From Abracadabra to Zombies
reader comments: cabala
03 Dec 2000
I just wanted to respond to the way you described cabbalism. Cabbalism isn't just about trying to read a hidden meaning behind every word and every letter in the Bible; actually it's a whole philosophical system that tries to explain the universe, the world and our own minds in an actually very reasonable, scientific manner. Just look for the Cabbalistic Tree of Life w/ the Ten Emanations of God and you'll see that it's not as much bilge and balderdash as you make it sound like on your web page. In fact, the cabbalistic belief is the only one that doesn't try to credit God with JUST positive traits, but also 'negative' ones like destruction and death. Since destruction is a necessary part of creation (since if only things were being created and nothing ever disappeared, this would be a problem :) it is also a necessary part of God. I'm not saying God causes wars, or allows people to starve. WE do these things. WE start wars. WE allow people in Africa to starve through a mad hierarchical system that puts 20 % of the world population in ideal circumstances while the rest of humankind rots. And of course God cannot REALLY interfere because we have free will. Things came to be this way because humans wanted it. Not really all of it, but they can't see how it should be otherwise. God can't just set the world to rights because he's SO GOOD, or something. It is up to US. We can only ask for help every now and then, and guidance, and wisdom. Anyway... perhaps for all you sceptics out there, it's a good idea to read Daniel Quinn's books. He has a very refreshing view on the world as it is now and the ways people are trying to delude themselves. Really, give it a try. If you don't like his books after all, blame me.
reply: Well, I'd say these things are open to a different interpretation.
12 May 1998
For a professor, I find your misunderstanding of the Kabbalah and its principles to be, at the least, a manifestation of ignorance, and at the most, a blatant disrespect for both Kabbalists and your students by teaching such misinformation.
If you had bothered to study the Notes on the Kabbalah by Colin Low,
to which your page has a link, perhaps you would not have made such statements
such as, " The purpose of the cabala is apparently to read God's mind and
thereby become one with the divine," or "This transcendental quest represents
to the atheist a rejection of the earthly realm of facts, suffering, uncertainty
and impotence in favor of a fantasy realm of the imagination and a sharing
in eternal bliss and omnipotence."
The Kabbalah does not attempt to understand the mind of God, if God in fact has a "mind". Please see the concept of En Soph-the unknowable God. The Kabbalah also does not reject the earthly realm of facts and suffering. Please see the section on Malkuth-the sephira dealing with the earthly, physical world. I have no intention of trying to influence your beliefs; if rationality and atheism are your gods, so be it. But out of respect for what some people find sacred, and out of respect for your students who are undoubtedly influenced by what you tell them, please do not spread this misinformation.
reply: With all due respect, the Cabala is an attempt to understand the mind of God, even if you do not use those words, even if you maintain that God is ineffable.
As Colin Low writes:
If Kabbalah means "tradition", then the core of the tradition was the attempt to penetrate the inner meaning of the Bible, which was taken to be the literal (but heavily veiled) word of God. Because the Word was veiled, special techniques were developed to elucidate the true meaning....Kabbalistic theosophy has been deeply influenced by these attempts to find a deep meaning in the Bible.
The Bible is understood to be the word of God. The word of God is understood to express the will of God. The will of God is an aspect of the mind of God.
Furthermore, whatever recognition the mystic makes of human suffering, it is always only a means to the true goal of existence, which is union with God, if not literally, then figuratively as existing in the presence of God. In fact, all actions in the physical world, including the scientific study of nature, are, from the mystic's viewpoint, of value only as a means to getting closer to God the Creator through imminent Creation.