Secrecy, Misattribution, Misdirection, Obscurantism and Mystification

by Esteban

“The kabbalah in the Middle Ages inherited from ancient Jewish traditions a prohibition on discussing matters that relate to the divine world (ma’aseh merkavah), as well as a sizable body of descriptions and speculations concerning the nature and structure of that realm.

The result of this clash between the kabbalah’s interest in describing the divine world and the ancient ban was three-fold: first the medieval kabbalists insisted on esotericism, keeping the kabbalah secret; second, they used pseudo-epigraphy, attributing their works to ancient figures, mainly tanaim, the sages of the Mishnah; and third, they were traditionalists, who claimed that they were not revealing anything new, just copying or writing down traditions received from previous generations, either orally or in secret writings.

An additional precaution used by several kabbalistic writers was obscurantism and mystification, using hints and opaque references that cannot be understood by any “outside” reader who is not familiar with the particular terminology.”

–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, 2006, pp. 37.