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Kabbalah - Secrets of the Jewish Mysticism Cult

Kabbalah - Secrets of the Jewish Mysticism Cult

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Published by Rev. Brian Tice
Kabbalah viewed through Jewish and Christian perspectives
Kabbalah viewed through Jewish and Christian perspectives

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Published by: Rev. Brian Tice on Jul 08, 2008
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12/02/2010

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CORNERSTONE UNIVERSITYKABBALAHSECRETS OF THE JEWISH MYSTICISM CULTWRITTEN FOR REL-441 APOLOGETICSPROFESSOR DON PERINIBYBRIAN TICE / BOX 359420 MARCH 2008
 
TiceKabbalah
1
has been called a “celebrity religion” due to the conversion of Madonna, Rosanne, Liz Taylor, and Barbra Streisand to its ranks. The name, whichmeans “received doctrine,” derives from the Aramaic verb
qabal 
, “to receive.”
2
 Thefoundation of the Chassidic sect of Judaism,
3
Kabbalah is described by its followers as“the study of the inner dimensions of G-d’s holy Torah,”
4
and as such, is not traditionallymade available for study to anyone under age forty. It is reasoned that they would nothave a thorough enough understanding of Torah and Talmud to understand the depths of Kabbalah.Outside of Chasidut, Kabbalah is not very highly regarded. This is, in part, due tothe secretive nature of Kabbalah, as evidenced by Cordovero’s statement: “Those whoknow do not tell and those who tell do not know.”
5
Saul Lieberman (a non-kabbalisticTalmud professor at Jewish Theological Seminary) is reported to have said in response toa student’s inquiry as to why the seminary offered no courses in Kabbalah, “At auniversity, it is forbidden to have a course in nonsense… even if it’s Jewish nonsense.”
6
Kabbalistic Scripture
Since Kabbalah is, at its roots, Jewish, the Hebrew canon is regarded as holyScripture, but
mekubbalim
(followers of Kabbalah) also addother books of “scripture” totheir study. Among these are the
Talmud 
, the
 Zohar 
(
 Book of Splendor 
), and the
1
Kabbalah can also be spelled Kabbala, Qabala, Cabala, etc. For the purposes of this paper, and for thesake of consistency, it will be spelled Kabbalah throughout.
2
Francis Brown, et. al.,
 Brown–Driver–Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon
(Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers,2004), 1110.
3
Chasidut, or Chassidic Judaism, is defined by kabbalaonline.org as “the pietistic, mystical movementwithin Judaism founded by Rabbi Baal Shem Tov in the early part of the 18
th
Century.”
4
www.kabbalaonline.org
5
Moshe Cordovero, quoted in Menachem Posner, “Where is Reincarnation in G-d’s Word as opposed toMan’s Word?”www.chabad.org. 
6
 
1
 
Tice
Shemoneh She’arim
(an 8-volume commentary on the
 Zohar)
.
7
According to kabbalistictradition, the
 Zohar 
, a 23-volume collection of commentaries on the
Torah
,
8
records and preserves the deep secrets of 
Torah
revealed to Simeon Bar Yochai and his son Elazar bysupernatural revelation from the Prophet Elijah.
9
 When the Romans killed the last sages of the
 Anshei Knesset HaGdulah
(GreatAssembly) in the Bar Kokhba Rebellion (second century CE), Bar Yochai and his sonElazar escaped and hid in a cave for ten years where, they claimed, the spirit of Elijahguided their study of Torah.
 Ariel describes the
 Zohar 
as “a guide to how to overcomethe barriers of time and place that separate us from the immediacy of G-d.”
 To most
mekubbalim
, the sentiment regarding the
 Zohar 
is, “It’s in the
 Zohar 
. Is that not the sameas if it was (sic.) in the
Torah
itself?”
 Scholem discovered in the 1930s, however, that there is sufficient evidence todoubt that the written
 Zohar 
dates that far back.
He noted that the dialect of Aramaicused for its composition was an artificial one, littered with Spanish idioms. Wieder observes, “To read the original is to be confounded. Even to be introduced, the
 Zohar 
must be coaxed from its linguistic cave.”
 The fact that such a cryptic dialect wasinvented to compose it is itself an indicator that the
 Zohar 
is a cultic work.The scholarly consensus is that the likely author was not Bar Yochai, but Moses ben Shem Tov de Leon, a late thirteenth-century
mekubbal 
who resided in southernSpain.
Time Magazine
postulates the theory, “The
 Zohar 
was far too radical to be
7
Shemoneh She’arim
was written by kabbalistic Rabbi Chaim Vital, recording the teachings of his mentor,Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the Arizal). When Vital died in 1620, all of his works were buried with him. The
Shemoneh She’arim
was disinterred from his grave in the 1650s and published in 1660 (cf. Moshe Miller,“Works of Rabbi Chaim Vital,”www.kabbaonline.org).
8
Laurence Wieder, “The Book of Splendor,”
 First Things
167 (Nov 2006): 45.
9
Sol Scharfstein,
 Jewish History and You
(Jersey City, NJ: KTAV Publications, 2004), 24.
10
Wieder, 44.
11
David S. Ariel, “Zohar, the Literaru Masterpiece of the Kabbalah,”
Tikkun
21 (My/Je 2006): 69.
12
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/kabbalah.html
13
“Found in Translation,”
Time
163 (19 Apr 2004): 64.
14
Wieder, 44.
 
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