Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Authenticity of Kabbalah pt xxv

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The guest and author continue to discuss whether the kabbalists argue about whether the Sefirot are Divinity:

The author: Behold I see in you the trait of the inciters {to apostasy}, for by deception you come to me to show me that Rabbenu Nissim said that more than was appropriate the Ramban invested himself to believe in the wisdom of kabbalah, and that that the Rivash said that we have no need to intend in our prayers towards the Sefirot.

The guest: No so, my master, but rather my main intent was to point out to you that one of the first kabbalists believed that the Sefirot were not Divinity, forfend, but rather that they were like appointees of the king who stood to perform His Will for whatever He would command them; and behold, between him and Rabbenu Bachya there is a dispute, without doubt, in the fundamental upon which everything relies. And where is the "kabbalah"?

The author: If so, I will say that I made a mistake in that which I understood from the words of Rabbenu Bachya, and that he never in his days intended to say that the Sefirot were Divinity.

The guest: This is not the way of a man of intelligence, since the words of the Rav {=Rabbenu Bachya} cannot be explained at all if one does not believe that the Sefirot are Divinity. For what is the meaning of the yud of בוראיך and to the yud of אלהים, after he divided this name into two words, El Hem {=They are God}? Is his intent not apparent from within his words that there are there 10 things which are Divinity.

And now, come please with me to another place, and see how one of the early and preeminent kabbalists says explicitly that that Sefirot are themselves Divinity. Take please the sefer Maarechet HaElohut.

And I took the sefer, the the man read before me from the end of the Maarechet haShemot {Pirara printing, page 43 and page 57) like these words: "There is furthermore to know that the matter of the Emanations which were mentioned and which I will further discuss in Avodat haSeder is not a matter in which there is a changes or a new thing in that which emanates or which in emanated, something which had not been before the emanation, forfend. For we have already mentioned that the emanations, which are the Sefirot, are Divinity, etc., etc.

And understand this fundamental, for it is the fundamental of all fundamentals, the foundation of the entire building, together with what we will always mention in this service, that these ten Sefirot are themselves the Divinity Yisbarach, as we have mentioned, and that the Divinity is unified in them without any separation or difference, and this is the foundation of the entire building." End quote.

Is his opinion not made clear that the Sefirot are themselves Divinity?

And now, so that you should know that there is dispute between the kabbalists, read now the words of the commentator {on this book}, Rabbi Yehuda Chayyat, in his introduction.

And the man read in it like these words: "And also that this sefer is entirely full of dear things, rare but refined, and he has ten hands above the other books of the books of kabbalah, for all of them speak of the holy Sefirot, one increases and one decreases, and {yet} they close the door, and he arises to open the lock, and said {Tehillim 118:20}
כ זֶה-הַשַּׁעַר לַה; צַדִּיקִים, יָבֹאוּ בוֹ. 20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter into it.
And in a few places I desired to argue about the major fundamentals, which are the extraordinary and noteworthy roots in the holy kabbalah, and most kabbalists go in them wandering to and fro, and I girded my loins like a warrior to battle with the Rav, the author of this sefer, and sometimes to battle with those who battle him, etc."

And the man said to me: Go please, now, and say that there is no dispute among the kabbalists in the fundamentals of their wisdom.

I said to him: Perhaps the dispute was born in the later generations, for this Rabbi Yehuda Chayyat was at the time of the expulsion from Spain.

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