(an 8-volume commentary on the
According to kabbalistictradition, the
, a 23-volume collection of commentaries on the
records and preserves the deep secrets of
revealed to Simeon Bar Yochai and his son Elazar bysupernatural revelation from the Prophet Elijah.
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.
as “a guide to how to overcomethe barriers of time and place that separate us from the immediacy of G-d.”
, the sentiment regarding the
is, “It’s in the
. Is that not the sameas if it was (sic.) in the
Scholem discovered in the 1930s, however, that there is sufficient evidence todoubt that the written
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
must be coaxed from its linguistic cave.”
The fact that such a cryptic dialect wasinvented to compose it is itself an indicator that the
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
who resided in southernSpain.
postulates the theory, “The
was far too radical to be
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
was disinterred from his grave in the 1650s and published in 1660 (cf. Moshe Miller,“Works of Rabbi Chaim Vital,”www.kabbaonline.org).
Laurence Wieder, “The Book of Splendor,”
167 (Nov 2006): 45.
Jewish History and You
(Jersey City, NJ: KTAV Publications, 2004), 24.
David S. Ariel, “Zohar, the Literaru Masterpiece of the Kabbalah,”
21 (My/Je 2006): 69.
“Found in Translation,”
163 (19 Apr 2004): 64.