The Cabala (2)

19.07.2015 11:02



Visionary Teachings.--The new text-book of religion which was introduced into Judaism by stealth, "placed the Kabbala, which a century before had been unknown, on the same level as the Bible and the Talmud, and to a certain extent on a still higher level. The Zohar undoubtedly produced good, in so far as it opposed enthusiasm to the legal dry-as-dust manner of the study of the Talmud, stimulated the imagination and the feelings, and cultivated a disposition that restrained the reasoning faculty. But the ills which it has brought on Judaism outweigh the good by far. The Zohar confirmed and propagated a gloomy superstition, and strengthened in people's minds the belief in the Kingdom of Satan, in evil spirits and ghosts. Through its constant use of coarse expression, often verging on the sensual, in contradistinction to the chaste, pure spirit pervading Jewish literature, the Zohar sowed the

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seeds of unclean desires, and later on produced a sect that laid aside all regard for decency. Finally, the Zohar blunted the sense for the simple and the true, and created a visionary world in which the souls of those who zealously occupied themselves with it were lulled into a sort of half-sleep and lost the faculty of distinguishing between right and wrong. Its quibbling interpretations of Holy Writ, adopted by the Kabbalists and others infected with this mannerism, perverted the verses and words of the Holy Book, and made the Bible the wrestling-ground of the most curious insane notions."

During the thirteenth century the Cabala was represented in Italy by Menahem di Recanati who wrote a commentary on the Pentateuch which is little else than a commentary on the Zohar. This work was translated into Latin by Pico della Mirandola.

At the beginning of the fourteenth century Joseph ben Abraham ibn Wakkar (1290-1340) endeavored to reconcile the Cabala with philosophy, and to this end wrote a treatise on the cardinal doctrines of the Cabala. An analysis of this treatise, which is still in manuscript in the Bodleian library (cod. Laud. 119; described by Uri No. 384) is given by Steinschneider in Ersch and Gruber's Allgemeine Encyclopädie, Part II, Vol. XXXI, p. 100 f.

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During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the Cabala was especially cultivated in Spain. In unmeasured terms the Zoharites denounced their co-religionists who could not see the advantages of the Cabala. Prominent among the Zoharites was Abraham of Granada, who composed (between 1391 and 1409) a cabalistic work Berith menuchat, "The Covenant of Peace," (Amsterdam, 1648), a farrago of strange names of the Deity and the angels, of transposed letters, and jugglery with vowels and accents. "He had the hardihood," says Graetz, "to teach that those who could not apprehend God by Cabalistic methods belonged to the weak in faith, were ignorant sinners, and like the depraved and the apostate were overlooked by God, and not found worthy of His special providence. He thought that the relinquishment of their religion by cultured Jews was explained by their fatal application to scientific study, and their contempt for the Cabala. On the other hand he professed to see in the persecutions of 1391, and in the conversion of so many prominent Jews to Christianity, the tokens of the Messianic age, the suffering that must precede it, and the approach of the redemption." Another such writer was Shem Tob ben Joseph ibn Shem Tob (died 1430), author of Emunoth, i.e., "Faithfulness" (Ferrara, 1557), in which he attacks Jewish thinkers and philosophers as

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heretics, and maintains that the salvation of Israel depends upon the Cabala. The third writer was Moses Botarel (or Botarelo), also a Spaniard, who claimed to be a thaumaturge and prophet, and even announced himself as the Messiah. He prophesied that in the spring of 1393 the Messianic age would be ushered in. As the Cabala penetrated all branches of life and literature, voices were also raised against the Zohar. The first among the Jews who opposed its authority was Elias del Medigo, who in his Bechinath ha-daath (i.e., "Examination of the Law," written in December, 1491) openly expressed his opinion that the Zohar was the production of a forger, and that the Cabala was made up of the rags and tatters of the neo-Platonic school. But his voice and that of others had no power to check the rapid progress of the Cabala, which had now found its way from Spain and Italy into Palestine and Poland.

Wonder Workers and Prophets.--Passing over some minor advocates and teachers of the Cabala, we must mention two scholars in Palestine, who distinguished themselves as masters of the Cabala, Moses Cordovero 1 and Isaac Luria. The former (1522-1570) was a pupil of Solomon Alkabez 2 and wrote many works on the Cabala. His principal work is the Pardes Rim-monim, i.e.,



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[paragraph continues] "The Garden of Pomegranates." (Cracow, 1591), excerpts of which have been translated into Latin by Bartolocci in Bibliotheca Magna Rabbinicia, Vol. IV, p. 231 f., and by Knorr von Rosenroth, "Tractatus de Anima ex libro Pardes Rimonim" in his Kabbala Denudata, Sulzbach, 1677. Cordovero is chiefly occupied with the scientific speculations of the Cabala, or the speculative Cabala, in contradistinction to the wonder-working Cabala, which was represented by Isaac Luria (born in Jerusalem in 1534, and died 1572). He claimed to have constant interviews with the prophet Elijah, who communicated to him sublime doctrines. He visited the sepulchers of ancient teachers, and there, by prostrations and prayers, obtained from their spirits all manner of revelations. He was convinced that he was the Messiah, the son of Joseph, and that he was able to perform all sorts of miracles. He imagined a complete system of transmigration and combination of souls. He saw spirits everywhere; he saw how the souls were set free from the body at death, how they hovered in the air, or rose out of their graves. On the Sabbath he dressed in white, and wore a fourfold garment to symbolize the four letters of the name of God. His sentiments he delivered orally and his disciples treasured

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up his marvelous sayings, whereby they performed miracles and converted thousands to the doctrines of this theosophy.

His disciples were divided into two classes, the "initiated" and the "novices," who boastfully called themselves "guré ari," i.e., "the lion's whelps." They systematically circulated the most absurd stories about Luria's miracles, and thus it came about that his cabalistic doctrines caused inexpressible harm in Jewish circles. Through Luria's influence a Judaism of the Zohar and the Cabala was formed side by side with the Judaism of the Talmud and the rabbis; for it was due to him that the spurious Zohar was placed upon a level with, indeed higher than, the Holy Scriptures and the Talmud.

The real exponent of Luria's cabalistic system was Chayim Vital Calabrese 3 (1543-1620). After his master's death he diligently collected all the manuscript notes of the lectures delivered by Luria, which together with his own jottings Vital published under the title of Ez chayim, i.e., "The Tree of Life," 4 having spent over thirty years upon their preparation. The work consists of six parts; that portion which treats of the doctrine of metempsychosis (Hagilgulim), is found



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in a Latin translation in Knorr von Rosenroth's work.

The Luria-Vital system found many adherents everywhere. Abraham de Herera (died 1639) wrote in Spanish two cabalistic works, the "House of God" (beth Elohim) and the "Gate of Heaven" (shaar ha-shemayim), which the Amsterdam preacher Isaac Aboab translated into Hebrew. Both are given in a Latin translation in Knorr von Rosenroth's work, together with a translation of "The Valley of the King" (emek ha-melech) by Naphtali Frankfurter. Besides these we may mention Isaiah Horwitz (died at Tiberias in 1629), author of Sh’ne luchoth haberith (abbreviated Shela), i.e., "The Two Tables of the Covenant," a kind of Real-Encyclopedia of Judaism on a cabalistic basis. This work has been often reprinted and enjoys a great reputation among the Jews. Abridgments of it were frequently published (Amsterdam, 1683; Venice, 1705; Warsaw, 1879) .

There were not wanting those who opposed the Cabala. Of the numerous opponents which the Zohar and Luria-Vital's works called forth, none was so daring, so outspoken and powerful as Leon de Modena of Venice (1571-1648). He is best known as the author of Historia dei Riti Hebraici ed observanza degli Hebrei di questi tempi, or the "History of the Rites, Customs and

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[paragraph continues] Manner of Life of the Jews" (Padua, 1640), and translated into Latin, French, Dutch, English. 5 But besides this and other works, he also wrote a polemical treatise against the Cabalists, whom he despised and derided, entitled Ari noham, i.e., "Roaring Lion," published by Julius Fürst, Leipsic, 1840. In this treatise he shows that the cabalistic works, "which are palmed upon ancient authorities, are pseudonymous; that the doctrines themselves are mischievous; and that the followers of this system are inflated with proud notions, pretending to know the nature of God better than any one else, and to possess the nearest and best way of approaching the Deity." He even went so far as to question whether God will ever forgive those who printed the cabalistic works (comp. Fürst, p. 7), and this no doubt, because so many Cabalists joined the Church.

But no opposition could stem the tide of the Cabala. Its wonder-working branch had now largely laid hold on the minds and fancies of the Jews, and was producing among them the most mournful and calamitous effects. The chief actor in this tragedy was the cabalist Sabbatai Zebi, 6



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born at Smyrna, July, 1641. When fifteen years of age he rapidly mastered the mysteries of the Cabala, which he expounded before crowded audiences at the age of eighteen. When twenty-four years of age, he revealed to his disciples that he was the Messiah, the son of David, the true Redeemer, and that he was to redeem and deliver Israel from their captivity. At the same time he publicly pronounced the Tetragrammaton, 7 which the high priest was only permitted to do on the day of atonement. As he would not desist, he was excommunicated by the Jewish sages at Smyrna. He went to Salonica, Athens, Morea and Jerusalem, teaching his doctrines, proclaiming himself the Messiah, anointing prophets and converting thousands upon thousands. As his followers prepared to be led back by him to Jerusalem, they wound up their affairs, and in many places trade was entirely stopped. By the order of the Sultan, Mohammed IV, Sabbathai Zevi was arrested and taken before him at Adrianople. The Sultan said to him: "I am going to test thy Messiahship. Three poisoned arrows shall be shot into thee, and if they do not kill thee, I too will believe that thou art the Messiah." He saved himself by embracing Islamism in the presence of the Sultan, who gave him the name Effendi, and appointed him Kapidji-Bashi. Sabbathai


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died Sept. 10, 1676, after having ruined thousands upon thousands of Jewish families. In spite of this fiasco the number of Sabbathai's followers was not diminished.

Famous as a champion of orthodoxy was Jacob Israel Emden (1696-1776) rabbi of Altona. During his rabbinate there, the famous Jonathan Eybenschütz 8 (born in Cracow in 1690) was called to Altona in 1750, since the German and Polish Jews were divided in that place. As every rabbi was regarded as a sort of magician, the new-comer was expected to stop the epidemic raging at that time in the city. Eybenschütz prepared amulets, which he distributed among the people. For curiosity's sake one was opened, and to! in it was written: "O thou God of Israel, who dwellest in the beauty of thy power, send down salvation to this person through the merit of thy servant Sabbathai Zevi, in order that thy name, and the name of the Messiah Sabbathai Zevi, may be hallowed in the world." This amulet came into the hands of Emden. Eybenschütz denied all connection with the adherents of Sabbathai, and as he had already gained a great influence, he was believed; at least, almost everybody kept quiet. But Emden was not quiet, and finally the ban was pronounced against Eybenschütz. Even the King Frederic V of Denmark


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sided with Emden, and Eybenschütz lost his position. Being forsaken by his friends, Eybenschütz went to his former pupil, Moses Gerson Kohen, who after baptism took the name of Karl Anton. Anton wrote an apology in behalf of his teacher, which he dedicated to the King of Denmark. This and other influences had the effect that the whole affair was dropped and Eybenschütz was elected anew as rabbi of the congregation. Eybenschütz died in 1764 and was followed twelve years later by his opponent Emden. Both are buried in the Jewish cemetery of Altona.

Another Zoharite was Jacob Frank 9 (Jankiew Lebowicz), the founder of the Jewish sect of the Frankists, born in Poland in 1712. He acquired a great reputation as a Cabalist, and settled in Podolia, where he preached a new doctrine, the fundamental principles of which he had borrowed from the teachings of Sabbathai Zevi. He was arrested through the influence of the rabbis, but was liberated through the intervention of the Roman Catholic clergy, and authorized by the King to profess freely his tenets. His followers then, under the name of Zoharites and Anti-Talmudists oppressed their former adversaries in turn. As the papal nuncio at Warsaw declared against them, Frank and most of his adherents embraced


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[paragraph continues] Christianity. Frank continued to make proselytes and his sect increased in Poland and Bohemia. He lived in princely style on means furnished him by his followers, and died at Offenbach, in Hesse, December 10, 1791.

The Cabalists of the eighteenth century, with the exception of Moses Chayim Luzzatto (born 1707, died 1747), are of little importance. Modern influences gradually put a stop to the authority of the Cabala, and modern Judaism sees in the Cabala in general only an historical curiosity or an object of literary historical disquisitions.


57:1 See my article s.v. "Moses Cordovero," loc. cit.

57:2 p. 58 He is the author of a hymn "Lecha dodi," i.e., "Come my beloved," which is found in all Jewish prayer-books, and used in the service for Sabbath eve.

59:3 See my article s.v. "Vital" in McClintock and Strong.

59:4 For a description of the component parts of this work, see Fürst, Bibliotheca Judaica, III, pp. 479-481.

61:5 The English translation is found in Picard's Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations of the Known World, Vol. I, London, 1733.

61:6 See my article s.v. "Sabbatai Zebi" in McClintock and Strong; see also Geschichte des Sabbatai-Zebi, sein Leben and Treiben, Warsaw, 1883; and Der Erzbetrüger Sabbatai Sevi, der letzte falsche Messias der Juden, etc., Halle, 1760; Berlin, 1908.

62:7 Called by the Jews shem-hammephorash, on which see my article s.v. in McClintock and Strong.

63:8 See my article s.v. "Eybenschütz" in loc. cit., Vol. XII, p. 367.

64:9 Comp. Graetz, Frank and die Frankisten, Berlin, 1868.





God and Creation.--After having become acquainted in previous chapters with the principal actors in the cabalistic drama we are now prepared to examine the tenets of the Cabala.

Different from the system as exhibited in the Book of Creation or Jezirah is that of the Zohar, because the more difficult, since it embraces not merely the origin of the world, but likewise speculates on the essence of God and the properties of man; in other words it treats of theology, cosmology and anthropology.

Starting from the idea of the Supreme Being as boundless in his nature--which necessarily implies that he is an absolute unity and inscrutable, and that there is nothing without him--God is called En Soph, i.e., "endless," "boundless." In this boundlessness God cannot be comprehended by the intellect, nor described in words; for there is nothing which can grasp him and depict him

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to us, 1 and as such he is in a certain sense not existent (ayin); since, as far as our mind is concerned, that which is incomprehensible does not exist.

The En Soph, not being an object of cognition, made his existence known in the creation of the world by means of attributes or mediums, the ten Sephiroth, or intelligences, radiations, emanations, emanating from the En Soph, and which in their totality represent and are called the Adam Kadmon, the "Primordial or Archetypal Man."

The first Sephirah is called Kether, "Crown"; the second Chochma, "Wisdom"; the third Bina, "Intelligence"; the fourth Chesed, "Mercy"; the fifth Dîn, "Judgment"; the sixth Tiphereth, "Beauty"; the seventh Nezach, "Splendor"; the eighth Hôd, "Majesty"; the ninth Jesôd, "Foundation"; the tenth Malchûth, "Kingdom."

Now the first Sephirah, which is called the Crown, the Aged, 2 the Primordial or the Smooth Point, 3 the White Head, the Long Face, Macroprosopon,




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the Inscrutable Height, 4 contained the other nine Sephiroth and gave rise to them in the following order: from the first Sephirah proceeded a masculine or active potency designated (2) Chochma, "Wisdom," and an opposite, i.e., a feminine or passive potency, called (3) Bina, "Intelligence." These two opposite potencies are joined together by the first potency, and thus yield the first triad of the Sephiroth. From the junction of the foregoing opposites, which are also called "Father" (abba) and "Mother" (imma) emanated again the masculine or active potency called (4) Chesed, "Mercy or Love," also Gedulah, "Greatness," and from this again emanated the feminine or passive potency called (5) Din, "Judgment," also Geburah, "Judical Power." From this again emanated the uniting potency (6) Tiphereth, "Beauty." We have thus the second trinity of the Sephiroth. Now Beauty beamed forth the masculine or active potency (7) Nezach, "Splendor," and this again gave rise to (8) the feminine or passive potency Hod, "Majesty"; from it again emanated (9) Jesôd, "Foundation,"


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which yields the third trinity. From Jesôd, finally emanated (10) Malchûth, "Kingdom," also called Schechinah.

The Cabalists delight in representing the ten Sephiroth under different forms; now as Adam Kadmon, "Primordial or Archetypal Man," now as the cabalistic tree or the Ilân, in which the crown is represented by the first Sephirah and the root by the last.

The Divine Man.--As to the Adam Kadmon which is shown in the following figure, the Crown represents the head; Wisdom, the brains; Intelligence which unites the two and produces the first triad, the heart or the understanding. The fourth and fifth Sephiroth, i.e., Love and Justice are the two arms, the former the right arm and the latter the left; one distributing life and the other death. The sixth Sephirah, Beauty, uniting these two opposites and producing the second triad, is the chest. Firmness and Splendor of the third triad represent the two legs, whereas Foundation, the ninth Sephirah, represents the genital organs, since it denotes the basis and source of all things. Finally Kingdom, the tenth Sephirah, represents the harmony of the whole Archetypal Man.

Now in looking at the Sephiroth which constitute the first triad, it will be seen that they

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represent the intellect; hence this triad is called by Azariel the "intellectual world" (olam muskal or olam ha-sechel). The second triad which represents

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moral qualities, is called the "moral" or "sensuous world" (olam murgash, also olam ha-nephesh); and the third, representing power and stability, is called the "material world" (olam

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mutba or olam ha-teba).

As concerns the cabalistic tree (the ilân ha-cabala), the Sephiroth are so arranged that the first triad is placed above, the second and third are

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placed below, in such a manner that the three masculine Sephiroth are on the right, the three feminine on the left, whilst the four uniting Sephiroth occupy the center, as shown in Fig 2.

According to another arrangement the Sephiroth are so ordered that they form three pillars, a right one (sitra dimina, also amuda de-chesed, i.e., the pillar of mercy); a left one (sitra dismola, also amuda de-dina, i.e., the pillar of judgment), and a middle one (amuda de-emzaïta). In the right pillar to which belong the Sephiroth Wisdom, Love and Firmness, is life; in the left with the Sephiroth Intelligence, Judgment, Splendor, is Death. The middle pillar comprises Crown, Beauty, Foundation. The basis of all three pillars is the Kingdom. Fig. 3 illustrates this.

So far as the Sephiroth represent the first manifestation of God they form a world for themselves, an ideal world which has nothing to do with the real, material world. As such it is now called the primordial, the Archetypal Man (Adam Kadmon), now the Heavenly Man (Adam Ilaî). As for the Adam Kadmon, different views exist in the cabalistic writings. He is sometimes taken as the totality of the Sephiroth, and he appears as a pre-Sephirotic first emanation and superior to them, by which God manifested himself as creator and ruler of the

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world, as it were a prototype (macrocosm) of the entire creation. In this case it would seem as if the Adam Kadmon were a first manifestation, inserted between God and the world, so to say a second God 5 or the divine Word. 6

According to a later theorem four worlds proceed by an emanation in different gradations. This is expressed by Ibn Latif thus: As the point extends and thickens into a line, the line into the plane, the plane into the expanded body, thus God's self-manifestation unfolds itself in the different worlds.

In each of these four worlds the ten Sephiroth recur. The first Sephirah gave birth to the Olam azîla or "world of emanation," containing the powers of the divine plan of the world. Its beings have the same nature as that belonging to the world of the Sephiroth or to the Adam Kadmon. This world which is also called the olam ha-sephiroth, i.e., "the world of the Sephiroth," is the seat of the Shechinah. From the olam azîla proceeded the olam beria or "world of creation," in which according to Rabbi Isaac Nasir 7 are the souls of the saints, all the blessings, the




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throne of the Deity, and the palaces of all spiritual and moral perfection. The olam beria gave birth to the olam jezîrah or "world of formation," in which dwell the holy angels, whose prince is Metatron. 8 But there are also the demons, which on account of their grossly sensual nature are called Keliphoth, "shells," and inhabit the planets and other heavenly bodies or the realm of the ether.

The fourth world is called olam assiya, the "world of action." Its substances consist of matter limited by space and perceptible to the senses in a multiplicity of forms. It is subject to constant changes, generations, arid corruptions, and is the abode of the Evil Spirit.

Like the Talmud and the Midrash, the Zohar represents the optimistic view, that the present world is the best. Thus we read (Zohar, III, 292b: "There were old worlds, which perished as soon as they came into existence; they were formless, and were called sparks. Thus the smith


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when hammering the iron, lets the sparks fly in all directions. These sparks are the primordial worlds, which could not continue, because the Sacred Aged had not as yet assumed his form (of opposite sexes--the King and Queen), and the Master was not yet at his work." And again we read (III, 61b): "The Holy One, blessed be he, created and destroyed several worlds before o the present one was made, and when this last work was nigh completed, all the things of this world, all the creatures of the universe, in whatever age they were to exist, before they entered into this world, were present before God in their true form. Thus are the words of Ecclesiastes to be understood. 'The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done.'"

Since the Cabalists viewed all things from the anthropological point of view, they also transformed to the world of the Sephiroth the difference of sex. The male principle, called Abba, is white and of an active nature, appearing especially in the Sephirah Love, but also at the bottom of the three Sephiroth on the right side. The female principle, on the other hand, which owes its origin to the male principle, is red and of a receptive nature. It is mainly visible in the Sephira Justice, but is also at the bottom of the three Sephiroth on the left. The sign of the male

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principle is the "Y," that of the female the "H" in the divine name YHVH. What we learn is this: the Sephiroth teach that everything which exists is imperishable and like God. As nothing perishes in the world or is fully annihilated, thus the stamp and seal of divinity is stamped on all beings. God as the Invisible and Endless (En Soph) became visible and intelligible by the Sephiroth; the human mind can come to him, can know and conceive him.

The Realm of Evil.--Besides the heavenly realm of the Sephiroth of light or of the good, there is also a realm of the Sephiroth of darkness or of evil. Over against the supreme emanation of light, the Adam Kadmon, stands as opponent the Adam Belial. The same is the case with every light-sephirah, it is opposed by a Sephirah of darkness. Thus both are related to one another as the right side to the left; the light-Sephiroth form the right side, the darkness-Sephiroth the left side (sitra achra). The realm of darkness is figuratively called also the kingdom of Cain, Esau and Pharaoh (Zohar, I, 55a). Like the kingdom of light that of darkness has ten degrees. As the kingdom of light is inhabited by good spirits, so the kingdom of darkness is inhabited by evil spirits (demons, shells). Their prince is called Samaël (angel of poison or of

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death); his wife is called the Harlot or the' Woman of Whoredom. Both are thought of as having intercourse with each other just as in the realm of light God as king has intercourse with Malchuth as queen. Through the influence of the evil powers the creation is continually disturbed. Men are seduced to apostasy from God, and thus the kingdom of the evil grows and the Keliphoth or shells increase. In the figurative language of the Zohar this disturbance of the creation is described as if the king and queen kept aloof from each other and could not work together for the welfare of the world. But this discord is finally harmonized by repentance, self-mortification, prayer and strict observance of the prescribed ceremonies, and the original harmony of things is again restored. It must be observed however that the teaching about the opposition of the two kingdoms belongs to the later doctrines of the Cabala and its development belongs to the thirteenth century.

Closely connected with the doctrine about evil is that of the Messiah. His coming takes place when the kingdom of the Keliphoth is overcome through the pious and virtuous life of men here on earth; then also takes place the restoration of the original state of affairs (tikkun). Since under his rule everything turns to the divine light, all idolatry ceases, because the Keliphoth no

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longer seduce men to apostasy. Cabala as mistress, rules then over the slave philosophy. In the upper world, too, great changes take place at the coming of the Messiah. The king again has intercourse with the queen. Through their copulation the divinity regains the destroyed unity. But Wünsche says that cabalistic literature, especially the Zohar, often describes this union of the king and the queen in terms bordering on shamelessness and shocking to decency and morals.

The whole universe, however, was not complete, and did not receive its finishing stroke till man was formed, who is the acme of creation, and the microcosm uniting in himself the totality of beings. 9 The lower man is a type of the heavenly Adam Kadmon. 10 Man consists of body and soul. Though the body is only the raimant or the covering of the soul, yet it represents the Merkaba (the heavenly throne-chariot). All members have their symbolic meaning. Greater than the body is the soul, because it emanates from the En Soph and has the power to influence the intelligible world by means of channels (zinnoroth) and to bring blessings upon the nether world. The soul is called nephesh, "life," ruach, "soul," and neshâmâ, "spirit." As neshama,



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which is the highest degree of being, it has the power to come into connection with God and the realm of light; as ruach it is the seat of good and evil; as nephesh it is immediately connected with the body and is the direct cause of its lower functions, instincts, and animal life.

Psychology.--Like Plato, Origen, etc., the Cabala teaches a pre-existence of the soul. 11 All souls destined to enter into human bodies existed from the beginning. Clad in a spiritual garb they dwell in their heavenly abode and enjoy the view of the divine splendor of the Shechinah. With great reluctance the soul enters into the body, for as Zohar, II, 96b, tells us, the soul, before assuming a human body, addresses God: "Lord of the Universe! Happy am I in this world, and do not wish to go into another where I shall be a bondmaid, and be exposed to all kinds of pollutions." Here, too, we notice again the influence of Platonic and Philonian doctrines. In its original state each soul is androgynous, and is separated into male and female when it descends on earth to be born in a human body. At the time of marriage both parts are united again as they were before, and again constitute one soul


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[paragraph continues] (Zohar, I, 91b). This doctrine reminds us of Plato and Philo no less than that other (viz. of ἀνάμνησις) that the soul carries her knowledge with her to the earth, so that "every thing which she learns here below she knew already, before she entered into this world" (Zohar, III, 61b). Of great interest is the metempsychosis of the Cabala. How this doctrine, already espoused by the Egyptians, Pythagoreans and Plato, came into Jewish mysticism, is not yet fully explained. 12 But it is interesting to learn of the destiny of man and the universe according to the Cabalists.

It is an absolute condition of the soul to return to the Infinite Source from which it emanated, after developing on earth the perfections, the germs of which are implanted in it. If the soul, after assuming a human body, fails during its first sojourn on earth to acquire that experience for which it descends from heaven, and becomes contaminated by sin, it must re-inhabit a body again and again, till it is able to ascend in a purified state. This transmigration or gilgul, however, is restricted to three times. "And if two souls in their third residence in human bodies are still too weak to resist all earthly trammels and to


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acquire the necessary experience, they are both united and sent into one body, so that they may be able conjointly to learn that which they were too feeble to do separately. It sometimes happens, however, that it is the singleness and isolation of the soul which is the source of the weakness, and it requires help to pass through its probation. In that case it chooses for a companion a soul which has more strength and better fortune. The stronger of the two then becomes as it were the mother; she carries the sickly one in her bosom, and nurses her from her own substance, just as a woman nurses her child. Such an association is therefore called pregnancy (ibbur), because the stronger soul gives as it were life and substance to the weaker companion."

This doctrine of the Superfoetatio was especially taught by Isaac Loria or Luria. It is obvious that this doctrine of the Ibbur naturally led to wild superstition and fraudulent thaumaturgy. Loria himself claimed to have the soul of the Messiah ben Joseph. Connected with Loria's system is the doctrine of the Kawânâ, by which is meant the absorbed state of the soul in its direction towards God when performing the ceremonies, in prayer, self-mortification, in the pronunciation of the divine name and reading of the Zohar, whereby the bounds are broken and the fulness of blessing from the upper world is

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brought down upon the lower.

The world, being an expansion of the Deity's own substance, must also share ultimately that blessedness which it enjoyed in its first evolution, Even Satan himself, the archangel of wickedness, will be restored to his angelic nature, since he, too, proceeded from the Infinite Source of all things. When the last human soul has passed through probation, then the Messiah will appear and the great jubilee year will commence, when the whole pleroma of souls (otzar ha-neshamoth), cleansed and purified shall return to the bosom of the Infinite Source and rest in the "Palace of Love" (Zohar, II, 97a).

Mystic Interpretation.--The exegetical ingenuity of the Cabala is interesting to the theologian. The principle of the mystic interpretation is universal and not peculiar to one or another school, as every one will perceive in ecclesiastical history, and even in the history of Greek literature. We find it in Philo, in the New Testament, in the writings of the fathers, in the Talmud, and in the Zohar; and the more such an interpretation departed from the spirit of the sacred text, the more necessary was it to bring the scriptures to its support by distortions of their meanings. 13


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Passing over all manner of subtleties of the pre-Zoharic times, we will consider the masterly performances of the Cabalists. According to them the letters, words and names of the scriptures contain divine mysteries of wondrous, mystical thoughts and ideas, of significant symbols and riddles, on which depends the continuance of the world. (Zohar, II, 99a). "Is it conceivable," the Zohar makes one of Simon ben Jochaï's circle exclaim, "that God had no holier matters to communicate than these common things about Esau and Hagar, Laban and Jacob, Balaam's ass, Balak's jealousy of Israel, and Zimri's lewdness? Does a collection of such tales, taken in their ordinary sense, deserve the name of Torah? And can it be said of such a revelation that it utters the pure truth? If that is all the Torah contains, we can produce in our time a book as good as this, aye, perhaps better. No, no! the higher, mystical sense of the Torah is its true sense. The biblical narratives resemble a beautiful dress which enraptures fools so that they do not look beneath it. This robe, however, covers a body, i.e., the precepts of the Law, and this again a soul, the higher soul. Woe to the guilty, who assert that the Torah contains only simple stories, and therefore look only upon the dress. Blessed are the righteous, who seek the real sense of the

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[paragraph continues] Law. The jar is not the wine, so stories do not make up the Torah" (ibid., III, 152a) . Thus the Cabalists attached little importance to the literal sense; yet not a single iota was to be taken from it and nothing was to be added to it (ibid., II, 99).

In order to elicit the mysteries from the scriptures, the Cabalists employed certain hermeneutical canons, 14 viz.:

1. Gematria15 i.e., the art of discovering the hidden sense of the text by means of the numerical equivalents of the letters. Thus from the Hebrew words ‏והנה שלשה‎ (vehineh sheloshah) translated "lo! three (men stood by him)" in Gen. xviii, 2, it is deduced that these three were the angels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, because the letters yield the numerical value of 701, viz.

‏ו‎ = 6 + ‏ה‎ = 5 + ‏נ‎ = 50 + ‏ה‎ = 5 + ‏ש‎ = 300 + ‏ל‎ = 30 + ‏ש‎ = 300 + ‏ה‎ = 5 = 701; and the same number yields the words ‏אלו מיכאל גכריאל ורפאל‎, viz. = ‏א‎ = 1 + ‏ל‎ = 30 + ‏ו‎ = 6 + ‏מ‎ = 40 + ‏י‎ = 10 + ‏כ‎ = 20 + ‏א‎ = 1 + ‏ל‎ = 30 + ‏ג‎ = 3 + ‏כ‎ = 2 + ‏ר‎ = 200 + ‏י‎ = 10 + ‏א‎ = 1 + ‏ל‎ = 30 + ‏ו‎ = 6 + ‏ר‎ = 200 + ‏פ‎ = 80 + ‏א‎ = 1 + ‏ל‎ = 30 =701.

A like figuring we find in the Epistle of Barnabas, ch, ix, with reference to the 318 servants



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of Abraham, mentioned in Gen. xiv. 14. The author lays stress upon the fact that in the Hebrew the "eighteen" are mentioned first, and the "three hundred" afterwards. In the eighteen expressed by the Greek letters Ι = 10 and Η = 8 he sees Jesus (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ), and in the three hundred he sees by the letter Τ = 300, the cross.

With this canon may be compared the "number-oracle," by means of which one can tell from the number of the letters of the name and the dates of the birth important years and days in the life of a man. Thus, for instance, Emperor William I, was born March 22, 1797; 3 + 22 + 1797 + 7 (number of the letters of the name = 1829, the year of marriage; 1829 + 1 + 8 + 2 + 9 = 1849, campaign to Baden; 1849 + 1 + 8 + 4 + 9 = 1871, coronation as emperor; 1871 + 1 + 8 + 7 + 1 = 1888, year of death. Napoleon III, born 4, 20, 1808; 4 + 20 + 1808 + 8 (number of the letters of the name) = 1840, the coup at Boulogne; 1840 + 1 + 8 + 4 + 0 = 1853, first year as emperor; 1853 + 1 + 8 + 5 + 3 = 1870; end of his rule. 16

2. Notarikon (from the Latin notarius, a short-hand writer, one who among the Romans belonged to that class of writers who abbreviated and used single letters to signify whole words),


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is employed when every letter of a word is taken as an initial or abbreviation of a word. Thus, for instance, every letter of the Hebrew first word in Genesis, 17 is made the initial of a word, and from "in the beginning" we obtain "in the beginning God saw that Israel should accept the law"; or the word "Adam" (ADM) is made "Adam, David, Messiah." Sometimes very curious and ingenious combinations are derived from this system. For instance the word passim 18 used in the passage "And he made a coat of (passim) many colors" (Gen. xxxvii. 3) is made to indicate the misfortunes which Joseph experienced in being sold by his brethren to Potiphar, Merchants, Ishmaelites, Midianites. 19

It appears that the Christian fathers sometimes made use of the same rule; as for instance Christ has been called by them ΙΧΘΥΣ, "fish," because these letters are the initials of the Greek words "Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour." 20 Thus St. Augustine tells us (De civ. Dei, XVIII, 23) that when they were speaking about Christ, Flaccianus, a very famous man, of most ready eloquence, and much learning, produced a Greek manuscript, saying that it was the prophecies of





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the Erythrian sibyl. In this he pointed out a certain passage that had the initial letters of the lines so arranged that those words could be read in them. Then he went on and gave these verses, of which the initial letters yield that meaning, and says, "But if you join the initial letters of these five Greek words, they will make the word ichthus21 that is 'fish,' in which word Christ is mystically understood, because he was able to live, that is, to exist, without sin in the abyss of this mortality as in the depth of waters." It is worthy of notice that Augustine only gives twenty-seven lines 22 of the thirty-four, as contained in the Oracula Sibyllina, VIII, 217 ff., where the acrostic reads: Jesus Christ, Son of God (the) Saviour, (the) Cross. 23 In its full form it is also given by Eusebius in the Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine. For the benefit of the reader we subjoin Neale's translation of the acrostic as given in the Christian Remembrancer, October, 1861, p. 287:





"Judgment at hand, the earth shall sweat with fear.
Eternal king, the Judge shall come on high;
Shall doom all flesh; shall bid the world appear p. 89
Unveiled before his Throne. Him every eye
Shall, just or unjust, see in majesty.


"Consummate time shall view the Saints assemble
His own assessors, and the souls of men
Round the great judgment seat shall wait and tremble
In fear of sentence, and the green earth then
Shall turn to desert. They that see that day
To moles and bats their gods shall cast away.

"Sea, earth, and heaven, and hell's dread gates shall burn;
Obedient to their call, the dead return;
Nor shall the judge unfitting doom discern.

"Of chains and darkness to each wicked soul:
For them that have been good, the starry pole.

"Gnashing of teeth, and woe, and fierce despair
Of such as hear the righteous Judge declare
Deeds long forgot, which that last day shall bare.

"Then when each darkened breast He brings to sight,
Heaven's stars shall fall, and day be changed to night;
Effaced the sun-ray, and the moon's pale light. p. 90

"Surely the valleys He on high shall raise;
All hills shall cease, all mountains turn to plain;
Vessels shall no more pass the watery ways;
In the dread lightning parching earth shall blaze,
Ogygian rivers seek to flow in vain.
Unutterable woe the trumpet blast,
Re-echoing through the ether, shall forecast.

"Then Tartarus shall wrap the world in gloom,
High chiefs and princes shall receive their doom,
Eternal fire and brimstone for their tomb.

"Crown of the world, sweet wood, salvation's horn,
Rearing its beauty, shall for man be born,
O wood, that Saints adore, and sinners scorn!
So from twelve fountains shall its light be poured;
Staff of the Shepherd, and victorious sword."


We may also state that words of those verses which are regarded as containing a peculiar recondite meaning are ranged in squares in such a manner as to be read either vertically or boustrophedonally beginning at the right or left hand. Again the words of several verses are placed over each other, and the letters which stand under each other are formed into new words. This is especially seen in the treatment of three verses in

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[paragraph continues] Exod. xiv. 19-21 (each containing 72 letters), which are believed to contain the three Pillars of the Sephiroth and the Divine Name of seventy-two words. Now, if these three verses be written out one above the other, the first from right to left, the second from left to right, and the third from right to left, they will give 72 columns of three letters each. Then each column will be a word of three letters, and as there are 72 columns, there will be 72 words of three letters, each of which will be the 72 names of the Deity. By writing the verses all from right to left, instead of boustrophedonally, there will be other sets of 72 names obtainable. The reader who is interested in these niceties will find ample information in Bartolocci, Bibliotheca Magna Rabbinicia, IV, pp. 230 ff.

3. Temurah or permutation.--According to certain rules, one letter is substituted for another letter preceding or following it in the alphabet, and thus from one word another word of totally different orthography may be formed. Thus the alphabet is bent exactly in the middle, and one half is put over the other; and then by changing alternately the first letter or the first two letters at the beginning of the second line, twenty-two permutations are produced. These are called the "Table of the Combinations of Tziruph."

For example's sake we give the method called Albath, thus:

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The method abgath is thus exemplified:























The names of the twenty-two permutations are: Albath, Abgath, Agdath, Adbag, Ahbad, Avba, Azbav, Achbaz, Atbach, Aibat, Achbi, Albach, Ambal, Anbam, Asban, Aaybas, Afba, Azbaf, Akbaz, Arbak, Ashbar, Athbash. To these must be added as (23) Abgad; (24) Albam.

I will only remark that by the system called Athbash, it is found that the word Sheshhach in Jer. xxv. 26 is the same as Babel, and that Jerome is said to have confidently applied this system. 24

Besides these canons the Cabala also sees a recondite sense in the form of the letters, as well as in the ornaments which adorn them. The more multifarious these trifles, the easier it is to arrive in every given case at a result, and the less wit or thought is required.

Although the canons mentioned above are already applied in the Talmud and Midrash, the Cabalists made a more copious use of them. The names of God became a special object of their fancy. With them they imagined they could accomplish everything and perform miracles, heal


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the sick, extinguish the fire, etc. The most miraculous effects were ascribed to the Tetragrammaton. Whoever was in possession of the true pronunciation of that name could enter in relation with the upper world and receive revelations. Each letter of the sacred name was considered as something mysterious. The letter Y (of YHVH) referred to the father as creator (abba) and H to the mother (imma). Because the letter H occurred twice, they distinguished an upper and a lower mother. The permutation of the letters of the Tetragrammaton brought about a multitude of new divine names which, either spoken or written, influenced the course and laws of nature. As was the case with the name of God consisting of four letters, so it was with that consisting of twelve, twenty-two, forty-two and seventy-two letters. All were believed to contain great mysteries. 25 The names of angels were treated in like manner. Thus the Cabalists greatly misused the Old Testament, especially the Thora. And, as says Professor Wünsche, by making the Bible a text-book to elicit deeper ideas, the greatest nonsense and rubbish came to light. The so-called hidden mysteries and revelations were nothing but fancies whirling in the heads of the Cabalists. The exegetical


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literature of the Cabala clearly proves that its representatives had completely lost the sense for a suitable understanding of the words of scripture. 26



67:1 Rabbi Azariel in his commentary on the ten Sephiroth tells us that "the En Soph can neither be comprehended by the intellect, nor described in words; for there is no letter or word which can grasp him." With this compare what Proclus, the neo-Platonist, says in his Theology of Plato, II, 6: "Although the Divinity is generally called the unity (τὸ ἕν) or the first, it would he better if no name were given him; for there is no word which can depict his nature--he is the inexpressible (ἅῤῥητος), the unknown (ἀγνωστός). Isaac ibn Latif (1220-1290) even says "God is in all, and everything is in God."

67:2 p. 68 This must not be confounded with "the Aged of the Aged" as the En Soph is called.

67:3 When the Concealed of the Concealed wished to reveal himself, he first made a single point; the Infinite was entirely unknown, and diffused no light before this luminous point violently broke through into vision." (Zohar, I, 15e.)

68:4 So called by Rabbi Azariel.

74:5 δεύτερος θεὸς.

74:6 λόγος.

74:7 He flourished in the first half of the twelfth century and is the author of a treatise on the Emanations (Massecheth Aziluth) reprinted by Jellinek in his Auswahl Kabbalistischer Mystik, Part I. Leipsic, 1853.

75:8 Graetz, Gnosticismus und Judentum, 1846, p. 44, derives the word from μετὰ θρόνον, because this angel is immediately under the divine throne. Cassel (Ersch and Gruber's Encyklopädie, section II, vol. XXVII, s.v. "Juden," p .40, note 84) derives it from metator, i.e., "messenger, outrider, pathfinder." Wünsche also connects it with μετάτωρ. According to the Zohar, I, 126b, Metatron is the first creature of God; the middle pillar (in the essence of God) or the uniting link in the midst, comprising all grades, from top downwards, and from the bottom upwards (ibid., III, 127a); the visibly manifested Deity (ibid., III, 231a).

79:9 Zohar, III, 48a.

79:10 Zohar, II, 70b.

80:11 Compare Book of Wisdom, VIII, 20; Josephus, Bell. Jud., II, 12, speaks of the Essenes as believing in a pre-existence of the soul. Philo's views are given in his De somniis, I, 642; De gigantibus, I, 263 f.

81:12 According to Josephus (Antiq., XVIII, 13; Bell. Jud., II, 8, 14) it would seem as if the Pharisees held the doctrine of the metempsychosis, but see Schürer, Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes, vol. II (3d ed., 1898) p. 391; on Philo's view, see ibid., vol. III, p. 561.

83:13 For a strange interpretation of scripture in modern times, the reader is referred to Canon Wordsworth's p. 84 Commentary on Genesis and Exodus, London, 1864, p. 52.

85:14 On the interpretation of the scriptures among the Jews in general, see my article s.v. Scripture, Interpretation of, Jewish," in McClintock and Strong.

85:15 The word is not like γεωμετρία, as Levy, Neuhebr. Wörterbuch, I, 324, thinks, but is derived from γραμματεία or γράμμα.

86:16 For a somewhat different mode compare The Open Court, Feb. 1909, p. 88.

87:17 ‏בראשית‎

87:18 ‏פסים‎

87:19 ‏פ‎ = Potiphar, ‏ס‎ = Sochrim (merchants), ‏י‎ = Ishmaelites, ‏ם‎ = Midianites.

87:20 Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτὴρ.

88:21 ἰχθύς.

88:22 English translation by M. Dodd, City of God, Edinburgh, 1871, where the Greek letters at the beginning of the lines are retained.

88:23 σταυρός.

92:24 Hottinger possessed an entire Pentateuch explained on the principle of Athbash.

93:25 Compare what we stated above in connection with Abulafia.

94:26 A somewhat different view on the cabalistic treatment of scripture is given by the late Jewish scholar Zunz (died 1886) in his Gottesdienstliche Vorträge (Berlin, 1832), p. 403: For the passage in English see my article "Scripture Interpretation" in McClintock and Strong, vol. IX, p. 480.






Judaism.--It must be acknowledged that the Cabala intended to oppose philosophy and to intensify religion. But by introducing heathenish ideas it grafted on Judaism a conception of the world which was foreign to it and produced the most pernicious results. In place of the monotheistic biblical idea of God, according to which God is the creator, preserver and ruler of the world, the confused, pantheistically colored heathenish doctrine of emanation was substituted. The belief in the unity of God was replaced by the decade of the ten Sephiroth which were considered as divine substances. By no longer addressing prayers directly to god, but to the Sephiroth, a real Sephiroth-cult originated. The legal discussions of the Talmud were of no account; the Cabalists despised the Talmud, yea, they considered it as a canker of Judaism, which must be cut out if Judaism were to recover. According

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to the Zohar, I, 27b; III, 275a; 279b, the Talmud is only a bondmaid, but the Cabala a controlling mistress.

The Cabalists compared the Talmud to a hard, unfruitful rock, which when smitten yields only scanty drops that in the end become a cause of controversy; whereas the study of the Cabala is like a fresh gushing spring, which one needs only to address to cause it to pour out its refreshing contents. 1

And as the Cabalists treated the Talmud, they likewise treated philosophy, which defined religious ideas and vindicated religious precepts before the forum of reason. Most Cabalists opposed philosophy. She was the Hagar that must be driven from the house of Abraham, whereas the Cabala was the Sarah, the real mistress. At the time of the Messiah the mistress will rule over the bondmaid.

But the study of the Bible was also neglected, Scripture was no longer studied for its own sake, but for the sake of finding the so-called higher sense by means of mystical hermeneutical rules.

Even the rituals were variously changed and recast. The putting on of the phylacteries and


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prayer-mantle (talîth) was accompanied by the recitation of cabalistic formulas and sentences; special prayers were also addressed to the Sephiroth. Connected with all this was an extravagant, intoxicating superstition. To enable the soul to connect itself with the realm of light and its spirits, or to be transplanted after death into its heavenly abode, one underwent all manner of austere ascetical exercises. With the mysterious name of God they believed themselves enabled to heal the sick, to deliver demoniacs and to extinguish conflagrations. By application of the right formulas of prayer, man was to have power and influence on both the kingdoms of light and darkness. When the Cabalist prays, God shakes his head, changes at once his decrees, and abolishes heavy judgments. The magical names of God can even deliver the condemned and free them from their torments in their place of punishment. In this respect we even meet with the doctrine of the Catholic mass for the souls. 2 The Book of Psalms with its songs and prayers was especially considered as a means of producing all manner of miracles and magic, as may be seen from the Sepher Shimmush Thehillim (literally,


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[paragraph continues] "the Book of the Cabalistic Application of the Psalms"), a fragment of the practical Cabala, translated by Gottfried Selig, Berlin, 1788.

This sketch of Professor Wünsche is by no means exaggerated. 3 Mutatis mutandis we find the cabalistic notions among the Chasidim, a sect founded in 1740 by a certain Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer Baalshem, 4 also called Besht. Baal-Shem made his public appearance about 1740 in Tlusti, in the district of Czartkow, from whence he subsequently removed to Medziboze, in Podolia. The miraculous cures and prophecies attracted attention in large circles; his mode of life, consisting of contemplation, study of the Zohar and frequent washings in rivers, soon spread a halo around him. Added to this were the many miraculous reports circulated by his disciples; for instance, that his father had been visited by the prophet Elijah to predict his birth, and that his mother was a hundred years old when she was delivered of him; that, when a youth, he had victoriously struggled with evil spirits, etc.--all of



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which may be found in the Book Shibche ha-Besht, published in 1815 by the grandson of Baal-Shem, Rabbi Bar Linz. Baal-Shem 5 and his successors received the name Tsaddik, "Saint," and his fame attracted multitudes of Jews from all parts of Poland, who submitted themselves to his guidance. As long as he lived, the sect formed one great whole, of which he was the head. After his death, which took place in 1780, it was divided into separate congregations, each of which had its own Rabbi or Tsaddik or Saint, unreserved devotion to whom is the most important of all the principles of the sect. In a word, before Pius IX was declared infallible, the Chasidim 6 already had their infallible popes, whose number is still very large in Poland, Wallachia, Moldavia, Galicia, and Palestine. Of these popes of the Chasidim, a modern Jewish writer, the late David Cassel (died 1893), says: "To the disgrace of Judaism and modern culture the Tsaddikim still go on with their disgraceful business, and are thus the most essential hindrances to the dissemination of literary progress in Galicia and Russia. There are still thousands who



p. 100

behold in the Tsaddik the worker of miracles, the prophet, one who is in close communion with God and angels, and who present him with rich gifts and promulgate the wonders which they have seen. Covetousness on the one hand and spiritual narrowness on the other are the channels through which the evil is fed anew."

Christianity.--As soon as the Cabala became better known, Christians betook themselves to its study and paid it the greatest attention because of the supposed agreement of its teachings with the dogmas of the Christian church. It was thought that the Cabala was the connecting link between Judaism and Christianity. The dogmas of the Trinity, of the Messiah as the Son of God and his atonement, were the salient points which especially attracted attention. The first to be drawn to the Cabala was Raymond Lully, the "Doctor Illuminatus" (1236-1315). He regarded the Cabala as a divine science and as a genuine revelation whose light is revealed to a rational soul.

The progress of Christianity towards the Cabala was greatly helped by the conversion of a large number of Jews to Christianity, "in which they recognized a closer relation to their gnostic views, and also by the Christians perceiving that gnosticism could become a powerful instrument for the conversion of the Jews." Among the

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converted Jews we notice Paulus de Heredia of Aragon (about 1480), author of Iggeret ha-Sodot or Epistola Secretorum, treating of the divinity, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, which has been ascribed to a certain Nechunjah ben-ha-Kanah, who lived towards the end of the second Temple. Another convert was Paul Ricci, 7 of the sixteenth century, the friend of Erasmus, and physician to the Emperor Maximilian I; Julius Conrad Otto, author of the "Unveiled Secrets," consisting of extracts from the Talmud and the Zohar, to prove the validity of the Christian doctrine (Nuremberg, 1805); John Stephen Rittengel, grandson of the celebrated Isaac Abravanel, the translator of the Book Jezirah into Latin (Amsterdam, 1642). Among Christians we may mention Count John Pico di Mirandola (born in 1463), author of LXXII conclusiones cabbalisticae, Rome, 1486; more especially John Reuchlin (Capnio), 1455-1522. Reuchlin, the first German scholar who studied the Cabala, wrote two cabalistic treaties, entitled De Verbo Mirifico (Basel, 1494), and De Arte cabbalistica (Hagenau, 1516). 8

The first treatise is written in the form of a



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dialogue between an Epicurean philosopher named Sidonius, a Jew named Baruch, and the author, who is introduced by the Greek name Capnio. Capnio would have it that the doctrine of the Trinity is to be found in the first verse of Genesis. He submits, if the Hebrew word bra (bara), which is translated "created," be examined, and if each of the three letters composing this word be taken as the initial of a separate word, we obtain the expression ben, ruach, ab, i.e., Son, Spirit, Father. Upon the same principle we find the two persons of the Trinity in the word abn (eben), "stone," occurring in Ps. cxviii. 22--"the stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner," by dividing the three letters composing the word abn into ab ben, i.e., Father, Son.

The second treatise is also in the form of a dialogue between a Mohammedan, a Pythagorean philosopher and a Jew. The dialogue is held at Frankfort where the Jew lives to whom the others come to be initiated into the mysteries of the Cabala. The whole is a more matured exposition and elaboration of the ideas hinted at in the first treatise.

How the truths of Christianity can be derived from the Talmud and the Cabala, the Franciscan Pietro Galatino endeavored to prove in his treatise De Arcanis Catholicae Veritatis contra obstinatissimam

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[paragraph continues] Judaecorum nostrae tempestatis perfidiam (Ortona di Mare, 1518).

Much as Lully, Mirandola, Reuchlin, and others had already done to acquaint the Christian world with the secrets of the Cabala, none of these scholars had given translations of any portions of the Zohar. To this task Knorr Baron von Rosenroth betook himself by publishing the celebrated work Kabbala Denudata ("the Cabala Unveiled"), in two large volumes, the first of which was printed in Sulzbach, 1677-78, the second at Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1864, giving a Latin translation of the Introduction to and the following portion of the Sohar: the Book of Mysteries; the Great Assembly; the Small Assembly; 9 Joseph Gikatilla's Gate of Light (shaar orah); Vital's Doctrine of Metempsychosis (hagilgulim), and the Tree of Life (etz chayim); Cordovero's Garden of Pomegranates (pardes rim-monim); Abraham Herera's Gate of Heaven (sha-ar ha shamayim); Naphtali ben Jacob's Valley of the King (emeq ha bacha); Naphtali Cohen's Vision of the Priest (maré Kohen) etc., etc., with elaborate annotations, glossaries and indices. Knorr von Rosenroth has also collected all the passages of the New Testament which contain similar doctrines to those propounded by the Cabala. In spite of its many drawbacks 10 the



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work has been made use of by later scholars, especially by Chr. Schöttgen in his Horae hebraicae et talmudicae (Dresden, 1733) and Theologia Judacorum de Messia (ibid., 1742.)

The powerful preponderance of the religious and ecclesiastical interests, as well as those of practical politics which became perceptible in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, giving to the mind a positive impulse, and to the studies a substantial foundation, arrested the further development of the Cabala; and thus it came about that in the course of time the zeal for cabalistic studies among Christians has cooled. It has become generally understood that the Cabala and Christianity are two different things. The idea of God according to the writings of the Old and New Testaments is entirely different. The same is the case with the notion of creation. When the first triad of the Sephiroth (Crown, Wisdom and Intelligence) is referred to the three persons of the Deity, their inner immanent relation is not thereby fully expressed, as Christianity teaches it. The three Sephiroth only represent three potencies of God or three forms of his emanation, the other Sephiroth are also such divine

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powers and forms. One can therefore rightly say that the Cabala teaches not the Trinity, but the Ten-Unity of God. Also the other characteristics, when e.g. the Zohar ascribes to God three heads; or when it speaks of a God-Father (abba) of a God-Mother (imma) and of a God-Son; or when we are told (Zohar, III, 262a; comp. 67a) that "there are two, and one is connected with them, and they are three; but in being three, they are one," this does not coincide in the least with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. 11

In one codex of the Zohar we read on the words "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts" (Is. vi. 3): "the first 'holy' refers to the Holy Father; the second to the Holy Son; and the third to the Holy Ghost"; but this passage is now omitted from the present recensions of the Zohar, and has been regarded by some Jewish writers as an interpolation. 12

As to the doctrine of Christ, the God incarnate--it cannot be paralleled with the confused doctrine of Adam Kadmon, the primordial man. According



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to the Christian notion the reconciliation is effected only through Christ, the Son of God; according to the Cabala man can redeem himself by means of a strict observance of the law, by asceticism and other means whereby he influences God and the world of light in a mystical manner. For the benefit of the reader we give the following passages which speak of the atonement of the Messiah for the sins of people, passages which are given as the explanation of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. "When the righteous are visited with sufferings and afflictions to atone for the sins of the world, is that they might atone for all the sins of this generation. How is this proved? By all the members of the body. When all members suffer, one member is afflicted in order that all may recover. And which of them? The arm. The arm is beaten, the blood is taken from it, and then the recovery of all the members of the body is secured. So it is with the children of the world; they are members of one another. When the Holy One, blessed be he, wishes the recovery of the world, he afflicts one righteous from their midst, and for his sake all are healed. How is this shown? It is written--'He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. . . .and with his stripes we are healed' (Is. iii. 5)." Zohar, III, 218a.

To the same effect is the following passage:

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[paragraph continues] "Those souls which tarry in the nether garden of Eden hover about the world, and when they see suffering or patient martyrs and those who suffer for the unity of God, they return and mention it to the Messiah. When they tell the Messiah of the afflictions of Israel in exile, and that the sinners among them do not reflect in order to know their Lord, he raises his voice and weeps because of those sinners, as it is written, 'he is wounded for our transgressions' (Is. liii. 5). Whereupon those souls return and take their place. In the garden of Eden there is one place which is called the palace of the sick. The Messiah goes into this palace and invokes all the sufferings, pain and afflictions of Israel to come upon him, and they all come upon him. Now if he did not remove them thus and take them upon himself, no man could endure the sufferings of Israel, due as punishment for transgressing the Law; as it is written--'Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,' etc. (Is. liii, 4 with Rom. xii. 3, 4) . When the children of Israel were in the Holy Land they removed all those sufferings and afflictions from the world by their prayers and sacrifices, but now the Messiah removes them from the world." (Zohar, II, 212b). With reference to these passages 13 which speak of the


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atonement of the Messiah for the sins of the people, which are given in the Zohar as the explanation of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, Professor Dalman 14 remarks that the Jews reject and object to cabalistic statements as something foreign to genuine Judaism. The theosophic speculations of the Cabala are at least just as Jewish as the religious philosophical statements of Bachja or Maimonides; yes, it seems to us that the God of revelation and of scripture is more honestly retained in the former than in the latter, where he becomes a mathematical One without attribute and thereby may satisfy a superficial reason, but leaves the heart empty. That these Jewish thinkers, influenced by Aristotle, had no inclination to find in Is. liii an expiating mediator, is only too inexplicable. He, who by his own strength can soar into the sphere of "intelligences" and thus bring his soul to immortality, needs no mediator. But we are concerned here not with a philosophical or theosophical thought-complex, but the simple question whether the prophet speaks in Is. liii of a suffering mediator of salvation. The


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answer of the Cabalists at any rate agrees with the testimony of many of them.

What are we to think of the Cabala? That there is a relationship between it and neo-Platonism is obvious. Erich Bischoff 15 thinks that the Cabala represents a peculiar monism, which in some degree has influenced modern philosophy. In ethical respects it contains many fruitful and sublime thoughts, often indeed in fanciful wording. But as magic it has been of great influence on all kinds of superstitions and even on occultistic tendencies. It offers a highly interesting object of study whose closer investigation is rendered more difficult on account of the abstruse manner of representation and the many magic and mystic accessories. But that which is valuable is sufficient to insure for it a lasting interest.



96:1 A collection of passages abusing the Talmud is given by Landauer in the Orient, 1845, pp. 571-574; see also Rubin, Heidenthum und Kabbala, Vienna, 1893, pp. 13 f.; also his Kabbala and Agada, ibid., 1895, p. S, where we read that according to Abulafia the Cabalists only were genuine men, and the Talmudists monkeys.

97:2 Wünsche, whom we have followed, evidently refers to the prayer called Kaddish, for which see my article s.v. in McClintock and Strong, vol. XII. A very interesting article on "Jüdische Seelenmesse and Totenanrufung" is given by Dalman in Saat auf Hoffnung (Leipsic, 1890), pp. 169-225.

98:3 Orelli in his article "Zauberei" in Realencyklopädie für protest. Theologie and Kirche, vol. XXI, 1908, p. 618, remarks: "The Jewish Cabala has promoted the magic degeneration of the religion; to a great extent it furnished profound expressions and formulas for the exercise of superstitious arts."

98:4 "Lord of the name" = θεοῦργος, a man who by words of conjuration and other formulas knows how to exercise a power over the visible and invisible world.

99:5 Compare Kahana, Rabbi Israel Baal Schem-Tob, sein Leben, kabbalistisches System and Wirken, Sitomir, 1900.

99:6 Compare Perl, Megalleh temirin, or Die enthüllten Geheimnisse der Chassidim, Lemberg, 1879; Ch. Bogratschoff, Entstehung, Entwicklung and Prinzipien des Chassidismus, Berlin, 1908.

101:7 See my article s.v. in McClintock and Strong.

101:8 These and some other treatises of the same kind are collected by Pistorius in a collection entitled Artis cabbalisticae scriptores, Basel, 1587.

103:9 These three parts are Englished by Mathers.

103:10 Buddeus in Introductio in Historiam Philosophiae p. 104 Hebraeorum (Halle 1702) calls Knorr von Rosenroth's work "confusum et obscurum opus, in quo necessaria cum non necessariis utilia cum inutilibus, confusa sunt, et in unam velut chaos conjecta." Knorr von Rosenroth has also written a number of hymns.

105:11 Compare also Bischoff, Die Kabbalah, p. 26.

105:12 Compare Joel, Die Religionsphilosophie des Sohar, Leipsic, 1849, pp. 240 ff.--The Zoharic passages referring to the Trinity are given in the original with a German translation in Auszüge aus dem Buche Sohar (by Tholuck; revised by Biesenthal), Berlin, 1857; 4th ed., 1876; also by Pauli, The Great Mystery; or How Can Three Be One, London, 1863.

107:13 A collection of the passages referring to the atoning work of the Messiah is given in Auszüge aus dem p. 108 Buche Sohar, pp. 35 f., more especially in Wünsche, Die Leiden des Messias, Leipsic, 1870, pp. 95-105; and by Dalman, "Das Kommen des Messias nach dem Sohar" (in Saat auf Hoffnung), Leipsic, 1888, pp. 148-160.

108:14 In his Jesaja 53, das Prophetenwort von Sühnleiden des Heilandes mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der synagogalen Literatur, Leipsic, 1890.

109:15 The author of Die Kabbalah. Einführung in die jüdische Mystik and Geheimwissenschaft, Leipsic, 1903.