Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Authenticity of Kabbalah pt xvi

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The author suggests that the author of Masaot Binyamin mocks gilgul because it he did not know the truth that it was a secret traditional Jewish belief. The guest wonders why they would conceal it them, and also posits that it contradicts the words of Chazal in Talmud. Then, he notes that Rabbi Yedaya haPenini writes to the Rashba in defense of philosophy that it will help disprove gilgul. The text of the Vikuach follows:

The author: Have I not told you that the kabbalah in the early days was only transmitted in secret from the mouth of one kabbalist sage to the ear of an intelligent kabbalist?! Perforce, it is not farfetched that the belief in gilgul was a secret which was hidden from Rabbi Binyamin the author of the Masaot.

The guest: I do not see any reason to conceal the belief in gilgul from the common folk. And behold, in these generations it is well-known among the ignorant folk, and it does not harm their faith at all, but rather aids them in certain ways.

Do you think that the later kabbalists were wiser than their earlier teachers? That they {=the early kabbalists} thought that there was some danger to the common folk in promulgating this belief, and those these {in our generation} understand that its promulgation is good and helpful.

And still, my master, behold I see that this belief was also held back and hidden from our teachers, the sages of the Talmud.

Is it not so that in many places they said "the son of David {=Mashiach} will not come until all the souls in the body finish, and if it entered their minds that the souls which descend into the bodies which are born are not entirely new, how did they not understand that there is no substance in their statement at all? For if the souls transmigrate time after time from one body to the next body, when will the souls in the body end, and when will the son of David come? And is it not possible that the souls will transmigrate generation after generation, and the son of David will still not come in all the days of the earth's existence. And how did they encourage the nation to engage in being fruitful and multiplying in order to bring the redemption closer, for the reason that the son of David will not come until all the souls in the body finish? And is it not so that since most of those born are partial sinners and require gilgul to fix that which they perverted. It thus occurs that one who establishes a single son in fact delays the redemption and does not hurry it; for this son who is born will come to close the door for two new souls who were prepared to leave from the body, and are not able to leave, in order to make room for the sinful soul to return to dwell on earth until the end of its filth.

See how the belief in gilgul contradicts and casts down to earth the words of our teachers, the Sages of the Talmud.

The author: There is no doubt by those upright in their hearts that these matters are encompassed within those hidden things of the All-Merciful, extremely deep such that who will find them, and they are acquired via faith in the Sages and not in pilpul {casuistry} of students such as you and me, who have not even reached to be shepherds.

The guest: Another one I will please relate to you, that so new is this belief within the children of Israel, and so distant is it from being a traditional belief in our nation from days of old, that the magnificent advocate {? -- melitz} Rabbi Yedaya haPenini, the author of Bechinat Olam, when he came to advocate on behalf of philosophy in a written apologetic which he sent to the Rashba (since he {=the Rashba} placed under a ban anyone who learned that wisdom before he was 25 years old) was not ashamed nor afraid from mentioning before that Rav (who was a kabbalist) that one of the purposes of the wisdom of philosophy is that it contradicts and makes a lie the belief in gilgul. Take to me the sefer Teshuvot haRashba, and I will show you the language, for it is lengthy.


Michael said...

Kavshi D'Rachmana you have as "Sheep (?) of the All-Merciful". It means "hidden things" like Devarim Kevushim.

joshwaxman said...

now fixed.



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