Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Discussion of Maggid Meisharim -- pt i

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The author now suggests that the sefer Maggid Meisharim, from Rav Yosef Karo, proves the authenticity of kabbalah, for it is either Divinely inspired or else you are forced to say that Rav Yosef Karo was a rasha gamur. The text of the Vikuach follows:

And I said to the man: I implore you, leave me alone, stop your words and your blasphemies, and let us eat in peace, and after the eating I will show you a sefer which I will spread out before you as a garment.

And the man hurriedly ate, and we blessed Hashem and arose from the table, and we came to the house of books {library?}, and I took the sefer Emunat Chachamim, and I put it before him and I said: Please read chapter 27 from beginning to end.

In that chapter, the author proves the truth of the wisdom of truth from the sefer Maggid Meisharim, of the great Gaon {genius} our Master the Bet Yosef {=Rav Yosef Karo}, and this sefer is full to the rim with the secrets {sodot} of the kabbalah, and the sefer haZohar is mentioned therein by the name Zahara Kadisha, and the author of the Emunat Chachamim proves straightforwardly that this sefer Maggid Meisharim could not possibly be a forgery, for Rabbi Moshe Cordovero who was the student of our teacher the Bet Yosef {maran = Rabbi Yosef Karo}, and who lived with him in the same city, that is Tzafat {=Sefad}, composed and promulgated the sefer haPardes in the lifetime of Maran. And behold this Ramak {=Rabbi Moshe Cordovero} brings a certain quote from the words of the maggid, who appeared to Maran the Bet Yosef, and that same language is found in Maggid Meisharim. And how is it possible that the Ramak would write in the name of his teacher Mahrik {Maran haBet Yosef} in his lifetime and in his city, and the words came upon a sefer and he promulgated them, if it was not indeed the truth that the Rav Karo wrote them and promulgated them?

{J: Unless someone took that genuine quote and included it in a forged Maggid Mesharim to bolster its authenticity...}

Thus it is clear that the sefer Maggid Meisharim is not a forged sefer, but rather it indeed came out from under the hand of Maran Bet Yosef.

And so, now, the matter cannot escape division: If indeed these words were revealed to Maran in one of the types of Divine Inspiration, then they are true and the kabbalah and the Zohar are true. Or that the Maran Bet Yosef was a completely wicked individual, like Yeravam and his colleagues, and he invented these words from his heart, something impossible to arise in the thoughts.

And the chapter concludes with the following language: The stubborn one will be stubborn and say what he wishes, for this in my eyes an winning answer, upon which one cannot answer. And I showed these words to one of the philosophers, and he said to me that one must say that Rav Karo invented these false words in order to increase his stature -- may lips of falsehood be muted, may they be hushed up, which speak about such a huge tzaddik.

3 comments:

Appreciates this series said...

Most amusing. It's like a smaller version of CS Lewis' Lord, Liar, Lunatic argument (and just effective, I might add).

Anonymous said...

just as effective

joshwaxman said...

interesting point. he is indeed only going to consider approximately Lord and Liar. But the guest will suggest a third possibility - namely, showing from the text and from a students statement that he means the maggid allegorically.

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