Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Authenticity of Kabbalah pt xxviii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The guest continues his lengthy citation of Taamei haMitzvot by Rabbi Menachem miRicanti, about the nature of the Sefirot:

"And behold I will prove to you with proofs, and also from the words of Razal, that all that Razal said in the matter of Sefirot is {specific to the Sefirot and} not fit to say about the Creator Yisbarach veYitaleh.

Firstly, because if it is said that the ten Sefirot are actually the Creator Yisbarach Himself, if so, how is the Creator One and yet the number Ten, and one cannot but a division into the identity of the Creator Yisbarach.

And what distinction is there between the Attribute of Judgment and the Attribute of Mercy, for even though about this one is able to say that in the matter of these attributes that there is no difference in their identity, but rather the division is one the side of the receivers, still how shall we place a distinction between the Attributes, so call this one right and this one left, this one leaf and this one root, for it is known that all these things would be a lack in the lap of the Creator Yisbarach.

And furthermore, when we place a division between the attributes, we place a division in the identity of the actual Creator and this is not possible, for it is known that from the left side comes the influence of impurities, witchcraft and demond, as we have explained, and it is called in the wondrous sefer haZohar "Evil Thought" {machshava raah}, and from the right side it is the opposite. And if they are actually the Creator, how shall we place a division in the acts of the Creator Yisbarach?

And I have sought and was punctilious a lot, and I did not find a single Sage who spoke about this at all, except for Rabbi Asher z"l. And I have never found an answer to this question, except what I have written above in the matter of the Sefirot and their emanation, with a hint/allusion in order to conceal the matter, as it is stated {Tehillim 25:14} סוֹד ה לִירֵאָיו.

And furthermore you have to know in the matter of the emanation of the Sefirot that it is true, and a clear thing, that all the Sefirot emanated one from the other, but the first one was as the matter that we have written above. And understand this a lot, for so agrees one of the greats as we have written.

This is a true proof seized by the contemplation of the heart.

And furthermore, we need to bring a proof to strengthen the house of our God from the words of Razal, from that which I found in the wondrous sefer haZohar, etc. And because of the extreme fineness of the matter we are required to speak by way of allegory. And the allegory in this is to a king who has two servants, and he commands one of them as follows: "take heed when you see a man who strengthens himself and going in the right path, assist him and save him from his enemies." And to the second he commands, "when you see a man traveling in a path which is not good, hit him and chastise him until he returns." And while the servants of the king fulfill their instructions, the king does not do a single thing, and the judgment does not come from him at all, but rather he assists his servants to perform their actions.

So too, the Creator Yisbarach influences the Attributes to perform their actions, and He does not change his actions, but rather the Attributes perform their actions.

And in the wondrous sefer haZohar I found so, etc.

And now let us return to our matter, and it appears to me that from here we are also able to understand that the Kitzvot {the Six Corners, the six Sefirot of Zeir Anpin} are not attached {deveikim} to Him Yisbarach, for if so, they would not need influence {hashpaah} and blessing if He is One and the number is Ten, as I explained above, for the Emanated is not separated from the Emanator. Rather, since they require irrigation {? hashkaah}, there is for us to so that they did not speak of the Creator, for there is not to the Creator Yisbarach deficiency or addition, etc. And since the Creation is within them, perforce they called the Shechina "Shechina" for the Creator "dwells" {shochen} within it, etc. And this is the word "Baruch," which is a pa'ul form {passive} -- the intent it to the Attributes which are blessed from the Creator Yisbarach.

And so I found in a certain sefer which was composed by Rabbi Eliezer from Germaiza, and this is his language: Therefore they established in the closing of every blessing of "Baruch Ata Hashem" to the Shechina, and anyone who does not know this wondrous knowledge, when he directs his prayer he should not contemplate to whom he is directing his prayer, but rather to his Father in Heaven, and so I have seen in the writing of Rabbi Yehuda haChassid which he sent to his son." Thus ends the language of this Rav, z"l.

If so, it is understood from here that the language of "Baruch" is not about the Creator, actually, but rather on that which Receives from the Creator. And since the Creator is actually found within them, therefore one cannot cut and say that they are ten angels which act in the vessels, but rather One is the actor within them, as is explained in sefer Yetzirah which says "And the One Trustworthy Master rukes within them from His holy abode and until forever"; after he mentioned all the ten Sefirot, he said that even though the Attributes are ten, the Creater is One who rules in all them, as we have explained.

Further, there is for us a fourth proof from that which is written in the prayer of Rabbi Nechunia ben haKana, peace be upon him, which is founded upon the Sefirot, in that in each and every Sefirah, when he mentions it, he places a ב. That he says "I will exalt You in {ב} the first Sefirah which is Supreme Crown, etc." And be very precise why he did not say "I will exalt You, first Sefirah, etc." Rather, he did not speak about the Sefirah, which was like clothing, but rather spoke about the "soul" which was within it. That is to say: I will exalt You, the Creator, Who is found in the first Sefirah. And from its splendor is made for Him like a garment from wondrous light and from pillars of light, which are, to make a million distinctions without end, like the body to the soul.

And perhaps therefor they called the Creator Yisbarach veYitaleh the "soul of souls." That is to saw the soul to the Sefirot who are fine {/ethereal} things and pillars of pure light, and there is no limit to their fineness, just as the soul which is in the body of man and it is not possible to know its character.

And further, the pious one {=Rabbi Nechunia ben haKana} said in his prayer: "The Attribute of Mercy roll upon us, before Your Creator {קונך} cast our supplication, etc." Behold that he places a distinction between the Attribute and Him, Yisbarach veYisaleh.

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