Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Authenticity of Kabbalah pt xxvii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The citation of Taamei haMitzvot by Rabbi Menachem miRicanti continues, in discussing the nature of the form of God, and the nature of the Sefirot. The text of the Vikuach follows:

And further is says in Maaseh Merkava the following language: "Rabbi Yishmael said: Metatron the great official of testimony said to me: This testimony I testify about Hashem God of Israel, Living and Eternal God, our master and teacher, that the measure {manah = weight; perhaps vessel?} from his holy seat and up is 118 myriad {a myriad = 10,000} parsang {a measure of distance} and from his holy seat and down is 118 myriad parsang. From His right arm to His left arm is 77 myriad parsang, etc.. And he gives a measure for height of 236 million myriad parsangs, like the number of ורב כח, for it is written {Tehillim 147:5} גָּדוֹל אֲדוֹנֵינוּ וְרַב-כֹּחַ {taken as "the size of our Master is "veRav Koach"}. And it gives a measure for the width as 77 myriad parsang, for it is written {Tehillim 68:35} תְּנוּ עֹז לֵאלֹהִים {perhaps give space of עז, that is, 77, for God}. And if so, how are we able to say that they spoke of the Shechina {Divine Presence}? If it were a created Form he would not have said "this testimony I testify about Hashem the God of Israel," if they were speaking of a created form.

And it is more difficult to say that they actually were speaking of the Creator, for anyone who says such as this has no God at all, for it is known thing, and a fundamental concept, that about the Creator Yisbarach one cannot say these words and the like.

And now, stand and consider the wonders of my words and contemplate them with a fine consideration, to fix these words, for they are they mystery of the world. And this is my intent as well in the matter of the Unification.

Know that it is true that one cannot say about the Creator, Yisbarach, that there is any change or any physical attribute thing in the world, and all that Razal expounded in the sefer haMerkava was not really about the Creator, but rather they spoke about the Sefirot.

And if you wish to ask and say that we already know that the Sefirot are Emanations and not creations, and anything about which we speak of emanations, the power of the Emanator is in the Emanation, and the Emanation is not separate from the Emanator. And if so, all that we say about the Sefirot are as if they are said about the Creator, Yisbarach, and how are we able to say that they spoke of the Sefirot? And if is not like speaking actually about the Creator Yisbarach Himself?

Know that the answer to this question is extremely deep such that it has no end or limit, and before we begin to answer, our thoughts are to prove that all that the Sages and the Geonim said about the matter of the Emanation of the Sefirot, that matter is not to be understood in the plain sense of the words, with true proofs {that this is so}.

And even though Rav Asher z"l entered, with great difficulty, a fence on this side and a fence on that side, still all is not settled entirely; and therefore my intent is to explain here all my thoughts and intent, for from this matter hands a major fundamental and the faith in its entirety.

Know that all that we speak in the matter of the Sefirot is not speaking about the Creator, but rather the Sefirot are like the vessels of the craftsman, with which the craftsman works his craft, to make a billion distinctions {lehavdil bein elef alfei alafim}, and they are similar to every matter and its substitute, and perforce we are unable to bring the matter close to the mind of the investigator. For we are only able to compare it to the things we are used to, and thus one of the Sages compares it to the will of the soul, for it is equal to all the desires and all the thoughts which extend from it -- even though they are many, their basis is only one, and the soul does not change, but rather the change is in the body, which brings out to action the thoughts of the soul.

And perforce there is for us to say that these are things that are similar in a thing and its corresponding item {in the analogy}, for if there were not equal power to the thing and its corresponding item, there would not be any power to anything. For that which is light is not darkness and that which is darkness is not light. Perforce, that sage likens them to the will of the soul. And just as the soul is clothed by the body, so is from the great light of the Creator Yisbarach emanated these vessels, and the Sages called them Sefirot, and the spreading out of the First Cause Yisbarach into these vessels is called emanation. And in the sefer haZohar I have found this, etc."

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