Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kabbalah - is it really legitimate for Jews? Not according to many Jewish scholars past and present

Now let's look at Kabbalah, and from JEWISH SOURCES WHO DON'T LIKE IT.

I collected these from online in various places.

this is a list of famous rabbis who rejected either all or classical parts
of Kabbalah
Rabbi Saadiah Gaon wrote in his book Emunot v'Deot that Jews who believe in reincarnation have accepted a non-Jewish belief.

Maimonides (12th Century) discounted the mystical work Shiur Komah, with its starkly anthropomorphic vision of G-d, which is a popular kabbalistic text even in modern times.

Abraham ibn Daud, around 1110 to 1180; rejected reincarnation.

Rabbi Avraham ben haRambam, like his predecessors, writes at length in his book Milhhamot HaShem that the Almighty is in no way literally within time or space nor physically outside time or space, since time and space simply do not apply to His Being whatsoever. His book is almost undeniably targeted at the forbearers of much of kabbalistic thought.

Leon de Modena rejected reincarnation.

Rabbi Nissim ben Reuven (The Ran), 1320-1380; reproved the Nachmonides (Ramban) for devoting too much to kabbalah and is said to have been "no friend of mysticism."

Yedayah Bedershi, early 14th century; rejected reincarnation.

Rabbi Yitzchak ben Sheshet Perfet (The Rivash), 1326-1408; he stated that Kabbalah was "worse than Christianity", as it made God into 10, not just into three.

 [Ed. note as a Christian I would have to say that this conversion to 10
is pretty bad, and a logical outgrowth of the Filioque as St. Photius The Great pointed out it could lead to polytheism.
Of course, the Jewish writer does not understand that the Three we worship are still ONE and misses certain
hints in the Torah and Prophets such as Isaiah 48:16.]
Hasdai ben Abraham Crescas, 1340-1410/11; rejected reincarnation.

Joseph Albo, 15th century; rejected reincarnation.

Rabbi Leon Modena, a 17th century Venetian critic of Kabbalah, wrote that if we were to accept the Kabbalah, then the Christian trinity would indeed be compatible with Judaism, as the Trinity closely resembles the Kabbalistic doctrine of sefirot.

[Ed. note this SUPERFICIAL similarity is probably why some Christians in the late Middle Ages/Renaissance took
a liking to Kabbalah. However, the similarity is very superficial and by no means exact. It is more of a parallel to
pagan pantheons of "gods" begetting "gods" which was then countered by those philosophers who were uncomfortable
with the bad behavior of the "gods" to allegorize it all, and these philosophers sensing there must be a primordial
uncaused cause, First or Prime Mover, etc. tried to reduce them all to being manifestations of one God, some of
these became Christians. One God Who subsists as Three Persons is still monotheism, but a Mystery that is
beyond easy comprehension. And it makes sense that the Creator of the only partly comprehensible universe
would be Himself beyond comprehension.]

Rabbi Yaakov Emden, 1697-1776, wrote the book Mitpahhath Sfarim (Scarf / Veil of the Books) which is a detailed critique of the Zohar. He concludes that certain parts of the Zohar contain heretical teaching and therefore could not have been written by Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai. Opponents of the book claim that he wrote the book in a drunken stupor.

Rabbi Samuel Strashun, 1794-1872, in Bava Metzia 107a, in his famous commentary to the Talmud, R' Strashun (the "Rashash" of Europe) points out a Talmudic proof against gilgulim. A rebbi in Kol Torah put out a book called 'dvar yakov' on tractate bava metzia. In commenting on this particular statement by the Rashah, the author of the book is goes off on how the Rashash could contradict "kabbalistic masters."

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, 1808-1888, among other things, specified that belief in reincarnation is one of the major distinctions between what were the religious opinions (hashqafa) of the Ancient Egyptions in contrast to the religious perspective (hashqafa) of the Jewish Faith. He writes that reincarnation was central to the Egyptian Faith.

Rabbi Yihhyah Qafehh, an early 20th century Yemenite Jewish leader wrote a book called Milhhamoth HaShem, (Wars of the L-RD) against what he perceived as the false teachings of the Zohar and "Lurianic Kabbalah."

Nechama Leibowitz, 1905-1997; renown modern scholar and commentator to the Tanakh - avoided making use of kabbalistic works in her commentaries.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz 1903-1994, the brother of Nechama Leibowitz; he publically shared and supported views expressed in Rabbi Yihhyah Qafehh's book Milhhamoth HaShem that much of popular 'kabbala' is idolatrious; was against allowing kabbalistic texts to influence halakhic practice.

Rabbi Yosef Kapach taught against allowing kabbalistic texts to influence halakhic practice.

Rabbi Jose Faur
the collector of this list says,

"Kabbalah means "reception" or "that which was received." This term was used in reference to the full body of Jewish Law, including Tanakh (Hebrew Bible / O. T) and the Talmudic texts which the Jewish people had inherited (received) from their ancient ancestors. The general meaning of the term remained unchanged until the late Middle Ages. Beginning with the supposed "revelation" of the Zohar in the 1300's (which, by the way, means that it was not part of what the Jews as a people had inherited (ie: received [Kabbalah]) from their ancestors up unto that time), the term Kabbalah slowly began to be applied to mystical teachings as promoted by certain rabbis....While there is no doubt that there is a true esoteric aspect to Torah learning -- referred to in Talmudic literature as Ma'aseh Merquva and Ma'aseh B'resheyth -- yet that which today is known as Kabbalah is neither learned nor taught according to the codified Talmudic laws (halakha) concerning how valid esoteric teachings are to be conveyed (see Hilkhoth Yesodei Torah); Nor does the modern idea of Kabbalah match the historical use of the term. Historical Kabbalah referred to publically known and publically taught Torah teaching which had been passed down generation after generation from the time of the Sanhedrin in accordance with the laws by which these teachings were to be conveyed -- and all without secretes and without unrectifiable contradictions. No concept of the modern Kabbalah (Zohar, etc...) was written about or referred to by any known Jewish leaders until the around the 1300's when this supposed pillar of Judaism was suddenly revealed to the world, without the authority of the Sanhedrin, needless to say. After the revelation of the modern Kabbalah, many innovations began to "revitalize" the Jewish religion and enlighten the masses to the "true" and "deeper" meanings of the commandments and halakhot (rabbinic laws). "
)Other Jewish writers:
"Long-time readers of this blog are probably already aware that I do not hold so-called Jewish mysticism, 
AKA the “Kabbalah” in high regard. While living in Israel, I spent a lot of time and effort researching the origins 
of this malignant tumor upon Judaism. The more I researched, the more clear it became that most of the 
Kabbalah is based on forgeries, baseless fanciful thinking and thinly veiled ideas borrowed from ...various 
ancient pagan religions.... One of the pivotal beliefs of the Kabbalah is that humans can affect the higher 
spiritual realms through our actions, and even through the words we speak – such as in prayer. "


"According to the Kabbalah, a prayer is not simply a creature speaking to his creator. Rather, it is a creature acting as an engineer and manipulating the various relationships between the various lofty spheres (called “sephiroth”).

The belief in an ability to bring about change in remote entities, through seemingly minor actions (before the invention of remote control, mind you), is not unusual in primitive religions. In fact, the first such religion that pops into the minds of many people is Voodoo.....
It never occurred to me, years ago when I rejected the Kabbalah, that this same type of critical thinking would some day lead me to reject Leftism....

"It’s ironic that the most conservative Jews, traditional religious ones, are now the most fervent believers in the Kabbalah. They cling to it because they consider it an integral part of Judaism – and Judaism defines their identity. Yet the remnant of authentic Judaism, which they still keep to some extent, protects their minds from the poisonous brew of the Kabbalah. At least to a certain degree....

It’s not difficult to reveal the true origins of Kabbalistic works such as the Zohar. They are blatant forgeries. What is difficult is to wean people of the defective thought processes that came along with it."
"Other traditional Jews take mysticism with a grain of salt. One prominent Orthodox Jew, when introducing a speaker on the subject of Jewish mysticism, said basically, "it's nonsense, but it's Jewish nonsense, and the study of anything Jewish, even nonsense, is worthwhile.""

The following tidbits show that a tension has existed in Judaism
regarding Kabbalah. So those Jews here who are into it too much,
might want to rethink this. interesting history of the fight between Hassidic
and non Hassidic Jews.
refers to a 9th century famous Jewish Rabbi who scorned reincarnation.

discusses the lower status of Kabbalah than Torah and Talmud. (however, when you
argue things based on a based on b based on c and build a house of cards,
you can end up arguing that something is the only way to serve God correctly
when it isn't, and may even be spoken of disapprovingly by Him in Torah and/or
Prophets, my own remark here.