03-11-2011, 10:59 AM
Rose of Shushan,
If you are honestly interested in what Jewish Kabbalah [not this occultic stuff] is about, then you can check out a book by an authentic [orthodox] Rabbi, who passed away about 30 years ago, Aryeh Kaplan. The book is called 'Meditation and Kabbalah'. It goes through the various schools of Jewish Kabbalah throughout the centuries.
The best explanation, in english, from an authentic Jewish Rabbi concerning this area of study is 'The Way of God' by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto.
There is also a book by Aryeh Kaplan, translation and theoretical commentary, on Sefer Yetsirah.
If you want a website, go the website of Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok of KosherTorah.com.
If you honestly interested in understanding it from a Jewish perspective, consult such sources such as these.
Going to the actual sources, like Avraham Abulafia, Yosef Gikatalia, kitvei HaAri, the Ramak, the Vilna Gaon, R Yehudah Fatiyah, etc is futile for most people, partly due to it being in hebrew, aramaic, etc and because the material itself is steeped in abstract metaphorical language. Also, a large amount of knowledge of other Jewish sources, such as Jewish law, etc are needed.
To continue to understand Jewish Kabbalah as being occult, and not to check out what authentic jewish rabbis say, is willful ignorance. It is not about if you accept the concept of Jewish Kabbalah, it is the confusion you make of correlating it with occult.
The reason for pointing to 'orthodox/traditional' Rabbis, instead of people like Gershom Sholem and Heschel [who were of the 'conservative jewish' point of view], is because the 'reform' and 'conservative' beliefs have their source in the 'enlightenment' movement of 200-250 years ago in Europe. Similar to the 'Sadducees' who stemmed from a pair of Jewish people who had rejected Torah [Beithos and Tsadok], but later 'added Torah' to their ways for credibility.
03-11-2011, 01:46 PM
I think that maybe because this thread is so off topic, it should be discontinued discussing the kabbalah here. There are actually threads already in place concerning it.
That said, this is one of those issues I am going to ask that you don't promote. Here's the thing, I researched Kaplan also.
Specifically Kaplan > http://www.seekgod.ca/kabconnects.htm#rab
The thing is he was/is the most current promoter of kabbalah in North America. His accuracy is no less credible or uninformed as you suggest Scholem was etc. Scholem was well respected and his writings were accurate--even if he didn't agree with it all as you suggest. Kaplan was a kabbalist who went into the same research and wrote his books which became the staple of what is believed in rabbinic Judaism today.
From my reserarch, just pulling some quotes, which I hope you will read:
Quote:Describing, "On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts of the Kabbalah", by Gershom Scholem, Arthur Green, Professor of Jewish Thought, Brandeis University states the basic elements of Kabbalah:
"In the Zohar and other writings of the Kabbalah, Jewish mystics developed concepts and symbols to help them penetrate secrets of the cosmos that cannot be understood through reason or intellect… Gershom Scholem, the pioneer of the modern study of Jewish mysticism explains the basic concepts of the Kabbalah: the mystical "form of the imageless God"; good and evil; the Tsaddik or righteous soul; the Shekhinah, the feminine aspect of God; gilgul, the transmigration of souls; and tselem, the concept of the astral body…. " 1.
Another Review of this book identifies and elaborates among the essential elements of Jewish mysticism the feminine goddess Shekhinah, reincarnation and astral travel:
"[On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts of the Kabbalah] … is Gershom Scholem's introduction to the essential terms of Jewish mysticism. His chapter on Shekhinah--the kabbalist symbol of the female element of the godhead--helps explain why Kabbalah has a growing following among women. His chapter on Gilgul, or reincarnation, is fascinating for its description of how a spiritual phenomenon is formed, following the process from revelation to writing to teaching. And his final chapter on Tselem, or the astral body, will make you think twice about laughing at Shirley MacLaine. The astral body, according to Kabbalah, is the spiritual nature of each human being--the image of God described in Genesis 1. Scholem quotes pages of medieval rabbis' fantastic discoveries of their astral bodies…" 2.
....According to Gershom Scholem, Maimonides is referenced by all Kabbalists. Warning about the caution which should be exercised in embracing mysticism, Maimonides wrote in his Mishnah Torah:
"The less educated the candidate for mystical illumination, the less he knew of theology, the greater was the danger of a conflict with authority. Quite regardless of their specific content, all manuals of mysticism written from the standpoint of traditional authority illustrate this point. The Jewish authorities, for example, tried to avoid conflicts by restricting the right to engage in mystical practice and speculation to fully trained Talmudic scholars. All Kabbalistic manuals quote Maimonides' warning: 'No one is worthy to enter Paradise [realm of mysticism] who has not first taken his fill of meat and bread,'1 i.e., the common fare of sober Rabbinical learning " 5.
John 5:37: "And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape."
As mentioned previously, Zos Imos explains the student's transition from Talmudic "haggadah" to the very potent mystical experiences which spread like the revival "fire" throughout the Diaspora, leading to development of the full Kabbalah. Mr. Imos states that an adept named R. Akiva, regularly practiced the "ascent" of the soul" in perfect peace.
"…The study of these mysterious visions and symbols, according to the Talmudic *haggadah* or commentary on the 'tellings' or narratives of the Tanak (sacred scriptures), tells of the descent of this same 'fire' on the expositor of the prophetic scrolls when in a holy state of contemplation. In contrast, such meditation could lead to an 'ascent' (in imitation of Elijah) which could lead astray the unprepared, but could, as in the case of R. Akiva, lead to ascent and descent in 'perfect peace' (Scholem, 1991)." 6.
From "Sages and Scholars" we read of the development of the Mishnah in which Rabbi Akiva [R. Akiba or Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph] also played so important a role.
....R. Akiva believed that Bar Kokhba was the Messiah, not Jesus Christ.
"Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph (50-135 C.E.) A poor, semi-literate shepherd, Akiba became one of Judaism's greatest scholars. He developed the exegetical method of the Talmud" Mishnah, linking each traditional practice to a basis in the biblical text, and systematized the material that later became the Mishnah."
"Rabbi Akiba was active in the Bar Kokhba rebellion against Rome, 132-135 C.E.. He believed that Bar Kokhba was the Moshiach (messiah), though some other rabbis openly ridiculed him for that belief ." 7.
...Scholars present manuscript evidence of the preeminence of Jewish sorcery contained in various Kabbalistic writings. Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph (2nd century) was not only a leading figure in the development of the Talmud "Mishnah" but also a leader of early Jewish mysticism and development of the Kabbalah.
"…In addition, a number of longer magical handbooks have been passed down in their own MS tradition. These include Sepher HaRazim (the Book of Mysteries), Harba deMosheh (the Sword of Moses), and Havdala deR. Akiva (The Havdalah of R. Akiva). Only one of these (Sepher HaRazim) is available in a convenient English translation (by Michael A. Morgan), …some scholars feel that the original editor of the Hebrew text, Mordechai Margaliot, exercised an unduly heavy editorial hand…" 8.
Although rather in-depth, an Online lecture by J. Davila, called "Ancient Magic" reveals much information regarding Jewish Magic.
"It is worth noting in passing the extraordinarily conservative streak in some of the Jewish magical literature…One of the Hebrew texts from the Cairo Geniza …has a passage that is almost a direct translation of a Greek incantation for ascent of the uterus also found in the Greek Magical Papyri… The Havdalah de R.Akiva contains Aramaic material… has close parallels with the much earlier Babylonian magic bowls and material…that seems to echo the Watchers myth in the Enoch literature…" 9.
"… There is an ever growing corpus of Jewish magical texts, extending now back to the turn of the era with the publication of a number such documents from the Dead Sea Scrolls. These include …a Hebrew physiognomic and astrological text…with themes related to physiognomic and Merkavah traditions… an Aramaic "brontologion," a genre of omen that predicts the future by interpreting thunder…"Songs of the Sage," songs for protection against demons…Aramaic apotropaic incantation anticipating much found in the Babylonian incantation bowls… and some exorcism incantations…" 10.
Colin Low expands on the Merkabah mystics and their practices.
"The earliest documents (~100 - ~1000 A.D.) associated with Kabbalah describe the attempts of 'Merkabah' mystics to penetrate the seven halls (Hekaloth) of creation and reach the Merkabah (throne-chariot) of God. These mystics used the familiar methods of shamanism (fasting, repetitious chanting, prayer, posture) to induce trance states in which they literally fought their way past terrible seals and guards to reach an ecstatic state in which they 'saw God'." 11.
...."Ancient Magic" also discloses the contents of Jewish magical treatises encompassing astrology, palm reading and the ascension of adepts to the "throne of God".
" [There are]… little-studied Jewish literature from late antiquity and the Middle Ages on astrology, physiognomy and chiromancy, and mystical theurgy. A Hebrew document called Baraita deMazzalot (the Baraita of the Constellations) is a comprehensive astrological treatise along the lines of hellenistic astrology but with a Jewish theological slant. A number of texts purport to be able to evaluate personal character and destiny on the basis of palm reading and observation of facial appearance and other bodily traits. Some of these also draw on astrology. Connected with these on some level are the early mystical tractates known as the Hekhalot literature (Merkavah mysticism) that claim to give instructions on how to ascend through the seven celestial palaces to view the throne of God (the Merkavah) and sing with the angelic choir or, conversely, to compel angels to descend from heaven to teach the mystic esoteric secrets of Torah…"16. (bold emphasis is mine) 12.
The Hekhalot or Merkavah mysticism mentioned above involves the summoning of "angels" to receive wisdom. The Merkabah mystics are believed to become deified during this process.
"…Hekhalot texts do tend to summon angels (never God, I believe) in a very premptory way, and they ask for various types of esoteric wisdom and theurgic power. It seems clear also that the Merkavah mystics were deified (turned to angelic creatures of fire) before the throne of God, at least for the duration of the heavenly journey. Enoch received this deification permanently when he was transformed into the angel Metatron in 3 Enoch. But perhaps not too much should be made of this either, since deification rites are also known from the pagan magical papyri …" 13.
A perusal of Kabbalist material reveals variations and contradictions of the necessary "angels names" that play such an important role in their rituals and for the "safe ascent of the soul".
The ascent that the mystics described is believed to take place in stages or ladders through the Tree of Life (with the Sefirot) and as indicated by John Ferguson in "An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Mysticism and the Mystery Religions."
"According to Plotinus (205-270 AD), "there are stages in the soul's ladder of ascent. The first includes purification, the freeing of the soul from the body, and the practice of the cardinal virtues. In the second the soul rises above sense-perception to Nous through contemplation. A third and higher stage, already ineffable, leads to union with Nous. Finally there is the climax of the whole ascent in mystical and ecstatic union with the One." 14.
A quote of an ancient sage, from one of Gershom Scholems books, On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts of the Kabbalah, provides this insight on studying the Kabbalah, meditation and "the ascent":
"When I wished to find knowledge of the secrets of Creation, I came upon a dark vault within the depths of the earth, filled with blowing winds.... Then there appeared to me in my sleep a shape of most wondrous beauty [giving me instructions on how to conduct myself in order to attain knowledge of the highest things]. I then said to him: "Who are you?" And he answered: "I am your perfected nature." 15[b][b]
.....Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
...Dr. Eliezer Segal of the University of Calgary describes Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidism as a Kabbalist movement. The doctrines of the Lubavitch Movement are derived from the Kabbalah. The acronym for Chabad even contains the names of three sefirot--chokmah, binah and Da'at:
"The name 'Chabad' is a Hebrew acronym for the expression 'Chokmah,' 'Binah" and 'Da'at' -- Wisdom, Intelligence and Knowledge. These Kabbalistic terms are central to the distinctive intellectual theology of the movement... The name Lubavitch refers to a town in Lithuania that was the centre of the movement for a brief period during the nineteenth century...Chabad Hasidism continued to be a major force among Russian and Lithuanian Jews from its inception..." http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/363_...habad.html
The Encyclopedia of Religion states that the Lubavitch Hasidic system of Kabbalah is among those taught in traditional Jewish institutions:
"The dominant brand of Qabbalah in the modern Qabbalistic Yeshivot (traditional Jewish academies) is the Lurianic system. It is studied according to the interpretations offered by Mosheh Hayyim Luzzatto, by Eliyyahu ben Shelomoh Aalman, by Habad, the Lubavitch Hasidic Movement and by the Sefardic Qabbalists of the Beit El Academy in Jerusalem." 16.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, who is known as the foremost disseminator of Kabbalah in North America. Rabbi Kaplan translated into English the "Torah Anthology", a commentary on the Torah which is upheld by Peter Michas as being highly accurate and one of the best. 17.
Rabbi Yaakov Culi, who according to Peter Michas, was "one of the greatest Sephardic sages of his time" originally wrote "The Torah Anthology". The term "Sephardic sage" means that Rabbi Culi was involved in Jewish Mysticism, aka the Kabbalah. Peter Michas wrote in his book, The Rod of an Almond Tree in God's Master Plan:
"[The Torah Anthology] is considered to be one of the best commentaries ever written on the Torah--in any language--and is a veritable encyclopedia of Jewish knowledge. In 1967, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan began an English translation…The Biblical translations in the Torah Anthology are highly accurate. There is also a high degree of accuracy concerning Hebrew historical events, but there is also a great deal of legend material. Many rabbis believe that the legend material contains a great deal of accurate information. The authors of this book doubt the overall accuracy of much of the legend material but realize that it does contain certain accurate elements of truth which must be critically ascertained in the course of research and study." 18.
Michael Sidlofsky explains Aryeh Kaplans principal role in mainstreaming Jewish mysticism through translation and teaching of the Kabbalah.
"…A more traditional American Orthodox rabbi, Aryeh Kaplan, spent the seventies and early eighties reconstructing the forgotten Jewish meditative tradition by researching long-neglected kabbalistic texts, many only extant in manuscript. He boldly disregarded the centuries-old rabbinic ban on the dissemination of kabbalistic practices among those under forty and unschooled in Bible and Talmud--a result of the Shabbetai Tzvi tragedy--by teaching Jewish meditation classes and publishing practical manuals and source readers on the subject. Thanks largely to Kaplan's efforts, many Orthodox rabbis and lay people have taught and written about Kabbalah, recognizing its appeal to non-practicing Jews searching for spiritual guidance." 19.
From the Kabbalah in English web site, which helps one understand what writings are necessary to learn Kabbalah, we find this enlightening information about the esteemed Aryeh Kaplan, whose many insights are presented by Peter Michas to develop Biblical understanding.
"…Having acquired, in at least minimal form, the traditional "bellyfull of Talmud", the student can now turn to works that are actually Kabbalistic.
"The first core work is the Sefer Yetzirah. The only edition to be considered is that of Aryeh Kaplan, published by Weiser. Besides containing the Hebrew text, and separate translations of all the main recensions of this work, it contains Kaplan's comments and explanations, in which Kaplan, speaking as a traditional Kabbalist, explains the Sefer Yetzirah in terms of what is now traditional Kabbalistic doctrine: and in doing so manages to explain the traditional doctrine of Kabbalah, as well as give details of esoteric practice not usually found in printed form."
"…Similar to this, but not confined to Lubavitch teaching, is the work of Aryeh Kaplan. Besides his editions of the Sefer Yetzirah and the Bahir, and his anthology of excerpts from major Kabbalists published as Meditation and Kabbalah, there may also be mentioned his works on meditation, Jewish Meditation and Meditation and the Bible, which examine meditation in the light of current Jewish practices and in the light of Biblical texts and the classical (often Kabbalistic) commentaries on those texts. He also wrote a series of short books expounding various portions of Jewish ritual practice, often in the light of Kabbalah." 20. http://remus.rutgers.edu/~woj/arcana/index.html
....Aryeh Kaplan's Kabbalistic books are his trademark and area of expertise. A list of these may be found at http://www.judaica.com/Kaplan/index.html . A very significant work called, "The Real Messiah?" was written by Kaplan as a Jewish response to the "missionary challenge." A review of this book found on Amazon.com and dated August 1997 provides these critical insights.
The Real Messiah? By Aryeh Kaplan
"Review: An invaluable resource for anyone who has been "witnessed" to…
While this book is written for real Jews in order to help them keep their friends and family members away from the cults of Jews for Jesus and "messianic" Judaism, it is also filled with some of the most hilarious anti-Christian tracts ever written. Particularly important is the response of Rambam [Maimonides] (12th century rabbi and important scholar) to potential converters that got him kicked out of Europe, and which still resonates today since Christians have yet to come up with any new reasons for converting, and a chapter entitled "behold the man" (sic?) in which the christian dogma of Christ as perfect man and utter fulfiller of the Torah (which is enigmatic at best) is placed next to some of the lesser known Bible passages to prove that not only was Christ not the Messiah but he was a lousy hypocritical human being had he really existed. After this I was inspired to look up Bible passages including his inciting his followers to murder in Luke 19:27, to find that Christ actually broke ALL TEN COMMANDMENTS. Way to go Jesus. If anyone is bothering you, trying to get you to come to their bible study, trying to prove that you need Jesus, buy them this book. You'll be glad you did." 21.
So you see, Benny, we do know quite a bit about kabbalah and Kaplan. I am asking you not promote him or the kabbalah in this manner again, simply out of respect for us on the forum. We may not agree over everything, but I think you have shown enough respect to not say the things about Christ that Kaplan has said. And if you do say those things, I suspect our dialogues will not proceed very well. Let's get onto the promises and prophecies and the other topics where discourse has been good and see if we can really talk about things from what the Scriptures say. Ok?
3John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
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