[Avodah] Is Panentheism Heresy

Lisa Liel lisa at starways.net
Wed Jan 16 14:58:08 PST 2013

On 1/16/2013 3:02 PM, Jonathan Baker wrote:
> So you don't conflate the Zohar and Kabbalah?  The Zohar is the primary
> library of Kabbalah, which is pretty widely understood to be the 10 sefirot/
> 4 worlds structures.

Widely understood by whom?  Most of what I know about Kabbalah, I got 
from Aryeh Kaplan, and that's definitely not his view.

>> spoke about Maaseh Merkavah and Maaseh Bereishit.  Even if you believe

> Which are not Kabbalah.

According to you.  With all due respect, I'm going to go with R' Kaplan 
on this.

>> that the Zohar was invented out of whole cloth by Moshe de Leon, which I
>> think is untrue, there's plenty of Kabbalah other than that.

> Only by remapping the term "Kabbalah" to mean mysticism in general,
If it helps you to cast it as me remapping a term, when there are 
scholars who use the term my way, feel free.  But I can't be expected to 
respond to a context I reject.

> instead
> of ten sefiros/four worlds and all their ramifications.  Kabbalah only began
> in the 1100s, maybe 1200s, texts like Bahir and possibly Masechet Atzilut
> being among the earliests texts.  Even the Rambam has a Neoplatonic mysticism
> (inasmuch as the Aristotle he learned was adulterated with Neoplatonism), but
> explicitly non-Kabbalistic, not related either to the mysticism of Hazal or
> the Kabbalah.

> Before the Middle Ages, Kabbalah meant tradition, not mysticism.  Sod might
> have meant mysticism.

That's a lot like saying there was no Sanhedrin until Hellenistic times 
because the word Sanhedrin is of Greek derivation.  The body existed, 
even if it wasn't called that.  Someone once wrote that someone who has 
a problem saying that Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926 because she 
wasn't queen at the time is a pedant.  V'ha-meivin yavin.

>>> If you're talking about the Mishnah in Taanit 2:1, Ein Dorshin, the mysticism
>>> of Hazal was very different from the mysticism of the Kabbalists, being about
>>> chambers and chariots and meditative ascents to God, rather than about the
>>> mechanisms of God's action in the world.

>> That's a false dichotomy.

> No, it's not. Read the scholarship, read the texts.
If by scholarship, you mean Gershom Scholem, I have better things to do 
with my time.  As I said, I'll go with a rav who is part of the living 
>> If you believe that Kabbalah is a 13th century invention, why wouldn't
>> you want to reject it?  I would.

> Why should we reject a 13th-century innovation?  It was created and
> ratified by the Rishonim.   Surely that's no less valid (if less
> authoritative) than the Tannaim?

Absolutely, it is.  Because it claims to be otherwise.

> Mimah nafshach: either no revelation after Sinai is valid, so we should
> reject the Kabbalah (which was invented/revealed either in the 2nd Century
> or the 12th, in either case long after the end of prophecy)
Wrong.  We were given both Nistar (Kabbalah/Sod/Merkavah/etc) and Niglah 
(Torah she'bichtav and b'al peh) at Sinai.  If it was invented or 
revealed even at the time of Shimon ben Yochai, and it claims to come 
from Sinai, it's fraudulent, pasul, tamei.  This is a strange 
conversation.  It's like the Conservatives who say that even if Matan 
Torah didn't actually happen, the Torah is "true".  Which may be the 
case for values of "true" that don't interest me, but smacks more of 
sophistry, in my opinion.


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