Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Discussion of Maggid Meisharim -- pt ii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The guest now defends Rav Yosef Karo against the philosopher who claimed that Maggid Meisharim was made up by Rav Karo to increase his stature. The guest says that one can have some Divine Inspiration or the like without it being due to the truth of kabbalah and the Zohar. The author says that kabbalistic dream inquiries made by his father were answered, and his father was not making this up to increase his stature. The guest replies that this may well have been because of Shadal's father being righteous, not because of the specific kabbalistic machinations. The guest then suggests three things that could cause Rav Yosef Karo, or any kabbalist, to experience or state this: (a) the power of imagination, after going through all this preparation anticipating it, such that he dreams this or his thoughts are confused even while awake; (b) that it is a falsehood intended to be mezakkeh es harabbim; (c) that it was in a way of secret, hint, and riddle, as are most of the words of the kabbalists. The text of the Vikuach follows:

And the man read all the words of the chapter from beginning to end, and afterwards opened his mouth and said: This philosopher who decided while standing on one foot to say that one must say that Rav Karo invented words of falsehood in order to increase his stature, was in truth a man who spoke hurriedly. For indeed, forfend to decide a sentence on a man, and even more so on a Sage, and well known righteous man, such as Rav Yosef Karo, without investigation and careful deliberation.

Behold, there is no doubt that if one assumes (as is the truth) that the wisdom is kabbalah is not true and that the sefer haZohar is not true, the matter is automatically understood that all that the kabbalists will say that Eliyahu was revealed to them, or that the spirit of Hashem spoke to them in one of the forms of prophecy, Divine inspiration, and telling over in darkness, all this is not possible to be the truth. And one who does not believe that which was revealed to the Raavad and to his teacher via Divine inspiration of via Eliyahu, he will also not believe that which was revealed to Maran Bet Yosef.

But to decide about all those who say that they merited to a smidgen of these, that all of them invented falsehood in order to increase their stature, this is not a righteous judgment.

I {=the author} said to him: And what will you say if I relate to you that also my master, my father, zatz"al would make, at necessary times, a dream query based on the wisdom of the kabbalah, from that which he learned in the sefer haBrit, and he attained at times correct dreams which included telling over of future events, which came to pass.

And he, z"l, did not say this in order to increase his stature, for he was a wood turner (drechsler), and he was in truth God-fearing, and benefited from his own efforts, and was was not appointed among the chachamim and mekubalim, and his wisdom and piety did not go outside the walls of his house {=he kept it to himself}. And so is the matter of the dreams of which I told you -- he never informed anyone except the people of his household of them, and no benefit came to my master, my father z"l of them, except at times a great benefit, from knowing the future, to be saved from harm.

And behold, in terms of my master, my father, zatza"l, the matter is clear to me above any uncertainty, that he did not invent from his own heart that which he told me, and that which is written in his memoirs.

If so, how should I not believe in the wisdom of the kabbalah, after I have seen that its power is good to obtain prophetic dreams?

And the man answered: Since, according to your words, your father was a righteous and upstanding man, it is not wondrous in my eyes if he found favor in the eyes of God, and God acceded to him, and heard his cry, and related to him a few future event, to save him from harm. And even though he made his prayer in a kabbalistic way, it was not his {kabbalistic} intentions {kavanot} which caused Hashem to accede to him, but rather his upstanding character and righteousness were what stood for him for God to be near to him.

And we will return to the matter of the kabbalists with Divine Inspiration {ruach hakodesh}, {or convene with} Eliyahu or a maggid {an angel} and say that it is possible for this to be in one of three ways, assuming that the man is not an entirely evil person who invents falsehoods for his own honor. For behold, firstly, it is known how much the power of the imagination does, and it is possible that a person who invests many days in the study of kabbalah and the acts of chassidut, and in mortifications, to prepare himself for Divine Inspiration, and in the end it happens to him in truth that he dreams in his bed at nights empty communications and reports, as if God or his angels, or Eliyahu, instructs him and informs him of matters from the topics of those studies which he contemplated all day.

It is also possible that his thoughts were confused to the extent that even while awake, it seemed to him as if the voice spoke to him.

And secondly, it is possible that there is a man who is wise and righteous who invents falsehoods not for his own honor and benefit and good, but rather to help the public and to plant in their hearts fear of Heaven.

And thirdly, it is possible that the entire matter was said in a way of secret, hint, and riddle, as are most of the words of the kabbalists.

And as such, I will not decide judgment upon Rav Yosef Karo. However, it appears to me that when the prophet says in the name of Hashem, and the matter does not come to be, that is the thing which Hashem did not say.

And behold, many times it is written in sefer Maggid Meisharim that the voice says to him, "and afterwards I will cause you to merit to be burnt on the holiness of my Name," and this matter was not fulfilled at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right you are to stand up against the tide which washed over authentic judaism, which has taken over every aspect of jewish life.
But I don't think it's needed to bring proofs from books like this, which don't make any sense to begin with.
I've read alot of Gershon Scholem and just putting the kabbala into historical perspective was enough to clear things up for me. The kabblah has gone through so many transformations and it's current form is only acceptable, even to a kabbalist, if you deny all previous incarnations.
What a shame that our religion has become a superstition laden, neoplatonic orthopaxy.
Don't forget to wash your hands three times to remove the evil spirits kids!


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