Monday, April 07, 2008

Discussion of Maggid Meisharim -- pt vi

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The guest continues pointing out passages in Maggid Meisharim which appear arrogant:

Further, please read this (Venice printing, page 4b, Zalkwa printing page 3b): "For behold, when you go out to the market, my seven strong ones, and all their soldiers accompany you, and announce before you, 'give honor to the visage of the holy King, and clear a place for the visage of the holy King, for behold this one is our Tanna'a, our Gammara, our Savara. How many camps, soldiers, and strong ones shake from this announcement, and all of them ask, 'what is this sound?' And they answer and say 'This is he, Ploni, in whom the Holy One, Blessed Be He, is exalted every day; And so too, at every time you finish learning with the colleagues, a voice goes out in announcement in this pattern."

Further, read (Venice, page 4a, Zalkwa page 3a): "And any student who does not study in your yeshiva will not be held to know anything at all, and you will be elevated and lifted up, for I will make you great and raise you up, I will lift you up and place you to be Naggid {Prince} on my nation Israel, and your yeshiva will become greater that the yeshiva of my chosed, Yitzchak Aboav."

Read further (Venice, page 15a, Zalkwa page 37a): "And you, when you attach to me and my Torah, and in my fear and my Mishnayot, and not separate even a single instant, then I will give you paths between these pillars, and I will cause you to merit to complete all your writings without any error, and to print them and to spread them out in all the boundaries of my nation Israel, and I will cause your name to be great, with students, greater than Yitzchak Aboav my chosen. Therefore strengthen yourself and be bold in your Torah, as you do in Torah, in Mishnah, in Gemara, Rashi, Tosafot, in halachic rulings, and in kabbalah, for you tie them together, and all the angels on high seek your peace and good. And do not take pains with provisions {making a living}, for I have already told you countless times that your livelihood is prepared for you, and you will not lack anything, for there is Providence upon you in all your matters, specifically when you attach yourself to me, and to my Torah, to my fear, and to my service. And already you see this great ascent which I have raised you become all the nation of Hashem, to speak with you with a loud voice. And you will further merit to see Eliyahu, as I have told you, if you improve your way before me.


Anonymous said...

He's speaking to the maggid and hes worried about eliyau??

joshwaxman said...

interesting point. perhaps conversing with eliyahu is a higher/different level. After all, it seems he does not see this maggid, but perhaps he would see Eliyahu. And perhaps the maggid is really automatic writing (as seems to me).

Anonymous said...

Automatic Writing, all you need is a couple of shemot to pull that out your hat.

joshwaxman said...

I'm not sure if we understand each other. could you elaborate?

I think you or I could practice automatic writing if we wanted to, and put our minds to it. See here:

It is used as a tool in Freudian psychology, and so would not need any shemot to accomplish. Of course, when practiced by someone with kabbalistic beliefs, it can easily be seen as messages from a heavenly maggid or one's own neshama, and so on, just as is the case nowadays by the automatic writing called Facilitated Communication practiced by certain New-Age facilitators who think they are conveying the messages of autistics.

joshwaxman said...

Also, could you please choose a pseudonym? It helps me keep track of who is whom.


355media said...

ok, all the anynomous here is me.
I'm saying that the whole concept of magid mesharim was never really impressive to me, in fact, it made me lose tons of respect for maran beit yosef. The codifier of the shulchan aruch, recording the babbling of an imaginary friend.
Funny thing is, there are no chidushim, nothing new in the book.
Maybe we are approaching the book the wrong way? Is it possible that maran used this 'diary' as sort of a self-help session? to bring out his potentials and triumph over personal scholastic challenges?

355media said...

is that what you mean when you said 'automatic writing'?

joshwaxman said...


By automatic writing, see this definition:
"The central method of Surrealism. This movement was launched by the French poet André Breton, in the Manifesto of Surrealism published in Paris in 1924. He was strongly influenced by the ideas of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Automatism is the same as free association, the method used by Freud to explore the unconscious mind of his patients. In the Manifesto, Breton actually defined Surrealism as 'Pure psychic automatism … the dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason and outside all moral or aesthetic concerns'. The aim was to access material from the unconscious mind. The earliest examples are the automatic writings of Breton and others, produced by simply writing down as rapidly as possible whatever springs to mind."

That is, it is a method related to free association. Sit down and write down whatever comes to mind, without trying to filter. You thus might access your subconscious. And perhaps this is what he meant by "neshama." And this is why at times, as Shadal mentioned, the maggid says "what *I* wrote" rather than "what you wrote."

Perhaps he meditated first, to try to reach a different state of consciousness, before engaging in this writing (/speaking) by himself.

Note that this is not necessarily the same thing that Shadal is suggesting. Shadal seems to be saying that Rav Yosef Karo knew these were his own thoughts, but used an allegory to describe it to his kabbalistic audience. I, meanwhile, am suggesting that this was automatic writing, that he either *did* know or did *not* think the source was his own subconscious. Within the social and kabbalistic framework of the time, this could well be perfectly acceptable. Judging by our own standards to determine sanity or worthiness of an individual can potentially be misguided. That does not mean we have to agree the maggid was authentic, of course.

There are chiddushim, I think, though within the framework of kabbalah as it existed at that time. One practical example is the derasha on the shem Hashem in order to determine how many cups one should drink on Shabbat. Knowing what the precise innovations were would require a deep knowledge of kabbalah, which I lack.

Kol Tuv,


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