיניהם

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    4. a great deal of the german rabbinate held that kaballah was simply stupid. i guess that rav kanievsky will have to write them off as well.

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    5. could you please provide citations

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    6. http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/Danziger.pdf - no such quote from Rav Hirsch

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    7. Rabbi Tzadok,

      I am not arguing on the literal translation of his words I am arguing on his meaning. He said they are "as" apikorsim. He didn't say they "are" apikorsim. You don't let Jews die for an "as." You can't take every one-line statement from a Gadol or a Tzaddik as literal truth. It would be a different situation if R'Chaim had written a proper teshuvah with sources and arguments.

      If the exact same question would have been asked about an individual and not a group, do you think that R'Chaim would have answered the same way?

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    8. I see no reason as to why he would not have. Most especially as he is simply reaffirming a psak passed down by previous generations.

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    9. Really?

      Can you give me a citation to teshuvah by any prominent posek that held that an individual who denies holds that Rashbi did not author the Zohar is a literal apikorus without a share in the world to come, whom we would let die if he were in dire straits?

      The difference between an individual and a group is that a group poses a threat to the general body of the Jewish people. A lone person who has a mistaken belief doesn't pose the same threat and there is no need for extra strong language or overly-strict stances.

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    10. It's not about authorship, it's about authority and validity. Authorship is a very different debate.

      We are certain that Ravinah and Rav Ashi didn't write the Gemarra. In fact there is ample evidence that Rav Sherrira Gaon did, despite his letter saying that it was Ravina and Rav Ashi.

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    11. See teshuvos haBach, yeshanos, #5 if I recall correctly. He does condemn the person he is referring to as someone who should be put in cherem. Again, I don't have the teshuva in front of me at the moment to verify the exact words. One should also take note that the person he was writing about "made fun of" Kabbalah, he didn't "merely" dispute the validity of the Zohar on grounds of logic. Evaluate for yourself. Also cherem is not the same as no chelek, but again, I forget the exact words.

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  6. The Vilna Gaon accepted the validity of the Zohar as did The Baal Shem Tov. There is no legitimate reason to question the validity of the Holy Zohar. At most one can reasearch how and why it came be be accepted as is.

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    1. for the non-chassidim, the baal shem tov's seal of approval doesn't mean that much. whatever historical information there is doesn't give that much to go on.

      as for the gra, wadr, on what basis was the gra making this determination?

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  7. When the Chasam Sofer was young he studied under a major Gadol in Frankfort Reb Noson Adler zt"l who was also a major Cabbalist. A book was being passed around to the great Cabbalists, one at a time, for a few weeks, who then passed it along further. This sefer was the Siddur of the great Reb Shalom Sherabi zt"l said to be the neshomo of the Ari Z"l. The Chasam Sofer was with his rebbe when the Sefer arrived. Now I and thousands of others have a copy of it. Times have changed. At one time great rabbis studied on their own or with certain special people.
    One of the reasons why so much Cabala is out there today and all of the easily available may be that the Cabala is designed for the Messianic Age and the Future World. Thus some say that we don't pasken like Reb Shimom bar Yochoi in niglo or the revealed law, but rather like the other students of Rabbi Akiva such as Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yose. But when it comes to the laws of Shabbos, which is similar to the Future World in some ways, we do rule like Rabbi Shimon, such as with the major issues of Mukteh, Dovor Shaino Miskovan, and Melocho Sahnu Tsericho Ligoofa. Shabbos radiates with the light of the Future World. So we follow the opinion of the master of Cabala, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi.
    The process of preparing Cabala for the masses began two generations before the Rambam, about 900 years ago. Eliyohu HaNovi taught Cabala to the ESHKOL, a very major authority from France and his son-in-law, the famous RAAVD, and the son of the RAAVD Reb Yitschok, and then to Ramban. The Chazon Ish says that the Vilna Gaon did not have a teacher for Cabala because he learned from Eliyohu HaNovi. The Baal HaTanyo said on the Gaon, "I am not afraid of his greatness in NIGLO the revealed law, but I am afraid of his Cabala." The Vilna Gaon compared himself to the Shaagas Aryeh. "He and I in the revealed law. I am he in Cabala."
    My rebbe Rebbe Shmuel Toledano zt"l Gaon of the Cabalists in Jerusalem has haskomose from the great Cabbalist Reb Yitsdchok Kaduri zt"l on his works in Cabala that he "wrote them with Ruach HaKodesh." I was in his house often and he read my thoughts, telling me in a kind way what he thought of them. Oh well. Whatever he blessed me with came true, with miracles.
    Now that we are on the verge of the Geuolo, something taught by the great rabbis and pretty obvious, it makes sense that Cabala is much more widespread and revealed than before. But tracing things back before the Age of Revelation is not going to work. Then things were hidden. The Talmud tells us of people who lectured in Cabala and some died on the spot. It was not such a easy thing in those days.

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    1. rav eidensohn you're OK with the spread of kabballah today, that one can order almost any kabbalistic book on amazon? (putting aside for the moment the nutsos and fakes out there)?

      btw there was also a massive spread of kabballah pre-shabbatei tzvi. hope that this time things work out better.

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    2. @Ben A great many Mekubalim are happy with the legitimate spread of Kabbalah. The multiplicity of Kabbalistic Yeshivot that have been started by legitimate Mekubalim and so forth. There is also something to be said for access, through publication, to various texts.

      However, there is a still a good bit that is held back. Rav Eidensohn says that he has a copy of the Siddur HaRashash sitting on his book shelf, and in truth a lot of people do. However, I doubt that it is the siddur that the Chasam Sofer and so many others rave about. Most likely it is one of the, shortened printed editions, not siddur that was passed around in hand written form. That siddur has only found any sort of publication within the last ten years, is still rather obscure, and is nothing more than a photostat of handwritten pages.

      Rav Yaakov Hillel has been sitting on the publication of a (more)complete version of Mavo Shaarim for over a decade for essentially the same reason. There are still teachings that we don't want falling into the wrong hands.

      On the flip side, now that so many of these manuscripts are held in Universities and Museums, it is making it much easier for the various Kaballah cults to get their hands on these various, and potentially spiritually dangerous works.

      In a certain sense the rise of the various Kaballah cults have forced Mekubalim out into the open. If not for places like Bnei Barukh and the Kabbalah Cetner you wouldn't have Rabbanim such as Rav Ephraim Goldstein giving shiurim in the Eitz Chaim online. You wouldn't have folks like me running Kaballah oriented blogs. The very real danger of another Shabbtai Tzvi in a certain sense necessitates offering legitimate information about Kaballah. But don't be mistaken to believe that everything is being made public either.

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    3. "However, there is a still a good bit that is held back."

      Could be; sentences like the above take me back to the mystics in foucault's pendulum.

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    4. And even the Chasam Sofer was still able to accept that R' Yaakov Emden was right about the Zohar's late editing and some portions being completely pseudoepigraphical, if you understand his hint in the middle of teshuva 52 in Chelek 6 of Shu"t Ch"S. Or was in 59? I'm pretty sure it's nun-beis. Check it out, v'du"k. VERY interesting. To understand the hint you have to know that "Mitpachas Seforim" was RYE's sefer whose whole point was textual criticism of the Zohar. BTW this is a refutation to those who say that RYE's opinion is a "Daas Yochid," which is obviously not true, anyways.

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  8. @moshe moshel - "There is no legitimate reason to question the validity of the Holy Zohar":

    One can define "validity" to mean that the Zohar is a holy book written by R. Moshe DeLeon in the Middle Ages.

    However, if you're defining validity to mean that a "chain of transmission" between R. Shimon Bar Yochai and the majority of the Zohar published by R. Moshe DeLeon has been verified and established, you have not provided the slightest proof of such. Neither the Mishnas Chochomim above nor any of the commenters on this blog have established a chain of transmission for the majority of the Zohar.

    Yes, the chain of transmission of the Mishna and Gemora has been verified and established. The same cannot be said of the Zohar.

    Can anyone verify even one person who possessed the Zohar before R. Moshe DeLeon?

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    1. Pieces of it, unattributed by name(which Moshe De'Leon gave it) can be found in Rashi, Ramban and other Rishonim. If you are looking for a literal and revealed chain of tradition, you are not going to find that with any the later Kabbalistic texts.

      We have only the Kabbalistic texts, those things that were put into writing, by the Tanaim, Amoraim and Geonim to compare it with. For example The Heikhalot and Midrash Tamurah by Rav Yishmael Kohen HaGadol, Otiot D'Rabbi Akiva, Midrash Konen written by several the Amoraim, Sefer HaTagin attributed to Yehohsua Bin Nun, by Rav Shemtov Gaon(who wrote a commentary on it), and Sefer HaIyun by Rav Chamai Gaon just to name a few.

      Second to that no one has yet explained why Moshe D'Leon didn't just write the Zohar in his own name if it was his own invention. He was a renowned Mekubal in his own right who's texts are still studied today in Yeshivot.

      Rav Isaac D'Min Acco, the only one from the time who investigated the matter, said that the Zohar wasn't written by Moshe D'Leon, and even modern scholars(the University types) debate who the author was with some claiming it was D'Leon and others making equally convincing arguments to an earlier author.

      However, since the key traditions found in the Zohar can be shown to be extant from the time of the Tannaim, ultimately it's final redcator does not matter so much, just as it does not matter if Ravina and Rav Ashi wrote the Talmud, or if Rav Sherira Gaon did, and attributed it to them. What matters is that the entirety of the Jewish people accepted the Zohar.

      Frankly 3 or 4(in total) Rishonim and Acharonim who may have raised objections(though even those are hardly conclusive) Do not make a valid tradition for a modern day rejection. Far more Rishonim disagreed far more vocifoursly with Rambam's restatement of the Jewish faith in his 13 principles and Moreh, leading to his books being burned. Yet those are still unquestionably accepted today. We should not treat the Zohar, which in essence is the Gemarra of Kabbalah any different than we do those other works.

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    2. @R. Tzadok - "We should not treat the Zohar, which in essence is the Gemarra of Kabbalah any different than we do those other works":

      I agree!

      No one would claim that the Moreh Nevuchim was written by Chazal, since the MN, like the Zohar, first appeared in the Middle Ages. Even though Moreh Nevuchim contains many statements from Chazal, no "Rambamists" to my knowledge would call Zohar supporters apikorosim or kofrim for claiming that Moreh Nevuchim was NOT written by Chazal.

      Although the Zohar may contain many statements of R. Shimon Bar Yochai, why can't we apply the same standard to the Zohar, ie one can believe it was NOT written by Chazal without being called an apikoros or kofer?

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    3. It's not a matter of who you believe it was written by that is an issue. It is calling it non-authoritative and even kefira(C"V) that is kefira, because our Rabbis for nearly 700yrs have ruled it to be part of our Oral Torah.

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    4. Even if what you say is true, how does denying its authenticity equate to K'firah? That is a level of belief that is not even granted to Aggadah where the Ramban himself says in the Vekuach "Me serozeh Lemaamin bazeh (that particular aggadah) Tov, ume shlo rotzeh lemaamin bazah, Lo Yazik".

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    5. Because our sages, our Rabbis, with one voice have said it does.

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    6. If that is the case you shouldn't have trouble producing a string citation of several prominent teshuvot from many different generations.

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    7. Already did, on several occasions here. See no reason for doing so again.

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    8. Who is Chamai Gaon? Never heard of him...

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  9. I direct you to letter 18 of RS Hirsch's 19 Letters also to his Sefer Nafulai Niftalti.It should also be noted that Rav Hirsch removed any reference to Zohar and Kabbalah from the T'filah. Hence in Frankfurt they removed B'rich Shemai (still not said in any Geman Kehilla)as well as did not say Kabbalas Shabbos, Leshem Yichud, Askinu Sudasa etc.

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  10. Ben Waxman,
    Am I happy with the spread of Cabala? The pre-Messianic Era has great lights and energies dancing around that can go good or bad. But something is going on. I merely wanted to note that in pre-Messianic times, the Cabala is more appropriate than in earlier times. If you want to get technical and examine the great forces for Torah that appear in our time, such as the huge increase in learning over earlier generations, I could make a few sour comments there also. In all of the great energies there are hope and danger. The Kunteres Yachleli wrote before WWII that in 1948 something would happen of a Messianic bent, but if it would be redemption or the opposite he did not know. Of course, that is how these forces play out. HaShem sends down a great light, and it is up to people to deal with them properly. Of course, the Satan is there, doing his thing, trying to mold us into his pattern of using these great lights. I better not get started on that point.

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  11. Ben Waxman,
    Returning to your comment to me above, let me say this. I never learned anything, nigor nor nistor, without a rebbe. If you have a rebbe, you have nothing to fear. I once spent a huge amount of time using a system of arithmetic that revealed wonderful Cabalistic teachings. When I got to my rebbe's house he told me not to use that system unless_____ He also told me to stop learning so much Cabala because I had to learn halacha. Without a rebbe? That's not for me. When my rebbe passed away I was in big trouble. I had a terrible Yom Kippur. My rebbe then came to me and told me to take the Kretchnifer rebbe shlit"o as my rebbe. I went to him and told him that he was stuck with me because my rebbe sent me to him. I also told him a few other such statements, from my azuce ponim. He was the right rebbe for me. But my first rebbe is the main one and is still busy with me. One of the great tragedies in the Torah world today is when people don't have a real rebbe. I had great rebbes and I used all of my incredible store of azuce ponim and chutspah to talk to them. Whenever I went to them I felt that I was standing on the edge of a cliff. If I said the wrong word, but, who has time for those thoughts? When you are talking to a Gadol you have to think exactly what you want to convey, and the dangers will take care of themselves.

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    1. "If you have a rebbe, you have nothing to fear."

      right but 95% of the people learning qabballah today don't. they read shalom, idel (if they're really smart) or the watered-down versions (if they're not so smart). they go to classes in university, take seminars, read blogs, etc.

      so from the perspective of someone like yourself, who represents the old school, is this a positive development?

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    2. Ben Waxman,
      The incredible popularity of Cabala is in a way good and in a way not good. When people who usually read denial read Cabala, that is positive, in an imperfect way. When people who don't know what they are doing become Cabalistic instead of what they should be doing on their level, that is a problem. All great lights from heaven are like the Garden of Eden. It can be paradise, or you can eat from the Tree of Knowledge. When the secular Jews from Russia flowed into Israel a century ago and began farming the land, a great Gaon Rav Teichetal wrote a book that these anti-Orthodox people are doing the work of building the land that will eventually bring them to Torah and prepare the Future. At the time, it sounded weird, but it is now better understood. Heaven has its ways, and we are observers, and when we have a rebbe, we can go beyond observing.

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  12. From Critic:

    R Tzadok - forget the toahr hayihud for a second. you really need to look at shadal's vikuach.

    Here is an excerpt which again shows you that FORGERY was a pretty common practice.

    The author: And what will you say when you see in sefer haEmunot to the aforementioned Rabbi Shem Tov, and also in the sefer haPardes to Rabbi Moshe Cordevero z"l, many secrets in the wisdom of the kabbalah which Rav Chamai Gaon wrote, and which Rav Hai Gaon wrote to Rav Paltoy Gaon?

    The guest: I say that Rav Chamai did not exist and was never created, and no Sage whose name was such is found amongst the Geonim nor amongst the Rabbanan Savorai, and not even amongst the Sages of the Talmud. And I say that Rav Paltoi Gaon died 100 years before Rav Hai Gaon was born. {!!} And therefore I saw that one should not rely much upon the testimony of the sages of kabbalah, for they are established liars.

    The author: The mouth of he who speaks falsehood should be shut up! And what will you say when you see with your eyes that Rav Hai Gaon, z"l, in the letter written in sefer Ein Yaakov (masechet Chagiga, perek Ein Doreshin) mentions Heichalot Rabbati and Heichalot Zutrati, and the author of the Kuzari (maamar 3, siman 65) mentions the sefer Heichalot, and Hakarat Panim, and Maaseh Merkava, and attributes them to Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha the Kohen Gadol. And also the Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra (in parshat Ki Tisa) mentions Shiur Komah. {All kabbalistic works.}

    The guest: I admit about all these books that they came out from the hands of our Rabbis, even though I have not seen them, and I do not know if they agree with the opinions of the kabbalists or not. But this I have seen -- that Rabbi Yehuda haLevi and Ibn Ezra who saw them and established their early origin, did not maintain at all the positions of the kabbalists.

    I also think that if these books supported the beliefs of the masters of kabbalah, the kabbalists would have already been swift to promulgate them in Israel, which they have not done. And in truth, I have read chapters of Heichalot and Midrash Konan, which were printed in sefer Arzei Levanon, and I did not find in them a single thing of all that the later kabbalists say.

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    1. I also think that if these books supported the beliefs of the masters of kabbalah, the kabbalists would have already been swift to promulgate them in Israel, which they have not done. They have promulgated them. Shiur Komah, the Heikhalot, Midrash Konan these were the bread and butter of the early Mekubalim.

      Abulafia built his entire system on those works, and what he considered to be the Kabbalah of the Rambam(don't laugh until you have read his books).

      So this seems to be a polemic that honestly doesn't hold up to actual facts of one who has read the books and their Geonic commentaries.

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    2. @RabbiMichaelTzadok

      You still haven't explained who these people are and how we are justified using them to make a "mesorah-chain" back to the Geonim. They didn't exist!

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    3. Necromancy is assur min hatorah.

      Not on this thread no. The discussion moved to another thread. If you really need I can document hear kabbalistic works going back to the Tannaim/Amoraim. Though since the Gemarrah was composed by the Geonim, I see no need to go further back than that with Kabbalah.

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  13. This seems to be an old post which I didn't pay much attention to.
    A lot of talk about pre-messianic kabbala here. But there is nothign new to this claim. There was a lot of messianic and mystical speculation in the days of Yashke, Bar Kuziba, Shabbetai Zvi, and most recently the Lubavitcher rebbe.
    Now since you gentlemen speak very highly of R Kaduru, perhaps you can explain his supprot for the false mesianic pretensions of R Schneersohn, whose cult has become a new form of christianity, with a hard core who hold him to be also a god.

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    1. Rav Kaduri you mean? Other than a Lubavitch website where have you ever seen that he supported the Lubavitcher Rebbe, most especially that he supported his messianic claim?

      Whenever anyone asked Rav Kaduri about the Lubavitcher Rebbe being Mashiach he would answer, "The Mashiach will be young, strong and healthy."
      Considering the Lubavitcher Rebbe was old, and had already had a stroke when he started making his messianic claim, most of his students understood this to be a derekh eretz way of him saying that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe was wrong.

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