Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Authenticity of Kabbalah pt iii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The guest continues to draw his distinction between believing the Mishna and the Neviim are not forgeries, on the one hand, and believing the Zohar is, on the other. The text of the Vikuach follows:

And so it is in the matter of the Mishna, and so too in the matter of Neviim and the holy writings, and so too in the matter of the Torah itself. For behold, the Torah, and the Mishna, and the books of the New Testament of the Christians, all of them inform that the Torah of Moshe was widespread and accepted in our nation at the beginning of the exile and at the end of the time of the second Temple; and the Temple itself, and the service which was done in it, is clear testimony to the widespread faith in this Torah from the day that the Temple was established and on.

And the books of Ezra and Nechemiah, and Chronicles, and Yechezkel and Yirmiyah, all of them testify and tell about how the Torah was widespread in the days of the exile of Bavel and at the end of the first Temple. And the book of Melachim and Shmuel, and Tehillim, Shofetim and Yehoshua testify on how it {=the Torah} was widespread in

the days of the {first} Temple and in all the days of the Judges, until the generation of the Wilderness, in which the Torah was written.

And not because we find that these books testify about the Torah do we rely upon them and upon it, but rather, because of the tradition which extends in an unbroken chain, which shows true to us how these books were well known in the nation from the time of their composition until the present day. Therefore, we are obligation from the straightforward intellect to rely upon them, and upon the Torah of Moshe, in the same way that we are compels to believe in the works of the Roman translator {? melitz} Cicero, because of how they were widespread among the nations from that day until today.

But if a person comes to you, and prints in this generation, prophecies of Natan the prophet and Gad the seer, even though it is not impossible that it is so in fact, even so, no man in Israel is obligated to accept them, after no general tradition came upon them from one generation to the next.

And behold, so is the sefer haZohar, after it is not mentioned at all in the Mishna and Talmud, and was not known or publicized in the days of the geonim, nor even in that days of Rashi and Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, and Rambam and Ramban and the Rosh, as the author of the Minchat Yehuda admits (in the introduction), behold it lacks the trustworthy testimony such that each man of Israel and every man of intellect is required to accept it -- is it not the widespread acceptance without interruption, and it is nothing more, except as amongst the books which were found in later generations attributed to earlier authors, such as the sefer haYashar and Divrei haYamim of Moshe Rabbenu, and their fellows, where the permission is given to anyone wise of heart to draw them near or to distance them, according to what appears to the eyes of his intellect, without their being in their any place for faith, for faith is not in that which has no tradition, and the sefer haZohar does not have upon it a tradition from the time of its composition until today.

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