Kabalah and Torah


#1

I’m not big on the Zohar, but I was flipping through it today (yes, I have no life) and came across a passage on “How to Look at Torah” that I found to be interesting:

Come and see:
There is a garment visible to all.
When those fools see someone in a good-looking garment
they look no further.
But the essence of the garment is the body;
the essence of the body is the soul!

So it is with Torah.
She has a body:
the commandments of Torah,
called ‘the embodiment of Torah.’

This body is clothed in garments:
the stories of this world.
Fools of the world look only at the garment, the story of Torah;
they know nothing more.
They do not look at what is under the garment.
Those who know more do not look at the garment.
The wise ones, servants of the King on high,
those who stood at Sinai,
look only at the soul, root of all, real Torah!
In the time to come
they are destined to look at teh soul of the soul of Torah.


The soul o f the soul is the Holy Ancient One.
All is connected, this one to that one.

Woe to the wicked
who say that Torah is merely a story!
They look at this garment and no further.
Happy are the righteous
who look at Torah properly!

As wine must sit in a jar,
so Torah must sit in this garment.
So look only at what is under the garment!
So all those words and all those stories–
they are garments!


#2

Hmmm, that is interesting, and that came out of the Zohar eh? Cool. It has an interesting rythm and it is interesting how it suggests to look into things deeply.

I used to know a guy who was into Kabalah. I’m personally not much of “mysticism” type if that’s the right word. But Kabalah is kind of interesting to read about. Is it widely practiced in the Jewish community?


#3

Depends. There are various types of kabbalah or mysticism. Not too many Jews seriously study it, although with the internet I think that is changing a bit.


#4

One of my closest Jewish friends is deeply into Kabbalah.
On the other hand, I have heard some Jewish people say that the Kabbalah is of pagan/occult origin and to stay away from it. I’m not Jewish myself, but it’s interesting to see different viewpoints.

God bless,
Jaypeeto3 (aka Jaypeeto4)


#5

Traditionally, the study of Kabalah could not be started until one was at least 40 years old and had a thorough grounding education in Torah. I don’t know if I even understand why, but I believe it is because it requires one to embrace concepts that seem to be contrary to what Torah teaches and at the same time cleave to the traditional teachings of Torah. That’s enough to give even the most learned a headache or two.


#6

Grace & Peace!

This seems very consistent with Origen’s teaching that scripture has a body, a soul, and a spirit. For him, what the words meant, and occasionally literal interpretations of scripture constituted the body. He himself was more interested in the soul-level and spirit-level of interpretation.

In other places, he likened scripture to a vast ocean. Those who are entranced with literalism get stuck on the surface of the water. But others are willing to dive in deep to discover the real riches of scripture.

The very sensual images employed towards the end of what you quoted are rather wonderful! They seem to me to underline the notion that the religious life, our walk with God, is in fact a love affair leading to mystical union–the theosis of the Church Fathers.

Regarding the “pagan” nature of the Kabbalah, there is some conjecture (not unfounded) that this form of mysticism was heavily influenced by neo-platonism and Greek numerological speculation. But Christianity (which is highly mystical in nature!) borrowed much from the Greeks, too–many of the Fathers (like Origen, Augustine, Clement of Alexandria, the Cappadocians [Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, even Macrina], the list could go on and on) were either Platonists, heavily influenced by Platonism, or take certain aspects of Platonic cosmology for granted–the same could probably be said of anyone coming out of the Christian academy at Alexandria (of which Clement and Origin were teachers, and folks like Gregory the Wonderworker pupils). And numerology in one form or another (from the symbolism of the numbers 3, 7, and 12 to more cryptic numerological mysteries like 144,000, what 666 means, or the fact that according to Greek numerology, the name IESOUS adds up to 888 [8 being the traditional number of transcendence or renewal–notice the number of 8-pointed stars or figures in many paintings of the Annunciation]) figures prominently in Christianity, too. A “pagan” influence shouldn’t be considered grounds for rejecting anything.

Test the spirits, as Paul encourages us to do.

Under the Mercy,
Mark

Deo Gratias!


#7

Nice post. I like the Ocean metaphor. As I said there are different schools of Kaballah. You can study a branch of it for years without getting into the numbers game. In Judaism, the numbers thing is called Gamatra (sp?). I’m not fluent in Hebrew, which is necessary for that. And it’s not really my thing. But I recognize it as another way to approach the Divine. I just don’t really understand it. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was influenced by the Greek numerology. ALthough many believe the Zohar, one of the main works of Kabbalah, was written in the second century, it was probably written much later (a lot of religious jews would take exception with this, but many scholars believe it was written in the 1300s by a Spanish mysitc named Moses de Leon, who claimed it was authored by Rabbi Shim’on in order to cloth his work in greater authenticity.)


#8

As far as I know it’s a very sacred part of the Jewish Faith and it’s sacralige for people like Madonna to dabble with it. Of course, why should she show any more regard for the Jewish Faith after what she did with her own.


#9

Excuse my spelling, but have you ever heard of the Lamad Vovnicks? The 36 men who keep G-d from destroying the Earth?
Every now I then I try to identify one.
I know that a Jewish person is not allowed to speculate but I figured that being Catholic I was exempt from that rule.


#10

A parable.

There was a man who lived in the mountains.
He knew nothing about those who lived in the city.
He sowed wheat and ate the kernals raw.
One day he entered the city.
They brought him bread.
He said "What is this for?"
They said, ‘Bread, to eat!"
He ate, and it tasted very good.
He said ‘What is it made of?’ They said "Wheat."
Later they brought him cakes kneaded in oil.
He tasted them and said "And what are these made of?"
They said "Wheat."
Finally they brought him royal pastry made with honey and oil.
He said, "And what are these made of?’ They said, "Wheat."
He said, I am the master of all of these,
for I eat the essence of all of these: wheat!

Because of that view, he knew nothing f the delights of the world;
they were lost to him.
So it is with one who grasps the principle
and does not know all those delectable delights
deriving, diverging from that principle."


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