صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

unbroken line of tradition, David and Solomon were most initiated into the Kabbalah. No one, however, dared to write it down, till Simon ben Jochai, who lived at the time of the destruction of the second Temple. Having been condemned to death by Titus, Rabbi Simon managed to escape with his son and concealed himself in a cavern where he remained for twelve years. Here, in this subterranean abode, he occupied himself entirely with the contemplation of the sublime Kabbalah, and was constantly visited by the Prophet Elias, who disclosed to him some of its secrets which were still concealed from the theosophical Rabbi. Here, too, his disciples resorted to be initiated by their master into these divine mysteries ; and here, Simon ben Jochai expired with this heavenly doctrine in his mouth, whilst discoursing on it to his disciples. Scarcely had his spirit departed, when a dazzling light filled the cavern, so that no one could look at the Rabbi; whilst a burning fire appeared outside, forming as it were a sentinel at the entrance of the cave, and denying admittance to the neighbours. It was not till the light inside, and the fire outside, had disappeared, that the disciples perceived that the lamp of Israel was extinguished. As they were preparing for his obsequies, a voice was heard from heaven, saying, “ Come ye to the marriage of Simon b. Jochai, he is entering into peace, and shall rest in his chamber !" A flame preceded the coffin, which seemed enveloped by, and burning like fire. And when the remains were deposited in the tomb, another voice was heard from heaven, saying, “ This is he who caused the earth to quake, and the kingdoms to shake !" His son, R. Eliezer, and his secretary, R. Abba, as well as his disciples, then collated R. Simon b. Jochai's treatises, and out of these composed the celebrated work called Sohar (1771) i.e., Splendour, which is the grand storehouse of Kabbalism.

From what has been said, it will be seen that the followers

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

of this secret doctrine claim for it a pre-Adamite existence, and maintain that, ever since the creation of the first man, it has been received uninterruptedly from the hands of the patriarchs, the prophets, &c. It is for this reason that it is called Kabbalah (1723p from bap to receive) which primarily denotes reception, and then a doctrine received by oral tradition. The Kabbalah is also called by some Secret Wisdom (177703 7AN), because it was only handed down by tradition through the initiated, and is indicated in the Hebrew Scriptures by signs which are hidden and unintelligible to those who have not been instructed in its mysteries.

From the initial letters of this name, this theosophic system is also denominated Grace (7"N=77D on). Vague and

indefinite as this name may seem to the uninitiated, inasmuch as it conveys no idea whatever of the peculiar doctrines of the system, but simply indicates the manner in which they have been transmitted, it is nevertheless the classical and acknowledged appellation of this theosophy. The difference between the word Kabbalah (752p receptio) and the cognate term Massorah (177100 traditio, from 0 to transmit) —which denotes the traditionally transmitted various readings of the Hebrew Scriptures-is, that the former expresses the act of receiving, which in this technical sense could only be on the part of one who has reached a certain period of life, as well as a certain state of sanctity, implying also a degree of secrecy; whilst the latter signifies the act of giving over, surrendering, without premising any peculiar age, stage of holiness, or degree of secrecy. The name, therefore, tells us no more than that this theosophy has been received traditionally. To ascertain its tenets we must analyze the system itself or the books which propound it; and to this task we now betake ourselves.

The cardinal doctrines of the Kabbalah are mainly designed to solve the grand problems about (I) The nature of the

V

Supreme Being, (II) The cosmogony, (III) The creation of angels and man, (IV) The destiny of man and the universe, and (V) To point out the import of the Revealed Law. Assenting and consenting to the declarations of the Hebrew Scriptures about the unity of God (Exod. xx, 3; Deut. iv, 35, 39; vi, 4 ; xxxii, 39), his incorporeity (Exod. xx, 4 ; Deut. iv, 15 ; Ps. xiv, 18), eternity (Exod. iii, 14; Deut. xxxii, 40; Isa. xli, 4; xliii, 10; xliv, 6; xlviii, 12), immutability (Mal. iii, 6), perfection (Deut. xxxii, 4; 2 Sam. xxii, 31; Job xxxviii, 16; Ps. xviii, 31), infinite goodness (Exod. xxxiv, 6; Ps. xxv, 10; xxxiii, 5; 2,5; cxlv, 9), the creation of the world in time according to God's free will (Gen. i, 1), the moral government of the universe and special providence, and to the creation of man in the image of God (Gen. i. 27), the Kabbalah seeks to explain the transition from the infinite to the finite; the procedure of multifariousness from an absolute unity, and of matter from a pure intelligence; the operation of pure intelligence upon matter, in spite of the infinite gulf between them; the relationship of the Creator to the creature, so as to be able to exercise supervision and providence. It, moreover, endeavours to show how it is that the Bible gives names and assigns attributes and a form to so spiritual a Being; how the existence of evil is compatible with the infinite goodness of God, and what is the Divine intention about this creation.

In our analysis of the Kabbalistic doctrines on these grand problems, we shall follow the order in which they have been enumerated, and accordingly begin with the lucubrations on the Supreme Being and the Emanations.

I. The Supreme. Being and the doctrine and classification of the Emanations, or Sephiroth.

Being boundless in his nature-- which necessarily implies that he is an absolute unity and inscrutable, and that there

N

is nothing without him, or that the tò mãv is in him, 1-God is called EN SOPH (9710 7X) = ameipos Endless, Boundless." ? In this boundlessness, or as the En Soph, he cannot be comprehended by the intellect, nor described in words, for there is nothing which can grasp and depict him to us, and as such he is, in a certain sense, not existent (TX), because, as far as our minds are concerned, that which is perfectly incomprehensible does not exist. To make his existence perceptible, and to render himself comprehensible, the En Soph, or the Boundless, had to become active and creative. But the En Soph cannot be the direct creator, for he has neither will, intention, desire, thought, language, nor action, as these properties imply limit and belong to finite beings, whereas the En Soph is boundless. Besides, the imperfect and circumscribed nature of the creation precludes the idea that the world was created or even designed by him, who can have no will nor produce anything but what is like himself, boundless and

1 דע כי אין סוף לא יכנס בהרהור וכל שכן בדבור (אף על פי שיש לו רמו בכל דבר שאין חוץ ,Commentary of the ten Sephiroth ,ממנו) ולכך אין אות ואין שם ואין דבר אשר יגבלנו

הקב"ה מקומו של עולם ואין העולם) of the universe

,
but the universe is not his space

) ' ] 1

(, ', ed. Berlin, p. 4 a. This doctrine, however, that everything is in the Deity is not peculiar to the Kabbalah, it has been propounded by the Jews from time immemorial, before the Kabbalah came into existence, as may be seen from the following passage in the Midrash. “ The Holy One, blessed be he, is the space

, ( 1912). R. Isaac submitted: from the passage 077 vabae 21o (Deut. xxxiii, 27), we do not know whether the Holy One, blessed be he, is the habitation of the universe or the universe his habitation ; but from the remark and 7139 27 Lord thou art the dwelling place (Ps. xc, 1), it is evident that the Holy One, blessed be he, is the dwelling place of the universe, and not the universe his dwelling place.” (Bereshith Rabba, s lxviii.) To the same effect is the remark of Philo, “God himself is the space of the universe, for it is he who contains all things.” (De Somniis, i.) It is for this reason that God is called up or 011 =Ó TÓTOS, locus, and that the Septuagint renders '121 5872 unha no 787" (Exod. xxiv, 10), by και είδον τον τόπον, ού ειστήκει ο θεός, which has occasioned so much difficulty to interpreters.

) 2 gode pH (Sohar iii, 283 b.) To the same effect is the ancient expository work on the doctrine of the Emanations which we quoted in the preceding note, comp.

] , entary on the ten Sephiroth, ed. Berlin, p. 2 a.

N ibid., 4 a.

2 לא ידע ולא אתידע מה והוי בראישא דא דלא אתדבק בחכמתא ולא כסוכלתנו ובגן כך

מה שאינו מוגבל קרוי אין סוף והוא ההשואה גמורה באחדות השלמה שאין בה שנוי ואם

Com הוא מבלי גבול אין חוץ ממנו 3 דע כי אין סוף אין לומר כי יש לו רצון ולא כונה ולא חפץ ולא מחשבה ולא דבור ומעשה

perfect. On the other hand, again, the beautiful design displayed in the mechanism, the regular order manifested in the preservation, destruction, and renewal of things, forbid us to regard this world as the offspring of chance, and constrain us to recognize therein an intelligent design. We are, therefore, compelled to view the En Soph as the creator of the world in ✓ an indirect manner.

Now, the medium by which the En Soph made his existence known in the creation of the world are ten Sephiroth 5 (1179D) or intelligences, which emanated from the BoundJess One (910 X) in the following manner :- At first the En Soph, or the Aged of the Aged (?'P'Nyt xpiny) or the Holy Aged (20'p piny), as he is alternately called, sent forth from his infinite light one spiritual substance or intelligence. This first Sephira, which existed in the En Soph from all eternity, and became a reality by a mere act, has no less than seven appellations. It is called-I, the Crown (773), because it occupies the highest position ; II, the Aged (@piny), because it is the oldest or the first emanation, and this name must not be confounded with the Aged of the Aged, which, as we have seen, is the appellation of the En Soph ; III, the Pri

(), ( JOY0D), because, as the Sohar tells us, “When the Concealed of the Concealed wished to reveal himself, he first made a single

נקודה) or the Smooth Point ,(נקודה ראשונה) mordial Point

4 אם תאמר כי הוא בלבד כיון בבריאת עולמו יש להשיב על זה כי הכונה מורה על הסרין

חסרת הכוח שהוא ממנו

ואם תאמר שהגבול הנמצא ממני תחלה היה העולם הזה שהוא (העולם) חסר מהשלמותו

• ואם תאמר שלא כיון בבריאתו אם כן היתה הבריאה במקרה, וכל דבר הבא במקרה אין לו סדר, ואנו רואים כי הנבראים יש לחם סדר, ועל סדר הם מתקיימים,

.2 .ibid

. , p ,ועל סדר הם מתבטלים ,ועל סדר הם מתחרשים (ספירות plural) ספירה Both the etymology and the exact meaning of the word

5

3 4 79597, Commentary on the ten Sephiroth, p. 2 b. Again, says the same authority,

()
,•

3
, , . .

( are matters of dispute. R. Azariel, the first Kabbalist, derives it from 700 to number, whilst the later Kabbalists derive it alternately from 9'50 Saphir, from 5x 7123 D'EDO D'DUA (Ps. xix, 1), and from the Greek opaipal, and are not at all certain whether to regard the Sephiroth as principles (ápxai), or as substances (útootáoels), or as potencies, powers (duvápeis), or as intelligent worlds (kóguoi vontikoi), or as attributes, or as entities (11933), or as organs of the Deity (0"55),

« السابقةمتابعة »