Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jewish kabbalah teaching

I find this teaching very similar to the integral spiritual teachings of the Bhagavat Gita. Here you can get a glimpse of the concept of reincarnation, the soul as the divine spark, the manifest and the unmanifest divine and the harmony of the physical and the spiritual worlds. I am surprised that esoteric judaism is so similar to the teaching of esoteric hinduism like the levels of divine manifestation from the spirit to matter.
Here is a passage from wikipedia from


Zohar

Contents

The Book of Zohar includes parts and chapters in conformance with the weekly chapters of the Torah:[9]
  • The Book of Beresheet: Beresheet, Noach, Lech Lecha, Vayera, Chaiey Sarah, Toldot, Vayetze, Vayishlach, Vayeshev, Miketz, Vayigash, Vayichi.
  • The Book of Shemot: Shemot, Vayera, Bo, Bashalach, Yitro, Mishpatim, Terumah (Safra de Tzniuta), Tetzaveh, Ki Tissa, Veyikahel, Pekudey.
  • The Book of Vayikra: Vayikra, Tzav, Shmini, Tazria, Metzura, Acharey, Kedushim, Emor, Ba Har, Vechukotay.
  • The Book of Bamidbar: Bamidbar, Naso (Idra Raba), Baalotcha, Shlach Lecha, Korach, Chukat, Balak, Pinchas, Matot.
  • The Book of Devarim: Ve Etchanen, Ekev, Shoftim, Titze, Vayelech, Ha’azinu (Idra Zuta).

[edit] Appendices and additions

The Zohar is not considered complete without the addition of certain appendixes, which are often attributed either to the same author, or to some of his immediate disciples. These supplementary portions are almost always printed as part of the text with separate titles, or in separate columns. They are as follows:[2]
  • Sifra di-Tsni`uta, consisting of five chapters, in which are chiefly discussed the questions involved in the Creation, such as the transition from the infinite to the finite, that from absolute unity to multifariousness, that from pure intelligence to matter, etc;[2]
  • Idra Rabbah, in which the teachings of the preceding portion are enlarged upon and developed;[2] and Idra Zuta, giving a résumé of the two preceding sections.[2]
To the larger appendixes are added the following fragments:
  • Raza de Razin, ("Secret of Secrets") dealing with the connection of the soul with the body;[2]
  • Sefer Hekalot, describing the seven heavenly halls, paradise, and hell;[2]
  • Raya Mehemna, giving a conversation between Moses, the prophet Elijah, and Shimon ben Yochai on the allegorical import of the Mosaic commandments and prohibitions, as well as of the rabbinical injunctions.[2]
  • Sitre Torah, on various topics;[2]
  • Midrash ha-Ne'elam, explaining passages of Scripture mystically by way of hints and gematria (mystical numerology);[2]
  • Saba, containing a conversation between the prophet Elijah and Shimon ben Yochai about the doctrine of metempsychosis;[2]
  • Yanuḳa, on the importance of washing the hands before meals and on similar subjects, written in the name of a child of Hamnuna Saba, whence the title Yanuḳa ("child");[2]
  • Tosefta and Matnitin, in which are sketched the doctrines of the Sefirot, the emanation of the primordial light, etc.[2]

[edit] Viewpoint

According to the Zohar, the moral perfection of man influences the ideal world of the Sefirot; for although the Sefirot accept everything from the Ein Sof (Heb. אין סוף, infinity), the Tree of Life itself is dependent upon man: he alone can bring about the divine effusion.[2] This concept is somewhat akin to the concept of Tikkun olam. The dew that vivifies the universe flows from the just.[2] By the practice of virtue and by moral perfection, man may increase the outpouring of heavenly grace.[2] Even physical life is subservient to virtue.[2] This, says the Zohar, is indicated in the words "for the Lord God had not caused it to rain" (Gen. 2:5), which means that there had not yet been beneficent action in heaven, because man had not yet been created to pray for it.[2]

[edit] Zohar's ditheistic theology

In Eros and Kabbalah, Moshe Idel (Professor of Jewish Mysticism, Hebrew University in Jerusalem) argues that the fundamental distinction between the rational-philosophic strain of Judaism and theosophic-mystical Judaism, as exemplified by the Zohar, is the mystical belief that the Godhead is complex, rather than simple, and that divinity is dynamic and incorporates gender, having both male and female dimensions. These polarities must be conjoined (have yihud, "union") to maintain the harmony of the cosmos. Idel characterizes this metaphysical point of view as "ditheism," holding that there are two aspects to God, and the process of union as "theoeroticism." This ditheism, the dynamics it entails, and its reverberations within creation is arguably the central interest of the Zohar, making up a huge proportion of its discourse (pp. 5–56).
Mention should also be made of the work of Elliot Wolfson (Professor of Jewish Mysticism, New York University), who has almost single-handedly challenged the conventional view, which is affirmed by Idel as well. Wolfson likewise recognizes the importance of heteroerotic symbolism in the kabbalistic understanding of the divine nature. The oneness of God is perceived in androgynous terms as the pairing of male and female, the former characterized as the capacity to overflow and the latter as the potential to receive. Where Wolfson breaks with Idel and other scholars of the kabbalah is in his insistence that the consequence of that heteroerotic union is the restoration of the female to the male. Just as, in the case of the original Adam, woman was constructed from man, and their carnal cleaving together was portrayed as becoming one flesh, so the ideal for kabbalists is the reconstitution of what Wolfson calls the male androgyne. Much closer in spirit to some ancient Gnostic dicta, Wolfson understands the eschatological ideal in traditional kabbalah to have been the female becoming male (see his Circle in the Square and Language, Eros, Being).

[edit] Biblical exegesis, "Pardes"

The Zohar assumes four kinds of Biblical text exegesis:
  1. The simple, literal meaning of the text: Peshat
  2. The allusion or hinted/allegorical meaning: Remez
  3. The rabbinic comparison through sermon or illustration and metaphor: Derash
  4. The secret/mysterious/hidden meaning: Sod[2]
The initial letters of these words (P, R, D, S) form together the word PaRDeS ("paradise/orchard"), which became the designation for the Zohar's view of a fourfold meaning of the text, of

Sefer Raziel HaMalakh

"Tree of Knowledge"

Adam in his prayer to God, apologized for listening to his wife Eve חוה, who was deceived by the snake into eating from the "Tree of Knowledge" - the עץ הדעת, according to the Book of Raziel, God sent the highest of the Angels, Raziel, to teach Adam the spiritual laws of nature and life on earth, including the knowledge of the planets, stars and the spiritual laws of creation.
The Angel Raziel also taught Adam the knowledge of the power of speech, the power of thoughts and the power of a persons soul within the confines of the physical body and this physical world, basically teaching the knowledge with which one can harmonize physical and spiritual existence in this physical world.
The Angel Raziel teaches the power of speech, the energy contained within the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, their combinations and meanings of names.

Adam and Abraham

According to Jewish traditions, the angel Raziel was sent to earth to teach Adam, and due the elevated soul of Abraham, Raziel returned to teach Abraham all the spiritual knowledge and spiritual laws. Raziel was sent to earth with specific purpose to teach Adam and Abraham the ways of Nature. The Book of Raziel explains everything from Astrology of the planets in our solar system, and explains how the creative life energy starts with a thought from the spiritual realms, transcending into speech and action in this physical world. The eternal divine creative life energy of this earth is love, the book explains the spiritual laws of birth, death, reincarnation of the soul, and many spiritual laws of "Change".

Sefer Yetzirah

Theories of contrast in nature

In addition to the doctrine of the Sefirot and the letters, the theory of contrasts in nature, or of the syzygies ("pairs"), as they are called by the Gnostics, occupies a prominent place in the Sefer Yetzirah. This doctrine is based on the assumption that the physical as well as the moral world consists of a series of contrasts mutually at war, yet pacified and equalized by the unity, God. Thus in the three prototypes of creation the contrasting elements fire and water are equalized by air; corresponding to this are the three "mothers" among the letters, the mute מ contrasting with the hissing ש, and both being equalized by א.
Seven pairs of contrasts are enumerated in the life of man:
  • Life and death
  • Peace and strife
  • Wisdom and folly
  • Wealth and poverty
  • Beauty and ugliness
  • Fertility and sterility
  • Lordship and servitude (iv. 3)
From these premises the Sefer Yezirah draws the important conclusion that "good and evil" have no real existence, for since everything in nature can exist only by means of its contrast, a thing may be called good or evil according to its influence over man by the natural course of the contrast.
The book teaches that man is a free moral agent. A person is rewarded or punished for his or her actions. The idea of heaven and hell are foreign to the book. Instead, the virtuous man is rewarded by a favorable attitude of nature, while the wicked finds it hostile to him.

1 comment:

daniel said...

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