- May 7, 2002"Jewish mysticism then can be dated back pretty far, but not all
Jewish mystical forms are specifically `Kabbalah'." (PMCV, #5860)
Yes, of course, agreed, PMCV. I think perhaps Hermetic Star might be
aware of this from his comment ~
"Even if the Kabbalah is a fairly new creation . ." (Hermetic Star,
~ and that, as you suggest, PMCV, it's more a matter of nomenclature,
mistakenly referring to the ancient roots as well as the medieval
form of Kabbalah under the same term "Kabbalah." Then again, I might
be entirely wrong here and should probably let Hermetic Star speak
for himself. LOL
Anyway, PMCV, you mention, "There are changes that happened that make
Kabbalah destinct from the Merkabah mysticism."
Are you (or others) familiar with this article?
From the text ~
"By the time of the writing of the Zohar, however, God was submerged,
related to the visible world through an intricate web of sefirotic
symbolism. The world, and the human soul, were seen as deep
structures. Kabbalah took on the philosophical project of explaining
the mitzvot, and the rest of creation, apparently without questioning
why the world is necessarily "deep" to begin with. Again, while it
took many of its answers for how the inner structure of the world was
built and how it related to God from non-philosophical sources, it
took its project from philosophy.
Once again, it would be helpful if a Kabbalist had written somewhere
that philosophy had helped him see that there were layers of meaning
beyond the surface, and that was the reason why Provencal and
Geronese Kabbalists in the 12th and 13th century suddenly began
explaining the deeper significance of Jewish ritual life. But such a
text does not exist. And, as before, I am persuaded by Scholem's and
Dan's arguments that Kabbalah does not invent itself because of the
rationalist threat. But, before the twelfth century, and in areas
where philwas not historically widespread, Jewish rabbinic and
mystical thought was not at all interested on the "inner meanings" of
the commandments. After the twelfth century, Kabbalah was all about
Indeed, as Kabbalah flowered, the distinction between "shell"
and "kernel" became the foundation of the entire Kabbalistic
ontology. Here again, the doctrines were likely of ancient origin:
the phenomenological likeness between the Kabbalah's layer of worlds
to gnosticism is quite compelling. But Jewish mysticism had for one
thousand years made use of gnostic imagery and symbolism without
constructing an elaborate system of "inner meanings" of prayer,
ritual acts, and the entirety of human life.
I have suggested that philosophy and Kabbalah are more alike than
different, in that they share the same questions and concerns, even
though they differ greatly on the answers to those questions and the
way those concerns are played out. So successful has the "victory"
been that it is hard even to imagine a religious worldview that is
not particularly interested in how the world was created, and that
doesn't try to uncover the deeper meaning of right human action.
And yet, both the Talmudic-rabbinic and mystical veins within Judaism
appear to be just that. A Yored Merkavah may meditate, utter divine
names, and have a vision of the Chariot, but he is unlikely to
connect that vision either with the nature of the universe or with
the inwardness of his prayers.33 Likewise, the revealed nature of the
commandments was enough for the Rabbinic Jew, who placed value in
their proper performance, not in their intellectual or symbolic inner
structure. To reassert such structures could have been the response
of Judaism to the philosophical challenge -- it would have been an
interesting debate, but it would not have been Kabbalah."
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