“The most prominent Merkabah sections describe the ascension and transformation of Enoch ben Yared into Metatron, known as “The Youth” to whom the Lord revealed the deepest secrets, and whom the Lord made the “operational manager” of this universe.
Metatron, chief of the angels, is referred to in the Tanakh (notably in Proverbs 22.6 and Job 32.6), as well as the Zohar (I.223b).”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabala: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001, pg. 65.
“The most prolific descriptions of the Merkabah appear in the Books of Enoch. Enochian literature takes its name from Enoch son of Yared. Enoch was a “righteous man in his generation” and “walked with Elohim.”
It is believed that in ancient times there may have been as many as 100,000 volumes of Enochian literature, nearly all of whose last remains were lost in the fiery destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria. This literature was virtually unknown from the fourth (when banned by Hilary, Jerome, and Augustus) until the late nineteenth century CE, when three manuscripts deemed as authentic Enochian material were discovered.
Two of the manuscripts, I Enoch and III Enoch, were in Ethiopian translation: these were found in what was once Abyssinia, the domain of King Solomon’s infamous lover, the Queen of Sheba. The third manuscript, called II Enoch and the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, was preserved in two Slavonic versions: these were found in Russia and Serbia.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabala: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001, pg. 64.
“…The Sefer HaShmoth (Book of Names)…is a book of Divine Names…it is a valuable key that can help open locks guarding the mysteries that lay hidden in Hebrew (and Arabic) qabalistic books, and provides Names of Power by which one can light the entire Tree. Secondly, it is the primary source of “Angelic Tree Language,” comprised of one series of Tree-maps that allude to distinctly different paths of ascension through the planes of consciousness and a second series that allude to different stations of perfected souls who have completed the ascension.”
“It is said that Adam gave the book to his son Seth and it was then passed down the generational line to Enoch son of Yared. When Enoch ascended and “walked with Elohim,” he took the book with him. The Sefer HaShmoth came back into the world again with the Covenant of Abraham. Abraham gave the book to Ishmael, Isaac, and his offspring by his concubines. Isaac’s copy was handed down to Master Mosheh (Moses) and was later sealed in the vault of the first Temple of Jerusalem. Buried in the Temple vault, access to the book was limited to those who had the psychic skill to “see/read” it in Yetzirah (Astral World of Formation), and the strength to survive the impact of its power without shattering their shells.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabala: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001, pg. 60.
“The letterforms of the Sinatic and Ezra Hebrew alphabets bear little physical resemblance to one another, though they share the same twenty-two-letter format and have the same names for the letters.
Hence, the Sinatic Hebrew letter Alef transliterates with the Ezra Alef, the Sinatic Beyt with the Ezra Beyt, and so forth. Sinatic letterforms are basically built from the letters Alef and Ayin. Ezra Hebrew letter forms are built upon variations of the letter Yod.
Both alphabets have letters which overtly or covertly contain other letters, such as the Tav contained in the Sinatic Alef or the Beyt contained in the Ezra Alef (as described in the Sefer Bahir).
Unlike the Ezra alphabet, Sinatic does not have final letters, which were developed much later as a means of showing separation between words in crowded scrolls. The final letters became significant in the Ezra alphabet when given extended numerical value in gematria or qabalistic numerology.
The sudden appearance of the original Hebrew was paralleled several hundred years later by the sudden appearance of Brahmi Sanskrit in the Indus Valley.
Sinatic and Brahmi have many similar letterforms, and both were replaced by later alphabets claimed in present times to be the originals (i.e. Sinatic replaced by Ezra and Brahmi replaced by Deva Negari).
Some Qabalists and Tantrikas maintain that there is a parent alphabet, called the “Gan Aden Alphabet” (Garden of Eden), from which both Hebrew and Sanskrit are derived.
[ … ]
There is also said to be a Gan Aden Torah, an unbroken sequence of letters that may be broken into words and sentences in innumerable ways.
Hence, the written Torah is one such “translation” of the unbroken letter sequence, minus the letters and anusvara that were not included in the Hebrew alphabet.
A book called the Tiqunim HaZohar (“Perfections of Splendor”) discusses seventy ways of translating the first six letters of the Torah.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabala: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001, pg. 57.
“…there is extensive archeological evidence of a much older Hebrew alphabet, called Gezer or Sinatic (after Mount Sinai), as the original and most ancient Hebrew.
Sinatic Hebrew is in fact the oldest known alphabet, suddenly appearing about the time of Abraham (circa 1850 BCE). The original Sinatic Hebrew became virtually extinct after the decimation of Lachish circa 701 BCE.
The Sinatic alphabet could have evolved as an alphabetic representation of the twenty-six Sumerian cuneiform ciphers, the world’s oldest known non-alphabetic language.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabala: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001, pg. 56.
“…time is relative and subject to compression and expansion.” (…) “it can then be said that the Hebrew calendar of seven thousand years spans the entire life of this universe in matter, which is currently estimated to be twenty billion years.
The implication of this idea is that the sequence of events in Torah B’reshith, all of which are assumed to occur in one plane of existence, actually manifest as a nonlinear space-time sequence occurring in more than one plane. Time-space is exponentially expansive in each successive plane of existence.
Perhaps the reader has had the experience of an elaborate dream that seemed to span a long period of time, maybe years, only to wake up and find out that it actually occurred in a matter of minutes. Consider the oft-told story of a person seeing their entire life “pass before their eyes” in a near-death episode.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabalah: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001. Pg. 50-1.
“The meditation practices employed by both Mystical Qabalists and Tantrikas involve a coordinated use of mantra and yantra. Mantra are sequences of Divine Names having great intrinsic power to transform consciousness, and yantra are visualizations that correlate directly and specifically to the mantra. Anthropomorphic descriptions of the Lord hvhy are usually allusions to mysteries and to states and stations of consciousness.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabalah: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001. Pg. 49.
“When the Aryans invaded Northern India in the fourteenth century BCE, they encountered a dark-skinned people inhabiting the Sandya Hills above the Indus Valley, for whom the Tantric traditions and rituals of Shiva/Shakti were centuries old.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabalah: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001. Pg. 46-7.
“Another theory postulates that these children of Abraham emigrated east to India over long established sea or overland trade routes, where they established the monotheistic religion of Shiva/Shakti long before the invasion of the Aryans down from the Persian steppes. (…) In India, this religion is called Tantra, and is often referred to in the West as “the Tantras.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabalah: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001. Pg. 46.
“The silent and oral recitation (dikhr) of the “Affirmation of Unity” (La Illaha Il Allah), which is the root mantra at the foundation of Islam, is a core practice of all Sufis. The various orders can often be distinguished by the way that they do this.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabalah: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001. Pg. 45.
“…Sufism is generally eschewed and viewed with suspicion by the Sunnite and Shiite Islamic orthodox authorities.”
“…the Sufis have a rich and prolific mystical literature filled with sublime mystical allusions and brilliant allegories.”
(Ah. Rumi was a Sufi master. I did not know that.)
“Western alchemy was derived in great measure from the writings of a number of Sufis concerning the mystical analogy of the purification and transformation of metals into the stone of unity, known as the “Philosopher’s Stone.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabalah: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001. Pg. 43.
In the seventeenth century CE, the center of the Christian Cabala moved to England and Germany, where its status was boosted by the theosophical writings of Jacob Boehme and the landmark qabalistic compendium of Christian Knorr von Rosenroth.
Von Rosenroth and Athanasius Kircher extrapolated the qabalistic allusion of Adam Kadmon to be a reference to Jesus as the primordial man in Christian theology. In the final phase in the development of the Christian Cabala in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it became permeated with alchemical symbolism and conjoined with the emerging doctrines of theosophy. This in turn greatly influenced the development of Freemasonry.
–Daniel Feldman, Qabalah: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001. Pg. 41.
“The Qabalah is traditionally traced back to Adam and Eve.”
[ … ]
“The disciplines of the Mystical Qabalah are distinct from those practiced by magicians, wizards, and sorcerers who seek to acquire creative and/or destructive power, depending on what paths they traverse on the Tree of Life.
The occult disciplines of wizards and magicians are often called the Practical, Hermetic, or Magical Qabalah. Practical Qabalah has its roots in the “Thirteen Enochian Keys” of Enoch son of Qain, along with a highly admixture of material taken from Egyptian, Mesopotamian and other non-Hebrew sources.
It is important not to confuse Enoch son of Qain with Enoch son of Yared. The former Enoch was the grandson of Adam and the son after whom Qain was said to name a city.
Enoch son of Yared was the great, great, great, great grandson of Adam, and the one who “walked with Elohim” and was transformed into Metatron.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabalah: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001. Pg. 33-4.
“By the Mystical Qabalah, we are referring to an ancient mystical transmission that preceded and supersedes any of the religious vessels through which it has been subsequently filtered and adapted.
These vessels include the Israelite Hebrew, Rabbinical Judaic, Mystical Christian, Sufi Islamic, and possibly even the North Indian Tantric.
Each of these vessels has framed the universal teachings of the Mystical Qabalah within the context, language, and cultural milieu of their respective dispensations. Each version is unique and beautiful, to be respected and celebrated.
But no single one of these vessels can legitimately claim to be the orthodox authority for these teachings.”
–Daniel Feldman, Qabalah: The Mystical Heritage of the Children of Abraham, 2001. Pg. 14.
“Gematria is one of the rules for interpreting the Torah, and is partially a high-level system of numerology.
It is defined by Scholem as, “explaining a word or group of words according to the numerical value of the letters, or of substituting other letters of the alphabet for them in accordance with a set system. All Hebrew letters are equally values and words, so for example the letter Aleph, signifying “A,” also means “one,” as well as being a word meaning ‘ox.'” The table given lists the major values and meanings of the twenty-two letters. This allows the letters to be taken as symbols expressing differing aspects of the Universe, either as separate entities, or when combined together in words.”
“Although some Kabbalists denied the use of Gematria as relevant, other workers such as Abulafia dealt with Gematria so deeply that their works need “decoding” rather than reading. It is said that the Torah is likewise written, and that “mistakes” in the original Greek and Hebrew texts are not mistakes, but rather spellings and variations necessary to ensure the numbers underlying them were correct.”
“Another view of the Klippoth can be found in Roald Dahl’s fantasy, Charlie and the Glass Elevator, where Willy Wonka’s glass elevator, which, like the Chariot of the mystics, can travel through many worlds, passes through a shadowy place wherein exist hosts of grey wraithlike entities formed from all the uncompleted thoughts and hopes of mankind.
Each time an individual thinks, “If only…”, they create a Klippothic world which begins to separate them from the actual world existing around them.
If the Many Worlds interpretation of Quantum Physics is correct, then every time we make a decision, an infinite number of Klippothic worlds are created where that decision was not taken, and we must be careful to live in the world we have chosen to.”
“Indeed, in recent publications by the Head of that Order (The Typhonian Order), Kenneth Grant, the Klippoth are associated with the “shades of the dead whose names appear in the books of Dyzan, or Thoth, of the Necronomicon…” and other such fictional works.
The organisation of these entities into hierarchies is post-Zoharic, and found popularity with the publication of Francis Barrett’s The Magus, in 1801, which was composed of many tables indicating the structure of the Universe.”
“Synchronicity: the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, whereas they are unlikely to be causally related.
Meaningfully Related versus Causally Related.
The concept is dependent upon a subject, an observer, who sees the experience as a meaningful coincidence, though the events need not be simultaneous in time. The concept of synchronicity is attributed to Carl Gustav Jung, circa 1920’s. Jung’s first recorded mention of the idea of synchronicity occurred in 1928, during a seminar on the interpretation of dreams.
The concept does not strictly compete with or challenge or question the notion of causality. Rather, just as events may be connected by a causal line, they may also be connected by meaning. A grouping of events by meaning need not have a causal explanation. Arthur Koestler also addressed synchronicity in The Roots of Coincidence.
Synchronistic events hint at an underlying pattern, a larger framework that encompasses the synchronicity. Jung termed such incidents “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” Jung again mentioned synchronicity in a 1930 speech memorializing Richard Wilhelm, a scholar of Chinese philosophy, and in 1935 he compared it to the Tao. Jung finally addressed the concept at an Eranos lecture in 1952, and published a paper (Synchronizität als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhänge orSynchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle) in a volume with a related study by the physicist Wolfgang Pauli.
Jung claimed that the principle of synchronicity provided conclusive evidence for his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious, as it describes a governing dynamic that underlies the entirety of human experience and history in all realms, social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual.
Jung was convinced that life was not a series of random events, but rather an expression of a deeper order, in which each human is involved, whether consciously or not. Realizing that there is a broader, encompassing order is akin to a sort of spiritual awakening, it is an awareness of a larger pattern, that is dimly perceived and poorly understood. We can feel it, and we can realize that it exists, but we typically are unable to discern its parameters and dimensions. In religious terms, Jung sees this revelation as “an intervention of grace.” Jung also believed that synchronicity serves a role similar to that of dreams, nudging human egocentric consciousness to recognition of a greater wholeness.
A later researcher, Ray Grasse, in The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives, notes that synchronicity is ubiquitous, all-pervasive, and our occasional awareness of it is similar to seeing just a portion of the visible iceberg floating above a mystifying surface that shields far more complex and complicated interrelationships.
Indeed, all phenomena are interwoven and characterized by analogies or correspondences. While correspondences often are recognized by observers with a shock of recognition, this is more a reflection of our talent for ignoring or failing to see them, as they describe a vast mesh which vibrates with endless interactions and sometimes distant relationships. Time is often reduced to a minor factor. Events sometimes occur which suggest an eery echo of something else, continents away, separated by entire eras.
Jung cited the following exchange from Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass:
“The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday–but never jam to-day.
“It must come sometimes to “jam to-day,” Alice objected.
“No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.”
“I don’t understand you,” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing!”
“That’s the effect of living backwards,” the Queen said kindly: “It always makes one a little giddy at first–”
“Living backwards! Alice repeated in great astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“–but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.”
“I’m sure MINE only works one way,” Alice remarked. “I can’t remember things before they happen.”
“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,” the Queen remarked.”
The concept of synchronicity is related to the idea of serendipity. The first noted use of the term was in Horace Walpole’s letter to Horace Mann (28 January, 1754). He says that he derived it from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, whose protagonists were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things that they were not in quest of.” The word serendip was once an Arabic term for Sri Lanka, from Sarandib.
Walpole stated that protagonists need to be sagacious enough to link together apparently innocuous and unrelated facts in order to reach unexpected conclusions.
“Moving on from the process of continual adjustment, we add the spin of the Wheel of Fortune, that is to say, the action of Time and the circular or spiral force that can be seen in everything from the DNA helix, the conch shell, a whirlpool, a body in orbit, or an entire galaxy.
The hub of the wheel, the spokes and the rim also signify “synchronicity,” a term coined by Carl Jung to denote an “acausal connecting principle” in play within all things.”
“…the Newtonian Physics were based in a paradigm where the observer and environment were absolutely separate, and scientific truth could be arrived at by increasing reductionism.
The new Physics are being generated from a new paradigm, where it is recognized that the actual act of observation can influence that which is observed. The event responds to our instruments of measurement, and thus, the actual event in itself remains unknown, and will always do so …
The new sciences are also based in a more holistic model, where systems theory replaces reductionism, and events are seen in the light of their relationships to the rest of the system, and not as isolated functions.”
“Our conscious registration of an inner decision occurs after the brain has already set that action in process, demonstrating that conscious free will is but a convenient fiction. We are all living milliseconds in the past, removed by our own neurology from the events taking place in the environment and the acts performed by ourselves.”
“Appropriate symbols of this state of understanding are the lattice, or net, indeed anything representing the concepts of linking, organisation, symmetry and complexity. Binah is also the Sephirah from which Maya issues, the net of manifestation that is ultimately illusion.
In the psyche, this relates to the archetypes that are “hard wired” into our brain so that we perceive the universe as we do. The transcending of this biological programming is part of the “crossing of the Abyss,” in a sense. Note that there is a scientific and philosophical argument which parallels the magical argument of whether such a feat is possible. The Magicians argue whether it is possible to cross the Abyss whilst alive (it is difficult to know where the disproof of this argument could be), whilst the scientific philosophers argue whether it is possible for a system to escape itself.”
“Another of the concepts associated with Binah is faith. The idea of faith is often taken to be merely a “strong belief,” but true faith is more than that. As defined by Paul, faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11.1). Faith is that aspect of our psyche that “understands” aspects of the universe that cannot be translated into rational thought (i.e. Hod). and remain above the “Abyss.”
“Thus faith rests on transcendent experience, not on belief or hope–substance and evidence must be experienced first, and hence with faith “we understand [i.e. Binhah] that the worlds were framed by the word of God [i.e. Chockmah], so that things which are seen were made of things which do not appear” (Hebrews 11.3).
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Letter from the apostle Paul to a church in Corinth, which was famous for the manufacture of polished metal mirrors, hence the reference to “darkly,” which refers to the poor quality of the reflected image. Paul says that our knowledge of the divine is imperfect and incomplete. The “face to face” is considered a reference to a personal encounter with Jesus, through which “then shall I know even as also I am known.” In other words, through Christ, we will know.
Wiki notes that the term “charity” is used in translation of the Greek agape. “Love” is more accurate, and preferred in translations other than the King James.
Here is the entire chapter 13:
“13: Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
“4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
“8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”
“11. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
“13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The King James version:
“4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
“As Itzhak Bentov explains, if one were to freeze such an interference pattern, for example, the ripples in water made by a stone being dropped, then one could, analysing the pattern, discover where the stone had broken through the water. On a note of poetic whimsy, one could perhaps visualise the Tree of Life as the wave-front of the light of God.
One may realise that all the above modern ideas are actually pre-empted and summarised in a more ancient doctrine, which states, in the Tabula Smaragdina (Tablet of Emerald); “it is true without lying, certain and most true, that which is inferior or below, is as that which is superior, or above, and that which is superior as that which is inferior, to work and accomplish the miracles of one thing.”
Patterns emerge at all levels and all scales, such as the spiral of a shell and the spiral of a fern branch, or the shape of a galaxy and the shape of a human cell. As Louise B. Young states, “the whole is immanent in all the parts, no matter how small.” To those who work with such a self-reflexive system, then it becomes possible to model, and experience, states that often defy description in other, more linear systems.
As Blake puts in “Auguries of Innocence:”
“To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.”
Such is the promise that the Tree of Sapphires (another translation of the word Sephirah) holds, as each facet of each sapphire reflects eternally upon each other in a labyrinth of light.”
“The prime source for the precursors of the occult revival were without question Athanasius Kircher (1602-80), a German Jesuit whose Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652) detailed Kabbalah amongst its study of Egyptian mysteries and hieroglyphics, and Cornelius Agrippa’s De Occulta Philosophia (1533).
Other works, such as those from alchemists including Khunrath, Fludd and Vaughan indicated that the Kabbalah had become the convenient metamap for early hermetic thinkers. Christian mystics began to utilise its structure for an explanation of their revelations, the most notable being Jacob Boeheme (1575-1624). However, the most notable event in terms of our line of examination is undoubtedly the publication of Christian Knorr von Rosenroth’s (1636-89) Kabbalah Denudata in Latin in 1677 and 1684, which provided translations from the Zohar and extracts from the works of Isaac Luria.”
“Another stream stemming from Rosenroth’s work came through Eliphas Levi (1810-75), who … ascribed to the Tarot an ancient Egyptian origin. From de Gebelin and Rosenroth, Levi synthesized a scheme of attribution of the Tarot cards to the twenty-two paths of the Tree of Life, a significant development in that it provided a synthetic model of processes to be later modified and used by the Golden Dawn as mapping the initiation system of psychological, occult, and spiritual development. Levi wrote, “Qabalah … might be called the mathematics of human thought.”
“It is said by traditional Kabbalists and Kabbalistic scholars that the occultist has an imperfect knowledge of the Tree, and hence the work of such is corrupt. It appears to me that the Kabbalah is a basic device whose keys are infinite, and that any serious approach to its basic metasystem will reveal some relevance if tested in the world about us, no matter how it may be phrased.
The first Kabbalists cannot be said to have had an imperfect knowledge because they did not understand or utilise information systems theory or understand modern cosmology. Indeed, their examination of themselves and the Universe revealed such knowledge many hundreds of years before science formalised it, in the same way that current occult thinking may be rediscovered in some new science a hundred or thousand years hence.”
“The teachings of the Merkabah mystics became part of the “Heikhalot” school, whose name means “palace,” referring to the spiritual planes through which the mystics ascended. The description of these journeys seems to bear similarities to the journey of the soul into the Underworld depicted in the Egyptian Book of Coming Forth by Day, with magical words or appropriate names of the gods to be spoken before each door is passed and each palace entered.”
“The life force of the golem is the Hebrew alphabet, the secret name of God inserted under his tongue, or the word “truth,” one of God’s names, engraved on his forehead. (When the first Hebrew letter of “truth” is erased it becomes “dead.”) The legend of the golem conformed to, and strengthened, the image of the kabbalah as a doctrine that could bring great benefits, but one that also includes some sinister, dangerous elements.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 107-8.
The original teachings of the founder of Habad Hasidism and his disciples “tended to be intensely mystical, calling the visible universe a delusion, and preaching the submersion of individual characteristics and desires in quest of a complete fusion with the divine “nothingness,” the supreme Godhead.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 100.
The main theories of the Besht and the Megid emphasized that “there is no place from which He is absent,” a kabbalistic panentheistic system. (Pantheism postulates that “everything is God,” while panentheism claims that “God is inside everything.”)
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 91.
“The theological challenge facing Nathan of Gaza and other Sabbatian thinkers changed dramatically late in 1666, when Shabbatai Zevi was summoned to the palace of the Ottoman sultan. He emerged from the meeting wearing the Muslim cap. Having been threatened, Shabbatai Zevi did not hesitate for long before converting to Islam. Judaism was suddenly faced with a situation in which the messiah committed the worst possible sin that generations of Jews were educated to avoid. One has, when faced with a demand to convert, to become a martyr and “sanctify the holy name” rather than betray one’s God, people and tradition. Shabbatai Zevi, who should have been the example of religious perfection and who was regarded not only as a divine messenger but also as a divine incarnation, did the exact opposite.”
Scholem later explained that this was not only deliberate, but necessary, including the “discovery” of numerous verses and statements in the Bible, the Talmud and the Zohar that indicate the necessity of the messiah’s conversion to an “evil” religion.
“Several thousands of Sabbatians followed Shabbatai Zevi in the last decades of the seventeenth century and converted to Islam… Most Sabbatians, however, remained within Jewish communities, and created an underground of believers in all strata of Jewish society, simple people, intellectuals, and rabbis. They imitated their messiah in a kind of “sacred hypocrisy:” They pretended to be orthodox Jews, adhering to the ancient exilic tradition, while secretly they worshiped the messiah and the Torah of the age of redemption.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 89-90.
“Nathan proclaimed that each Jew should give the messiah spiritual force in the form of faith in him, and the messiah will then focus the powers of the whole people to achieve the final victory over the forces of evil. Thus, Nathan introduced into Judaism the concept of a mediated religious relationship with God, giving the messiah (for the first time in a millennium and a half) the role of being the intermediary between the worshipper and the supreme Godhead, and allotting to him a position of an incarnated divine power.”
Conversely, “Luria and his disciples described a direct relationship between man and God, and viewed the tikkun as the involvement of every individual in the process of redemption…”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 87-8.
“The concept of reincarnation (gilgul) became central in the psychological doctrines of the Lurianic school, perhaps for the first time in the history of the kabbalah. There are five strata in the soul, reflecting the structure of the sefirot; each of these components has its own history, and each wanders from body to body, from generation to generation, independent of the other parts. Each soul, therefore, is a meeting of parts that have their own history and experiences.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 82.
“It is evident that Luria conceived the eternal, infinite Godhead that preceded these processes to be imperfect, with the origins of evil deeply imbedded in it in a potential manner. It is very rare that theologians and mystics view the origins of evil as completely divine and eternal. The dualism presented here has nothing to do with humanity and its sinfulness, because it existed long before they came to be.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 76.
“The most innovative concept that lies at the heart of Luria’s teaching is the imperfection of beginning. Existence does not begin with a perfect Creator bringing into being an imperfect universe; rather, the existence of the universe is the result of an inherent flaw or crisis within the infinite Godhead, and the purpose of creation is to correct it.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 75.
Rabbi Joseph Karo authored the Shulhan Arukh (The Laid Table). He claimed that it was “dictated by a divine messenger, a magid, whom he regarded as a manifestation of the shekhinah.”
Incredibly, Dan comments that “…Safed scholars went as far as inflicting themselves with pain and wounds, including self-immolation, which is very rare in Jewish practice.”
“Isaac Luria, who revolutionized the kabbalah in this period, arrived in Safed in 1570 when these practices were at their peak.” Luria was born in Safed in 1534, but migrated to Egypt and then later returned. Luria died because of the plague two years later, in 1572, at the age of 38. The most important of Luria’s teachings were published by Gershom Scholem and Isaiah Tishby in 1941.
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg.73.
Next came Guillaume Postel of Paris (1510-1581), who published the Sefer Yazira with a Latin translation and a commentary. He also translated several sections of the Zohar. Christian Knorr von Rosenroth compiled an extensive anthology of kabbalistic works in Kabbala Denudata (1677-1684), followed by the German mystic Jacob Boehme. Dan characterizes all of these as “Lurianic kabbalah.” He cites no specific texts by Boehme, but states that “In England, some thinkers in the Cambridge school of neo-platonists–Henry More and Robert Fludd, among many others–used kabbalah.”
He then refers to theologian Franciscus Mercurius van Helmont from Holland, and he claims that Mercurius “collaborated in this field with Gottfried Wilhem Leibnitz (1646-1716).” He introduces alchemy into the mix, saying that Gershom Scholem “described the work of the german philosopher Franz Josef Molitor (1779-1861) on the philosophy of tradition as “the crowning and final achievement of the Christian kabbalah.”
Dan then notes that after the seventeenth century, kabbalah, employing various spellings, became a “common term” that indicated in an “imprecise manner anything that was ancient, mysterious, magical, and to some extent dangerous.” The term “cabal” then emerged, describing secret groups engaged in conspiracies. He observes that interest in esoterica diminished during the Enlightenment, but then resurged in the nineteenth century.
Amazingly, he observes that “Carl Gustav Jung could…combine admiration of the kabbalah with enmity toward Jewish culture.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 66-70.
“Christian kabbalah can be traced to the “school of Marsilio Ficino in Florence, in the second half of the fifteenth century.”
“Ficino is best known for his translations of Plato’s writings from Greek to Latin, but of much importance was his translation to Latin of the corpus of esoteric, mysterious old treatises known as the Hermetica. These works, probably originating from Egypt in late antiquity, are attributed to a mysterious ancient philosopher, Hermes Trismegistus (The Thrice-Great Hermes), and they deal with magic, astrology, and esoteric theology.”
Ficino and his followers considered magic as “an ancient scientific doctrine, the source of all religious and natural truth.”
Dan mentions Count Giovani Pico dela Mirandola, a “great thinker, young scholar and theologian, who died at age thirty-three in 1496.”
He also observes that Pico’s interest in Hebrew was facilitated by the Latin translations of the Jewish Christian convert, Flavius Methredates.”
Pico’s most famous work, the Nine Hundred Theses, proclaims that Christianity’s truth is best demonstrated by the disciplines of magic and kabbalah.” In Pico’s work, magic and kabbalah are often indistinguishable. He interpreted kabbalistic texts as “ancient esoteric lore, conserved by Jews, at the heart of which was the Christian message.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 62-3.
“The lights stay on
but the room fades out.
This is not noticed until later,
when the room returns,
more real than even the reality
of novels and films.
I drive my submission
like a beautiful icepick
into the bedspread of your life.”
The secret of the Mysteries of Eleusis endures to this day. We do not remember, precisely, what they were. The secrecy that covered them remains inviolate, to this day, though it is likely that we know them but we know them under another name, a different complex of concepts. We do not realize that these memories that are indistinguishable from our patterns of thinking were once codified and celebrated in liturgies. We have forgotten their names, and this in a sense means that we have lost the ability to create them, because what is a name but an act of creation?
I say to you that the memories endure. They may be attenuated, confused, diluted, mixed with other sacred secrets, but we carry them with us always as part of our human heritage. What man has not at times looked up to the night sky in wonder and resignation at the demonstrable, visible infinitude of existence arrayed as a panoply of stars? How is that man different from an ape, who sees the same stars, and feels the same wonder and resignation? Perhaps what makes us human is that we reject the resignation, we reject the immensity of the universe, and we stand as sovereign, aware entities that have self-knowledge.
How can this be different from anything preserved in forgotten Mysteries? There are no Mysteries. Everything is a Mystery.
“Every person, every deed, every moment is integrated in the vast mythical project of the tikkun, whether they know and wish it or not. One cannot resign from this cosmic struggle; such a resignation constitutes a sin, which empowers the satanic forces.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, 2006, pp. 58.
“This put in the center of the kabbalistic worldview a powerful concept of interdependence between man and God, in which the commandments were the instruments used by man in order to influence the processes of the divine world, and ultimately shape his own fate.”
“The mythical processes that dominate this interaction are described in the Zohar and later works as being based on one dynamic aspect of the divine world … usually called the shefa, the flow of divine spirituality from the extreme, highest stages in the divine world down to the lower divine powers, and then to even lower realms, those of the archangels and angels, and finally the material world and to human beings. This divine flow is the necessary sustenance of all existence, even of the divine emanations themselves. Nothing can exist without deriving spiritual power from this divine flow.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, 2006, pp. 54-5.
“…the first kabbalistic dualistic system was presented by … Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, entitled Treatise on the Emanations on the Left … written in Castile about 1265…(describing) “a parallel system of seven divine evil powers, the first of which is called Samael and the seventh, feminine one is called Lilith … “he was the first to bring them together and present them as a divine couple, parallel to God and the shekhinah, who rule over a diverse structure of evil demons, who struggle for dominion in the universe against the powers of goodness, the emanations on the right … Rabbi Isaac was the first to present a hierarchy of evil powers and evil phenomena, including illnesses and pestilence, connecting all of them in one system.”
“Rabbi Isaac presented a mythological description of the relationship between the satanic powers; he described the “older Lilith” and “younger Lilith,” the latter being the spouse of Asmodeus, whom Samael covets. The realm of evil includes images of dragons and snakes and other threatening monsters.”
“Unlike Rabbi Ezra of Girona, (Rabbi Isaac) …. did not find the root of evil’s existence in the Garden of Eden and human sin. Evil evolved from the third sefirah, binah, as a distorted side effect of the process of emanation. It continues throughout the history of the world, and will come to an end in the final apocalyptic struggle between Samael and the messiah.”
“De Leon even preserved a hint to the title of Rabbi Isaac’s treatise. In the Zohar the realm of evil is called sitra ahra, an Aramaic phrase meaning “the other side.” “Other” is the unmentionable left side, which is also the name of God’s archenemy, Samael.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, 2006, pp. 50-3.
“Rabbinic tradition … is remarkably ignorant of the existence of independent powers of evil … Satan in his various manifestations … is a power within the divine court and God’s system of justice … The first indication of a satanic rebellion against God in rabbinic literature is found in the eighth-century midrashPirkey de-Rabbi Eliezer, but this seemed to have little impact until the twelfth century. The section of this midrash in which the rebellion is described was included in the Book Bahir, serving as its concluding chapter.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, 2006, pp. 49.
“The Book Bahir, the first work of the kabbalah, is the earliest source we have that might imagine the shekhinah as a feminine power … She is described as wife, bride, and daughter of the masculine power … The Zohar, and other kabbalistic works from the end of the thirteenth century and the beginning of the fourteenth, made the myth of the feminine shekhinah a central element in their descriptions of the divine world, made her the purpose of rituals and religious experiences, and established this as one of the most prominent components of the kabbalistic worldview.”
“Gershom Scholem regarded the concept of the feminine shekhinah in the Book Bahir as the appearance of a gnostic concept within the early kabbalah. It could be regarded as an ancient Jewish gnostic concept that surfaced in the kabbalah in the Middle Ages after being transmitted in secret for many centuries, or the result of the influence of Christian Gnosticism, which emphasized the role of feminine powers in the divine world.
“… The femininity of the shekhinah is the result of the influence of the intense Christian worship of the Madonna, the Mother of Christ, that peaked in the twelfth century.”
–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, 2006, pp. 48.