CLARIFYING THE PURPOSEFULLY OBSCURED
"The Truth About The Zohar As Qabalah"

The Irrefutable Issue of Ribbi Reshayoth: The Illegal "Multiplicity of Reigning Powers"

"And we say that we shall not unite 2 Gods in G-D or 5 Gods in G-D or 10 Gods in G-D, nor shall we have anything to do with such Divine Unifications. For this reason it is prohibited to speak of Divine emanated levels and categories. Any such levels or categories necessarily become a Multiplicity of reigns and Divisions in God, G-D forbid. Moses, the teacher of us all, taught ‘Be of a pure and simple heart with the Lord, your God’ and he taught ‘The hidden things are to the Lord, your God, while the revealed things are for us and for our children’.

RMb"M zs’l: "There is no oneness at all except in believing that there is one simple Essence in which there is no complexity or multiplicity of notions, but one notion only; so that from what-ever angle you regard it and from whatever point of view you consider it, you will find that it is one, not divided in any way and by any cause into two notions" (MN 1:51)

RMb"M zs’l: God is not two or more entities, but a single entity of a oneness even more single and unique than any single thing in creation. His oneness is not like that of a single type which consists of many individuals [like the oneness of a species], and nor is it like the oneness of the body, which incorporates many parts, but His oneness is absolutely unique, and there is nothing else in existence with a oneness like His. Had God been more than a single entity, then all of them would have physical bodies, for entities equal in existence differ only in bodily matters. If the Creator did have a body He would have had weaknesses and an end, for it is impossible for a physical body that has no end to exist. The strength of something that has weaknesses and an end also has an end, and a limit. The strength of our God is not like the strength of the body, for it has no end or pause, and perpetually guides the sphere. Since He has no body He has no bodily appearance, and cannot be sub-divided into different parts - therefore, it is impossible for Him to be anything other than one. It is a positive commandment to know this, for it is written, "...the Lord is our God, the Lord is one".(Mishneh Torah: Yesod HaTorah: 1:7)

"If you have understanding you will comprehend that which our sages pointed out. They have clearly stated that the Divine Chariot (the mysteries of Torah) includes matters too deep and too profound for the ordinary intellect. It has been shown that a person favored by providence with reasons to understand these mysteries is forbidden by the Law to teach them except viva voce, and on condition that the pupil possess certain qualifications, and even then only the heads of the sections may be communicated.  This has been the cause why the knowledge of this mystery has entirely disappeared from our nation and nothing has remained of it."
                      (Rabenu Moshe - Mosheh ben Maimon zs"l - Moreh Nevuhhim - 1160 CE).

“Glory then to Him who is such that when the intellects contemplate His essence, their apprehension turns into incapacity; and when they contemplate the proceeding of His actions from His will, their knowledge turns into ignorance; and when the tongues aspire to magnify Him by means of attributive qualifications, all eloquence turns into weariness and incapacity!” (RMb"M: MN 1:58)

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"Do you really think you can reach the final understanding of G-D?" (Job 11,7)

SITE ADMIN's INTRO

"This has been the cause why the knowledge of this mystery has entirely disappeared from our nation and nothing has remained of it." (Guide)

"It would have been superfluous thus to dilate on this subject, were it not for the mass of the people who are accustomed to such ideas." (Guide)

QUESTION to the ZOHAR Mystic: Do you honestly believe that man is capable of bridging the gap between the finite and infinity (G-D)? Even though the term infinity may be limiting (in terms of describing HaShem who is not numerically defined or divided), we shall stick with it during this article for the sake of reason and logic.

ANSWER: This was the challenge the Qabalists sought to overcome. They actually believed (ie: still believe) it was possible to bridge this gap with their emanation dogma. But as you will see proven below (based on early historical sources and logic), HaShem (G-D) actually created the Kavode (a revelation of the Divine Presence) for this very purpose...to give our limited, finite, wise men something to behold, as no mortal man can actually reach the infinite Creator. As stated above, the keepers of the chariot (ie: the genuine mystical tradition) no longer exist.

So let your tongues and heart be still. And for goodness sake, stop giving money over to the big lie- "the business of selling the Zohar".  The translation of Mori Yihhye Ibn Shlomoh El Qafahh's "Milhamoth HaShem" (that is quoted below) is accurate--and thus relevant to this article.  (Site Admin.)

 ר' שמעון בן יוחי עבד עובדא בשמיטתא חמא חד מלקט ספיחי שביעית אמר ליה ולית אסור ולאו ספיחין אינון אמרו ליה ולא את הוא שאת מתיר אמר ליה ואין חבירי חולקין עלי וקרי עלוי (קוהלת י) ופורץ גדר ישכנו נחש וכן הות ליה. 
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Rabbi Shimon ben YoHai [he was Israeli, not Bavli--ben, not bar] proved a point about the Shmita. One came to pick saphiHin [produce that grows of its own during the Shemittah year--not planted. He had previously ruled it to be permitted to pick these during Shemittah, but the Sanhedrin overruled his opinion].

He [the rabbi] said, "isn't it forbidden [what you are doing]?? And aren't those saphiHin?" 

"[Yes, but] aren't you [the one] who permits it?!" 

"Yes, [the rabbi answered] but didn't my colleagues disagree with me [and overrule my opinion]?"  And he recited over him [the passuq from Qohalath 10], 'he who breaks a fence [of the rabbis], a snake will bite him.' And so it happened. [HaShem fulfilled the word of the saintly Sadiq, and a snake bit the man to death]" 

This shows that Rabbi Shim'on ben YoHai, no matter WHAT he ruled, or WHAT he wrote (or didn't write), subjugated himself to the majority opinion of the Sanhedrin.

He may have held many opinions that could have veered far from his colleagues. But he would NEVER agree to future generations relying on his words against the accepted halakhah as it was codified.

And so, we must keep this in mind, before attributing anything to Rabbi Shim'on ben Yohai. Surely, everything attributed to him would be in line with the law.

This was taught to me by one of my masters. 

The source, by the way is דף ו,ב פרק א הלכה א גמרא 

That is Yerushalmi, massakhath barakoth, daph wow, amudh bei, towards the very end of the daf.

Parasha Tetsawah: The Avon Ketz: Israel's Final Sin Of The Zohar

PURPOSE: Indeed, this is a very disturbing article. Most of the content is taken from Milhamoth HaShem. This article intends to unite Israel by defining the original and historical traditions and laws (ie: dogma) that have existed since the days of old. Using undeniable logic and accurate historical data, we can retrace the thinking of the original, pre-mystical (or should we call them the authentic Qabalistic) masters (ie: the Saadia Jaon and the RMb"M). Afterall, the word Qaballah was originally understood as anything passed down orally (even to the oral law). The very fact that G-D is above our understanding (indefinable) does not dismiss us from the requirement to use logic (and other sciences) in our never-ending quest to approach and know him (to the best of our capability). Defining "what he is not" can only lead us to inescapable conclusions that enhance our true understanding of His nature. So logic (as limiting as it is) will be used in this article.

This honest, religious, historic and factual analysis of the Zohar (and other Qabalistic documents) aims to bring us back (down) to our humble origins. This article is in no way meant to endorse those who would use it to detract from today's Jewish Observant Rabbonim (may they be blessed with long life, honesty, objectivity, accuracy, logic and success)...This article deals with one specific, important snare. May G-D nullify attempts to use this article in a harmful way. May G-D turn the enemy's curse into a complete blessing, as was done by Bilam in the the time of Balak. At the end of the day, we should strengthen our resolve to study things that all Jews (across the board) agree with. Works like the Mishna & Gemara, RMb"M's "Yad" (Mishna Torah), Midrash Rabbah & Gadol, Targum and many others that make up the nuts and bolts of our faith. Please sit up strait and take note. The contents of this article should never be used as an excuse not to learn these nuts and bolts with an Orthodox Hhevrah--even one in error regarding the subject of this article. If the subject of this article becomes your primary focus in life, you will spiritually falter (heaven forbid). I've seen this happen before. But it is still important for you to understand the concepts of this article. Because they are critical to the object of your correct worship. They are critical to the basic definition (or non-definition) of our monotheistic G-D.

I stand by every word of this article despite the popularity (and sometimes obsession) with the Zohar that exists today. If this article comes off a bit sarcastic... I apologize in advance. Not all of the content was written by me. But the concepts are solid. I have separately verified the English translation of Milhamoth HaShem (I quote and paraphrase below). The following article is dedicated to all my friends and family (may they live many long, happy, Jewish years…bli ayn hara). We have to be honest and clear about what Judaism believed (originally)--and what has been illegally added since then. The "Onis Probandi" always rests on the new thing--not the other way around. This is logical.
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In this week’s Parasha Tetsawah -- Shemoth 28:42 says the following about the Holy Priests: "and you shall make them linen breeches to cover the flesh of their nakedness"

On this verse, the RMb"M says the following: "The custom of the idolaters to expose their nakedness during their worship is well known. Our priests were therefore commanded to wear breeches during their service, and even then not to ascend to the altar on steps, so as not to reveal their nakedness." Guide 3:46

In the "olden days", the practices of avodah zorah (idol worship) were well known. They stood out like a sore thumb. Their (outwardly) idolatrous cults made them easy to identify. Thus, Jewish Priests would avoid emulating it in their service. Indeed the pure monotheistic faith was strong and true in those days. Although Ancient Judaism has had bouts with idol worship (on and off) throughout its' history, Israel has always returned to the worship of the one true G-D. 

Today’s avodah zorah (idolatry) is more subtle and hidden from the world. In addition, today’s violations are a bit more elusive then they used to be. As a shocking result, avodah zorah has managed to penetrate observant Jewish communities throughout the world (without their knowledge) in modern times. Please read the previous sentence one more time before continuing…According to the Hhacham from Saana, Yemen --Yihhye Ibn Shlomoh El Qafahh zs'l, there is a new danger on today’s horizon that came to us in the form of an extremely controversial book of so-called "Jewish mysticism" --known simply as the "Zohar" . 

But how could this be? Is Rabbi Qafahh zs"l calling the greatest Rabbonim (of the past four hundred years) idolaters for espousing the doctrines of the Zohar... Is this possible ? How could a mystical work like the Zohar (which was accepted by most "Gedolim" for the past 400 years) be idolatrous ? Could the Rabbonim have actually missed something? How is this whole thing possible? To believers in the Trinity (l'h), it sounds possible, but to pious and scholarly Jews who spend their days in contemplating the precious meanings of the Torah, how is it possible?

Rav Qafahh zs"l answers to this in one place: If it were not possible that the heads of Israel fall into error concerning an idolatrous sin, why would it be provided by the Torah that in the case an idolatrous sin hidden to the eyes of all the heads of the congregation (ie: the Sanhedrin or Nasi), a sin offering must be brought etc. ? The Torah exclaims that an idolatrous sin might be perpetrated even by all Israel without it being recognized until after the fact (Lev 4 & Numbers 15) .

Obviously those who follow the Zohar do not bow down to crass graven images. They bow down, instead, to extremely sophisticated graven mental images and concepts, but they are unaware of its idolatry. The sin of the fathers is always subtle, otherwise no one would fall into its clutches.

Please sit back and relax. Take off your shoes and clean your feet. Drink some chamomile or Green tea if you must. But please… try to fully absorb a point of view that comes straight from the leader of one of the most pristine forms of Yehadut (Judaism) on the planet --- The Yemenite Jews . But more importantly, it comes from the Saadia Jaon and RMb"M. If you would like a quick background about the Yemenite Jews, click here:

The Zohar and Idol Worship: Ashkenaz, Sepharadic and Temani Views

Today, many fully Torah-observant Jews (usually Temanim, Italian, Spanish Portuguese  and certain Ashkenaz Jews) continue to reject the Zohar (in principle) for a number of different reasons, despite a continuous wave of pressure from their Jewish brethren around the world. In addition, there are differing views amongst the Ashkenazim over which parts of the Zohar MAY or many not be authentic, varying from partial to total rejection as well. To be clear, these groups represent the most pristine remnants of our faith. There were not new reformers, as many historical revisionists claim. Neither are they warriors. They are simply warm and loving Jews (just like the masses), who strongly desire to purify the derekh. There Judaism (while halakha focused) can be just as warm and beautiful as can be.

Some of this pressure against these views is caused by the enormous amount of money that has been made from the espousing and selling of the Zohar--and related "products". If you question it, you are instantly blackballed as a heretic by most. As a result of the Zohar's popularity, influence and persecution, many of these Hhahhamim (in recent times) have opted to address (non-controversial) religious issues in the Zohar (in their Torah commentaries), in order to enhance their shaky political standing. Some who see the problems, refuse to speak out - because they are rightfully concerned about unity. At best, the Zohar is regarded as a disputed Midrash by the larger masorah. Other opinions within the masorah regard it as a dangerous, idolatry-laden forgery, as has always been held by the remnants. It should be noted that the Temanim are not alone in this view. Nor were they the first to espouse it--as was done from the Zohar's inception. It should also be noted that most groups in Yemen who did FULLY accept the Zohar (like most groups throughout the world) abandoned their ancient Nusahh (prayer gate/book)--which was passed down from generation to generation. In Yemen, this equated to the acceptance of a controversial Syrian "concoction" --known as the Shammi Nusahh.. This should have rung a warning bell right away.  Anything that claims to trump an ancient existing nusahh or Jewish law should be regarded with deep suspicion. In fact, it was by many in the Ashkenaz and Western Sefaradi (Andalusian) world. There was never an argument made against an existing nusahh that said "you made a mistake in the transmission or accuracy" of your nusahh. They could not dare say this. It was always..."here is the new revelation that replaces it". Or "this is better". Or "this 13th gate (Nusahh) is for everyone now because we can no longer be sure of what tribe we come from". This is not the place to discuss the negative effects of the Zohar on the common, Jewish People of Yemen as it would take too long. Here, we are not talking about the trampling of an ancient nusahh or the lowering of an already impoverished people into an even lower standard of living, in the name of Lauranic or Zohar Mysticism. That will be another article. Rather, this is the dogmatic side of the argument against undeniably idolatrous concepts within the Zohar. Anyone that says the ideas in this article have been disproved (since then) or were (are) based on false notions of what "real Qabalah" is has been duped with circular reasoning --with all due respect. The Moreh who wrote this was an expert on Zohar. The Yemenites had Zohar in their face for over 400 years. And yes, it was the same Zohar. People who say they didn't have the "real Zohar" at the time are deluding themselves. The Zohar in Yemen was the same (in terms of idolatrous concepts) as it was in Spain and the rest of the world. It is still the same. In recent times, they are saying that it was taken too literally in Yemen. Again, this is pure nonsense.

I have taken the liberty to quote and paraphrase different sections and ideas from Milhamoth HaShem, THE HOLY WARS of G-D by Chief Yemenite Rabbi Yihhye Ibn Shlomoh Qafahh zs'l, in order to demonstrate the prohibition of ‘RIBUI RESHAYOT’ a ‘multiplicity of reigns’ against which the Sages (including the RMb"M), of blessed memory, warned against. I will start with an introduction to this subject by someone claiming to be a Talmid of ha-Moreh Hhaim Wenna from Sana’ Yemen--although it sure seems that this individual went off the derekh with all of his dreams, pacts and donkeys.. But the introduction is solid.

A thorough reading of this article should allow you to understand the main points of the argument--even if you have not been fully indoctrinated with the concepts of the Zohar. 

"And we say that we shall not unite 2 Gods in G-D or 5 Gods in G-D or 10 Gods in G-D, nor shall we have anything to do with such Divine Unifications. For this reason it is prohibited to speak of Divine emanated levels and categories. Any such levels or categories necessarily become a Multiplicity of reigns and Divisions in God, G-D forbid. Moses, the teacher of us all, taught ‘Be of a pure and simple heart with the Lord, your God’ and he taught ‘The hidden things are to the Lord, your God, while the revealed things are for us and for our children’.

All this is not Torah, nor Prophets nor Tradition. How did such scholars of the Torah fall into such a blatantly idolatrous theology? It is essential that the faith of Israel, which is the pure faith of Abraham, our father, and the faith revealed in the Holy Torah and in Jewish tradition, be clarified and purified so that it be totally uncontaminated by extraneous doctrines of human intellect which deviate from the truth. Only when Israel’s faith is pure can it be a light of the true faith for the world, a world the majority of which has yet to purify its many forms of idolatry.

And the subtle blind sin of attaching the names of G-D to the Ten Emanated Sfirot of the Zohar was the (same kind of) sin of the fathers of the generation of Enosh. And the desire to construct a spiritual building (explanation) that would bind G-D in heaven to the world below and bring the final redemption, as has been the Qabalistic daring in the past 400 years, was an undesired and hateful building, as the city and the Tower of Babel, and its true intentions are based on the foolish arrogance to ‘bring’ the Final Redemption, instead of waiting for the Signs of G-D who chooses the Final Goel and decides the time of the revelation of the Final Redemption. And the sin of deifying the Ten emanated Sfirot derives from the sin of the Mixed Multitude who, for reason of the idolatrous concepts retained from Egyptian ‘theology’, would have deified the Ten Commandments turning them into Ten Divine Emanations, had Moses not thrown them down and shattered them to pieces, so as to destroy the sin in its source. And the sin of the rabbis of these generations who have been beguiled by the Zohar’s Serpent Cunning and simply have had their eyes covered and have not understood the idolatrous mistakes involved, is the sin of Aaron who unwittingly erred and did not understand the idolatrous roots behind the Mixed-multitude’s desire for the golden calf. This sin has returned for its final purification, so as to clear the way for the final redemption. For all these reasons together, it was foreseen by the Prophets of Israel that Israel would fall into ‘AVON KETZ, the sin of the Last Days of Judgment, while the purification of Israel from that sin would represent the return of Israel to its true G-D at the time of the complete redemption. It represents the Last Terrible Sin of Israel. If it had to come out, this is because it had to be purified before the true faith might reign in the world.

Sefer Milhhamot Ha-Shem provides all the necessary keys to understanding the basic principles upon which this false Qabalah has been constructed. The author has ingeniously interspersed his book with citations from the Qabalists and the essential tenets upon which the citation is based on the one hand and the counter citations from the Torah, the Sages of the Mishnah and Talmud, the Geonim and Rishonim etc. on the other. The profound result is that the reader will gain an understanding of the true nature of their Qabalistic system from which he will clearly be able to distinguish between the True Qabalahh of the Written and Oral Law and between the beliefs of the false Qabalahh. If the reader will at first be amazed at the striking dichotomy, he will shortly become aware of the incredible perspicacity with which The Moreh Qafahh zs'l has seized upon the undeniable principles of their Qabalistic system and its direct contradiction to the True Tradition of Israel’s faith.

So too the tragic historic error of the High Priest Aaron in the face of the golden calf, is prophetically called up into its new final position so as to show to all of the scandalized Israel concerned for the Torah and honor of so many Qabalistic authors of saintly memory etc., that Aaron himself fell and did not understand the great error of the mixed-multitude. Prophetically it happened again. The Avon Ketz of the Fourth Generation is also the Last Golden Calf of History and the Rabbinate and the saintly scholars who fell into the subtle trap, as Aaron, did (do) not understand the idolatrous ideas and doctrines that lay in the Doctrine of Emanation of the Zohar.

Just this understanding is necessary for the correction of Israel’s Sin of the Last Days of Judgment. Just as Aaron had to admit before Moses that he had not understood the evil that lurked within the idolatrous tendency of the mixed-multitude, so must many (not all) of the heads of Rabbinate Judaism lower their heads before the knowledge of Milhhamot Ha-Shem against the false Qabalahh and to understand their great error. Repentance from this sin on the part of the heads of Israel represents nothing less than the first entrance of the Jewish people into its Final Redemption.

These so-called Zoharists have considered the Infinite G-D Who Is (EIN SOF) and G-D the Maker ("Zeir Anpin") as two separate God-heads, the latter being an emanated Existence in the ‘form’ of a ‘Spiritual Cosmic Man-God’ who is the Ruler and king over all the worlds. A clear violation of the Torah's Ribi Reshayoth (a multiplicity of reigns) according to the Torah.

The following piece (below) was taken from translation of Milhamoth Hashem.

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 THE HOLY WARS against the FALSE Qabalah of the ZOHAR

by the Hhacham from Saana, Yemen
MORI YIHHYAH BAN SHLOMOH Qafahh ZS'L

Taken from an actual translation from Hebrew into English and comments (in parenthesis)

INTRODUCTION FROM THE SITE ADMIN: According to Mori, you don't need to be an expert in Zohar to understand these things. Study these pages a few times and you will clearly see it. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the idolatrous doctrines to which we refer derive from the concept of Atzilut -Emanation. It is essential to the Sacred Wars that one may not speak of levels or categories in G-D above or before the Act of creation. This fact will help the reader not to get confused. We are really not interested in what the Qabalists say concerning their Worlds of creation, Formation and Action. But in formulating any categories or levels above the level of creation, idolatrous doctrines are created, doctrines when translated are closer to the Divine Emanations in the Hind-u religion than to the pure Monotheistic faith of Judaism. In comparison to Christianity, once we know that the John’s doctrine of the Logos represents a false theology, making Jesus the Instrument of G-D’s creation, we are no longer interested in all the rest of John’s theology concerning Jesus.

A description of the idolatrous doctrines of the Zohar
"The Etz Hhaim and the Mikdash Melech in the name of Yitzhak Luria states: The ‘Cause of all causes’ is Adam Kadmon, The Cause over all other causes. Explanation: When we say the ‘Cause of causes’ this pertains to each partzuf and is so called because it is the cause of those causes below it. But when we say the Cause of all causes, this is Adam Kadmon, the First Cause of all the partzufim."

Thus is it explained in the philosophical words of the Zohar and its commentators, that the G-D who gave permission to R. Shimon b. Yohai (to speak about what is prohibited even to think about, namely a multiplicity in God) is Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu called "Atik". This, however, is not the one (according to Zohar) who said to Israel ‘Behold now that it is I’ etc. Since the one who said to Israel ‘Behold now’ is ADAM KADMON, the First Cause of all the partzufim who has not from whom to take permission.

Likewise, the one who said ‘Let there be light’ ‘Let there be a firmament’ Let the waters gather etc. is called 'Aba' (in Zohar), but the one who said ‘Let us make a man in our image’ is 'Ema'. For Ema said to Aba ‘Let us make a man’ but Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu (Aba) did not agree to his creation until she said to him "What difference is it to you, if he sins it is against me that he sins, as it states ‘A foolish son is the anguish of his mother’ but not the anguish of his father.

So was he created against the will of Aba and, as the Shvilei Noga explains: If Aba had agreed to his creation, he would not have banished ‘her’ from Gan Eden together with him when he sinned, but because he had not agreed, he banished her as well. " [Comment from Site Admin: Take some ten gods from the Greek Pantheon and instead of the contents of the Greek myths, substitute them with verses of the Torah and Tradition, and you too could write a Zohar ]

Back to the Introduction:

We, however, who believe in His Oneness to which there is no like in all other entities of ‘one’, From all the above mentioned statements of the Zohar and its commentators, we see that they call to each "partzuf" of the World of Emanation with the Tetragrammaton (the ineffable four letter name of G-D that is not taken lightly), with ADONAI, with ELOHIM and with HA-KADOSH BARUCH HU (the Holy One, Blessed is He). They have, however, chosen out the last partzuf "Zeir Anpin" to serve. They say as well that the "EIN SOF" and all the other partzufim emanated from it are not to be served or prayed to because of their great exaltedness. How much more so the partzufim in those worlds above the world of Emanation for reason of their great hiddenness.

(According to them): Only "Zeir Anpin" can be served and called to in the ‘hour of need’, for He is the Middle-Pillar which joins all the forces from above and from below. He was ‘raised’ by Aba and Ema and given ‘Rule’ over all the creations which, in their turn, were commanded to serve and to bless Him. And this, according to them, is the Lord, our God, G-D save us! Let us now look at the Zohar (Balak) with the commentary of Mikdash Melech on the verse ‘He who withholds grain shall be cursed by the nation’ (mone’a bar yikvuhu le’um) -

[Admin comment: The Fourth Generation (this one) is also the time of the Great Purification of the faith for the world. How much more so is it essential that the faith of Israel, which is the pure faith of Abraham, our father, and the faith revealed in the Holy Torah and in Jewish tradition, be clarified and purified so that it be totally uncontaminated by extraneous doctrines of human intellect which deviate from the truth. Only when Israel’s faith is pure can it be a light of the true faith for the world, a world the majority of which has yet to purify its many forms of idolatry.]

Just this understanding is necessary for the correction of Israel’s Sin of the Last Days of Judgment. Just as Aaron had to admit before Moses that he had not understood the evil that lurked within the idolatrous tendency of the mixed-multitude, so must (many of) the heads of Rabbinate Judaism lower their heads before the knowledge of Milhhamot Ha-Shem against the false Qabalah and to understand their great error. Repentance from this sin on the part of the heads of Israel represents nothing less than the first entrance of the Jewish people into its Final Redemption.

Heaven forbid: The Qabalists have considered the Infinite G-D Who Is (EIN SOF) and God the Maker ("Zeir Anpin") as two separate "God-heads", the latter being an emanated existence in the ‘form’ of a ‘Spiritual Cosmic Man-God’ who is the ruler and king over all the worlds. As one might beseech a king to grant him his desire, for it is in the king’s power to give, so are prayers to be directed to the king of the world, and not therefore to the First Cause of all existence.

The Hacham R. Qafahh zs'l demonstrates prophetically and exactly that PLACING THE NAMES OF G-D ON TEN emanated SFIROT TO BE CALLED TO AS SHARING IN HIS GODLINESS, WHILE BEING CLOSER TO US AND WITHIN OUR REACH WHEREAS THE INFINITE EIN SOF, THE HIGHER INFINITE G-D ABOVE, IS ABOVE THE REACH OF ALL BEING, IS EXACTLY THE SAME SIN OF THE GENERATION OF ENOSH--IDOLATRY.

Indeed the introductory letters of Rav Qafahh zs'l are all intended to ask the Zohar-Qabalist how such a metaphysical concept ever came to be considered a true theology of the Jewish Faith? Our service and our prayers to G-D are not to be directed to the Higher Infinite Light but rather to the emanated "Zeir Anpin" (the Contracted Cosmic Man-G-D of the World of Emanation). Why didn’t Moses, our teacher, tell us about it, rebukes the Rav, or why didn’t the Prophets of Israel explain it to us so as to correct our error? Why did they let us waste our time and energy praying to the Higher Infinite G-D who is not interested in our prayers?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the idolatrous doctrines to which we refer derive from the concept of Atzilut -Emanation. It is essential to the Sacred Wars that one may not speak of levels or categories in G-D above or before the Act of creation. This fact will help the reader not to get confused. We are really not interested in what the Qabalists say concerning their Worlds of creation, Formation and Action. But in formulating any categories or levels above the level of creation, idolatrous doctrines are created, doctrines when translated are closer to the Divine Emanations in the Hind-u religion than to the pure Monotheistic faith of Judaism. 

This is pure kifrut, exclaims ha-Mori Qafahh zs'l, and it corresponds exactly to the prohibition of ‘RIBUI RESHAYOT’ a ‘multiplicity of reigns’ against which the Sages, of blessed memory, warned in many instances.

*Rav Qafahh zs'l throws brimstone and fire against the idolatrous connotations of such a division of emanated Godheads which is closer to the Greek Pantheon than to the second Commandment.

IMPORTANT: It should be pointed out that Rabbi Yichyah Qafahh's grandson (Mori Yusef zs'l) took a different view of the Zohar that bordered on being silent, as opposed to that of his grandfather's approach. The younger Qafahh (while still opposing the Zohar as avodah zorah) favored a more quiet approach for the sake of Shalom Bayith. Throughout his life Rabbi Yosef Qafahh zs'l kept silent about the fierce schism which existed in his community 80 years ago, but which left deep marks on his own life. His stance was forced upon him by the Zohar-Qabalists. As a young man he was imprisoned on false charges by the Igashim, and almost forced to convert to Islam. Immediately after his release at the age of l9, he married and shortly thereafter emigrated to Israel.  Please click here for instructions (from Grandpa Yichyah Qafahh zs"l) on how he proposed to deal with the hidden sin of the new qabalah... 

Will the real ten sfiroth please stand up?

Site Admin: Yes... the ten sfiroth appear to exist (as they are mentioned in Sefer Yesira--most likely a valid source of real Qabalahh)--but not in the emanated form described by the new qabalists. In addition, Rav Qafahh zs'l says that to describe, speak or write about the Ten Sfiroth is to falsify them. "Do not search into that which is too wondrous for you" he said.

fr. ch. 67 of Milhamoth HaShem-- R. Y. Qafahh zs’l:  "The Shevilei Emunah justly admonishes:-Let it not arise in your mind that you will be able to perceive G-D by trying to study or to search into the knowledge of His Essence or of His Essential (absolute) Truth. For this is impossible. On the contrary, whoever attempts to enter into such a study is a blasphemer and a reviler. For all that which exists has not the power to understand this. How much more so one who is found in a material body. Therefore the Sages of blessed memory warned us and said: Don't search into that which is too wondrous for you." Ironically, this verse comes from an ancient book called Ben Sira. It eventually became corrupted and was thus thrown out of our authoritative books of scripture. Perhaps this is more than ironic. No one here is arguing against real Qabalah in principle (a true tradition of the Chariot that was 'received'). It is false Qabalah we struggle against.
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Site Admin: A few reliable (pre-Zohar) sources have given descriptions of the sefiroth in the past, but most of these references generate more questions than answers (in my humble opinion). I have listed some of the references below (which I continue to expand upon every week). Please don't stumble upon them or meditate on them for two long. And by all means, do not let these quotes engulf your definition / concept of G-D... because you will not truly understand them. Only a real oral tradition could transmit them properly. And there is a huge doubt in my mind (and also RMb"M's mind) that anyone has (had) this tradition anymore (see below).. Everything about the ten sefiroth is and should remain a mystery. Any "apparent" contradictions that appear below reflect a defect in our own knowledge. 

The suggestion that the sefiroth were "created" is a whole other can of worms (which I am brave enough to explore below). Because... once we hypothetically classify them as "created", there is no risk (of multiple eminated gods) when discussing them. One could argue (and a few great Rabbonim have) that "created sefiroth" nullify the possibility of emanation (i.e.: a dividing of G-D--heaven forbid).  Sounds like a great solution..right? Just remove them from the world of emination and move them into the created realm--similar to the non-physical (created) Angels. 

One pitfall with this approach is that one must remember that G-D has no need of any creation in order to create. So one who believes them to be "created" can STILL NOT speak of them as having any creative potential or rule. We can't say that G-D needed or that his own creations were the creator. In the end, one could argue that we do not know why HaShem created them--or did many other things during the creation of our world. All and all, this problem is not that big of a hurdle. By designating the function of the sefiroth as "unknown", the "created sefiroth" theory passes the test in flying colors. Just leave it alone. Ahhh... but that is not intellectually satisfying.

The concept of created sefiroth can be compared to the Divine Presense of G-D. Some of our sages (that hold this way) state that the sefiroth were used by HaShem to make his Presence known to a finite man-because Man was/is incapable of bridging the Infinite gap. I believe that Sefer Yessira specifically says that HaShem 'used' them (the Sefiroth). One explanation in Gamara and old MidRaShYm states that HaShem teaches humanity lessons by doing certain things. Perhaps that explains why he used them. For example, why did G-D consult with the heavenly court before creating man? To show us that it is important to seek counsel before doing things...not that he needed help in creating.

Below, we explore this concept further. 

The other alternative:

The other alternative is to hold onto to the idea that the ten sefiroth still fall into the category of Pre-creation. Thus, the initial challenge faced by the new Zohar-Qabbalists --of how to describe the Ten Sefiroth (pre-creation) without emanating them (i.e.: and dividing HaShem) is unavoidable. This is a dangerous place to be. Let's step backwards for a second and stop. We need to be very careful about Ribbi Rishayoth (attributing a multiplicity to HaShem's reign) here (lehavdil).

At this point, most folks view this "spiritual stop sign" as 'intellectually unsatisfying'. This is the problem. How do we satisfy intellectual curiosity without splicing and dicing the one indivisible G-D. At this point, the truly sensible person should answer "FORGET IT--we must stop here! " Let's go learn some practical stuff.

But there is room for a GENERAL discussion --provided we do not violate 'ribbi reshayoth' (dividing G-D) as explained above.

In my estimation, the answer to whether the Sefiroth were created (or not) is the critical issue in determining the nature of the Ten Sefiroth. On the one hand, they may just represent vague, intellectual (pre-creation) concepts that relate to HaShem. This approach may be okay in terms of avoiding idol worship. HOWEVER, the minute we say this, we encounter the danger of assigning usefulness to them as tools OR (on the other hand) we emanate spiritual 'forces' as separate from HaShem--clearly committing avodah zorah--a multiplicity of reigns (ribba reshayoth). As long as we can keep them vague enough without assigning them utility, this may work. But again... intellectual satisfaction comes into play. And does this approach really hold up to scrutiny?

However, viewing them as creations avoids the utility possibility (entirely). This may be the optimal choice. However, the created sefiroth approach has its own problems as well--as mentioned above and below. The person who is gung ho about leaving the Ten Sefiroth in the pre-creation world has no choice but to stop at this point--and chalk their nature up to an unknowable mystery (characteristics or descriptions) without mentioning them --or risk causing a division of G-D--a violation of Ribbi Reshayoth (a multiplicity of reigns).

GOING TO THE EDGE:

I think the possibility that the ten sefiroth (characteristics or descriptions) were "prior to creation" and simultaneously not a division of HaShem is also a possibility. Although it is impossible and dangerous (for finite creatures like us) to attempt an explanation. So I wont !

Returning back to the 'created sefiroth' approach, the RMb"M zs"l and rav Sa'id (the Saadia Jaon zs"l) also appear to support it. Although there are important differences to each of their approaches as well. Although it should be noted that one has to compare the Shehhina to the Sefiroth in order to make this conclusion--the concepts are enlightening.

For the moment, let's take a look at the "created" Sefiroth concept as espoused by the Saadia Jaon and the RMb"M (may they be remembered for a blessing). 

The following piece (below in navy blue) appears on a Jay Michaelson's website examining the Saadiah Gaon's response to these questions. Although I appreciate this website's contribution to the conversation at hand, I think the article does a disservice to its own approach by prematurely accusing the Saadia (and RMb"M by extension) of a non-Talmudic approach. While the Saadia's (and later the RMb"M's) apparently NEW approach does beg for a source, I choose to turn it around with the following question. Does the Talmud unequivocally state that the Shechinah is NOT created? More likely, this is a case of "absent evidence" for either view--which clearly leaves dogmatic room for opinions such as these. Although I am sure that some may disagree with me--I remain unimpressed by the verses they bring. And indeed, the RMb"M defends the Saadia's view (of a "created Divine Presence/ Kavode") as dogmatically acceptable--although as a second choice to his preferred compromise. ALSO, all of the participants in this discussion may be doing this study a disservice by referring to the Shekhina (Diving Presence) and the Kavode (his Glory) as synonymous. Perhaps this is the key to understanding this whole debate? Are they really the same exact thing? Although I choose to believe the RMb"M's first choice (which leaves the description a bit more vague) -- as opposed to the Saadia's more risqué concept, here is the clip. My comments appear in red.:

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"While the references to the Shechinah in Talmudic sources are somewhat diffuse, nowhere (with the one exception below) does it appear as (1) an entity distinct from G-D, and nowhere is there any reference to it (2) being a created object. [Again, this topic may not have been the focus for the Tanaaim. Because in those days, no one was considering any attempt to EMANATE a bridge between the finite and the infinite. Thus, absence of evidence (IN THIS CASE) does not make for evidence of absence--as LOGIC takes over. Also, there IS evidence that this critique may not have considered from mainstream Mikra sources - refer to Pg 121 in the Rosenblatt edition of "The Book of Beliefs and Opinions" by Saadia-Treatise II, chapter X, towards the end] . The former idea without the latter would seem to violate the concept of the unity and non-corporeality of G-D (a price paid by many Kabbalists, who accept it in the guise of an 'emanated kavod', later, the Sefirot). To accept the latter without the former makes no sense, and yet to accept neither is to admit that G-D can be known via revelation. Saadia's decision, to argue both, buys complete noncorporeality--a rationalist requirement--at the price of the theological preference for total veracity of the Written and Oral Torah. [I don't see how this goes against Talmudic sources. In fact, the Talmud clearly demonstrates that whatever we regard as perfection, is attributed to G-D, expressing that He is perfect in every way, and that no imperfection or deficiency is found in him whatsoever (Moreh Nevukhim). For sure, if someone was to claim that G-D decided to become finite --even for a short while, he would be breaking this dictum, and He would cease to be called G-D by this very definition] The position has its consequences (discussed below) but whatever they are, its origins are not in the Talmud. [In my humble opinion, the thoroughness of the writer's Talmudic review is in question.]

If the idea of the created kavod is not in Talmudic sources, where does it come from ? [IF? Than how is it that throughout the Talmud, HaShem has to CAUSE his Presence to dwell in certain places: "But when the Holy One decided to CAUSE His Presence to dwell there and to make it His sanctuary, He said: 'It is not fitting for a king to dwell in a valley, but only on a high and lofty mountain, resplendent in beauty and visible to all. So He beckoned the valley's environs to come together and provide a suitable place for the Presence." In anticipation of critics who will find verses that say the Presence never did descend or arise, I would again say the following. The concept of dwelling is -as the Sadia Gaon said-- a concept of revealing a created aspect that men could behold. There is no other choice here. Surely we can not say that HaShem's PRESENCE does not already dwell everywhere or that there are STRONGER or WEAKER levels of HaShem. In fact, there is a verse in Megillah that says there is NO PLACE where His Presence does not dwell. So here is the resolution. This moving around of the Presence must be a reference of HaShem creating something for our Tsaddiqim to behold, as man can not possibly see G-D and live. Also, the HaShem can not possibly limit itself and still be called infinite. For those who would quote verses saying that the Presence / Shekina (dwelling presence) is the Infinite (although it might in different places depending on usage and content), I would again ask them to explain how the infinite can dwell in one finite place. By its very definition, this is an absolute illogical impossibility. And the response (I've heard) that G-D is above logic --is an escape from logic. Rather, it must mean that HaShem allowed us to view something that was representative of his Essence-- that He CREATED for men. This actually fits and fulfills the Talmudic concept of speaking to men in the language of men.  Thus, the term PRESENCE is used loosely depending on the context. By the way,  there may be a clear difference between the Kavode and Presence, and we are all off the mark... and this is really about the word Kavode. Either way... this discussion is still relevant in examining these concepts.

Urbach dates the "change of conception" regarding the Shechinah, to "the philosophical exegesis of R. Saadia Gaon," i.e. the application of Saadia's rational deduction to a scriptural problem. Again, the use of the word CHANGE here is loaded with agenda in my opinion. It lines up the argument that all of Medieval mysticism was one big response to rationalism (which they consider to be the new development). This takes the spot light off the fact that the Zohar doctrines were (in most cases) the actual (Greek oriented) innovations, and that logic was already a built-in component of our faith from the start.

(Uhrbach 64) More definitively, Joseph Dan has stated that the concept of the shechinah (again, there could be a blurring Kavod and Shechinah) being created is "absolutely an innovation" of Saadia's, and he does not know of any previous texts which refer to it, with only one exception. (Dan *) This exception, noted by both Gershom Scholem and by Urbach, is exactly one midrash--again, amid about forty cited in the Urbach work--which interprets Proverbs 22:29 ("Seest thou a man diligent in his business?") in part as follows:
            
When the Sanhedrin wished to count him [king Solomon] with the
three kings and four commoners, the Shechinah stood before the Holy
One, Blessed be He, and said unto Him: "Sovereign of the universe! 
Seest thou a man diligent?--They wish to count him with mean men."
                    (Midrash Proverbs, XXX, cited in Uhrbach 63)

Scholem [an admittedly controversial and yet useful source] sees here the beginning of a new conception of the Shechinah, yet at the same time stresses that the Hechalot literature that follows does not continue to develop it. (Scholem 59) Nor does Dan find any evidence for the continuity of the idea. Still, although Saadia does not mention this source, it is possible to conjecture that he may have read it. For our purposes, however, this possibility is less pertinent than the comment by one of Saadia's critics, R. Moses b. R. Hasdai, on the matter. R. Moses blames a misinterpretation of the above midrash (of course, giving his own correct one) for Saadia's and others' misconceptions about the Shechinah being a created form and charges that the source is insignificant: "We need pay no heed to the reading in Midrash Proverbs, for our Talmud takes precedence." (Ktav Tamim, Oshar Nechmad III, cited in Uhrbach 63). Here, the author again implies that our Talmud states something to the contrary. Above, I showed this was not true.

This observation is in fact what I believe to be most relevant in Saadia's redefinition of the kavod: that he goes against the apparent Talmudic opinion. Dan suggested, in fact, that--given the proto-Qabalistic agreement with the Talmudic sages on the point--the only group from whom Saadia might have learned of the idea of a created kavod would be the Karaites, although even from them we have no texts supporting such an idea.  This is absurd. Almost everything that Saadia wrote was written against the Ananite / Karaites. You will not find a person, in the history of Judaism, who disagreed more with their doctrines. If anything, the Karaites were the first Jews to speak of concepts like Reincarnation. In fact, it is the RambaN who claims "reincarnation" as a Jewish belief, when in fact it first appeared in Judaism in the Ananite / Karaite world. So we must take what the RambaN is saying here with deep suspicion. In reality, it is the Zohar-Qabalists who took from the Karaites, as the Saadia argued vigorously against the fraudulent and pagan concept of Reincarnation. This author would have us believe that the Saadia borrowed a concept (that defines the very nature of G-D) from his greatest antithesis. This is just preposterous revisionism.  A direct borrowing such as this would of course be shocking in Saadia's case, but even a divergence in principle from strict adherence to Talmudic authority is surprising. If Saadia diverges from the near-unanimity of Talmudic opinion (again, this has not been proven in this article), what is to stop the Karaites from doing so? One Karaite, R. Solomon b. Yeruhim, called Saadia on this point, using rationalist arguments to attack Rabbanism. (Here I am indebted to Joseph Dan's as-yet-unpublished examination of the original texts.) Using the extravagantly-anthropomorphic (at least on the surface) Shiur Komah, attributed to Rabbis Akiva and Ishmael, R. Solomon ridiculed those who stake their beliefs in such blatant anthropomorphists. Saadia's response, which we have in the writings of a late follower, R. Yehuda ben Barzilai, is to declare the book to be pseudepigraphic invention--a dangerous reply, given that it opens a wide body of Talmudic literature up to the same charge from the Karaites. Hedging his bets, Saadia states that if R. Akiva and R. Ishmael did actually write the Shiur Komah, then it is surely about the kavod. This author obviously has an agenda.

Apparently, then, Saadia believed himself to be following the Talmudic opinion on the Shechinah--of course, given his thesis that the Torah and reason are non-contradictory, this would not be surprising--despite the evidence to the contrary. [Site Admin comment: Evidence to the contrary?] . Needless to say, this is not the opinion of Saadia's many detractors, who point out that the consequences of accepting a created-kavod view are more troubling than the reasons to do so. Most obvious of these consqequences is that the kavod is itself (and Saadia claims that it makes sense to speak of the kavod 'itself') prayed to in Jewish tradition. [Site Admin comment: The Kavode is not prayed to... the portion in the Qedusha (the Sanctification) is actually a statement- even though it is said in the middle of a prayer-the Amidahhh. At the least, there shouldn't be any praying to the creations or Kavode here. His so called detractors may be been speaking about what people were doing at that time. But the interdependence of a created Kavode -Nivra and the necessity of praying to it is a huge leap of illogic, with all due respect. If anything, the Zoharists were guilty of this, and thus caused a backlash who say praying to the sefiroth as unorthodox. One such response is translated in J. David Bleich, With Perfect Faith: The Foundations of Jewish Belief (New York, Ktav, 1983). Also see the responsum Noda Bibuda on saying "Le-shem Yihud" in the prayers (Yoreh Deah 93); and "The Polemic on the Recital of Le-Shem Yihud" in Jacobs, p. 140]. Although the verse's grammatical ambiguity has been the source of wide-ranging interpretations, most often from adherents of the created-kavod idea, Ezekiel 3:12--[HEBREW TEXT OMITTED] (perhaps, Blessed is the kavod of G-D from its/His place)--is the first such example. Reacting to Maimonides' exposition of the notion of the created kavod (discussed below), Nachmanides (RambaN) provides the most cogent objection:

If one should say that it is a created glory, in accordance with
the view of the Master [Maimonides] in regard to the verse "and the
glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" and others, how can we
apply thereto 'baruch' [blessed is] and ha-mevorach [the blessed]?
Moreover, one who prays to a created glory is, as it were, an
idolater. 
                (Nachmanides, Perush ha Torah, on Genesis 46:1)

I think it would help if the author would actually state the RMb"M's words. Here they are:

"In this sense (metaphorically), this term (ie: Shaken/ to dwell) is employed in reference to G-D, that is to say, to denote the continuance of His Divine Presence (Shechinah) or of His Providence in some place where the Divine Presence manifested itself constantly, or in some object which was constantly protected by Providence. Comp. "And the Glory of the Lord Abode" (Exod xxiv.:16); "And I will dwell among the children of Israel" (Exod xxix: 45); "And for the goodwill of him that dwelt in the bush" (Deut. xxxiii:16). Whenever the term is applied to the Almighty, it must be taken consistently with the context in the sense either as referring to the Presence of His Shechinah (ie: of his light that was created for the purpose of men to behold) in a certain place, or of the continuance of his Providence protecting a certain object. " (Guide for the Perplexed, Chp 25)

Similarly the Qabbalist R. Judah Hasid remarks in a commentary on the `alenu prayer that "if, as R. Saadia contends, that He is a created Glory, we would not be able to proclaim about a created Glory, that it is our G-D." (cited in Dan, Iyyunim, 82) Although r. Saadia devotes many pages to prayer in Treatise V of Beliefs, primarily on why it may or may not be answered, he does not address this concern. (Maimonides does, below.) He of course condemns "worship of someone else than G-D," in accord with the second of the ten commandments, but does not give the words of prayer the same rigorous interpretation as he did the words of scripture. (Beliefs 219) Nor does r. Saadia address the vaguely-Gnostic problem of an intermediary between G-D and the world (cf. Philo and the logos ). To him the kavod is a messenger/angel (the same word, of course, in the Hebrew) like any other. I do not mean to suggest that r. Saadia is ignorant of the consequences of his own innovation--let us recall that he only resorted to it to support "the axle of the book". (Beliefs 93) Rather, I see r. Saadia's deliberate choice of maintaining a rigorous philosophical conception of the Divine, at the expense of the traditional, revelation-based acceptance of It, reveals something of the nature of his program and priorities in The Book of Beliefs and Opinions. [Okay... I think that here the author went overboard. He assumes that a revelation-based concept of the Kavode is the universally accepted concept that has been handed down -- when in fact -- it is nothing more then a Trinitarian remake by the New Qabalistic schools of medieval times in their weak attempt to bridge the gap between something from nothing (or between the finite to the infinite--usually with overlapping worlds leading into emanated Godheads). I feel safer following the r. Saadiah's logic (which I am sure is found in Torah) of a Created Glory--then to assume the author's unsupported premise that this was the traditional way of understanding things. And how (see below) he has the guts to state that r. Saadia's explanation as potentially Trinitarian boggles my mind-as it was exactly the opposite. R. Saadia was keenly aware of the dangers of this whole topic in terms of dividing G-D. Obviously, the first two of the ten commandments was his primary concern here. The new Qabalists are oblivious to it. But I guess this makes sense coming from the RambaN, who claims that reincarnation was actually an ancient Jewish belief when it first appeared on the Jewish scene as an Aninite (proto-Kairite) Belief.]

R. Saadia goes to great lengths to make his theological point clear, and denies even incidental holiness of the kavod. He goes out of his way to state, in a refutation of trinitarianism, that the kavod in no way becomes holy: Christians are "compelled to assume that a physical being could become G-D through the association with it of a divine element. They cite as an analogy the descent of the glory of G-D on Mount Sinai and its appearance in the Burning Bush and the Tent of Meeting. Such a comparison would, however, compel them to acknowledge the Tabernacle and the Bush and the mountain also as deities, which would be going from bad to worse so far as they are concerned." (Beliefs 110) Although the phrasing of this passage is potentially misleading, R. Saadia is here implying that the kavod-as-object is no more divine by virtue of its association with G-D than are the mountain, bush, and tabernacle in which it resides. Of course, once r. Saadia claims that the kavod is created, such terms as 'resides' are no longer problematic, and r. Saadia allows that the kavod takes several specific, physical shapes, sometimes also appearing as light. (Beliefs 121 and 177)

R. Saadia's innovation is by no means a minor one, and influences entire schools of both rationalistic and Qabalistic Jewish thought. As has been previously indicated, Maimonides adopts the idea, first giving the reader of the Guide to the Perplexed the choice of an interpretation of the term kavod ("The whole earth is full of His glory; the meaning of this verse being that the whole earth bears witness to his perfection") or r. Saadia's sense: "However, if you wish to consider that the 'glory of the Lord' is a created light that is designated 'glory' in every passage and that 'filled the tabernacle', there is no harm in it." (Maimonides 46, I:19). In typical fashion, Maimonides becomes more direct as the work progresses. The term 'shahhon,' to dwell, "is used in the sense of the permanence of his Indwelling--I mean his created light--in a place." (Maimonides 55, I:25, emphasis added) And again, soon after: Onkelos in Exodus 20 "referred the 'throne' to 'His glory', I mean to the Indwelling [shehhinah], which is a created light." (Maimonides 60, I:28) It is interesting also to note that Maimonides follows both Onkelos' rereading of the Torah and r. Saadia's rereading of the concept of the shehhinah (once more, lowercase his).

In chapter I:64 of the Guide, however, Maimonides characteristically confuses the issue, in an attempt to escape from the problem of praying to something created, anticipating Nahhmanides criticism, by declaring 'Glory' to be an equivocal term. 

The 'glory of G-D' is sometimes intended to signify the created
light that G-D causes to descend in a particular place in order to
confer honor upon it in a miraculous way...

However,

The expression is sometimes intended to signify 
His essence and true reality... as when he [Moses] says 'Show me,
I pray, Your Glory,' and was answered 'For man shall not see Me and
live.'  The answer indicates that the 'glory' spoken of here is His
essence...
'Glory' is sometimes intended to signify the honoring of Him, may
He be exalted, by all men... [even] those beings that have no
apprehension, as for instance the minerals, also as it were honor
G-D through the fact that by their very nature they are indicative
of the power and wisdom of Him who brought them into existence... 
It is in this view of the notion being named 'glory' that it is
said "The whole earth is full of His glory", this being equivalent
to the dictum, "And the earth is full of His praise," [Habbakuk
3:3] for praise is called 'glory.'
                                      (Maimonides 157)

While I think this lengthy tripartite interpretation of the term Kavod serves mainly as an excellent example of the difference between Maimonides' method and r. Saadia, it also makes clear the degree to which r. Saadia's notion was incorporated into rationalist thought and to which that stream of thought wrestled with it. While not all philosophers after r. Saadia agree with his interpretation of the kavod (a notable dissenter is Bahya ibn Pakuda, who writes in Hovot haLevavot that "it is impossible for us to conceive of him from the perspective of the essence of His Glory, may He be blessed."), Maimonides' project indicates that he at least felt it to be a necessary solution to a philosophical problem that had severe consequences for traditional religious theory and practice. [Perhaps this author should have been more properly concerned with the Zoharist-Qabalistic (idolatrous) violation of ribi reshayoth (a multiplicity of 'G-DLY' reigns) that is apparent in popular revelation-based "descending emanated level" theories --which are surely as big of a problem -- if not bigger then whether this is a prayer to a created being.  Whether it was considered "praying" also remains to be seen from the "evidence" above in my assessment.]

R. Saadia's interpretation of the kavod had an even greater influence on the development of Qabalah. [Certainly, this was not his intention]. As has been convincingly argued in Dan, Torat Ha Sod, r. Saadia's kavod becomes the root of the Bahir's postulation of three such entities, which in turn multiply into keter (the highest sefirah, the ineffable link between the 'ein sof' and the sefirotic tree), the intermediate sefirot, and the Shehhinah-as-tenth-sefirah. Scholem in Major Trends casts the history as follows:

The glory of G-D, the Kavod, i.e. that aspect of G-D which He
reveals to Man, is to the Hasidim [of medieval Germany] not the
Creator but the First creation.  The idea is derived from Saadia
whose doctrine of divine glory was intended to serve as an
explanation of the Biblical anthropomorphisms and the appearance of
G-D in the vision of the prophets....
  The importance of this conception for the religious thought of
[medieval] Hasidism is considerable.... The assertion that the
light of glory was created is, of course [!], a novelty introduced
by Saadia of which the ancient Merkabah conception of Kavod knows
nothing.  
                                   (Scholem 111-112)
[Hello... The Saadia never said anything about describing how G-D descended by levels to turn into divided sefiroth 
(which is complete idolatry. If anything, used out the Saadia's created Kavode to support something that Saadia was
trying to avoid in the first place--idol worship. I am not convinced of any of the above conjecture.]

Note that German Hasid R. Judah ha Hasid, in his "Book of the Glory" already distinguishes between an "inner glory" (kavod penimi) with no form but a voice, and a "visible glory" (kavod hahhitzon) whose forms change with the will of G-D, whose form convinces prophets that the voices they are hearing are not spurious. (cited in Scholem, 113) Scholem adds "The vision of the Kavod is expressly defined as the aim and the reward of Hasidic askesis." (Ibid.) So too does R. Nathan of Rome write in the year 1100 of "a Glory, which is above the Glory." (Cited in Verman, 22) Many interpret Proverbs 25:2--"It is the glory of G-D to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings to search out a matter"--as suggesting that the kavod either hides the true essence of G-D, or is that which is hidden; in either case, it is the kavod of Man to discover it.

The disjuncture between Saadia's kavod and the idea of the "Glory which is hidden from sight" (the 12th century Sefer Ha Iyyun, or Book of Contemplation, Verman trans., 38) form interesting rifts, outside the bounds of this paper, between those Kabbalists--primarily in Germany--who accept the created-ness of the Kavod, and those--primarily in Spain and Provence--who did not. Both views, in fact, are expressed in the Bahir, which uncharacteristically presents two conflicting parables regarding Ezekiel's "[HEBREW TEXT OMITTED]":one in which the kavod is the daughter of a far-off and invisible king, the other in which she is the invisible wife (i.e. noncontingent) of the king. In any case,Dan argues (this time contra-Scholem, although, as we have seen, not entirely) that it is in fact Saadia's doctrine of the Kavod, and not the influence of gnosticism, which sets off the chain of Qabalistic 'pleroma' in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. [What an irony that the very person who would have been in the forefront against this kind of association should be labeled as the very father of it. What a stretch. Poor Saadiah. The author makes it sound like Saadiah would have been proud. Oh boy. How does he get from A to B here?] Whatever the merits of this argument, and I think they are strong, the many positive and negative references Kabbalists make to Saadia's kavod themselves make a fairly strong case.

As revolutionary as Saadia's doctrine of the created kavod is [what a dramatitization--in my estimation] , the lasting effect it had on Jewish thought would seem to indicate its usefulness in addressing the problem of the Divine acting in or penetrating the world, which can be seen as one of the fundamental contradictions between 'the Jewish G-D' and 'the Aristotelian GoD.' What I hope to have shown is that Saadia is not merely using Aristotelian methods [as if the Greeks had a monopoly on logic. See Moreh Nevukhim for RMb"M's insistance on learning at least three sciences --including Logic -- before touching the study of Maaseh Merqavah - metaphysics] to prove traditional ideas about the former, but that he takes seriously the task of proving that the two gods are the same. Because Saadia believes in the Aristotelian God, as defined in the introduction to Treatise II, he cannot accept the revelation of that G-D Himself, which is a basic claim of the Exodus from Egypt and revelation at Sinai, as traditionally understood [Ribi reshayoth was never our tradition, although it was a Greek one]. To make his rationalist program work, Saadia thus departs from this traditional understanding, radically reinterprets Biblical accounts of revelation, and introduces a new concept that was to take on tremendous significance in subsequent Jewish thought. While I believe that categorizing Jewish thinkers according to which method and tradition of thought they seem to prefer is to a priori deny the possibility of their projects, it would certainly seem that Saadia is being a rigorous philosopher in his interpretive endeavour. Rather than claiming that Saadia's Opinions about the rationality of Jewish Beliefs as bely a less-than-thorough philosophical worldview, I hope to have shown that the exposition of at least one of those opinions shows that Saadia takes his syncretism seriously, and, when reason demands it, changing not only the tradition received from revelation but the nature of that revelation itself, in order to make his integrative philosophical project legitimately work. The author does absolutely nothing to prove this baseless assertion.  

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Back to the Ten Sefiroth:

A friend of mine writes that the TEN SEFIROTH first appear in the text of Sefir Yisirah provided by Mori Yusef Qafahh zs"l-- which contains his commentary and targum of Morenu haJaon Saadhya ban Yusef al-Fayyumi zs"l:.here is the quote in Temani pronunciation: "Bara eth olamo beshalosha sefarim: besafar wsipur ousefer. Asar sefiroth blima, asrim washtaim otiyoth, shlosh imoth, shva kepuloth, washtaim asra peshutoth": Sefer Yessira : rishon- psouq alef

This is what it says under "haPreq haRishon, haHalahha Harishona": translation: " Bara olamo bashlosha devorim: kothev oumasefar wadibour. Waham asrith hamasefarim hamughdarim". This agrees with Rabbi Yehudah HaLewi's quote directly below. Mugdar means "defined or classified" according to my dictionaries.

Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi zs'l (Author of The Kuzari - 1140 CE): "The Book of creation describes that G-D ‘CREATED’ the universe with the three s-f-r’s—s’far (calculation), sipur (instruction), and sefer (writing)—and that all three are one vis-à-vis G-D. This conglomeration gave rise to the ‘thirty-two mysterious pathways of wisdom,’ which are ‘the ten sephiroth plus the twenty-two letters of the alphabet. These are illusions to how all things came into existence and how they are bounded both quantitatively and qualitatively."

“Let us not pay any heed to the (Greek) philosophers, who make hierarchical distinctions within the Divine realm. For us, everything in that realm is simply of the Divine level, by virtue that it is completely separated from the physical. Thus, only G-D conducts the physical realm.”

R. Y. Qafahh zs’l: “our Sages of blessed memory refused to attribute to G-D any need of his creations or of their help. Nor did they attribute to the angels, His messengers, any act of creation, for all existence refers itself back to G-D alone.”

“It is essential to conclude that the world has a beginning to which no other beginning precedes, and a first to which there is no first. It is He who formed it all and brought it into existence from nothing—not from something or upon something. As it states ‘I am G-D who maketh all, who spreadeth the heavens by Myself and extendeth the land’ etc. Job said ‘He stretcheth the north upon Tohu and maketh the earth to hang upon nothing (bli mah). He is Kadmon, the first and there is no beginning to His beginning, nor is there an end to His Eternal Beginning, as it states ‘I am the first and I am the last’—‘Therefore the Men of the Great Assembly established in the tefillot: In truth, Thou art the first and Thou art the last’. “

RMb"M zs’l -- 1160 CE: “The essential commandment concerning idol worship is not to serve any of the creations, neither angels, celestial spheres and stars nor any one of the four elements and whatever has been created from them. Even if the one who serves them knows that HaShem is G-D and yet he serves this creation in the manner of the generation of Enosh, he is one who practices idol worship "  (hilhhoth – avodah zara, perek 1 &2)

RMb"M zs’l: "There is no oneness at all except in believing that there is one simple essense in which there is no complexity or multiplicity of notions, but one notion only; so that from what-ever angle you regard it and from whatever point of view you consider it, you will find that it is one, not divided in any way and by any cause into two notions" (MN 1:51)

RMb"M zs’l: "If you have understanding you will comprehend that which our sages pointed out. They have clearly stated that the Divine Chariot (the mysteries of Torah) includes matters too deep and too profound for the ordinary intellect. It has been shown that a person favored by providence with reasons to understand these mysteries is forbidden by the Law to teach them except viva voce, and on condition that the pupil possess certain qualifications, and even then only the heads of the sections may be communicated.  This has been the cause why the knowledge of this mystery has entirely disappeared from our nation and nothing has remained of it." (Rabenu Moshe - Mosheh ben Maimon - Moreh Nevuhhim - 1160 CE).

RMb"M zs’l:If you wish to go in search of truth, to cast aside your passions, your tradition, and your fondness of things you have been accustomed to cherish, if you wish to guard yourself against error; then consider consider the fate of these speculators and the result of their labors: observe how they rushed, as it were, from the ashes into the fire. They denied the nature of the existing things, misrepresented the properties of heaven and earth, and thought that they were able, by their propositions, to prove the creation of the world, but in fact they were far from proving creation ex nihilo, and have weakened the arguments for the existence, the unity, and the incorporeality of God. The proofs of all these doctrines must be based on the permanent nature of the existing things, as perceived by the senses and the intellect.” (MN I:76)

Milhamoth HaShem: "His Oneness: that is to know that the Cause of all is One - not as the one of a general species, such as ‘mankind’ which includes many persons; and not as the one of a specific kind, such as ‘one man’ - for you include with him 248 limbs; not as the one which is combined and can be divided into many ones; and not as a simple ‘body’ (entity) which is one in number yet may receive an infinite number of divisions. For each ‘one’ of these is called ‘one’ in a transitional sense only, because those things which have been ‘gathered together’ under one name are equal in one aspect but it is not one in the true sense. The true One, in fact, is uniquely the Oneness of the Creator, Blessed is He, of which there is no like in any way. This is the word of G-D as it states ‘Hear o Israel, the Lord, our God, G-D is One’ -

MORE RMb"M REFERENCES:

One does not expound upon forbidden sexual relations in the presence of three, nor upon Ma’aseh Bereshith in the presence of two, nor upon the merkavah in the presence of one, unless that one were wise and understood upon his own. All who look upon four things, it was better had they not come into the world: what is above, what is below what is in front, and what is behind. All who are not protective of the honor of their master, it were better had they not come into the world.  

He said that is forbidden to expound upon the “secrets of forbidden sexual relations” unless those listening be fewer than three, the reason for this being that were one of them to engage the teacher in discussion, the other two could engage in discussion between themselves, lost their concentration on what the teacher taught and thus not know the correct law concerning the secrets of forbidden sexual relations. Given the great desire most humans have for this matter, they will not be sufficiently rigorous if a doubt should arise concerning what they heard from the teacher and they will decide the matter leniently.  

He said, “nor upon ma’asseh bereshit in the presence of two and certainly not if they be more. They said: “for ask now of the days past [which were before the, since the day that G-D created man upon the earth and from one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it (Deut 4:32)—one asks, two do not ask. We have already explained the reason for this in our introduction to this composition. IT is that it is impossible for the masses to understand those matters, and they are therefore only transmitted from one individual to another with great care, for the masses understand very little of them. When a fool hears them, his conviction becomes undermined and he thinks that they contradict the truth, they are [themselves) the truth.  

But one does not expound upon ma’aseh merkavah at all, even to one individual unless he is, as it was said, wise and understood upon his own –that he arouses himself to understand these matters on his own and does not need to have them explained to him. Rather he is given a hint, and he draws proper inferences on his own. This is the meaning of their statement, “they teach him chapter headings” [Hagigah 13a], by which they mean that these matters include issues which are impressed upon the souls of perfected human beings, such that when they are explained in language or expressed in parables they lose their meaning and significance. 

Listen to what has become clear to me according to my understanding on the basis of which I have studied in the words of the Sages: it is that they call ma’aseh bereshit the natural science and inquiry into the beginning of creation. By ma’aseh merkavah they mean the divine science, it being speech on the generality of existence and on the existence of the Creator, His knowledge, His attributes, that all created things must necessarily have come from Him, the angels, the soul, the intellect which links with humans and existence after death. Because of the importance of these two sciences, the natural and the divine—they were justly considered important—they warned against teaching them as the mathematical sciences are taught. It is known that each person by nature desires all the sciences, whether he be an ignoramus or a sage. It is further known that is is impossible for a person to begin the study of these sciences and direct his thought towards them, without the appropriate premises and without entering the stages of science, they there ore forbade this and warned against it. They sought to frighten one who directed his thought towards “the account of the beginning”  without appropriate premises as he said “all who look upon four things…” They also sought to restrain one who would direct his thought towards and would examine divine matters with his unaided imagination without ascending the rungs of the sciences and said with reference to such people-- “all who are not protective of the honor of their master [it were better had they not come into the word”].

It were better had they not come into the world—its meaning is that such a person is removed from the ranks of humanity, and classifying him on one of the other species of animal would be better for existence. Than his being a human because he wants to know something in an inappropriate manner and in a way that is unsuited to his nature, for only a person ignorant 9of the nature of existanec would seek to imagine what is above or what is below. When a man empty of all knowledge seeks to use his corrupt imagination in order to know what is above the heavens and below the earth, and imagines reaching them to be like ascending to the attic of a house and also to know what was before the creation of the heavens and what will be after they are no longer, he will certainly be brought to madness and desolation.

Examine this wonderful expression said with diving help, “all who are not proctective of the honor of their master,” the meaning of this being, all who are not protective of their intellects, for the intellect is the honor of G-D (kevod haSHem). Since he does not know the value of this matter which was given him, he is abandoned into the hands of his desires, and becomes like an animal. Thus they said “who is he who is not protective of the honor of his master?—he who transgresses secretly” (Hagigah 16a; Kiddushin 40a). They said elsewhere, “adulterers do not commit adultery until the spirit of madness enters them (Midrash Tanhuma, Naso 5).”  This is the truth, for while one craves any of the desires, the intellect is not perfected.

This matter is brought up here since above he said “these are the bodies of Torah,” and thus here he cited matters which are the principles of the “bodies of Torah.” The Talmud forbade teaching them publicly and expressly prohibited it and commanded that an individual teach them to himself and not pass the on to another and derived this prohibition from the parabolic statement of Solomon on this matter , “honey and milk are under they tongue.”

Maaseh Bereshith= physics  / Maaseh Merkavah = metaphysics

Sefer Yesirah: Chapter Three: Ten Sefirot out of nothing. Stop your mouth from speaking, stop your heart from thinking, and if your heart runs (to think) return to a place of which it is said "they ran and returned"; and concerning this thing the covenant was made; and they are ten in extent beyond limit. Their end is infused with their beginning, and their beginning with their end like a flame attached to a glowing ember. Know, think [reflect, meditate] and imagine that the Creator is One and there is nothing apart from Him, and before One what do you count?

Camilla Site references:  (although I do not subscribe to many of the views on this site): The original textual usage of the expression ‘Ten Spherot’ may be assumed to be Sefer ha-Yetzirah with the expression ‘esser sfirot bli ma’ Ten Spherot without substance; and blima is written together so as to include the interpretation ‘blom picha mi-ledaber’ seal your mouth from speaking of it. That which is without substance cannot be spoken of or expressed in words except negatively to say that the matter is without a substance about which one can or may speak and because it is so it therefore becomes an obligation to seal your mouth from speaking because speech will represent substance and thus your words will only falsify the true contents relating them as a substance. 

It was the non-compliance concerning said interdiction that allowed for the collosal error to take place.Moses de Leon didn’t treat the Ten Spherot as if they had no substance and he opened his pen to substantialise them. He ‘converted them into substance’ and to cover over the contradiction of their not having substance, he ‘elevated’ them to the falsified-non-substance of Emanation linguistics. ‘Atzilut’ ‘emanation’ was for him above all substance because it was before creation and above creation. He had ‘elevated’ the level to the nihilo before the creatio. What substance could you find in the ‘ain (nothing) before the ‘yesh’ (substance)? To understand that the expression Ten Spherot of itself is representative of a ‘true hidden-matter’ but that the falsification of such a term brought about the immense confusion is illuminating to all those who desire to comprehend why all this has happened.

2 points -- The idolatrous-sin of the Zohar and after it of all the false Qabalah that issued in the 400 years before the Holocaust is itself called the ‘sin of emanation’. The doctrine of ‘emanation’ is itself an idolatrous doctrine which is against the true faith of the Holy Torah. The second point is that the doctrine of Emanation is in direct opposition to the all-essential beginning of the Torah ‘bereishit bara Elohim et ha-shamaim ve-et ha-aretz’ (In the beginning G-D created the heavens and the earth). The Torah has been given us in the linguistics of ‘creation’ with the obligation to remain within that boundary. The emanation-linguistics of the Zohar distroys the ‘beit’ of bereishit.

The fact of the mentioning of the Ten Spherot in that book called Sefer Yetzirah, falsely attributed to Abraham, our father, can be properly simplified for our purpose here. They are part of ‘secrets’ revealed to the true Hidden Tzadikim. There is no permission to explore or study or interpret or write about them etc. etc. They exist as many other true ‘secrets’ that exist. There exist 7 heavens. Can you climb to enter them? Absolutely no, unless one is authorized by his teacher who is one of the Hidden Tzadikim.

These are references to the (remnants of our) true Qabalah --which we have received from Moses, our teacher and from Abraham, our father, that the Oneness of G-D is unlike any other category of ‘one’ and that His Oneness stands eternally and it will never change."

Site Admin.'s personal comments
It is my wish to see the Jewish people return to their original faith. One need not be a purist to desire this. It has to do with intellectual honesty and loyalty to the original beliefs of our fathers-- and to HaShem (G-D) Himself... I have to believe that the long awaited return to the original faith will happen... and that it will pave the way for the ultimate redemption with the coming of the Messiah. Then brothers and sisters everywhere will peacefully thirst for the understanding that HaShem alone reigns as ONE in the universe. 

OTHER RESOURCES:

Is Zohar authentic? Conclusion...

Pretending it (or some of it) was...even r. Aryeh Kaplin says: "Since the 'Qabalah' is essentially based on 'Divine Inspiration', its decisions are not legally binding, and therefore such customs are no more obligatory than any other proper custom. Hence, when Qabalistic customs are in conflict with laws based on the Talmudic authorities, the latter must be followed" (Many Talmudic sources sited for this in the "Handbook of Jewish Thought", r. Kaplin)

It has since become accepted knowledge that the legend (of how the Zohar was discovered) was merely legend. Says Encyclopedia Judaica: "The Zohar with its various strata was without doubt composed in the years that immediately preceded its publication, since it is impossible to uncover any section that was written before 1270" (1209). The actual author of this work was the Spanish Qabalist Moses b. Shem Tov de Leon, and it is believed that Simon Bar Yohai was simply a pen name taken by Leon in order to make a pretension of antiquity. 

Many of the Qabalistic scholars (some from universities / or Encyclopedias) totally ignore the r. Yihhyeh's take on this subject. As if it didn't really merit a mention. I think people are just down right racist (they despise Yemenite Jews?) not to mention it. No one denies the merkavah tradition in Judaism that was mentioned by Morenu Moshe. The question revolves around what that was/is. And one of only a handful of ravs with the guts and intellectual tenacity to vigorously argue against the Zohar (as not being Merkavah or even basic Judaism) in a specific, dogmatic, content-based fashion was rav Yihhyeh zs"l. It should be mentioned that one of the heads of Italian Jewry ("Shadol") also explored this territory. Anyone saying that these works have been disproved since then is in outer space --with all due respect.

It astounds the mind that Mori Yihhyeh's rigorous arguments are being totally left out of the history books. Not to mention the fact that he pleaded with the Zoharists to reconsider before publishing anything.  He took the Zohar at face value and then dogmatically argued from there (against it) based on the RMb"M--and other commentators who wrote of the importance of maintaining the purity and oneness of G-D. He used Judaism to show that it is not Judaism. I think that deserves at least a mention--as I will do below.

The establishment does not always care about accuracy, instead favoring the status quo.  This is common in all areas of study, but is prevalent in those areas where controversy is highly probable.  The Spanish-Portugese reaction to the Zohar in the wake of the Sabbetaean heresy is glossed over as well, although not to the same extent as the Rav Yihhyeh Qafah (and a large portion of the Temani community in general).  It may be easy for some to ignore the intellectual prowess of Italian or Spanish-Portugese Jews and claim that their rejection of the Zohar was "reactionary or naive" (which I totally reject).  It is not easy, however, to provide any counter to Rav Yihhyeh Kafah's specific dogmatic arguments, since they are too logically founded and without external circumstances to pin the blame on.  When the blame cannot be shifted, a group will attempt to absolve itself of error by simply ignoring the problem or blackballing its critics as heretics or kofers.  Another thing we have to understand is that popular Qabalah (ie: Zohar based mysticism) equates to a money making enterprise. Why would people who pervert Yahaduth for money wish to admit to the existence of something which would undermine all they have to gain? This is a conflict of interest. Reform Jewry rejects the Divine nature of the Torah directly. Conservative Jewry is leaning more to the left each day, and the majority of Orthodoxy resists any change whatsoever. It would be nice if we could free ourselves from fiction in order to return to a more pristine Yahaduth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  NOT FROM SITE ADMIN

RMb"M & Qabalah
In 1201 (3 years before he passed away), the RMb"M was asked (by. R. Saadia B. R. Berachot) his opinion of the work, Shiur Komah (a classic of Qabalah dealing in heavily anthropomorphic language with G-d's "limbs," so to speak). The RMb"M replied: "I have never held the opinion that this is from the [Talmudic] sages. [editor's note: In his youth, the RMb"M held that this sefer was a a holy work with an allegorical-philosophical commentary, and he mentioned it in his introduction to Cheilek, Seventh Foundation, p. 142; but he never attributed it to the sages, apparently having an indication that it was a late work. Later he erased this early mention from his manuscripts...] And heaven forbid that it should come from them. Rather, it is a work from one of the commentators of Edom [i.e., a Christian], and nothing else. In short, it is a great mitzwah to wipe out this writing and destroy the memory of its content--'and do not mention the name of other gods' etc. For a description of 'limbs' can only refer to other gods, without any doubt (Igrot HaRMb"M, vol. II, p. 578).. Similar anthropomorphical descriptions are present--abound--in the Zohar.

COMMENT: Some have noted that other places of the Tanakh have also mentioned limbs. This point is well taken. But defining what limbs are is necessary.

So we see that in his youth the RMb"M thought highly of a Qabalistic text, and it was in his old age that he had a totally dismissive attitude toward it! Incidentally, in regard to the RMb"M and mysticism, I recall seeing a quote from the writing of the RMb"M's son R Avraham, in which--as nasi--he tried (unsuccessfully) to introduce a Sufi-type practice into synagogue prayer. And also, the RMb"M's great-grandson (or possibly grandson--I forget) wrote a work that in fact became a classic of of Sufi literature, and has been translated into English as "The Treatise of the Pool." (He remained a pious Jew--see the fascinating introduction to the book.)

COMMENTS:

I'm very much aware of the RMb"M's Teshuva on Shiur Koma not to mention the fact that Rabbi Qafahh wrote an article about this topic, revolving around a manuscript from Yemen that dealt with this issue. The article originally appeared in a book called "Yahadut Teiman" edited by Josef Tobi. This article was later included in one of the volumes of Ketavim (probably volume 2). It should be said though that the issues with Shiu'ur Koma are far more egregious than the issues that the Zohar has.

Rabbeinu Avraham ben HaRMb"M was a big proponent of the custom of "Kiddush Yadayim VeRaglaim" washing of hands and feet prior to prayer. He could not however convince the entire community to hop on board and spread of this custom, thus did not succeed. If I remember correctly,  Rabbi Qafahh strongly attacks the academics who posited that this was a Moslem custom that he was pushing and that he was a closet Sufi. It is indeed possible that he was  more mystical. Water was a major focus in his mysticsm  as in the metephor likening the Torah to Mayim. The son although an important Rabbi, certainly did not live up to the reputation and greatness of his father.

The Grandson, Ovadia, named after the RMb"M's Grandfather or earliest ancestor that the family could document (if my memory serves me correctly - See intro to Peirush HaMishnah) did indeed write a mystical work. I am unfamiliar with this work, but I believe that it was translated into English a number of years ago?

The Aramaic used in the Zohar, Scholem argues, is based on the Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud and, primarily, Targum Onkelos- texts which someone writing at a later time would have in their library, but not exactly the same Aramaic of Shimon bar Yochai's time. Furthermore, distinctive Arabic phrases and jargon used popularly in philosophical works of the middle ages, are found in the Aramaic of the Zohar, but are certainly not of Shimon bar Yochai's time. The Aramaic is also very poor (sometimes just Hebrew words with alephs tagged on at the end), with the Zohar's author very confused between certain verb constructions- not something expected from the Tanna!

After researching the most ancient extant manuscripts of other works of Moshe de Leon, traditionally the revealer of the Zohar, Scholem discovered the very same nuances, the very same confusion between verb constructions. There are also reports of the time in which de Leon's widow admits that her late husband never had any ancient text and that he wrote the Zohar himself, in the name of the Tanna, in order to make more money.

Scholarly analysis from Jewish Encyclopedia:

Source.

A pseudepigraphic work which pretends to be a revelation from God communicated through R. Simeon ben Yoḥai to the latter's select disciples. Under the form of a commentary on the Pentateuch, written partly in Aramaic and partly in Hebrew, it contains a complete cabalistic theosophy, treating of the nature of God, the cosmogony and cosmology of the universe, the soul, sin, redemption, good, evil, etc. It first appeared in Spain in the thirteenth century, being made known through the agency of the cabalistic writer Moses ben Shem-Ṭob de Leon, who ascribed it to the miracle-working tanna Simeon ben Yoḥai. The fact that it was launched by such an unreliable sponsor as Moses de Leon, taken together with the circumstance that it refers to historical events of the post-Talmudical period, caused the authenticity of the work to be questioned from the outset. After the death of Moses de Leon, it is related, a rich man of Avila, named Joseph, offered the widow, who had been left without means, a large sum of money for the original from which her husband had made the copy; and she then confessed that her husband himselfwas the author of the work. She had asked him several times, she said, why he had chosen to credit his own teachings to another, and he had always answered that doctrines put into the mouth of the miracle-working Simeon ben Yoḥai would be a rich source of profit (see "Sefer ha-Yuḥasin," ed. Filipowski, p. 89). Incredible as this story seems—for it is inconceivable that a woman should own that her deceased husband had committed forgery for the sake of lucre—it at least proves that shortly after its appearance the work was believed by some to have been written entirely by Moses de Leon. This seems to have been the opinion of the cabalistic writer Joseph ibn Waḳar, and he cautioned the public against the work, which he asserted to be full of errors.

Authenticity.

The general opinion, however, was in favor of its authenticity, this view being held not only by the cabalists, for whom the book opened new paths in the field of mysticism, but also by eminent Talmudists. It was quoted by Todros Abulafia, by Menahem Recanati, and even by Isaac of Acco, in whose name the story of the confession of Moses de Leon's widow is related. Isaac evidently ignored the woman's alleged confession in favor of the testimony of Joseph ben Todros and of Jacob, a pupil of Moses de Leon, both of whom assured him on oath that the work was not written by Moses ("Sefer ha-Yuḥasin," l.c.). The only objection worthy of consideration by the believers in the authenticity of the Zohar was the lack of references to the work in Jewish literature; and to this they answered that Simeon ben Yoḥai did not commit his teachings to writing, but transmitted them orally to his disciples, who in turn confided them to their disciples, and these to their successors, until finally the doctrines were embodied in the Zohar. As to the references in the book to historical events of the post-Talmudic period, it was not deemed surprising that Simeon ben Yoḥai should have foretold future happenings. The first attack upon the accepted authorship of the Zohar was made by Elijah Delmedigo. Without expressing any opinion as to the real author of the work, he endeavored to show, in his "Beḥinat ha-Dat," that it could not be attributed to Simeon ben Yoḥai. The objections advanced by him were as follows: (1) were the Zohar the work of Simeon ben Yoḥai, it would have been mentioned by the Talmud, as has been the case with the Sifre and other works of the Talmudic period; (2) the Zohar contains names of Talmudists who lived at a later period than that of Simeon; (3) were Simeon ben Yoḥai the father of the Cabala, knowing by divine revelation the hidden meaning of the precepts, his halakic decisions would have been adopted by the Talmud; but this has not been done; (4) were the Cabala a revealed doctrine, there would have been no divergence of opinion among the cabalists concerning the mystic interpretation of the precepts ("Beḥinat ha-Dat," ed. Vienna, 1833, p. 43).

These arguments and others of the same kind were used by Leon of Modena in his "Ari Nohem" (pp. 49 et seq., Leipsic, 1840). A work exclusively devoted to the criticism of the Zohar was written, under the title "Miṭpaḥat Sefarim," by Jacob Emden, who, waging war against the remaining adherents of the Shabbethai Ẓebi movement, endeavored to show that the book on which the pseudo-Messiah based his doctrines was a forgery. Emden demonstrates that the Zohar misquotes passages of Scripture; misunderstands the Talmud; contains some ritual observances which were ordained by later rabbinical authorities; mentions the crusades against the Mohammedans (ii. 32a); uses the expression "esnoga" (iii. 232b), which is a Portuguese corruption of "synagogue," and explains it in a cabalistic manner as a compound of the Hebrew words and ; gives a mystical explanation of the Hebrew vowel-points, which were introduced long after the Talmudic period (i. 24b, ii. 116a, iii. 65a).

Moses de Leon Not the Author.

These and other objections of Emden's, which were largely borrowed from the French ecclesiastic Jean Morin ("Exercitationes Biblicæ," pp. 359 et seq., Paris, 1669), were refuted by Moses ben Menahem Kunitz, who, in a work entitled "Ben Yoḥai" (Budapest, 1815), endeavors to show the following characteristics: that the vowel-points were known in Talmudic times; that the rites which Emden claimed to have been ordained by later rabbinical authorities were already known to the Talmud; and that Simeon ben Yoḥai, who before taking refuge in the cave was designated only by the name of Simeon, is credited in the Talmud with many miracles and mystic sayings. Another work in favor of the antiquity of the Zohar was published by David Luria under the title "Ḳadmut ha-Zohar" (Königsberg, 1855 [?]). It is divided into five chapters, in which the author gives proofs that Moses de Leon did not compile the Zohar; that the Geonim in Babylonia cite cabalistic doctrines from a certain "Midrash Yerushalmi," the language of which strongly resembles that of the Zohar; that the work was compiled before the completion of the Talmud; that a great part of it was written in the period of Simeon ben Yoḥai; and, finally, that the Aramaic language was used in Talmudic times as well as in the geonic period. Of these proofs only those showing the inadmissibility of the authorship of Moses de Leon deserve consideration, the others being mere quibbles; for even if it be conceded that the Talmud knew of the vowel-points and that the Aramaic was commonly used, there is no evidence whatever that Simeon ben Yoḥai or his immediate disciples were connected with the Zohar. As to the identification of the Zohar with the so-called "Midrash Yerushalmi," the single fact that most of the passages quoted are not found in the Zohar, as Luria himself admits, is a sufficient proof that the two works can not be identical. However, Luria has quite as much warrant for asserting, on the ground of his proofs, that a great part of the Zohar was written by Simeon ben Yoḥai as have Jellinek, Grätz, Ginsburg, and many others for maintaining that it was wholly composed by Moses de Leon on the ground that in the works of the last-named there are passages which are found verbatim in the Zohar. These scholars seem to shrink from the idea that Moses de Leon should have been guilty of plagiarism, but they are notafraid to charge him with forgery, and that of so clumsy a nature as to arouse at once the suspicions of the reader. For Moses de Leon could not have supposed for a moment that the insertion in the middle of an Aramaic sentence of two verses from Ibn Gabirol's "Keter Malkut" (which, being recited in the synagogues, were known to every Jew) could have escaped detection; nor could he have thought that a quotation from the Cuzari, which was so much read and commented upon at that time, would pass unperceived by his contemporaries.

Not the Work of a Single Author or Period.

Had Moses de Leon, who was a talented writer and an able scholar, wished for mercenary purposes to forge a work in the name of Simeon ben Yoḥai, he would have been more careful in his statements and would certainly have employed the Hebrew language, first, because the tanna would have written in that language, and, second, because a work in Hebrew, being easier to understand, would have gained a far wider circle of readers, and consequently a larger number of purchasers, than would one written in a peculiar Aramaic dialect that was accessible to only a few. Were the pseudepigraphic "Sefer Yeẓirah," "Pirḳe de-Rabbi Eli'ezer," "Sefer Hekalot," "Sefer ha-Bahir," etc., any the less believed to be the works of those to whom they were attributed simply because they were written in plain Hebrew and not in Aramaic? But apart from all these considerations, the contents of the Zohar clearly indicate that the work is the production not of a single author or of a single period, but of many authors, periods, and civilizations; for it combines the most puzzling incongruities and irreconcilable contradictions with lofty ideas and conceptions which would do honor to a genius of modern times, and also mystic teachings of the Talmudic period with those of the Geonim and later Cabala. To determine the country in which the work originated and the time at which its teachings began to develop, it is necessary to ascertain where and when the Jews became intimately acquainted with the Hindu philosophy, which more than any other exercised an influence on the Zohar. As an instance of Hindu teachings in the Zohar may be quoted the following passage:(Zohar, iii. 9b).

"In the book of Hamnuna the Elder we learn through some extended explanations that the earth turns upon itself in the form of a circle; that some are on top, the others below; that all creatures change in aspect, following the manner of each place, but keeping in the same position. But there are some countries on the earth which are lighted while others are in darkness; and there are countries in which there is constantly day or in which at least the night continues only some instants. . . . These secrets were made known to the men of the secret science, but not to the geographers"

The Germ Probably in Persia.

The theory that the earth is a sphere revolving on its own axis, which immortalized Copernicus, was previously known only to the Hindus, who were instructed in the truth of it by Aryabhatta in the first century before the common era. As far as is known, the Vedanta school of the Hindu philosophers found nowhere, outside of its place of origin, so many admirers as in Persia in the eighth century. Under its influence the Mohammedans of Persia founded many mystic sects, among them being that of the Sufis, who for many centuries were very numerous. This mystic movement did not fail to exercise an influence upon the Persian Jews, and there arose among them various sects, such as the 'Isawites, the Yudghanites, etc., the tenets of which, so far as can be ascertained from the scanty information concerning them that is available, bore more or less the stamp of the Vedanta philosophy. Thus the Yudghanites abstained from meat, led ascetic lives, set aside the literal meaning of the Torah for a supposed mystic interpretation, and believed in metempsychosis, etc. All these sects had their sacred writings, which they kept secret; and these writings probably formed the nucleus of the Zohar, which is a mystic commentary on the Pentateuch, as the upanishads are the mystic interpretation of the Vedas and other Brahmanic scriptures. In its peregrinations from Persia to Spain the Zohar probably received many additions and interpolations, among which may have been the various names of the Tannaim and Amoraim, as well as the allusions to historical events.

Appendixes.

The Zohar is not considered complete without the addition of certain appendixes, which are attributed either to the same author or to some of his immediate disciples. These supplementary portions are printed as part of the text with separate titles, or in separate columns. They are as follows: "Sifra di-Ẓeni'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.; "Idra Rabbah," in which the teachings of the preceding portion are enlarged upon and developed; and "Idra Zuṭa," giving a résumé of the two preceding sections. The characteristic features of these portions are the absence of the doctrine of the En Sof, and the use of the appellation "Ẓaddiḳ" for the ninth Sefirah, which show that these writings are of an earlier period. To the larger appendixes are added the following fragments: "Raze de Razin," dealing with the physiognomy of the Cabala and the connection of the soul with the body; "Sefer Hekalot," describing the seven heavenly halls, paradise, and hell; Ra'ya Mehemna," giving a conversation between Moses, the prophet Elijah, and Simeon ben Yoḥai on the allegorical import of the Mosaic commandments and prohibitions, as well as of the rabbinical injunctions; "Sitre Torah," on various cabalistic topics; "Midrash ha-Ne'elam," explaining passages of Scripture mystically by way of "remazim" and gemaṭria; "Saba," containing a conversation between the prophet Elijah and Simeon ben Yoḥai about the doctrine of metempsychosis; "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); "Tosefta" and "Matnitin," in which are sketched the doctrines of the Sefirot, the emanation of the primordial light, etc. Besides the Zohar proper, there are also a "Zohar Ḥadash," on Canticles, and "Tiḳḳunum," both new and old, which bear a close resemblance to the original work.The Zohar repeatedly endeavors to impress upon the mind of the reader that the Biblical narratives and ordinances contain higher truths in addition to the literal meaning.

Mysticism of the Zohar.(Zohar, iii. 152).

"Wo unto the man," says Simeon ben Yoḥai, "who asserts that this Torah intends to relate only commonplace things and secular narratives; for if this were so, then in the present times likewise a Torah might be written with more attractive narratives. In truth, however, the matter is thus: The upper world and the lower are established upon one and the same principle; in the lower world is Israel, in the upper world are the angels. When the angels wish to descend to the lower world, they have to don earthly garments. It this be true of the angels, how much more so of the Torah, for whose sake, indeed, the world and the angels were alike created and exist. The world could simply not have endured to look upon it. Now the narratives of the Torah are its garments. He who thinks that these garments are the Torah itself deserves to perish and have no share in the world to come. Wo unto the fools who look no further when they see an elegant robe! More valuable than the garment is the body which carries it, and more valuable even than that is the soul which animates the body. Fools see only the garment of the Torah, the more intelligent see the body, the wise see the soul, its proper being; and in the Messianic time the 'upper soul' of the Torah will stand revealed"

"The man," it is said in the "Sifra di Ẓeni'uta," "who is not acquainted with this book is like the savage barbarian who was a stranger to the usages of civilized life. He sowed wheat, but was accustomed to partake of it only in its natural condition. One day this barbarian came into a city, and good bread was placed before him. Finding it very palatable, he inquired of what material it was made, and was informed that it was made of wheat. Afterward one offered to him a fine cake kneaded in oil. He tasted it, and again asked: 'And this, of what is it made?' and he received the same answer, of wheat. Finally, one placed before him the royal pastry, kneaded with oil and honey. He again asked the same question, to which he obtained a like reply. Then he said: 'At my house I am in possession of all these things. I partake daily of them in root, and cultivate the wheat from which they are made.' In this crudeness he remained a stranger to the delights one draws from the wheat, and the pleasures were lost to him. It is the same with those who stop at the general principles of knowledge because they are ignorant of the delights which one may derive from the further investigation and application of these principles."

"PaRDeS."

The Zohar assumes four kinds of Biblical exegesis: "Peshaṭ" (literal meaning), "Remez" (allusion), "Derash" (anagogical), and "Sod" (mystic). The initial letters of the words "Peshaṭ," "Remez," "Derash," and "Sod" form together the word "PaRDeS" (Paradise), which became the designation for the fourfold meaning of which the mystical sense is the highest part. The mystic allegorism is based by the Zohar on the principle that all visible things, the phenomena of nature included, have besides their exoteric reality an esoteric reality also, destined to instruct man in that which is invisible. This principle is the necessary corollary of the fundamental doctrine of the Zohar. The universe being, according to that doctrine, a gradation of emanations, it follows that the human mind may recognize in each effect the supreme mark, and thus ascend to the cause of all causes. This ascension, however, can only be made gradually, after the mind has attained four various stages of knowledge; namely: (1) the knowledge of the exterior aspect of things, or, as the Zohar calls it (ii. 36b), "the vision through the mirror that projects an indirect light"; (2) the knowledge of the essence of things, or "the vision through the mirror that projects a direct light"; (3) the knowledge through intuitive representation; and (4) the knowledge through love, since the Law reveals its secrets to those only who love it (ii. 99b).

After the knowledge through love comes the ecstatic state which is applied to the most holy visions. To enter the state of ecstasy one had to remain motionless, with the hand between the knees, absorbed in contemplation and murmuring prayers and hymns. There were seven ecstatic stages, each of which was marked by a vision of a different color. At each new stage the contemplative entered a heavenly hall ("hekal") of a different hue, until he reached the seventh, which was colorless, and the appearance of which marked both the end of his contemplation and his lapse into unconsciousness. The Zohar gives the following illustration of an ecstatic state:

"Once," says R. Simeon ben Yoḥai, "I was plunged in a contemplative ecstasy, and I beheld a sublime ray of a brilliant light which illumined 325 circles, and amid which something dark was bathing. Then the dark point, becoming bright, began to float toward the deep and sublime sea, where all the splendors were gathering. I then asked the meaning of this vision, and I was answered that it represented the forgiveness of sins."

Spread of the Zohar.

The Zohar spread among the Jews with remarkable celerity. Scarcely fifty years had passed since its appearance in Spain before it was quoted by many cabalists, among whom was the Italian mystical writer Menahem Recanati. Its authority was so well established in Spain in the fifteenth century that Joseph ibn Shem-Ṭob drew from it arguments in his attacks against Maimonides. It exercised so great a charm upon the cabalists that they could not believe for an instant that such a book could have been written by any mortal unless he had been inspired from above; and this being the case, it was to be placed on the same level with the Bible. Even representatives of Talmudic Judaism began to regard it as a sacred book and to invoke its authority in the decision of some ritual questions. They were attracted by its glorification of man, its doctrine of immortality, and its ethical principles, which are more in keeping with the spirit of Talmudical Judaism than are those taught by the philosophers. While Maimonides and his followers regarded man as a fragment of the universe whose immortality is dependent upon the degree of development of his active intellect, the Zohar declared him to be the lord of the creation, whose immortality is solely dependent upon his morality. Indeed, according to the Zohar, the moral perfection of man influences the ideal world of the Sefirot; for although the Sefirot expect everything from the En Sof, the En Sof itself is dependent upon man: he alone can bring about the divine effusion. The dew that vivifies the universe flows from the just. By the practise of virtue and by moral perfection man may increase the outpouring of heavenly grace. Even physical life is subservient to virtue. This, says the Zohar, is indicated in the words "for the Lord God had not caused it to rain" (Gen. ii. 5), which mean that there had not yet been beneficent action in heaven because man had not yet given the impulsion.

Ethical System.

These and similar teachings appealed to the Talmudists and made them overlook the Zohar's disparitiesand contrasts and its veiled hostility to the Talmud. The influences of the Zohar on Judaism were both beneficial and deleterious. On the one hand, the Zohar was praiseworthy because it opposed formalism, stimulated the imagination and feelings, and restored prayer (which had gradually become a mere external religious exercise) to the position it had occupied for centuries among the Jews as a means of transcending earthly affairs for a time and placing oneself in union with God; and on the other hand, it was to be censured because it propagated many superstitious beliefs, and produced a host of mystical dreamers, whose over-heated imaginations peopled the world with spirits, demons, and all kinds of good and bad influences. Its mystic mode of explaining some commandments was applied by its commentators to all religious observances, and produced a strong tendency to substitute a mystic Judaism for the rabbinical cult. Thus the Sabbath, with all its ceremonies, began to be looked upon as the embodiment of the Divinity in temporal life, and every ceremony performed on that day was considered to have an influence upon the superior world. Zoharic elements even crept into the liturgy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the religious poets not only used in their compositions the allegorism and symbolism of the Zohar, but even adopted its style, the characteristic features of which were the representation of the highest thoughts by human emblems and human passions, and the use of erotic terminology to illustrate the relations between man and God, religion being identical with love. Thus, in the language of many Jewish poets the beloved one's curls indicate the mysteries of the Deity; sensuous pleasures, and especially intoxication, typify the highest degree of divine love as ecstatic contemplation; while the wine-room represents merely the state through which the human qualities merge or are exalted into those of the Deity.

Influence on Christian Mysticism.

The enthusiasm felt for the Zohar was shared by many Christian scholars, such as Pico de Mirandola, Reuchlin, Ægidius of Viterbo, etc., all of whom believed that the book contained proofs of the truth of Christianity. They were led to this belief by the analogies existing between some of the teachings of the Zohar and certain of the Christian dogmas, as for instance the fall and redemption of man, and the dogma of the Trinity, which is expressed in the Zohar in the following terms: "The Ancient of Days has three heads. He reveals himself in three archetypes, all three forming but one. He is thus symbolized by the number Three. They are revealed in one another. [These are:] first, secret, hidden 'Wisdom'; above that the Holy Ancient One; and above Him the Unknowable One. None knows what He contains; He is above all conception. He is therefore called for man 'Non-Existing' ["'Ayin"]" (Zohar, iii. 288b). This and also the other doctrines of Christian tendency that are found in the Zohar are now known to be much older than Christianity; but the Christian scholars who were deluded by the similarity of these teachings to certain Christian dogmas deemed it their duty to propagate the Zohar. Shortly after the publication of the work (Mantua and Cremona, 1558) Joseph de Voisin translated extracts from it which deal with the soul. He was followed by many others, among whom was Knorr, Baron von Rosenroth, who rendered into Latin the introduction, the "Sifra di-Ẓeni'uta," the "Idra Rabbah," and the "Idra Zuṭa" ("Kabbala Denudata," Sulzbach, 1677).

The disastrous effects of the Shabbethai Ẓebi movement, which was greatly fostered by the obnoxious influences of the Zohar, damped the enthusiasm that had been felt for the book, and the representatives of Talmudic Judaism began to look upon it with suspicion. Especially was this the case when the Shabbethaian movement had degenerated into religious mysticism and had produced the anti-Talmudic sectaries who styled themselves "Zoharites," and who, under the leadership of Jacob Frank, finished by embracing Christianity. However, the Zohar is still held in great reverence by many Orthodox Jews, especially the Ḥasidim, who, under its influence, assign the first place in religion not to dogma and ritual, but to the sentiment and the emotion of faith.

Commentaries.

Among the numerous commentaries written on the Zohar the most important are: "Torat Emet," containing corrections and explanations of words for the section on Genesis, by David ben Abraham Shema`riah (Salonica, 1604); "Yesh Sakar," on the religious prescriptions of the Zohar, by J. Bär ben Petahiah, who published also "Meḳor Ḥokmah" and "Imre Binah," on the foreign words in the Zohar (Prague, 1610, 1611); "Yesha' Yah," explanation of the foreign words in the Zohar, by Solomon Isaiah ben Eliezer Ḥayyim Nizza (Venice, 1630); "Ḥibbur 'Ammude Sheba'," by Aaron Selig Zolkiev (Cracow, 1636); "Amarot Ṭehorot," explaining the difficult words of the Zohar, by Wolf Leitmeritz (Lublin, 1645); "'Emeḳ ha-Melek," commentaries on various sections of the Zohar, by Naphtali Herz ben Jacob Elhanan (Amsterdam, 1648); "Sha'ar ha-Shamayim," introduction to and rules of the cabalistic system of the Zohar, by Abraham Herrera (ib. 1655); "Ḥesed la-Abraham," novellæ on the Zohar, by Abraham Azulai (ib. 1685); "Wayaḳhel Mosheh," by Moses ben Menahem (Dessau, 1699); "Or Yisrael," by Israel Jaffe (Frankfort-on-the-Oder, 1711). For the cabalistic system of the Zohar

Bibliography: Modern sources: Zunz, G. V. 2d ed., pp. 415 et seq.;
A. Franck, La Kabbale, Paris, 1843; 2d ed., ib. 1889;
German transl. by Ad. Jellinek, Leipsic, 1844;
Landauer, in Orient, Lit. vi. 178 et seq.;
Ignatz Stern, in Ben Chananja, i-vi.;
D. H. Joël, Midrash ha-Zohar, Die Religionsphilosophi edes Sohar, Leipsic, 1849;
Jellinek, Moses de Leon und Sein Verhältniss zum Zohar, ib. 1851;
Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, § xiii.;
Jost, Geschichte des Judenthums, ii., iii., Index;
Ginsburg, The Kabbalah, London, 1865;
Hamburger, R. B. T. s.v. Geheimlehre, Kabbala and Mystik;
Hermann Beer, Historische Daten in dem Zohar, in Monatsschrift, v. 158;
Duschak, Platonische Mythe in dem Zohar, in Orient, Lit. x. 181;
Rapoport, in Kerem Ḥemed, i. 154;
Grätz, Gesch. vii., Index (compare also the notes by Harkavy to the Hebrew translation of Grätz in vol. v.);
Bacher, L'Exegèse Biblique dans le Zohar, in R. E. J. xxii. 33 et seq.;
idem, in J. Q. R. iii. 781;
Karppe, Etude sur les Origines du Zohar, Paris, 1891;
Isaac Myer, Qabbalah, Philadelphia, 1888;
Flugel, Philosophy, Kabbala and Vedanta, Baltimore, 1902.
 

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Warning: this site does not subscribe to some of the heretical views that appear on other sites that argue against the Zohar--that would have us believe that today's halakha (law) will be trumped or accompanied by a new TORAH. That type of displacement theology is not what Jeremiah the Prophet meant by Brith Hhadasha (a New Covenant). The only Jewish source I have ever found for that is one questionable Midrash.
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See Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrahi:on Kabballah

 

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In a nutshell, Saadhya's argument is that since haShem is totally unknowable, He created the Glory to show a prophet that their vision is true and not a personal hallucination

Perhaps, a full copy can be obtained at http://www22.brinkster.com/dardei/wars%20of%20god/index.htm . The latter site has nothing to do with the Camilla site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Necessary Background About Yemenite Jews
During the first Temple time period, the Prophet Jeremiah prophesied concerning the forthcoming destruction and warned that those desiring to follow the word of G-D could save themselves by leaving Jerusalem and Israel. Only 80 Hachamim who feared the Lord and believed the words of the Prophet gathered their families and belongings and departed from Jerusalem about twenty years before the destruction. They directed themselves southward across the Arabian Peninsula until they came to a small mountain where they received stellar signs (of which they had great knowledge) that they must settle in that place. The name of that mountain Gebel Innegum - Mountain of the Stars was given by them. This represents the true origin of Yemenite Jewry. It also explains why Yemenite tradition has the advantage  of unbrokenness when compared to all other traditions. This doesn't mean that the Temani tradition can claim superiority in all areas. However, the fact that the Yemenite tradition goes directly back to the period before the destruction of the First Temple is extremely significant. It is the only tradition that did not pass through the confusion and desperation, the persecution and dispersion connected with the hhorban (destruction) of the First Temple or, later on in history, of the Second Temple. The Temani tradition is undeniably the oldest continuous oral tradition (from the first Temple Times) in existence! But is that the real reason for holding Temani? The real reason to hold Temani is that they refused to turn their backs on the Talmudic Judaism of the Sanhedrin. But the argument of accuracy and antiquity also has a strong appeal.  

The Yemenite Jews remember how their first fathers answered with wise steadfastness to Ezra’s ‘order’ that they leave Yemen and return to the Holy Land, “We did not participate in the first destruction and we do not desire to witness the second destruction. We will return to the Holy Land, G-D willing, for the time of the Third and Final Temple which will never be destroyed.” 

"Some say that Ezra zs"l died outside the Holy Land, at Hhuzistan in Persia on a journey to the king of that land. Perhaps this was the realization of the curse pronounced upon him by the Jews of Yemen, who were angered when Ezra cursed them first for their refusal to return to Judea. His malediction upon them was that they and their descendants would forever live in poverty. In turn they cursed him that he would end his days outside the Holy Land. Either way, the city of Babylon was completely destroyed by the Persians and all the prophecies of the prophets were fulfilled against it just before Ezra's death." (Legends of the Rabbis, Nadich)

Although Yemenite Jews were not totally isolated from the Jewish world (halakhically) and received major news items through its sea ports, the undeniably unique location of Yemen (as well as the timing of their early arrival) has allowed them to maintain a Judaism with very little external influence-- for thousands of years.  

One example (everyone's favorite) is the retention of the First Temple musical (prayer) system based on 4th and 5th notes which --can be musically demonstrated to have originated in the first Bet baMiqdash (Temple). The modern day prayer intonation and scale systems of today’s Jews (for the most part) incorporate the musical systems of their European and / or Spanish neighbors--not that this was a bad thing. BUT THIS WAS NOT THE CASE with the Temanim. Any good music-history teacher can explain the differences between the Old Semitic (limited notes) system vs. the European and / or Spanish systems of "the west" that remain prevalent amongst Jewish communities throughout the world. 

Another example seems to be the language and tune in which the Torah is chanted. Anyone who has had the privilege of listening to this pronunciation and rhythm --during a Torah reading -- understands this truth. A sample reading (from one region in Yemen) can be found at http://www.chayas.com/kriah.asf . Also, see http://www.chayas.com/pronounceparchi.htm for scientific proof of musical antiquity. 

The preservation of prayers (and pronunciation) in old Aramaic also testifies to the pureness of Yemenite Jewish tradition.  Old Aramaic prayers- that have long been forgotten by today’s Ashkenaz and Sepharadic Jews-- remain a vibrant part of the Temani service to this day. Please refer to http://www.chayas.com/pessah.htm for specific examples. Also... See also -- The Sacred Bridge: The Interdependence of Liturgy and Music in Synagogue and Church during the First Millennium, Vol. 2 - Eric Werner .

Of all the traditions that went out of their way to promote "Shalom Bayith" amongst Jews -including the abandonment of a good portion of their Temani masora to the detriment of the Jewish world-- the Temani tradition is way out in front. The Qafahh family (for example) exemplified the concept of "rodef shalom" with actions --more than most-- in my estimation. This reason alone beats out all the other reasons for learning (or identifying with) the Temani masora. I (personally) could never give up the things he did for the sake of peace. That's what makes me so tiny in comparison. In a strong way, you can't get more non-partisan than that. But my purpose is to salvage and / or revive what is left. Because there must be a point where "our (Torah) heritage will not be forsaken". Sinai can not and will not be forgotten (ie: modified) under the disguise of 'shalom bayith' any longer. It has gone on for too long during these past 50 years--especially in a favorite country of mine --which shall remain anonymous..

These facts are all documented. Anyone can verify them with a little bit of research.
 

Regarding Tsimtsum and the quote from Rav. Laqish as follows: Resh Lakish comments the Name Shadai, I am he who said to the world Enough! This teaching backs up a thought of Rav Judah in the name of Rav: Rav Judah said in the name of Rav: when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, the latter stretched out to infinity-like the threads of a loom that endlessly intertwined; then they stopped as it is said: "The pillars of the heavens tremble, they are struck with wonder when he threatens them. Job 26:11).

First of all, we need to see the real Lashon here. What does infinity-like mean? And second, this appears to be a reference to G-D's creation, not G-D himself.