Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kabbalah and Philosophy pt i

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) In this chapter, the guest will claim that many kabbalistic beliefs are at odds with the beliefs of Chazal and are instead drawn from philosophy. In this particular segment, the guest complains about his lot and the author tells him not to be aggrieved. This post includes scans which were accidentally omitted from the online Vikuach (in block print):

Day Two

And it was on the night of Shemini Atzeret, after Maariv, that I went to the place the man was sitting in shul and greeted him. And he went with me to come to my house, and he began to relate in my ears his story and the hardships which befell him, and his poverty and descent {?}, and I said to him: This is enough for you. Do not further speak to me about this matter, for why are you making me sad on a day of joy?

And if I were a wealthy man, you would be speaking well, but now that I am a teacher of children and sell a bit of my wisdom for small coin and a loaf of bread, what am I able to do for you?

And the little which is cast upon me to do according to my dues {?}, I already do with the poor of the city, and if I share with you my bread a day or two, is this not already a lot in that which is appointed for me?

And now, the only good thing is that you learn from me how it is fitting for a man to be happy with his lot, whether it be a little or much; and how it is fitting for a Torah scholar to be happy with his wisdom, and to rejoice and to be gratified in it much more that others rejoice in their silver and gold, and in their food and drink, and in their wives and concubines. Do you not see that I am killing the vessel that gives life to all {did not get married} (*) so as not to place the heavy burden upon myself of the troubling for livelihood and working in the world. And even though the killing of the aforementioned vessel, and the overcoming of that which intensifies every day is difficult as death and even more, behold the joy of bringing out the truth in Torah and wisdom overcomes all.

When it comes down to it, I fulfill for myself {Kohelet 7:14}:
יד בְּיוֹם טוֹבָה הֱיֵה בְטוֹב, וּבְיוֹם רָעָה רְאֵה; גַּם אֶת-זֶה לְעֻמַּת-זֶה, עָשָׂה הָאֱלֹהִים, עַל-דִּבְרַת שֶׁלֹּא יִמְצָא הָאָדָם אַחֲרָיו, מְאוּמָה. 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God hath made even the one as well as the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.
for according to the events of the world which cause changes from day to day and from month to month, the wise one warns that a person, when he is in a good situation, should not be grieved
(*) When I wrote this book I was, in the year 586 {=1826} I was unmarried, and only in Elul 588 {=1828}, when I was 28 years old, I took a wife.

, lest the hour reverse upon him {and be the opposite}, but rather he should be joyful and happy with lot. Not so on a bad day, for then it is fitting for him to consider. That is to say, to cast his eyes and his heart on the reversals of the matters of the world, and to be comforted from his travail, saying: Perhaps in a bit, I will drink from the cup of salvations.

Therefore, you as well, my brother, since you are not sick not starving, and your bread {/food} is prepared for you for this day or two, be joyful and do not breach your soul and mine with the sufferings of tomorrow.

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