A personalised view of life, displaying my wish, excitement and enthusiasm to learn, rather than reflecting my present, enormous lack of knowledge in any of these topics! A personal view of an ideal model of thinking and feeling. In defence of the transcendent search.
Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living!"
My version: A life that doesn't yearn and restlessly search for the transcendent in all its many forms, perhaps regrettably at the expense of living a normal life in this World, doesn't do justice to the magnificence of the transcendent!
Marx said, "Until now philosophers were concerned just with understanding the World. The point of Philosophy is to change it!"
My version: So many people are interested in changing the World. The thing I long to do is to understand it!
"I am very interested in the Universe. I am specialising in the Universe and all that surrounds it"-Peter Cook
Romanticism interpreted the artist as tortured genius and conscience of society-"To suffer for one's Art"
My version: One should suffer for one's art...and philosophy, mysticism, science and everything else, in the cause of learning something new! There are too many times when I have had to drop everything or travel long distances just to catch a television documentary, radio program, talk, exhibition, magazine, book etc!
The Jewish philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel said, "Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge"
My version: I want to construct my world from the aesthetical, the logical and the mystical, without compromising any of them! In Jewish mysticism, the path I seek requires fullest rational articulation. Sincerity and self-nullification are the vessels for transcendent wonder. The Baal Shem Tov said that Moses fell on his face at the lowly Burning Bush, because he saw in it the value of the simple person. In Hasidism, "Love your fellow as yourself" means that one should learn to love oneself as much as one loves another person! Bittul-nullification means that one loses their ego entirely. Panentheism means that only God truely exists. Perception of Divine presence in everything awakens joy. A descent is the concealed beginning of the ascent.
Turmoil is closer to truth than serenity (My quote now that everything has gone wrong!)
When the present Chief Rabbi of Britain, Johnathan Sacks, was newly religious, he visited Jewish religious leaders in America, seeking guidance. He was studying Philosophy in Cambridge University, and told the Lubavitcher Rebbe of his concern that Judaism disparaged Secular learning. The Rebbe replied that secular subjects were like different precious jewels, and Torah was like a diamond. The person who understands the quality of a diamond, values all lesser gems all the more. In Hasidism, this advice might not be suitable for all followers, but is necessary for other adherents. In Kabbalistic terminology it would depend on the particular life-tasks of each individual.
"Soul states, inner crises, ecstasy, transfiguration", Harold Schonberg on Gustav Mahler
I used to prefer the Baal Shem Tov (Besht), founder of Hasidism, to Isaac Luria (Ari), complete theorist of Kabbalah. I probably still do, but in this world I need Isaac Luria more. The Besht brought Heaven down to Earth, teaching that "God is All and All is God". If I could meet anyone in history it would be Rabbi Israel Baal Shem, a taste of Messianic redemption. The Ari took Man into Heaven, teaching about the Upper Worlds. All is Divine exile until the Messiah. The Lurianic Shattering of the Vessels helps me get through each day.
In an interview, a spokesman in my wider religious community said that he was proud to say that in fifty years he had followed without compromise the same views. My version: In the last twenty years, and I hope in the future, almost all my views have changed! A religious path, in addition to its contributions, is particularly vulnerable to limited insight into other interpretations, whether within the same religious spectrum, or outside it. I want religion to open up and guide intellectualism, not restrict it.
James Lovelock says that it is timely we now understand Gaia, as its feedback mechanisms ensure the survival of the Planet by casting off human life. In the geological record, the last 5° rise in temperature caused mass exstinctions within 100 years. Perhaps, as in the story of Faust, Scientific and Cultural Knowledge since the Industrial Revolution is actually worth the loss.
Personal psychology and Humanities
Inner aesthetic music:
External emotion music:
Judaism and Jewish culture
All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. (Ecclesiastes 1:7)
Moses at the Burning Bush
Teshuvah-Return in Kabbalah and Hasidut more than repentance:
Lower teshuvah-rectification of sin
Higher teshuvah-ascent unconnected with sin
"Every descent is for higher ascent"
|Part of a series on|
Schneur Zalman of Liadi imprisoned in Petersburg. Followers interpret vindication as permission in Heaven to spread Hasidut
Overview of recent academic study of Habad philosophy
Hasidic hagiographic storytelling
In Praise of the Baal Shem Tov Mystical wanderings of Rebbes Elimelech and Zushya Memoires of Yoseph Yitzchak Schneersohn
13 Tales of Nachman of Breslov Yiddish literature
Elie Wiesel books on Hasidism and Jewish learning
Souls on Fire
All Rivers Run To The Sea
A Jew Today
Annotated bibliography of books by Elie Wiesel
Story and Silence: Transcendence in the Work of Elie Wiesel
Intuitive unity of sacred and secular in the thought of Abraham Isaac Kook
"There is nothing totally secular"
Disciplines in Kabbalah:
1 Conceptual theosophy
2 Meditative experience
3 Practical theurgy
Practical Kabbalah sidelined after 16th century
Hasidic vs Kabbalistic views of Practical Kabbalah
Some interpretations of Inner Torah
The Rabbis taught: Four (Sages) entered the Pardes ("the orchard" - Rashi explains that they ascended to Heaven by utilizing the Divine Name) They were Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva said to them: "When you come to the place of pure marble stones, do not say, "Water! Water!" for it is said, "He who speaks untruths shall not stand before My eyes" (Psalms 101:7). Ben Azzai gazed (at the Divine Presence - Rashi) and died. Regarding him the verse states, "Precious in the eyes of God is the death of His pious ones" (Psalms 116:15). Ben Zoma gazed and was harmed (he lost his sanity - Rashi). Regarding him the verse states, "Did you find honey? Eat as only much as you need, lest you be overfilled and vomit it up" (Proverbs 25:16). Acher cut down the plantings (he became a heretic). Rabbi Akiva entered in peace and left in peace. (Talmud Chagiga 14b, also discussed in the Zohar. Explaned by Moshe Cordovero)
On Rosh Hashanah of the year 5507 (1746) I performed, by means of an oath, an elevation of soul, as known to you, and saw wondrous things I had never seen before. What I saw and learned there is impossible to convey in words, even face to face...I ascended from level to level until I entered the chamber of the Mashiach, where the Mashiach learns Torah with all the Tanaim and tzadikim and also with the Seven Shepherds...I asked the Mashiach, "When will the Master come?" And he answered, "By this you shall know: When your teachings will become public and revealed in the world, and your wellsprings burst forth to the farthest extremes, that which I have taught you and you have comprehended, and they also shall be able to perform unifications and elevations as you, then all of the shells will cease to exist, and there shall be a time of good will and salvation. (From a letter from Yisrael Baal Shem Tov to his brother-in-law Gershon of Kitov. From inner.org)
The second section of the Hasidic classic text the Tanya, called Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah-Gate of Unity and Faith brings the mystical Panentheism and Divine immanence of the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov, into intellectual, philosophical explanation. It explains the Hasidic theology of God's Unity, which is the underlying mystical theology behind all of Hasidism. The author placed it after the first section of Tanya, which gives a mystical account of Jewish daily life. Since the second section is fundamental to perceiving the mystical, it is often described in Habad as a beginning text for the initiate. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, who began an outreach campaign to encourage Gentiles to keep the 7 Laws of Noah, said that non-Jews should learn the second section of Tanya, as it also applies to them. The vision of the Baal Shem Tov was that Hasidism would give a mystical perception of the Divinity that the whole World will study in Messianic times. Study of the second section of Tanya would enable a non-Jew to know God, and reach the higher levels of Love and Awe of God. This is the inner dimension of the 7 Laws of Noah.
See Ohr Philosophy of Habad Radical theological aspects of Hasidic theology Tzimtzum Hasidim and Mitnagdim
Medieval, rationalist Jewish philosophers (exponents of "Hakirah"-rational "investigation" from first principles in support of Judaism), such as Maimonides describes Biblical and Rabbinic Monotheism to mean that there is only one God, and His essence is a unique, simple, infinite Unity. Jewish mysticism gives a deeper explanation, by distinguishing between God's essence and emanation. In Kabbalah and especially Hasidism, God's Unity means that there is nothing independent of His essence. The fundamental new doctrine in Lurianic kabbalah of God's Tzimtzum-"withdrawl", received different interpretation after Isaac Luria, from the literal to the metaphorical. To Hasidism and Schneur Zalman, it is unthinkable for the "withdrawl" of God to "make possible" Creation, to be taken literally. Tzimtzum only relates to the Ohr Ein Sof-"Infinite Light", not the Ein Sof-Divine essence itself. God's true infinity is revealed in both complimentary infinitude (infinite light) and finitude (finite light). The "withdrawl" was only a concealment of the Infinite Light into the essence of God, to allow the latent potentially finite light to emerge after the Tzimtzum. God Himself remains unaffected ("For I, the Lord, I have not changed" Malachi 3:6). His essence was One, alone, before Creation, and still One, alone, after Creation, without any change.
Schneur Zalman explains that God's Unity has two levels, that are both paradoxically true. The main text of Kabbalah, the Zohar, describes the first verse of the Shema ("Hear Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One") as the "Upper level Unity", and the second line ("Blessed be the Name of the Glory of His Kingdom forever") as the "Lower level Unity". Schneur Zalman gives the Hasidic explanation of this. In Kabbalah all Creation is dependent on the immanent, finite, "Filling all Worlds" Ohr-Light that each Creation receives continually. All is bittul-nullified to the light, even though in our realm this complete dependence is hidden. From this perspective, of God knowing the Creation on its own terms, Creation exists, but the true essence of anything is only the Divine spark that continuously recreates it from nothing. God is One, as nothing has any independent existence without this continual flow of Divine Will to Create. This is the Lower Level Unity.
In relation to God's essence, Creation affects no change or withdrawl. All Creation takes place "within" God. "There is nothing but God". The ability to create can only come from the infinite Divine essence, represented by the Tetragrammaton name of God. However, "It is not the essence of the Divine, to create Worlds and substain them", as this ability is only external to the Infinite essence. Creation only derives from God's revelatory "speech" (as in Genesis 1), and even this is unlike the external speech of Man, as it too remains "within" God. From this upper persective of God knowing Himself on His own terms, Creation does not exist, as it is as nothing in relation to God's essence. This monistic acosmism is the "Upper Level Unity", as from this persective, only God exists.
Rachel Elior emphasises the infinite paradox and unification of opposites articulated philosophically in Habad Hasidism.
English translation and commentary on the second section of Tanya: Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah-Gate of Unity and Faith
- Origins of the Kabbalah Gershom Scholem
- Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism Gershom Scholem
- Essential Papers on Kabbalah ed. Lawrence Fine
- Kabbalah-New Perspectives Revision-Moshe Idel
- Founder of Hasidism-A Quest for the Historical Baal Shem Tov Moshe Rosman
- The Besht-Magician, Mystic and Leader Immanuel Etkes
- The Great Maggid (Traditionalist scholarship) Jacob Immanuel Schochet
- Torah Lishmah (Hayyim Volozhin's difference in Kabbalah with Schneur Zalman) Norman Lamm
- The Faith of the Mithnagdim: Rabbinic Responses to Hasidic Rapture Allan Nadler
- Essential Papers on Hasidism ed. Gershon Hundert
- Hasidism Reappraised ed. Ada Rapoport-Albert
- Hasidism-Between Ecstasy and Magic Revision-Moshe Idel
- Studies in East European Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism Joseph Weiss
- The Mystical Origins of Hasidism Overview-Rachel Elior
In a mid 20th century talk, Joseph Weiss, the leading pupil of Scholem, describes the difference between the roles of the academic historian, and the theologian or philosopher. He then goes on to discuss the contemporary shift of his time, over a generation ago, within the discipline of Jewish history itself, from the preceeding generation of "Essence of Judaism" scholarly historiographical theories of Judaism, to his generation's historiographical relativism. This was exemplified among others by Gershom Scholem's "counter history", identifying the creative historical motivation in Judaism's development in the anti-historical subversion of Jewish mysticism, both in its mainstream Rabbinic and Sabbatean heretical forms. Both he and Matin Buber found alternative personal programs in some of these manifestations for the spiritual renewal of 20th century Jewish culture, as documented more recently by David Biale as a third way between Orthodoxy and secularism. From Weiss' talk:
The theologian, be he Jewish or Christian, perhaps even the agnostic philosopher, will be strongly inclined to define the phenomenon of Judaism in the singular, so as to enter into conceptual abstractions; he may be professionally obliged to do so. But the historian will prefer using the plural and talk of the phenomena of Judaism, thus remaining within the domain of strictly descriptive scholarship.
In the last analysis, any attempt to define that elusive "essence of Judaism" that Jews and Gentiles, philo-Semites and anti-Semites have tried long to establish is doomed to failure if it takes as its starting point anything other than the fullness of all available historical phenomena. The historian, as distinct from the theologian, has a powerful case against overhasty generalisations. He will claim not to know the full facts. The fullness of Judaism, he says, has not realised itself. His argument will be a double one: Against the Christian theologian he will argue that there occured no noticable end of Judaism with the birth of Christianity...And the historian will have to argue against the Jewish theologian that he (the historian) cannot easily assimilate into his empiical method the concept of a revelation as a supernatural act that embraced once and for all the totality of all correct Jewish views and practice, and from which every Jewish phenomenon will have to be derived in order to be justified. The historian will therefore find no sense in a definition of Judaism that arrogates that totality. He will instead insist on the obligation of the historian to assemble the facts without imposing on them any grandiose, monolithic scheme. His main concern will remain at the level of empirical phenomena - facts, views, happenings - which he will attempt to analyse in their ordinary operation of cause and effect. He will then readily confess his failure to discover a totality of Jewish phenomena, and will be glad to hand over the material he established to theologians and philosophers for free use by them. But he will be reluctant to attempt to do their job and define Judaism in toto.
The historian, without the dramatic beginning of a revelation and without the crowning act of a redemption, is by definition doomed to have no guide in his quest for the essence of Judaism but the empirical existence of the Jewish people, and what is inherent in this existence. Since historical prediction is precluded for him, he will find no justification for the superimposition in advance of any definition or any scheme of Jewish history. For him there will be only piecemeal meaningfulness in Jewish history and this piecemeal meaningfulness is likely to defy any definition of Judaism as it is likely to defy any philosophical construction in history.
...Modern generalisations regarding various religions as the "essence" of each do reveal certain insights into some characteristics of the religions in question. Penetrating as these insights may be, they hardly enlighten anyone who is interested not in understanding the respective religions, but in deciding which one to believe in, like the heathen king in Yehuda Ha-Levi's medieval Kuzari. Summoned before such a heathen king to present their case, the modern protaonists of the "essences" of various religions would no doubt be dismissed with some such pronouncement as "You have said many nice things about your own religion...but you have not touched upon what I should like to know - which of the religions is the true religion?" Indeed, one cannot help feeling that the "essences" of each religion were invited in order to hide the embarrassment caused by the fact that no one seemed to care any more for the real medieval question: which one is true? I would hasten to add that this was already the case in the ninteenth and early twentieth centuries and the imaginary conversation made up by Katz is thus the superb summary of the "essence of Judaism" period, of which Leo Baeck and my own teacher, Julius Guttmann, were representative. Baeck's generation - perhaps with the exception of Ahad Haam - was German oriented, and mostly wrote in that language.
The quest for a general understanding of the essence of Judaism seems stange to a generation brought up to be specialists in the various branches of Jewish studies. Our own generation does not find it easy to understand the tenor of that period.
It is characteristic that when Guttman's magisterial German work Philosophie des Judentums was published in an English translation some years ago - a book that, in spite of its title, is not a philosophical tract, but a historical survey of Jewish philosophical literature - the subject in its title was slightly changed to Philosophies in the plural. The editor, Prof. Werblowsky of Jerusalem, explains in his introduction that Guttmann had nowhere explicitly statedb his own views regarding a definition of Judaism; as a historian rather than a systematic thinker, he preferred his phenomenology of Judaism to remain implicit in his work. But Guttman was far from being a historical relativist and firmly believed in an essence of Judaism, the proper understanding of which would be not merely descriptive but normative. It would provide a yardstick by which to measure the essential Jewishness or, alternatively, un-Jewish deviation in ideas, doctrines, and acts of Jews over the millenia.
This change of the singular Philosophy to the plural Philosophies, which remains unmentioned in the introduction, is a typical example of the influence of the new school. Whereas the previous generation that found so much sense in defining Judaism wrote in German, the post-"Essence of Judaism" school writes in Hebrew and lives predominantly in Israel. It has no theoreticians like the previous generation. Its adherents are all practicing historians of the Jewish people, and their greatest representative is perhaps Scholem, who is miles away from anything like an attempt to define Judaism as a philosophical abstraction.
Werblowsky hints at his own and his generation's position when he writes that philosophers and historians may be at varience on the question of the nature, or even the very existence, of constant factors or structures making up an "essence" of Judaism. The new historical consciousness that holds that defining Judaism is a hopeless operation will particularly flourish in Israel far away from the apologetical necessities of a diaspora on the defensive. It is by no means confined geographically to Israel, nor are all Israeli historians of the Jewish people committed to the views of the new school. For instance, Baer, one of the leading historians of our generation, who probably shared for some time, at least theoretically, the relativismof the new generation, became a refugee from the new school in order to retire in old age to his own image of Judaism, which he defined and redefined.
Notwithstanding such important defections from the new way of thinking about Judaism, the post-"Essence" school thinks in terms of historical, psychological, and sociological relativism. Its yardstick is no longer the concept of doctrinal Judaism but the living reality of the Jewish people with its thosand faces. Its motto is "nothing Jewish is un-Jewish for us".
This differentiation is further extended in today's academic study of Jewish mysticism, in which previously diverse disciplinary perspectives now relate together. These include foremost, the historians of ideas, the "mystics", who follow on from Scholem and Weiss, together with the social historians who look for historical influences on Judaism from society, the successors of Dubnow. Contemporary Jewish historiography in general has replaced former ideological views with Postmodern plurality of multiple perspectives.
Mysticism in Jewish historiography:
- Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah and Counter-History David Biale
- Prophets of the Past: Interpreters of Jewish History Michael Brenner
Scholarly descriptions of Kabbalah concepts with historical-philosophical footnotes, summarised through Hasidic interpretation:
- Mystical Concepts in Chassidism Jacob Immanuel Schochet, also as Appendix to Bilingual Engish Likkutei Amarim Tanya
- Meditation and the Bible
- Meditation and Kabbalah
Two companion books tracing the previously unpublished teachings of Meditative Kabbalah back to the Biblical Prophets. Kabbalah divides into three branches: Theoretical, Meditative and Practical. While most historical focus and publishing involves Theosophical Kabbalah, these are the first English analyses of the history and techniques of Meditative Kabbalah. The first is "a highly radical interpretation of the Bible demonstrating the methods of meditation used by the Prophets to attain their unique states of consciousness, from ancient unpublished manuscripts with commentary. The last section, 'Verbal Archaology', seeks to reconstruct the Biblical vocabulary used to describe mystical methods and higher ststes of consciousness. This section alone promises to revolutionise contemporary Bible scholarship." The second gives a scholarly alternative to academic views of the Medieval syncretic formation of Theosophical Kabbalah, by tracing Meditative Kabbalah back to Talmudic meditation, the Oral Torah meditative techniques received from the Biblical meditative schools. Continues with analysing the continuation and development of meditative references and methods in the Hasidic movement's early mystical circles, often overlooked in theoretically focused scholarship.
Beyond interest in any particular methods the books describe, they offer sensitivity to Divinity in the Bible and Kabbalah, and more generally, analogous insight into any transcendent search. As contemplation of any intellectual idea is illuminated by perception of its inner emotional content, a natural unstructured loose parallel to meditation, so the books contribute analogous insight into sensitivity to Divinity and transcendence in an ideal model of thinking.
Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalah, is the official theology of the Jewish people...Although the world of Kabbalah is profoundly symbolic and abstract, its teachings are of tremendous significance to the individual and to society alike. Its influences are evident in all Jewish spheres, the prayer book, the Talmud, and Jewish philosophy. Kabbalah is not a separate area of Torah knowledge, but rather the hidden, spiritual dimension of the revealed aspects of the Torah...It is for this reason that Kabbalah has been called the soul of the Torah.
The character of Kabbalah is perhaps manifested most clearly in Hasidut. By changing the terminology of Kabbalah yet maintaining its messages, Hasidut offers a simpler, more accessible way of unlocking its secrets. The Hasidic movement, which has prompted dramatic changes in the outlook of the Jewish people, began in the late 18th century with the teachings of Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov. By re-emphasizing the value of every Jew, the Baal Shem Tov provided his disciples with the opportunity to link the individual closer to the Almighty. Hasidism has breathed new vitality into Jewish life, offering an alternate route to the arduous and, for some, unattainable path of study. (Jewish mysticism at www.steinsaltz.org)
Let me explain something that I have said elsewhere...I think that since about the time of the expulsion from Spain, the only theology that our people have had is the theology of the Kabbalah. I'm saying this now not because I am biased, but I am speaking objectively. Kabbalah is accepted not only in the Hasidic world, but also by those who opposed the Hasidim and followed the Gaon of Vilna. In fact, the Vilna Gaon was possibly more deeply involved with, and wrote more about, the Kabbalah than many of the Hasidic masters put together. Even the Sefardim have clearly been taken with the Kabbalah, if not so obviously. So Kabbalistic ideas don't belong only to the Hasidic point of view. They are a part of a general Jewish psychology and theology.
I am in a certain way terribly biased because I belong to Hasidus. My background was such that Hasidus was the only way that Judaism appeared, to me, in any significant way. So now I can think about it backwards and perhaps give it some intellectual meaning, but still you must remember that I am biased. Generally speaking, as far as I can be objective, I would say that the last phase in the history of Judaism is such that to ignore Hasidus would be like going back to the Judaism of the Gemorah and ignoring the Acharonim, as if you didn't even come across them. The reason Hasidism did not spread all over the world was the twin historical disasters of assimilation and the destruction of the Jews...So Hasidism was stopped in its track, so to speak, but even today if you "count heads", you'll find that a majority actually daven Nusach Sefard and are connected to a Hasidic tradition. (Interview at www.newkabbalah.com)
The nature of our World
...There is a quotation from the Kabbalistic work of Rabbi Chaim Vital, Sefer Etz Hayyim, that our world is one that in its majority is a world of evil. Evil is the ruler of this world and there is very little good in it. If I could express it in perhaps a paradoxical way, I would turn to the 18th century dispute between Leibnitz and Voltaire. Leibnitz said we lived in the best of all possible worlds, and Voltaire, who wrote Candide, made fun of Leibnitz and came to the conclusion that we live in the worst of all possible worlds. If we were to look at this question from a Jewish point of view, I would answer in the following way: "We are living in the worst of all possible worlds in which there is still hope." There are, indeed, worlds below us in which there is no hope at all, and this is what we call "Hell." But to speak of the entire structure of our own world: it really is a world on the very brink. If it were to be slightly, just slightly, worse than it actually is, then its basic structure would become entirely hopeless; the balance would be irreversible and evil would be irrevocable.
As it is now, evil can be conquered, but we are not living in a Leibnitzian paradise, but in a world in which we have to accept a vast amount of evil. What I am saying is not usually understood as a Jewish idea, but I think that it is really a statement of what I would call "Jewish optimism." If a person sees the world as all pink and glowing, he is not an optimist, he's just a plain fool. An optimist, on the other hand, is one who in spite of seeing the terrible facts as they are, believes that there can be improvement. If everything were all right, then you wouldn't have to be an optimist. So I do believe that we, as Jews, are optimists because we are a people with hope and we have a theology of hope.
After everything has been said and told, we come upon certain mysteries that simply cannot be answered. One of these is the question which asks about the purpose of Creation. And the fact is, as one Hasidic Rebbe said with respect to this very question, there is language in the Midrash to the effect that the Almighty had a "teiva", a desire, and if you have a desire you don't ask "why?" The language of the Midrash is very suggestive at this point because a teiva is something we can't explain. To answer a question about the "why" of Creation can, philosophically, be proven to be impossible. You get to a point where you are asking questions that are unanswerable, not because we lack knowledge, but unanswerable by definition. But perhaps we can say this much: When you speak about the world from this point of view, it is, so to speak, a tour de force, an experiment in existence, an experiment of what I might call "conquering the utmost case." So in a way, existence in any other world is not "proof." Proof in the utmost case occurs only when you can do things under the worst of circumstances.
...If I want to test a new car, the way that I test it is not on the smoothest of roads, under the best conditions. To have a real road test to prove that a car really works, I have to put it under, and I would say this again, the worst conditions in which there is yet hope. I cannot test it by driving it off a cliff, but I can test it on the roughest terrain where I must come to the edge of a cliff and have to stop...The same with Creation. Creation would have been pointless unless it was a Creation under precisely these difficult circumstances. So I am saying, theologically speaking, that the worst possible world in which there is yet hope is the only world in which Creation makes sense. (Excerpt of an interview with Adin Steinsaltz, "The Mystic As Philosopher", from www.newkabbalah.com )
Yitzchak Ginsburgh-Gal Einai organisation:
www.inner.org New articulation of Kabbalah in light of Hasidic thought
Gal Einai logo "Gal einai v'abitah niflaos mitorasecha" - "Open my eyes, that I may behold wonders from Your Torah" (Psalms 119:18)
The Torah academy:
www.inner.org-Torah and Science Main Index: Sciences and Arts in the framework of Jewish mysticism
www.inner.org-Teachings of Kabbalah for Righteous Gentiles Includes the mystical meaning of the 7 Laws of Noah, and the rectification of the Wisdoms, Sciences and Arts of the Nations
www.inner.org-Three stages in the development of Kabbalah: Cordoveran Kabbalah, Lurianic Kabbalah, Hasidic thought
Books by Yitzchak Ginsburgh that are a key to theological inner systemisation of Kabbalah through Hasidism:
- What You Need to Know About Kabbalah
- Transforming Darkness into Light: Kabbalah and Psychology
- Awakening the Spark Within: Five Dynamics of Leadership That Can Change the World
Sanford L. Drob-"The New Kabbalah":
"The New Kabbalah" is a perspective in philosophy, theology and psychology, grounded in the union between traditional Jewish mysticism and modern and postmodern thought. Rooted in the visionary mythos of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-72), and interpreted through such modern and postmodern thinkers as Freud, Jung, Hegel, Wittgenstein and Derrida, the New Kabbalah seeks to uncover and further develop the philosophical and psychological significance of Kabbalistic symbols and ideas. In addition, the New Kabbalah is enriched by comparative studies and dialog between Jewish mysticism and other religious and philosophical traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Platonism, and Gnosticism. The New Kabbalah is born out of the conviction that the theosophical system of Luria and his followers promotes an open economy of thought, dialog and criticism, while at the same time providing a comprehensive account of the world and humanity's role within it that is intellectually, morally and spiritually vital for us today.
The New Kabbalah seeks to build upon the recent explosion in contemporary Kabbalah scholarship by formulating a Kabbalistic approach to philosophy, theology and psychology. The New Kabbalah is open, multi-perspectival and pluralistic, and while it is rooted firmly in Judaism, it seeks dialog, participation and constructive criticism from those of all backgrounds and disciplines. This site is not affiliated with any "movement," but seeks to promote respectful dialog across the full spectrum of Jewish affiliation and non-affiliation. (Author's definition of "The New Kabbalah" on homepage)
Abraham Joshua Heschel:
Apta Hasidic dynasty
Aggadic Man: The Poetry and Rabbinic Thought of Abraham Joshua Heschel From a Modern Orthodox Judaism publication. Contrasts his emotional, mystical, aggadic philosophy of Judaism, with the rational, halachic philosophy of Joseph B. Soloveitchik in his approach of "Halachic Man".
The Earth Is the Lord's: The Inner World of the Jew in Eastern Europe - Small lyrical work of Heschel in which he evokes the world of Eastern European Jewish spirituality
Mordechai Yosef Leiner:
A Late Jewish Utopia of Religious Freedom in Studies in East European Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism-Joseph Weiss
Chapter on personal autonomy in The Mystical Origins of Hasidism-Rachel Elior
The Fluidity of Categories in Hasidism-Yehoshua Mondshine in Hasidism Reappraised-Ada Rapoport-Albert ed.
All is in the Hands of Heaven: The Teachings of Rabbi Mordecai Joseph Leiner of Izbica-Morris M. Faierstein
A Messianic spiritual path for elite "Judah" types, who follow personal illumination, while "Ephraim" types follow the regular path of Halacha. "A unique theology in Jewish mysticism". For non-Judah regular people it gives some insight into Messianic times. Developed in the mid 19th century from themes of Lublin, Przysucha and Kotzk. Popularised recently by Neo-Hasidism.
- Shneur Zalman of Liadi - Founder of Intellectual system in Hasidism
- Dovber Schneuri - Internal formation of Habad contemplative method
- Menachem Mendel Schneersohn - Unity of Hasidic thought with Rabbinic Judaism
- Shmuel Schneersohn - Begining of discourse focus and application
- Sholom Dovber Schneersohn - Complete intellectual explanation and founding of Yeshivah institution
- Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn - Self sacrifice in outreach through adversity and Hasidic memoralisation
- Menachem Mendel Schneerson - Relation of Hasidic thought to Mashiach-Atzmus through Chabad outreach
On the Essence of Chasidus - Hasidic thought as the Yechidah of Torah
In Hayom Yom, later compiled in the early years by the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe, his predecessor said that "One does not need to move mountains", but just the required small spiritual sanctifications, a blessing or Torah teaching to sanctify a location to bring redemption. After 40 years of public teaching, in his last year of speaking, the 7th Rebbe focused everything on Mashiach. He directed to "overturn the World to bring Mashiach". Yitzchak Ginsburgh addresses this initial contradiction through the Kabbalistic process of Tohu and Tikun. After the collapse of Tohu, rectification proceeds through Tikun. As the vessels of Tikun mature, they are able to draw down and hold more of the initial sublime lights of Tohu, until Messianic redemption realises a third stage of the full lights of Tohu within the reconfigured vessels of Tikun, the paradox experience of continual Divine recreation from Nothingnes in simultaneous material reality. During the maturing of the vessels, one is able to take larger and more frequent spiritual steps of accomplishment. In the time of the 6th Rebbe, the vessels of the World were still unable to receive the Messianic lights of Tohu, amidst the contemporary 20th century spiritual oppression and self-sacrifice directed to his followers. After the completion of the next generation, the "World is ready for Mashiach". On 28th Nissan 1991, during the last year of teaching, the 7th Rebbe said that "he has done everything he could, but Mashiach has still not arrived. All he can do is hand the World's Messianic reception over to his followers", to "do everything you can to bring Mashiach, the sublime inspiration lights of Tohu in the real world's fully capable material consciousness vessels of Tikun".
Hasidic doctrine of the Tzadik Yesod Olam - all inclusive Yechidah consciousness of the generation
Every Jew an emissary to reveal Divine Omnipresence, each a Yechidah spark of Mashiach
Through the Kabbalistic-Wisdom-Chayah fulfilment of Tikun, a higher Hasidic-Will-Yechidah Atzmus purpose of Creation is revealed
I hope to give a lifetime's devotion to Wikipedia on Jewish thought when I can catch the time, especially the intefaces between Hasidism-Kabbalah, rationalism-mysticism, traditionalism-modernism, and the perspectives on these of alternative historiographies of Judaism, from both theological and academic perspectives. There's so much I would like to successively develop, as I first would need to begin becoming minimally educationally qualified to do so! This involves cumulative reflection and reassessment of the same range of topics, and branching out into newly related issues. Developing perspectives on a topic help widen its future conceptualisation, though due to time constraints, the intended pages may take years to emerge! Until now, the tasks have been mostly emergency editing. I hope to learn from past mistakes such as embarrasing, rushed contributions..(and correspondence)!
(This page is a little bit crazy)
"I'm always amazed by people who want to chart the Universe, when I find it hard enough to find my way around Chinatown" - Woody Allen