Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Authenticity of Kabbalah pt xxxi

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The author just suggested that there was indeed dispute among the kabbalists, but the Ramban, Rabbenu Bachya, and so on, who held that the Sefirot were Divinity, were the true kabbalists, but the others who argue were not true kabbalists. The guest notes the problem with saying that -- for then the Arizal, Rabbi Moshe Cordevero, and the Rama miPano are not true kabbalists. He then cites them to show that they maintain this. The text of the Vikuach follows:

The guest: It is not possible for you to say so, since after all the Rabbi Moshe Cordevero and the Rabbi Menachem Azaria of Pano (Rama miPano), and the Ari himself, who according to the words of the kabbalists had ruach hakodesh resting upon him, all of them with one mouth say that the Sefirot are not themselves Divinity, and that there was already to them a beginning of existence.

And now, take to me the sefer Pelach haRimon from Rabbi Menachem Azaria of Pano, and see.

And I took the sefer Pelach haRimon, and the man read in it from gate 4 chapter 1, and this is its language: "And others invested themselves as a matter of halacha to believe that the Sefirot are themselves Divinity, nothing else, and they said that the changing of the names and the number of the Sefirot does not compel an increase in the Emanator, for they are not associated with Him except in the way of receivers of different aspects {?}. And with them we will argue and judge together:

Say, please, fearers of Hashem, what is the need, if so, of designating an attribute with an attribute, that this accepts and that influences? And who gave in the identity of One aspects which are affected one from the other? And where is the unity which is completed {?} from our prayers and the intent of our precepts, etc.? And also on the existence of the attributes themselves, who is the decider to attribute to them a number in a place it is fitting to us to refrain from counting, for there is no number?"

And further, there in gate 3 chapter 1: It has already been explained from that which they taught {tnan}, "ten and not nine" that the Supreme Crown {keter elyon} is not the Emanator, like the position of a few who deduce from the end part {the sefa} "they are ten and not eleven," and it is a broad halacha by them that the Sefirot are themselves Divinity, according to their position; and in gate 4, with the aid of Heaven, we will make blind eyes able to see with this exposition."

And further, read before me from sefer Asis Rimonim printed on the side of Pelach haRimon, and it is of Rabbi Moshe Cordevero z"l, and this is his language: And according to the second position that they are the identity, how free of illness and worry was this man {see Yoma 22b}, and he said this as he was nodding off and sleeping, for if so, there is no need for the Malchut {Kingship} to receive from Tiferet {Glory}, and no other attribute except for it, just as it would not be correct to say about the Sun that its attribute of drying is dependent upon and requires the attribute that it melts things, etc. And furthermore, according to opinion, the Sefirah is not found except at the time of the action, and when the action is removed the Sefirah is removed, forfend, and when it comes down to it, according to his words, the Sefirah is not in true existence, forfend, and like this should not be heard from our mouths. Therefore, it falls upon us the command of explaining these positions, for both this and that are the words of the Living God, and together they are complete.

I {=the author} said to him: In truth, the beginning of the words increased in my heart the confusion and the doubt, but the end of the words were for me a peace from my grief and my ire. And behold you see with your eyes how there is no dispute here at all whatsoever, for "both these and these are the words of the Living God, and together they will be complete."

The guest: With empty condolences has Rabbi Moshe Cordevero comforted you. And once he related in the beginning of his words that the one who says that the Sefirot are themselves Divinity said them while tired and asleep, he cannot then turn around and relate that both these and these are the words of the Living God. For still, the two opposites cannot stand together in one topic, and all his efforts and labors to forcefully bring close the distant {positions} are only the flattery that the Torah scholars in Eretz Yisrael flatter each other with flattery, lest all to them as one come to shame in the eyes of the Diaspora which provides them with their needs.

And behold and see that the Rema miPano who did not {improperly} regard man {nosei panim} because he was exalted with riches, even though he always traveled in the path of Rabbi Moshe Cordevero, he did not say nor hint that both these and those were the words of the Living God, but rather he wages battle against those who say that the Sefirot are Divinity, and said "and with them we will dispute and judge together."

And now, take to me the sefer Shomer Emunim and see the words of the Ari.

And I took the sefer, and he found written in it, in the first dispute, siman 63: That which it is called First Man {Adam Kadmon} is not because it has no start and beginning, but rather because it was before all the rest of the Emanations, like what the Rav (this refers to the Ari) z"l wrote in sefer Adam Yashar, anaf 4 (not anaf 70 -- see the errata). And in the first anaf, he wrote, and this is his language: "And yet, that emanation of this "Adam Kadmon," and certainly the other worlds which are under it as mentioned, had a beginning and an end, and had to them a beginning of their existence and their emanation."

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