Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Authenticity of the Zohar -- pt xii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The guest just brought a proof that the Zohar was from Sefarad, which would bolster belief in Rabbi Moshe de Leon's authorship. The proof was that a certain trup sequence was referred to in different ways in different places, and the Zohar uses the way of Sefarad. The author replies in this segment that perhaps this was also added later. The guest then challenges the assertion in the beginning of Tikkunim that study of the Zohar will bring mashiach, because it still has not. Furthermore, it has led to the abandonment of peshat in favor of kabbalistic and gematria-based derashot he considers nonsense. The author rejoins that practically, it did have good effect by causing abandonment of certain heretical, philosophical approaches to Torah and theology. The text of the Vikuach follows:

The author: Perhaps also this language was added.

The guest: And we will return to where we were in in it, and say that if it was true that which was written in the beginning of the Tikkunim, that in the merit of the learning of the Zohar, each man will return to his portion, I would have remained silent. But behold, more than 500 years have passed, in which the majority of Israel was seized after it, and with love of it and learning of it they always err {attain?}, and still the son of David {=Mashiach} has not come, and Hashem has not blessed us to spy {?} him, but just the opposite, this sefer has caused much damage to the general nation.

First of all, did it not cause the abandonment of the wisdom of the peshat, and to draw the majority of the Sages after the nonsense such that they are engaged in nonsense, to pervert the Scriptures with faulty derashot, with heads of words {=acrostics} and switching of letters {within similar phonetic groups, or via kabbalistic switches such as Atbash or Albam}, and with gematriot, and which all sorts of "hints" which the intellect cannot bear; and the true Torah which is called "the testimony of Hashem" which one can only understand according to its simple meaning, like the words of the Baal HaIkkarim, it lies in a corner, and no one seeks and no one requests it.

And it truth, where is found, after the revealing of the sefer haZohar men like Rashi, Rashbam, Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Radak, and their colleagues, who illuminated the eyes of all of Israel with the knowledge of peshat?

And if in a later generation men arose like Rabbi Moshe ben Mendel {=Mendelsonn}, Ranhu {=Rabbi
Naftali Hertz Wiesel}, Rabbi Yechiel Bri"l, and others, are they not all of them men who cast off from upon themselves the yoke of the Zohar and mocked it their entirety, and did not bring it an offering.

And the Baal HaIkkarim, and Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel perhaps believed in it, but did not engage in it, and were distant from it and its ways.

And behold, the sefer haZohar is what caused Israel 500 years of darkness and pitch-blackness.

The author: A great answer there is to these words of yours, for I have in hand to say the opposite of what you have said, that a great benefit has the author of the sefer haZohar benefited us. For you know the Rishonim of our nation who were drawn after the Philosophy, in many heresies {kefirot} were they hindered {?} and captured, and many held cheap the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, to establish the words of Aristotle.

This one denied the creation from nothingness {ex nihilo}; and this one denies the knowledge of Hashem of particulars; this one nullifies the miracles, this one says that there is in the Work of the Chariot of Yechezkel things which are not in accordance with the truth, but rather according to lesser knowledge; this one says that the soul of man dies with the death of the body without engagement in wisdoms; and this one invents from his heart for the commandments of the Torah reasons which are already nullified, in such as manner than according to his words, most
of the commandments in this day and age are without any reason at at, and the keeping of them in these days are an empty act. And many of these denyings {/heresies} are scattered in their sefarim, and the general rule by them that one should only believe that which the intellect requires.

And after the sefer haZohar was revealed, immediately all these opinions were nullified.

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