[Avodah] Is Panentheism Heresy

Jonathan Baker jjbaker at panix.com
Fri Feb 1 12:29:11 PST 2013

> On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 04:02:52PM -0500, Jonathan Baker wrote:

> : No, it's not. Read the scholarship, read the texts. Sure, there's meditative
> : material in Chasidism which is drawn from the earlier ideas, and in other
> : kabbalistic texts, but Kabbalah itself was a new creation written (or revealed)
> : in the 1200s.  It did not form part of the old Merkabah mysticism in either
> : case. 
> As I wrote yesterday, I think that the particular area of nistar we tend
> to call Qabbalah is from the Bahir, not the Zohar.

That's the first, yes, but the Zohar is the far more developed (library of)

> Merkavah mysticism evolves into the heikhalos literature.

And some Heichalot material was incorporated into the Zohar.  To
lend credence to the Zohar's antiquity?  I think the Gra broke
some of that material out and wrote peirushim on them.

> The Bahir develops angelology futher. But it also mixes in ideas from
> peirushim on seifer haYetzirah. Thus, seifer haYetzirah's 10 sefiros,

Are you sure?  The "kabbalistic" peirushim on Sefer Yetizrah seem to be
Ramban onward, which means roughly contemporaneous with the Zohar's 
writing/editing.  The earlier ones, such as Shabtai Donnolo and RSG,
are (according to Kaplan and Scholem, I haven't really learned any of
them) more philosophical.

> which are only discussed in terms of being a 10-fold count, are identified
> with 10 high angels / spiritual existences to become the sefiros we
> later find in the Eitz Chaim.

Eitz Chaim?  Oh, you mean the structure, not the sefer.

> The Zohar then has the basic ideas, and adds to the structure.
> To my mind the next discontinuity, where a new idea is published rather
> than details and develops added to an existing system, is by the Ari.
Continuous revelation!  Which is how the Reform talk about revelation, and
how (R' Brill characterizes) the chasidim think.  Since the term was
floated by the Reform, the Chasidim, who really believe in it, will
quickly demur that that's what they're doing. I suppose it could be 
justified in the chasidic system as improving perception of the divine
reality that underlies the finity of the "real world".

If you're going to believe in the Chasidic system, you have to believe
in continuous revelation insofar as the system depends on revelations:

-1275 CE      The Torah
-1235 - -516  The Na"ch
c. 140        the Zohar
1553          the Arizal
mid-1700s     the Besht
since then    assorted Tzaddikim

If you're a Kabbalist, substitute the Rashash (late 1700s) for the Besht.

        name: jon baker              web: http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker
     address: jjbaker at panix.com     blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com

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