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The Kabbalah

By Adolphe Franck

Analysis of the Zohar. View of the Kabbalists on the Human Soul

It is mainly because of the high rank given to man by the Kabbalists, that the latter recommend themselves to our interest, and the study of their system becomes of great importance to the history of philosophy as well as to that of religion. "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" is said in Genesis (III, 19); and this curse is followed neither by any definite 1 promise of a better future, nor by any mention of the soul which is to return to God when the body mingles with the earth. According to the author of the Pentateuch, the model of wisdom in Israel, the author of Ecclesiastes, has bequeathed the following strange comparison to posterity: 2 "For that which befalleth the sons of man, befalleth the beasts; even the same thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other." (Ecl. II, 19.)

The Talmud expresses itself at times very poetically on the compensation that awaits the just. It represents them sitting in the celestial Eden with crowned heads and enjoying the divine glory. 3 But it endeavors rather to humble than ennoble human nature in general. "Whence come you? From a fetid drop. Whither go you? To a place of dust, of defilement and of worms. And before whom are you some day to vindicate yourself and give account of your actions? Before the King of all Kings, before the Holy One Whose name be praised!" 4 Such are the words we read in a collection of sayings attributed to the oldest and most honored leaders of the Talmudical school. 5

In quite a different language the Zohar tells us of our origin, of our future destiny and of our relations to the Divine Being. "Man," it says, "is both the summary and the highest expression of creation; for this reason he was not created until the sixth day. As soon as man appeared, everything was completed, the higher world as well as the lower world; for all is summed up in man, he unites all form." 6 But he is not only the image of the world, of the universality of beings including the absolute; he is also, and above all, the image of God as considered in the totality of these infinite attributes. Man is the divine presence on earth, ‏?????? ????‎ (Sekinta Tahtoah); it is the Celestial Adam who, departing from the highest primitive darkness, created the Terrestrial Adam." 7

Here follows at first a representation of man under the first of these two aspects, that is--man as the Microcosm. "Do not think that man is but flesh, skin, bones and veins; far from it! That which really constitutes man, is his soul; and the things we call skin, flesh, bones and veins are for us but a garment, a cloak, but they do not constitute man. When man departs (this earth), he divests himself of all the cloaks that cover him. Yet, the different parts of the body conform to the secrets of the supreme wisdom. The skin represents the firmament which extends everywhere and which covers everything, like a cloak. The flesh reminds us of the evil side of the universe (that is, as we have said above, the purely external and sensual element). The bones and the veins represent the celestial chariot, the forces that exist within ‏?????? ?????? ???‎, the servants of God. However, all this is but a cloak; for the deep mystery of Celestial Man is within. All is as mysterious below as it is above. Therefore it is written: And God created Man in His image. The mystery of terrestrial man is according to the mystery of the Celestial Adam. Yet, as we see in the all-covering firmament stars and planets which form different figures that contain hidden things and profound mysteries, so there are on the skin that covers our body certain figures and lines which are the planets and stars of our body. All these signs have a hidden meaning and attract the attention of the wise who can read the face of man." (Zohar, Part II, 76a.) Man makes even the most ferocious animal tremble by the sole power of his external form and by the intelligence and grandeur that reflects in his features. 8 The angel sent to Daniel to protect him from the rage of the lions, is, according to the Zohar, nothing but the very face of the prophet, or the power exerted by the look of a pure man. It is added, though, that this power vanishes as soon as the person sinks through sin and through neglect of his duties. 9 We shall not linger upon this point which we have noted, and which belongs entirely to the theory of nature.

When we consider the human being, per se, that is to say, from the point of view of the soul, and compared to God before He became visible in the world, it reminds us entirely, by its unity, by its substantial identity and by its three-fold nature, of the supreme trinity. For the human being consists of the following elements: (1) of a spirit, ‏????‎ (N’shamah), which represents the highest degree of his existence; (2) of a soul ‏???‎ (Roo-ah), which is the seat of good and evil, of the good and evil desires, in short, of all the moral attributes; (3) of a coarser spirit, ‏???‎ (Nefesh), which is in immediate relation with the body and the direct cause of what the text calls the "lower movements," that is, the actions and instincts of the animal life.

To understand how these three principles, or rather these three degrees of human existence united in one being, despite the distance that separates them, we give here again the comparison which we have made use of on the subject of the divine attributes, and the germ of which is to be found in the Book of Formation. There are a great many passages which bear witness to these three souls; but we prefer to choose the following because of its lucidity: "In these three, the spirit, the soul and the life of the senses, we find a true picture of what is going on above; for all these three make up but one being, where all is joined in unity. The life of the senses has no light of its own; for this reason it is closely connected to the body which it supplies with the necessary enjoyments as well as food. We may apply here the following words of the sage: 'She gives provision to her household, and a task to her maidens.' (Prov. XXI, 15.) The house is the body that is nourished, and the maidens are the members of the body who obey. Above the life of the senses is the soul, which subdues it, rules it and supplies it with as much light as it needs. The animal principle is therefore the seat of the soul. Finally, above the soul is the spirit, by which it is ruled in turn, and which illumines it with the light of life. The soul is illumined by this light, and is entirely dependent upon the spirit. After death, the soul finds no rest, and the gates of Eden are closed to her until the spirit had risen to its source, to the Ancient of the Ancients, to replenish everlastingly from Him; for the spirit always ascends to its source." 10

Each of these three souls, as is easily foreseen, has its source in a different degree of the divine existence. The supreme wisdom, also called the "Celestial Eden," is the only source of the spirit. The soul, according to all the commentators on the Zohar, springs from the attribute which unites in itself "Judgment" and "Mercy," that is to say, from "Beauty." And lastly, the animal principle, which never rises above this world, has no other basis but the attributes of strength contained in the "Kingdom."

Besides these three elements the Zohar recognizes also another element of quite an extraordinary nature the origin of which will reveal itself in the course of this work. It is the external form of man conceived as a separate existence preceding the body, in short, the idea of the body, but with the individual traits which distinguish every one of us. This idea descends from heaven, and becomes visible at the moment of conception. "At the moment of earthly union, 11 the Holy One, praised be His name, sends down a human-like form which bears the imprint of the divine seal. This form is present at the act of which we spoke, and if we were permitted to see what goes on at the time, we would notice above its head an image resembling a human face, and this image is the model according to which we are procreated. Procreation can not take place until this form has been sent by the Lord, until it descends and hovers over our head, for it is written: 'And God created man in His image.' It is this image which receives us first when we come into this world; it develops with us while we grow, and accompanies us when we leave the earth. Its origin is in heaven (‏???? ??? ???? ??????‎). When the souls are about to leave their celestial abode, each soul appears before the Supreme King clothed in a sublime form wherein the traits are engraved that are to mark it in this world. The image then emanates from this sublime form; it is the third from the soul, precedes us to earth and awaits our arrival from the moment of the conception; it is always present at the conjugal union." 12 The modern Kabbalists call this image the "individual principle" (‏?????‎--Y’hidoh).

Some, finally, have introduced into the Kabbalistic psychology a fifth principle, called the "vital spirit" (‏??? ?????‎--Roo-ah He-yuni), or simply ‏???‎ (He-yoh). The seat of this principle is in the heart, and it presides over the combination and the organization of the material elements. It is just as different from the principle of animal life (Nefesh) and the life of the senses, as the "vegetative" and "nutritive soul" (τ? θρεπτικ?ν) differs from the "sensitive soul" (τ? α?σθητικ?ν) in the philosophy of Aristotle and of the scholastics. This opinion is based upon an allegorical passage in the Zohar, where it is said that every night during our sleep our soul ascends to heaven to render account there of the day's work, and that during that time the body is animated only by a breath of life which has its seat in the heart. 13

But, to tell the truth, these last two elements do not count in our spiritual existence, which is entirely included in the intimate union of the soul and the spirit. The temporary union of these two higher principles with the sense principle, that is to say, life itself which chains them to earth, is not considered a misfortune. Unlike Origenes and the gnostic schools life is not looked upon as a downfall or as an exile, but as a means for education and as a beneficial trial. According to the Kabbalists, it is necessary for the soul, an inherent necessity of its finite nature, to play a part in the universe, to contemplate the spectacle offered by creation, in order to attain self-consciousness and consciousness of its origin; and to return, but without absolutely uniting, to that inexhaustible source of light and life which is called the Divine Thought.

Moreover, the spirit cannot descend without raising at the same time the two lower principles, yes, even matter which is placed still lower. Human life, when completed, is therefore a kind of reconciliation between the two extreme expressions of existence considered in its entirety; between the ideal and the real, between form and matter, or, as expressed in the original, between the king and the queen. Here we have these two deductions recognizably expressed in a more poetical form: "The souls of the just are above all the high powers and high servants. And were you to ask why they descend to this world from such a lofty position, and why they wander from their source, I shall answer by the following example: To a king was born a son who was sent to the country to be fed and raised until he should be sufficiently grown and instructed in the habits of his father's palace. When the father was informed that the education of his son was completed, what does he do in his love for him? He sends for the queen, his son's mother, to celebrate his return; he takes him into his palace and rejoices with him all day.

"The Holy One (blessed be His name!) also has a son from the queen; this son is the higher and holy soul. He sends him to the country, i.e., into this world, in order to grow up and be initiated in the usages observed in the royal palace. When the king is informed that His son has reached mature age and that the time has come to take him into His palace, what does He do for the love of him? In honor of His son, he invites the queen, and takes His son into His palace. The soul really never leaves the earth except in company with the queen who is to conduct it into the palace of the king where it is to live forever. And yet the inhabitants of the country are accustomed to weep when the King's son separates from them.

"But, if there be a clear-sighted man among them, he tells them: Why do you cry? Is he not the son of the king? Is he not right in leaving you that he may go to live in the palace of his father? Thus did Moses, who knew the truth, say to the weeping inhabitants of the country (i.e., the people). You are the sons of Jehovah, your God, you shall not cut yourself for the dead. 14 If all the just knew this, they would welcome the day they are to quit this world. And is it not the height of glory when the queen (the Shekinah or the Divine Presence) descends among them, when they are admitted to the palace of the king, and when they enjoy His delight forever?" 15

In these relations between God, nature and the human soul we find again the same form of trinity which we met so often before, and which the Kabbalists seem to have given a logical importance of greater extent than the exclusive circle of religious ideas is able to hold.

But human nature is the image of God not alone from this point of view; in all degrees of its existence it includes also the two generative principles, the trinity of which, formed by means of a middle term proceeding from their union, is but the result and most complete expression. The Celestial Adam being the result of a male and a female principle, it was necessary that the same apply also to the terrestrial man; and this distinction applies not only to the body, but also, and above all, to the soul when considered in its purest element.

"Every form," says the Zohar, "in which the male and female principle is not found, is not a higher or complete form. The Holy One, blessed be He, does not establish His abode where these two principles are not perfectly united; the blessing descends only where this union exists, as the following words teach us: 'He blessed them and called their name (Adam) on the day when they were created, (Genesis V, 2); for the name Adam (Man) can be given only to a man and a woman who are united into one being." 16

Just as the soul was in the beginning entirely within the supreme intelligence, so were the two halves of the human being, each one of which, however, comprises all the elements of our spiritual nature, united before they came into this world, whither they were sent to learn self-recognition and to unite themselves anew in the bosom of God. This thought is nowhere expressed as clearly as in the following fragment: "Every soul and every spirit, before coming into this world, is composed of a male and a female united into one being. In descending to earth, these two halves separate and go to animate different bodies. At the time of marriage, the Holy One, blessed be He, Who knows all the souls and all the spirits, unites them as before, and they become- again one single body and one single soul. . . . But this union conforms to the acts of man and to the ways which he travelled. If he is pure and acts godly, he will enjoy a union which resembles completely the one that preceded his birth." 17 The author of these lines may have heard of the androgyne of Plato; for the name of this imaginary being is well known in the ancient traditions of the Hebrews. 18 But how far inferior to the Kabbalists did the Greek philosopher remain on this point! We may be permitted to remark that the question under consideration here, and even the principle by which it is solved are not unworthy of a great metaphysical system. For if man and woman are two equal beings by their spiritual nature and by the absolute laws of morality, they are far from being alike in the natural direction of their faculties, and we have reason to agree with the Zohar that sexual distinction exists for the body as well as for the soul.

The belief just expounded is inseparable from the dogma of pre-existence, and the latter, already included in the theory of ideas, is still closer connected to the one which mingles existence and thought. Side by side with the principle from which it sprang, this dogma is also acknowledged with all possible perspicuity. We need but continue the modest role of translator. "When the Holy One, praised be He, was about to create the world, the universe was already present in His thought. He then formed also the souls which were eventually to belong to man; these souls presented themselves to Him in exactly the same form which they were to take later in the human body. God examined them one by one, and found several which were to corrupt their ways (morals) in this world. When the time came each of the souls was summoned before God, Who said: Go to that part of the earth and animate such and such a body. The soul replied: O, Master of the universe, I am happy in this world and do not want to leave it for another where I shall be subjected and exposed to all kinds of contamination. The Holy One, blessed be He, then said: From the day you were created you had no other destination but the world to which I send you. Seeing that it must obey, the soul sorrowfully took the earthly path and descended among us." 19

Along with this idea we find the doctrine of reminiscence expressed in a very simple manner in the following passage: "Just as all things of this world were present in their proper form in the thought of God before the creation, so were all human souls, before coming into this world, in the presence of God in heaven in the form which they have here below; and all that they learn here, they already knew before they came here." 20 It is perhaps regrettable that such an important principle has not been developed further, and that it does not take up more space in the totality of the system. But we are forced to admit that it is expressed in quite a categorical manner.

We must take care, however, not to confound this doctrine of pre-existence with the doctrine of moral predestination. Human liberty is not entirely impossible with the latter; with the first, human liberty is a mystery which neither Pagan dualism and the Biblical dogma of creation, nor the belief in the absolute unity are able to reveal. This mystery is formally acknowledged by the Zohar: "If the Lord," said Simeon ben Yohai to his disciples, "if the Holy One, blessed be He, had not put into us the good and the evil desire which the Scriptures call 'light' and 'darkness,' there would be neither merit nor guilt for the created man (man proper)." "Then, why is it so?", demanded the disciples. "Were it not better if there were neither reward nor punishment?" "No!" answered the master, "it is well that man is created as he is, and all that the Holy One, praised be He, created, was necessary. The law was made for the sake of man; but the law is a cloak for the Shekinah. Without man and without the law, the divine presence (Shekinah) would be like a pauper who has no cloak to cover himself with." 21

In other words, the moral nature of man, the idea of good and evil, which can not be conceived without liberty, is one of the forms under which we are forced to picture the absolute being. True, we have been told previously that God knew the souls, before their coming to this world, which were to desert Him later on; but freedom does not suffer thereby. On the contrary, it only commences then, and even the spirits which have been liberated from the bondage of matter can, according to the following words of the Zohar, abuse liberty. "All those who do evil in this world have begun already in heaven their estrangement from the Holy One, praised be He; they threw themselves into the entrance of the abyss and anticipated the time of their coming to earth. Thus were the souls before they came among us." 22

It is precisely for the purpose of reconciling liberty with the destination of the soul, and of giving man the means of expiating his faults without banishing him forever from the bosom of God, that the Kabbalists adopted and ennobled the Pythagorean dogma of metempsychosis. Like all individual beings, it is necessary that the souls return also to the absolute substance from which they departed. But to attain that purpose they must develop all perfections, the indestructible germ of which is hidden in them, and through many trials they must attain self-consciousness and consciousness of their origin. If they did not fulfil these conditions in a previous life, they begin a second, and after this a third life, passing always into new conditions where the acquisition of the lacking virtues depends entirely upon themselves. We may stop this exile whenever we wish, but nothing prevents us from continuing it forever.

"All souls," says the text, "are subject to the trials of transmigration,‏????? ???????‎, and man does not know the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He. He does not know that he is called to judgment entering this world as well as after leaving it. He does not know the many transformations and the many secret trials he has to pass through; the number of souls and spirits which enter this world and do not return to the palace of the Heavenly King. Man does not know that the souls undergo revolutions similar to those of a stone thrown from a sling. The time has finally come when these secrets must be divulged." 23

To these words, so fully in accord with the metaphysics of the Zohar, details are added which reveal at times the most poetic imagination which offers no interest for the history of philosophy and adds nothing to the system we are endeavoring to understand, although not unworthy of Dante's genius and of being incorporated in his immortal work. We only wish to note that, according to St. Jerome, the transmigration of the soul was taught for a long time among the early Christians as an esoteric and traditional doctrine which was to be divulged to a small number of the elect only: abscondite quasi in foveis viperarum versari, et quasi haereditario malo sercere in paucis. 24 Origen considered the doctrine as the only possible explanation of such Biblical accounts as the prenatal scuffle between Esau and Jacob, of Jeremiah's appointment while still in his mother's womb, and a host of others which would accuse the heavens of iniquity were they not justified by the good or evil actions of a pre-existing life. To remove all doubt as to the origin and the true character of this belief, the Alexandrian priest takes care to add that it is not the metempsychosis of Plato which is at issue here, but quite a different and much loftier theory. 25

To help us regain heaven, modern Kabbalists have conceived another remedy, besides so-called metempsychosis, which is offered to our weakness by divine grace. They are of the opinion that since the souls lack the power to fulfil separately all the precepts of the law God unites them into one life, so that, like the blind and the lame, they may complete each other. Sometimes it is only one soul which is in need of additional virtue; it therefore looks for it in another, better favored and stronger soul. The latter then becomes like a mother to the first one, carrying it in its bosom and nourishing it from its own substance, like a woman nourishing the fruit of her womb. Whence the name "gestation," or "impregnation" (‏?????‎--Ibur), the philosophical meaning of which, if there be one, is hard to guess. 26 But we shall lay aside these vagaries or unimportant allegories, if you please, and adhere to the text of the Zohar.

We know that the return of the soul to the bosom of God is the end of, as well as the compensation for, all the ordeals of which we have spoken. However, the authors of the Zohar did not stop there. The union which causes such inexpressible, joy to the creator as well as to the created is to them a natural fact, the principle of which rests in the very constitution of the soul; in short, they endeavored to explain that doctrine by a psychological system which we find, without exception, at the bottom of all the theories fathered by mysticism. Having separated from human nature the blind force which presides over animal life, which never leaves the earth, 27 and consequently plays no part in the destinies of the soul, the Zohar distinguishes also two kinds of sentiments and two kinds of cognitions. "Awe" 28 and "love" make up the first two; "direct light" and "reflected light," or the "inner face" (‏????? ???????‎) and the "outer face" (‏????? ???????‎) are the expressions ordinarily used to designate the two last ones.

"The inner face," says the text, "receives its light from the supreme light (‏????‎--Sargah), which shines forever and the secret of which can never be divulged. It is an inner face because it comes from a hidden source; but it is also a superior face because it comes from on high. The outer face is but the reflection of that light which emanates directly from above." 29 When God told Moses that he might see only His back and not His front, He alluded to these two kinds of cognition 30 which are represented in the early paradise by the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is, in short, what we would call nowadays "Intuition" and "Reflection."

Love and awe, considered from the religious standpoint, are defined in a very remarkable manner in the following passage: "Through Awe we come to Love. One who obeys God out of love, has undoubtedly attained the highest degree, and because of his sanctity, belongs already to the future life. Do not think, though, that service to God through awe is no service at all. Such service has also its merits, although the union between the soul and God is not so lofty. There is only one degree more elevated than that of awe, and that is love. Love contains the mystery of the unity of God. It is love that links the higher and lower degrees to one another; it is love that lifts everything to that degree where all must become one. This is also the secret of the words: Hear O Israel, the Eternal our God is One God." 31

We understand offhand that the spirit, when it has reached the highest degree of perfection, knows neither reflection nor awe. Its blissful existence, which is all intuition and love, has lost its individual character; without interest, without activity and without returning to itself, it can not separate itself from the divine existence. In the following passage that kind of existence is represented from the viewpoint of intelligence: "Come and see: when the souls have arrived at the place which is called the "treasure of life," they enjoy that brilliant light, ‏???????? ?????,‎ whose source is in the highest heaven, and the splendor of the light is so great that the souls would not be able to bear it were they not clothed with a cloak of light. It is only because of this cloak that they can look into that dazzling hearth which illumines the seat of life. Moses himself could approach to look at it only after discarding his earthly cloak." 32

If we wish to know how the soul unites with God through love, we must listen to the words of an old man who has been entrusted by the Zohar with the most important part after Simeon ben Yohai. "In one of the most mysterious and most exalted parts of heaven there is a palace of love (‏???? ????‎--Hekel Ah-vah). The most profound mysteries are there; there are all souls well-beloved by the Celestial King, the Holy One, praised be He, together with the holy spirits with whom He unites by kisses of love (‏?????? ??????‎--N’shikin D’hreemoo)." 33 It is by virtue of this idea that the death of the righteous is called the "kiss of God." 34 "This kiss," says distinctly the text, "is the union of the soul with the substance from which it springs." 35

The same principle will explain to us why all the interpreters of mysticism venerate so highly the tender, but often profane, expressions met with in the Song of. Songs. "My beloved one belongs to me, and I belong to my beloved one," said Simeon ben Yohai before dying, 36 and it is especially noteworthy that this quotation closes also Gerson's treatise on mystic theology. 37 Notwithstanding the surprise that may be caused by placing the justly celebrated name just mentioned and the great name of Fenelon alongside the names which figure in the Zohar, we shall have no trouble to show that it is impossible to find in the "Considerations on Mystic Theology" and in the "Explanations of the Maxims of the Saints," anything but this theory of love and contemplation, of which we have endeavored to show the most salient features.

Let us present the last deductions which no one admitted with such frankness as the Kabbalists. There is one degree among the seven degrees of existence (which are also called the seven tabernacles, ‏??? ??????‎), 38 which is called the "all saint," where all the souls unite with the supreme soul and mutually complete themselves. There, all return to unity and perfection. Everything unites into a single thought which spreads over and completely fills the universe. But the foundation of this thought, the light that is hidden within, can never be grasped or known; we may grasp only the thought that emanates from it. In this state, finally, the created can not be differentiated from the creator; the same thought illumines them, the same will animates .them; the soul as well as God commands the universe, and God executes what the soul commands. 39

To close this analysis we must show in a few words the opinion the Kabbalists have of a traditional dogma which, while of secondary consideration in their system, is of the greatest importance in the history of religions. The Zohar mentions more than once the fall and the curses which the disobedience of our first parents brought down upon human nature. It teaches us that, in yielding to the serpent, Adam called down death upon himself, upon his posterity and upon entire nature. 40 Before his sin Adam was more powerful and more beautiful than the angels. If he had a body at all, it was not of that vile matter of which our bodies are made; he shared none of our needs and none of our sensual desires. He was enlightened by a higher wisdom which the divine messengers of the highest rank were condemned to envy. 41

We can not say, however, that this dogma is the same as the dogma of "original sin." In fact, if we consider only the posterity of Adam, we do not deal here with a crime which no human virtue is able to expunge, but with a hereditary misfortune, with a terrible punishment which extends into the future as well as into the present. "The pure man," says the text, "is in himself the real sacrifice which may serve as an expiation; the righteous is therefore the sacrifice and expiation of the universe." ‏?? ?? ????? ???? ???? ????? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?????? ???? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ?????.‎ Part I, fol. 65a, sect. ‏??‎ (Noah).

They even go so far as to represent the angel of death as the greatest benefactor in the universe; "for," they say, "the Law was given to us as a protection against him; on his account the righteous will inherit those sublime treasures which are reserved for them in the life to come." 42 However, this old belief in the fall of man, which is so positively taught in Genesis, is ably set forth in the Kabbalah as a natural fact, just as the creation of the soul has been explained previously. "Before Adam sinned he obeyed only the wisdom whose light shines from above; he had as yet not separated himself from the tree of life. But when he yielded to the desire of knowing the things here below and to descend to them, he was tempted by them, he became acquainted with evil and forgot the good; he separated himself from the tree of life. Before they committed this sin, they heard the voice from on high, they were in possession of higher wisdom and retained their sublime and luminous nature. But after their sin, they did not understand even the voice from below." 43

We fail to see how the opinion just expressed can be opposed when we are taught that Adam and Eve, before they were beguiled by the subtleness of the serpent, were exempt not only from the need of a body, but did not even have a body, that is to say, they were not of the earth? Both were pure intelligences, happy spirits like those dwelling in the abode of the elect. This explains the Scriptural text where they are represented as nude during their state of innocence, and when we are told by the writer of sacred history that God clothed them in coats of skin, he meant to say that God provided them with bodies and the faculty of sensation, so they might be able to inhabit this world to which they were drawn by an imprudent desire, or by the desire to know good and evil. We give here one of the numerous passages where this idea, adopted also by Philo and by Origen, is expressed in a very clear manner: "When our forefather Adam inhabited the Garden of Eden, he was clothed, as all are in heaven, with a cloak of the higher light. When he was driven from the Garden of Eden and was compelled to submit to the needs of this world, what happened then? God, the Scriptures tell us, made for Adam and his wife coats of skin and clothed them; for before this they had coats of light, of that higher light used in Eden. . . . The good actions accomplished by man on earth draw upon him a part of that higher light which shines in heaven. It is this light which serves him as garment when he is to enter into another world and appear before the Holy One, Whose name be praised. Thanks to this garment he is able to taste the bliss of the elect, and to look into the luminous mirror. 44 That it may be perfect in all respects, the soul has a different garment for each of the two worlds it is to inhabit, one for the earthly world, and one for the higher world." 45

On the other hand we know already that death, which is but sin itself, is not an universal curse, but solely a voluntary evil; it does not exist for the righteous who unites with God by a love-kiss; it strikes only the wicked who leaves all his hope behind in this world. The dogma of original sin seems to have been adopted rather by the modern Kabbalists, principally by Isaac Luria, who believed that all souls were born with Adam, and that they all formed one and the same soul; he, therefore, regarded them all equally guilty of the first act of disobedience. But, while showing them thus degraded since the beginning of the creation, he accords them, at the same time, the faculty of elevating themselves through their own efforts by fulfilling all the commandments of God. Therefore, the obligation to bring the souls out of this state, and to fulfil, as far as possible, the precept of the low: "Be fruitful and multiply." Therefore also, the necessity of metempsychosis, for one life period does not suffice for this work of rehabilitation. 46 Even under another form, it is always the ennobling of our earthly existence and the satisfaction of life that is offered the soul as the only means of obtaining that perfection the need and the germ of which it carries in itself.

It is not part of our plan to pass judgment upon the vast system we have explained. Besides, we could not do it without profaning the strongest conceptions of the philosophy and the religious dogmas, the mystery of which is justly respected. We intend to play only the modest part of an interpreter; yet, we are convinced, at least, that, notwithstanding the obscurity of the language and the incoherence of the form; notwithstanding those puerile reveries which interrupt at every step the course of serious thought, historical truth has not much to complain of us. Were we to measure now, in a most summary manner, the space we have travelled, we shall find that the Kabbalah, as presented to us by the Sefer Yetzirah and the Zohar, is composed of the following elements:

1. By taking all the facts and all the words of the Scripture as symbols, it teaches man to have confidence in himself; it puts reason in the place of authority, and calls into existence a philosophy in the very bosom and under the protection of religion.

2. For the belief in a creative God, apart from nature, and  Who, notwithstanding His omnipotence, had to spend an eternity in inactivity, it substitutes the idea of an universal substance, infinite in reality, always active, always thinking, the immanent cause of the universe, but not confined by it; to whom, finally "to create" means nothing else but to think, exist and develop itself.

3. Instead of a purely material world, apart from God, sprung from nothingness and destined to return there, the Kabbalah recognizes innumerable forms under which the divine substance develops and manifests itself according to invariable laws of the idea. All exists at first, united in the supreme intelligence before realizing itself in a sentient form. Therefore, two worlds, one an intelligible or higher, the other an inferior or material.

4. Of all the forms, man is the most exalted, the most complete, and the only one permitted to represent God. Man is the bond and the transition between God and the world, he reflects both in his double nature. Like everything else of a finite nature, man is also at first included in the absolute substance with which he must unite again some day when he will be prepared by the developments to which he is susceptible. But we must differentiate the absolute form of man, the universal form of man from the particular man which is, more or less, a faint reproduction of the other. The first one, commonly called the celestial man, is entirely inseparable from the divine nature; it is its first manifestation.

Some of these elements serve as a basis of systems which may be looked upon as contemporaneous with the Kabbalah. Others have already been known at a much earlier time. For the history of human intelligence, though, it is of very great interest to find out whether the esoteric doctrine of the Hebrews is really original, or whether it is but a disguised copy. This question, and the one dealing with the influence exerted by the Kabbalistic ideas, will be treated in the third and last part of this work.

189:1 I have emphasized this word because it must be admitted that the doctrine of immortality is not indicated anywhere in the Pentateuch with any definite words. Besides, immortality belongs to the characteristic essence of the other side--the religion.--Jellinek.

189:2 But Ecclesiastes is a product of the semi-liberal and not of the Jewish spirit.--Jellinek

190:3 ‏?????? ?????? ????????? ??????? ?????? ???? ??????‎--Babyl. Talmud, Berahot, 17a.

190:4 ‏???? ??? ???? ????? ???? ??? ???? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ??? ???? ?????? ?????.‎--Pirke Aboth, ch. III, 1.

190:5 Again a bolstered-up judgment on the Talmud! The passage quoted here by the author is not from the Talmud, but was said by an individual, Akabya ben Mahalalel. In what connection did he say it? "Three things you shall hold before you, and you will not be tempted to sin: Whence come you? etc.;" a thought that is bound to be expressed by any one who has as yet not overcome the religious point of view, whether Jew or Gentile.--Jellinek

190:6 ‏???? ?????? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?? ?????? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ??????? ????.‎--Zohar, part III, fol. 48a.

190:7 ‏??? ?????? ??? ??????? ???? ??? ????? ???? ????? ??? ??? ????.‎--Part II. fol. 70b.

191:8 ‏?? ????? ????? ????? ????? ???? ???????? ??????? ???? ??? ?? ???? ???? ????? ????? ?????.‎-Part I, fol. 191a, Sect. ‏????.‎

191:9 ‏??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ?????? ??????? ??? ?????? ????? ????? ???.‎--Ib. supr.

193:10 Part II, fol. 142a, Sect. ‏?????‎ (T’roomah).

193:11 I wish to note here that "union" may be taken in the allegorical sense, and refer to the "king" and "queen," (see page 168); but may also be taken in the sense of concubitus.--Jellinek

194:12 Zohar, part III, fol. 104a, b, Sect. ‏????‎ (Emor).

194:13 ‏??? ????? ??? ????? ???? ?? ?? ????? ?????? ?????? ?????.‎--Zohar, part I Sect. ‏??? ??‎ (Lech L’chah).

196:14 Deuter. XIV, 1.

196:15 Zohar, part I, fol. 245a, Sect. ‏????‎. This entire passage has been translated into Latin by Joseph Voysin.

197:16 ‏?? ?????? ??? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ??? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ??? . . . ????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ????.‎--Part 1, fol. 55b, Sect. ‏??????‎ (Breshith).

197:17 ‏?? ????? ????? ??????? ???? ????? ??? ?????? ???????? ???? ?????? ?????? ??????? ?? ?? ?? ????? ??? ???? ???. ??? ??? ???? ????? ????? ???? ???? ????? ????? ??????? ???? ??? ??????? ??? ?????? ??????? ?? ???? ?? ????? ????.‎--Part I, fol. 91b.

197:18 Under the name Androgynos (‏??????????‎), from the Greek ?νδρ?γινος, referring to man as well as to animal. The commentator Yitzhaki makes even use of this expression in a grammatical connection for a form which is generis masculi and feminini.--Jellinek

198:19 ‏????? ???? ????? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ????? ?? ?????? ?????? ?????? ????? ???? ??? ????‎--Part II, fol. 96b, Sect. ‏??????‎ (Mishpatim).

199:20 ‏??? ?? ??????? ???? ???? ??? ???? ??? ????? ?????.‎--Part III, fol. 61b, Sect. ‏??? ???.‎ (Ahre Moth).

199:21 ‏?? ?? ???? ??? ???? ????? ???? ??? ????? ?????? ??? ???? ?? ??? ???? ????? ???? ?????? . . . ?? ???? ??? ??? ??????? ?? ???? ??????? ?????? ??????? ????.‎--Part I, fol. 93a, b.

200:22 ‏?? ????? ??? ??????? ????? ???? ???? ????? ??? ??????? ????? ???? ?????? ?????? ?????? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ????? . . . ?? ??? ?? ?? ????? ?????.‎--Part III, fol. 61b. Sect. ‏???? ???‎ (Ahre Moth).

201:23 ‏?? ?????? ????? ??????? ??? ????? ??? ??? ???? ?????.‎--Part II, fol. 99b, Sect. ‏??????‎ (Mishpatim).

201:24 Hieronymus, Epistol. ad Demetriadem. See also Hutt. Origeniana.

201:25 Περ? ?ρχ?ν liv. I, ch. VII. Ο? κατ? Πλ?τωνος μετενωμ?τωσιν, ?λλ? χατ? ?λλην ?ψηλοτ?ραν θεωρ?αν,--Adv. Celsum, liv. III.

202:26 This form of transmigration occupied in particular the mind of Isaac Luria, as attested by his devoted pupil Ha-Yim Vital, in his "Aytz Ha-Yim," Treatise on Metempsychosis (‏??? ???????‎), ch. I. Moses Cordovero, more reserved and adhering closer to the Zohar, speaks very little of it.

202:27 ‏??? ?????? ?? ???? ???????? ???? ????‎--Zohar, part I, fol. 83b, sect. ‏?? ??‎; part II, fol. 141b, sect. ‏?????‎.

202:28 I am taking here the word "awe" not in the destructive sense of "dread" or "fear," but in the constructive sense of a "feeling inspired by something sublime, not necessarily partaking of the nature of fear or dread" (Century Dictionary). The Hebrew word ‏????‎--Yerah, comes from the root Yoreh, which means "to revere," "to venerate." I therefore do not agree with Dr. Jellinek's translation of the author's "crainte" with "Furcht" (fear, dread). Such rendition seems to me against the spirit of the Zohar; and I believe my opinion is supported p. 203 by the following from the Zohar (Part I, fol. 88b): "There are three sides (aspects) to awe. In two of these the essence of awe is not found and only one contains the essence of awe. There are some, who fear God, that their children may live and not die; or because he fears bodily or financial punishment, and because of this he fears Him constantly. Such awe, which is (but) fear for God, does not equal to the essence (of awe). There are some who fear God because they fear the punishment of the world to come and of hell. These two (modes of awe) are neither the essence nor the source of awe. Awe that makes up the. essence (real awe) is the (kind of) awe that one should have for his master because he is the teacher and manager, the essence and basis of all the worlds."

‏???? ????? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ??? ??? ???? ???? ???? ??? ????? ????. ??? ?? ?? ????? ????? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ??????? ?? ???? ?????? ?????? ?? ???????. ??? ?? ???? ??? ????. ????? ???? ????? ????? ?? ??? ?????. ??? ?? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ???? ?????? ?????. ???? ???? ??? ????? ????? ????? ????? ?????. ????? ????? ????. ????? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ?? ????? ???? ????? ??? ?????. . . ‎--Transl.

203:29 Part II, fol. 203b. This dual cognition is very often called the "luminous mirror" (‏???????? ????‎--Aspaklaryeh N’haroh), and the "non-luminous mirror" (‏???????? ??? ????‎--Aspaklaryah d’lo N’haroh). They are at times also met with under these names in the Talmud.

203:30 It is worthy of note that the Talmud (Yebamoth, fol. 49a), when speaking of Moses, uses also the expressions "luminous mirror" and "non-luminous mirror" ‏???????? ??????, ???????? ????? ?????‎; yet, contrary to the Zohar, the Talmud says of Moses that he saw the Deity in the luminous mirror (‏????????? ??????,‎). Noteworthy is also the custom with the orthodox Jews to look at the fingernails and fingertips when blessing the candle at the end of Sabbath (‏????? ???‎) a custom based upon the passage of the Zohar quoted by the author. Compare Orah Hay-im, sect. 298, par. 1, the note of R. Moses Isserles.--Jellinek

204:31 ‏???? ???? ???? ???? . . . ??? ???? ??? ???? ????? ???? ???? ????? ?????? ?????? ????? ????‎ Part II, fol. 216a, sect. ‏?????‎ (Va-yakhol).

204:32 ‏??? ?? ????? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ??? ????? ????? ????????? ?????.‎--Part I, fol. 66a, sect. ‏??‎ (Noah).

205:33 ‏??? ???? ????? ????? ????? ??? ????? ??? ????? ???? ????‎--Part II, 97a, sect. ‏??????‎ (Mishpatim).

205:34 This picture, although not the idea, is represented by the Talmud, which says that Moses died by a kiss from God.--Jellinek

205:35 ‏???? ?????? ???? ??????? ???? ??????‎--Part I, fol. 168a, sect. ‏?????‎ (Va-yishlah).

205:36 Part II, Idra Rabba, ad finem. *

205:* This reference must be incorrect, as the Idra Rabba is to be found in Part III, Section ‏???‎, where the quoted passage is looked for in vain, and it is the Idra Zutah which tells of the death of Simeon ben Yohai.--Jellinek

205:37 Considerationes de Theologia Mystica, pt. II, ad fin.

206:38 We have spoken above of the tabernacles of death, of degradation and of hell; here it refers to tabernacles of life.

206:39 ‏??? ??? ?????? ?? ??????? ???? ???? ?? ??? ???????? ?? ?? ??. ??? ???? ??????? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ????? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ????‎--Part I, fol. 4-8a, b, sect. Breshith (‏??????‎)

206:40 ‏????? ????? ??? ????? ???? ????? ???? ???????? ???? ?????? ????? ???? ??? ????.‎ Part I, fol. 145b, sect. ‏??????‎.

206:41 ‏???? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ??????? ????? ????.‎--Part III, fol. 83b, sect. ‏??????‎ (Kdoshim).

207:42 Part II, fol. 163a, b, sect. ‏????‎ (Va-yeeroh).

207:43 Part I, fol. 52a, b, sect. ‏??????‎ (Breshith).

208:44 That is to say, as has been explained above, to know Truth face to face through intuition.

208:45 ‏??? ?????? ?? ??? ????? ???? ??? ????? ?????? ????‎--Zohar, part II, fol. 229b, sect. ‏?????‎ (P’koodah).

209:46 See Aytz Hay-yim, Treatise on Metempsychosis, liv. I, ch. 1.



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