Friday, April 25, 2008

The Authenticity of Kabbalah pt viii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) Is early kabbalah of Chazal the same as the kabbalah of the kabbalists? Where does this tradition start? The text of the Vikuach follows:

The guest: I do not deny this, and it is not hidden from me that there was already mention in the Talmud maaseh bereishit and maaseh merkava {Creation mysticism and Chariot mysticism}, and hidden Torah and the Ineffable Name, and the name composed of 12 letters and of 42 letters, and other matters which the Sages transmitted to the eminent of their students mouth to mouth. But I see that all these matters were already forgotten from our mouths because of the troubles of the Exile.

The author: This is only evilness of heart. And at the least, behold you see that your claims are only claims of "perhaps." And how can you rely on the claim that "perhaps they were forgotten," when there is before you a sure claim from so many giants of the world, where all of them testify and relate that it was not forgotten, and indeed the opposite, that they themselves received them from their Rabbis, until the Amoraim and Tannaim, and until Moshe Rabbenu, peace upon him?

The guest: The matter is not as you have said. For the kabbalists do not say that their wisdom is a tradition in their hands from the Amoraim and Tannaim. Rather, they say (Avodat haKodesh [age 33) that Eliyahu haNavi himself revealed to Rabbi David, the father of the Raavid, the author of the hasagot, and revealed to him all the secrets of the kabbalah, and that from him extended to the Raavad, who also merited to speak with Eliyahu, and from him the chain went afterwards to the Ramban and to the rest of the kabbalists.

And after the matter is so, behold you see that according to that which our Sages instructed us that "it is not in heaven," it is not for us to pay heed at all to the visions of the Raavad and his father, just as we do not pay heed at all to that which he, the Raavad, wrote in his glosses in the matter of a lopped-off hadas {myrtle}, and these are his words: "The divine inspiration {ruach hakodesh} has already arrived in our study hall and revealed to us that it is valid." End quote. And the Ramban himself, the head of the kabbalists, responded to his words and rejects his reasoning. Behold, you see how much the Ramban relied upon the ruach hakodesh of the Raavad.

The author: Perhaps he did not rely upon him in this matter, for in a matter of law {dina} we pay no heed to a bat kol, and it {=the Torah} is not in heaven. And the Rambam already wrote in the introduction to his commentary on the Mishna that if a prophet testifies that Hashem said to him that the law it such, that prophet is killed, for he is a false prophet.

But in the matter of the wisdom of truth, in which there is not in it what comes from the intellect of a person, perhaps he relied upon him.

And still, according to your words that you speak, that the Ramban did not rely at all upon the ruach hakodesh of the Raavad, behold you draw from this that not from the Raavad and from Eliyahu who was revealed to him did the chain of kabbalah extend to the Ramban. And if so you are compelled to admit that it did not come to him from the Heavens, but rather received mouth-to-mouth, man from the mouth of man, until the Tannaim and until the Prophets, peace be upon them. For when it comes down to it, I do not think that you suspect also the Ramban, they he invented it from his heart.

The guest
: Forfend for me to think such! And behold I agree with you that the Ramban, z"l, received his kabbalah from his teacher. But I do not agree with you that this kabbalah reached him via an unbroken chain, not until the prophets, and not even until the Amoraim.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin