[Avodah] Kabbala at Odds with Torah

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Wed Jan 30 16:32:38 PST 2013

In seifer haYetzirah, the mention of sefiros could simply refer to
the digits.

But sefiros as identified with Qabbalah is spelled out in seifer haBahir,
before the Zohar. The Bahir was circulated in Provence as a manuscript in
1174, and thus at the very latest was very slightly before the Moreh

Traditionally, the Bahir was believed to be pieces of a book by R'
Nechunya ben haQaneh, who lived through the churban. Current academic
opinion is that it's based on seifer Raza Rabba, which we no longer have.

The Bahir assumed both Bavli and Tiberian niqud, e.g. "Hashem put
the patach above, and a segol beneath." There is no segol in Bavel,
it's a patach qatan, and drawn just like a patach -- above the letter.
(Rashi calls a segol a "patach qatan", BTW.) This gives academics rason
to date it to the 9th or 10th cent CE Bavel, to the time when the segol
was first being accepted as a distinct vowel there.

It also bridges the gap from heikhalos literature and the focus on
mal'akhim with sefiros and more recent mysticism. (Which may or may
not be "Qabbalah", I still didn't get to Jon and Lisa's exchange.)
That's an evolutionary point more consistent with the geonic dating.

So it is likely that even if not tannaitic, the Bahir is at least
geonic. And thus an authority by which we should assess the Rambam's
hashkafah, not the other way around!

But in any case, the concept of sefiros pre-dates the Maimonidian
controversy, as it was in print before the Moreh.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Life is a stage and we are the actors,
micha at aishdas.org        but only some of us have the script.
http://www.aishdas.org               - Rav Menachem Nissel
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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