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Tag: Grace

A Missing or Defective Letter, a 23 Character Alphabet, and Seven Books of the Torah

“Hence the author of the Book Temunah transfers his interest from the redemption at the end of the current shemittah (about which he has little to say anyway) to the vision of the following one. The vision of the end of the present shemittah, of the gradual extinction of humanity, and of the slowing down of the rhythm of life in the entire creation—of which older Jewish messianism knew nothing—already forms part of this newly erupting sense of utopia.

In this  conception of redemption, the Messiah himself no longer plays a visible role; interest is completely focused on the cosmic processes.

For the historian of religion, the most striking aspect of the doctrine of shemittoth resides in the close link between a rigorous Jewish piety that maintains the revelatory character of the Torah and the vision of a change in the manifestation of the Torah in the other shemittoth. We have a clear case of Utopian antinomianism.

The assertion of the Temunah that “what is forbidden below is permitted above” (fol. 62a) entails the logical inference that what is forbidden according to the reading of the Torah in our present aeon might be permitted and even required in other aeons, when some other divine quality—Mercy, for example, instead of Stern Judgment—governs the world.

In fact, in both the Book Temunah itself and writings that follow in its footsteps we find astonishing statements regarding the Torah that imply a virtual antinomianism.

Two ideas should be stressed at this point. Several passages suggest that in the current shemittah one of the letters of the Torah is missing. This lack can be understood in two ways. It could signify that one of the letters has a defective form, contrary to its past perfection, that would of course be restored in a future shemittah.

However, as the book indefatigably asserts, since each letter represents a divine potency, the imperfection of its form could mean that the sefirah of Stern Judgment that predominates today effectively restricts the efficacy of the divine lights, which are therefore unable to reveal themselves perfectly.

According to this view, one such “defective” or incomplete letter of the alphabet is shin, which in its perfect form should have four heads, but which is written at present with three: Shin But the statement also could signify that today one of the letters of the alphabet is missing completely: it has become invisible in our aeon but will reappear and become legible once again in the future aeon.

Such a view evidently implies a thoroughly changed attitude toward the received Torah. In fact, it can (and did) lead to the supposition that all the prohibitions we read in the present text of the Torah are due to this absent letter.

The alphabet, and with it the complete Torah, are actually based upon a series of twenty-three letters; if we find in the Torah positive and negative commandments, it is only because this letter has dropped out of the present text. Everything negative is connected with the missing letter of the original alphabet.

According to another and no less audacious idea, the complete Torah contained in reality seven books, corresponding to the seven sefiroth and shemittoth. It is only in the current shemittah that, through the restrictive power of Stern Judgment, two of these books have shrunk to the point that only a bare hint of their existence remains.

The proof text of this assertion was a passage in the Talmud (Shabbath 116a), according to which the book of Numbers actually consists of three books. A tradition from the school of Nahmanides specifies that the power inherent in the Torah will manifest itself in the future aeon in such manner that we shall again perceive seven books.

The Book Temunah itself (fol. 31a) avers that the first chapter of Genesis is merely the vestige of a fuller Torah revealed to the shemittah of Grace, but which has become invisible in our shemittah, as the light of this earlier book has disappeared.”

Gershom Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, 1962, pp. 471-3.

Shemittah Without Limit

“In this state, the Torah is not “legible” for human beings. At the Sinaitic revelation, God taught Moses how to read the Torah by a division into letters and words, in such manner that it yielded a meaning in the Hebrew language. These considerations also opened the door to the possibility of alternative mystical readings, and it is precisely this notion that the Book Temunah presents in such a radical fashion.

In fact, according to this book, the world in which we live and which we know as the creation that began so and so many thousand years ago is not the first. It was preceded by another shemittah: the aeon of Grace, in the course of which all the sefiroth acted under the determining regime of this principal sefirah.

The world “built by Grace” at that time—according to the interpretation given by the kabbalists to Psalms 89:3—bears some resemblance to the Golden Age of Greek mythology. This shemittah was entirely bathed in light. The spheres of the heavens were simple and not composed of four elements; men stood at the highest spiritual pinnacle and possessed a pure body.

Even the cattle and other animals stood as high then as the animals that bear the Merkabah in our shemittah. The cult practiced by the creatures resembled the adoration of God by the angels in the present aeon. There was neither an exile of the body, as that of Israel, nor an exile of the souls, which is the transmigration of souls.

Man looked like the celestial man whom Ezekiel saw upon the throne. The manifestation of the primordial Torah as beheld by the creatures of that shemittah came exclusively from the side of Grace. Since there existed no evil inclination and no tempting serpent, the Torah of this shemittah (that is, the manner in which the mystical letters were combined) contained nothing concerning impurities or prohibitions. Even those letters had a simple form and were not in large measure composite, as at present.”

Gershom Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, 1962, p. 467.

The Cosmic Jubilee of 50,000 Years

“Seven of these shemittoth exhaust the productive power hidden in the seven “sefiroth of construction.” After 49,000 years, in the “great jubilee year,” the entire creation returns to its origin in the womb of binah, the “mother of the world,” just as according to the biblical ordinance concerning the jubilee year, after fifty years “liberty is proclaimed throughout the land,” and all things return to their original owner.

The cosmic jubilee of 50,000 years is therefore the most comprehensive cosmic unit; in it the power of the Creator takes full effect in the sequence of the seven fundamental units of shemittoth, which together constitute the yobhel, the cosmic jubilee.

In a broader framework, this doctrine displays a certain structural similarity to the ideas of Joachim of Fiore, who at the end of the twelfth century gave an historico-metaphysical twist to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity that attained considerable historical importance.

The fundamental idea was that the deity expresses itself not only in the three persons of the Trinity, but that its hidden power also acts in external creation and in the history of the world according to a sequence of three periods, each of which receives its character from one of the persons of the Trinity.

The hidden plenitude of the deity manifests itself therefore in the totality of the successive historical periods or states (status). In every status, the divine revelation assumes a different form. The period of the Father was characterized by the revelation of the Old Testament and the reign of the Mosaic law.

In the period of the Son, there began the reign of Grace, as expressed in the Catholic Church and its institutions. In the third period, on the other hand, whose advent he considered imminent, the Holy Spirit would reign alone; the mystical content of the Gospel would be completely revealed and either penetrate the external institutions of the Church or render them redundant.

This doctrine played a considerable role in the history of the Franciscan order and the sects of “spirituals.” It is not our purpose here to discuss in detail the historical implications of this doctrine, to which much scholarly attention has been devoted in recent decades, but merely to draw attention to an interesting kabbalistic analogy to Joachite doctrine with its strong Utopian elements and explosive power.”

Gershom Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, 1962, pp. 463-4.

Two Angels at the Feast of Tabernacles

“The relatively simple content of that tradition also corresponds to Jacob’s other angelological statements, with which we have already become acquainted on page 208. Jacob is said to have received from a certain R. Nehorai in Jerusalem the tradition that the ritual of libations of water and wine on the Feast of Tabernacles was practiced in the Temple of Jerusalem because “at this ritual two angels were present, whose function it was to bring the fruits to ripeness and to lend them flavor.”

One of these angels is certainly Gabriel, whose function (according to B. Sanhedrin 95b) is to cause the fruit to ripen. The other is probably Michael. Water and wine seem to symbolize the qualities of Grace (water) and Sternness (wine), much as in the Book Bahir. Whether this symbolism came from the Orient—together with the angelological tradition —or whether it belongs exclusively to the Provençal stratum of the Bahir cannot be established with certainty.

We know nothing else about this R. Nehorai, and the doctrine of the sefiroth is implied in no other twelfth-century text that can definitely be said to have been composed in the Orient. This pilgrimage of “Rabbenu Jacob Hasid,” which I see no reason to doubt, must have taken place at the earliest not long after the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin, after 1187; before that, under the rule of the Crusaders, access to the city was generally forbidden to Jews.

It cannot be fixed at a date prior to the time Jacob the Nazirite commenced his esoteric studies; it was on the contrary, occasioned by those studies. According to the preceding argument, we have in fact every reason to suppose that such studies were already in vogue before 1187 in the circle of Posquières and of Lunel.

Later legends of the Spanish kabbalists related the visit of the old kabbalist of Lunel to the Orient to the interest in the Kabbalah allegedly displayed by Maimonides toward the end of his life. Our R. Jacob is supposed to have gone to Egypt, where he initiated Maimonides in the esoteric science. This legend, whose origin around 1300 I have examined elsewhere, has no historical value. Even the writings of Abraham, the son of Maimonides, whose penchant for mystical religiosity is quite obvious, draw their inspiration from Sufi sources and do not evince the slightest familiarity with kabbalistic ideas, as has already been mentioned on page 12.

Our discussion of the groups of Jewish ascetics in France devoting themselves to a contemplative life gives added urgency to the question of a possible relationship between the emergence of the Kabbalah and Catharism in the middle of the twelfth century. The only scholar who, to my knowledge, has raised the problem—albeit in a rather aphoristic style—was Moses Gaster in his programmatic The Origin of the Kabbalah (Ramsgate, 1894). It is doubtful, however, whether such a relationship can be deduced with certainty from an analysis of the oldest kabbalistic traditions.

The information regarding the beliefs of Cathar groups or individuals contained in Cathar sources or in the acts of the Inquisition reveal few if any elements parallel to kabbalistic doctrine. There is, no doubt, a general similarity in the fundamental assumption common to both groups regarding the reality of a separate higher world belonging entirely to God himself and in which there occur certain dramatic events that have their counterpart in the lower world.”

Gershom Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, pp. 233-4.

Synchronicity as an Expression of a Deeper Order

“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 or Synchronicity: 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.”

Awesome.

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.

Also see deja vu.

Harvested from Wiki.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity

With details gleaned from Charlene P.E. Burns, “Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Jung, and the Acausal Connecting Principle: A Case Study in Transdisciplinarity,” 2011, published on MetaNexus:

http://www.metanexus.net/essay/wolfgang-pauli-carl-jung-and-acausal-connecting-principle-case-study-transdisciplinarity

And here is a gift from the universe. Enjoy:

Joseph Cambray, Synchronicity, Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe, 2009

Click to access Synchronicity%20Cambray.pdf

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