A much more lively interest, but also more serious difficulty follow the literary monument still to be considered by us. The Zohar, or the Book of Brightness, is the universal code of the Kabbalah. Under the modest form of a commentary on the Pentateuch, it touches, with absolute independence, upon all questions of a spiritual nature, and, at times, it rises to the height of doctrines which even in our day the strongest intellect may be proud of. But it is very far from always maintaining the same heights. Very often it sinks to a language, to sentiments and to ideas which betray the lowest degree of ignorance and superstition. Side by side with the virile simplicity and naive enthusiasm of the Biblical times, we find names, facts, informations and habits which set us amidst an epoch of the earliest Middle Ages.
This inequality in form as well as in thought, this fantastic mixture of characters which differentiate the very widely separated times, and, finally, the almost absolute silence of the two Talmuds, and the lack of positive documents until the close of the thirteenth century, have given rise to the most divergent opinions upon the origin and the author of this book. We shall present them according to the most ancient and the most faithful witnesses; we shall then attempt to judge them before rendering a decision on this difficult question.
All that has been said, all that is still generally thought nowadays of the formation and of the antiquity of the Zohar, is summed up impartially by two authors whom we have already cited several times. "The Zohar," says Abraham ben Solomon Zacuto, in his "Book of Genealogies," 1--"the Zohar, whose rays illumine the world, 2 and which contains the most profound mysteries of the Law and of the Kabbalah, is not the work of Simeon ben Yohai, although it has been published under his name. But it was edited by his disciples according to his words, and his disciples themselves confided the care of the continuation of their task to other disciples. Written as were the words of the Zohar by men who had lived long enough to know the Mishnah and all the opinions and precepts of the oral law, they are, for that reason, all the more in harmony with the truth. This book was not discovered until after the death of Rabbi Moses ben Nahman and of Rabbi Asher, who knew of it." 3
Rabbi Gedaliah, author of the famous chronicle "The Chain of Tradition," 4 expresses his opinion on the same subject in the following words: "Toward the year five thousand and fifty of the Creation (1290 Christian era) there were different persons who claimed that all the parts of the Zohar written in the Jerusalem dialect (the Aramean dialect) were composed by Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai, but all those written in the sacred language (pure Hebrew) ought not to be attributed to him. Others affirmed that Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, having discovered the book in the Holy Land, sent it to Catalonia, whence it passed to Aragon and fell into the hands of Moses de Leon. Finally, several people have thought that Moses de Leon, who was a learned man, had drawn all these commentaries from his own imagination, and that he published them under the name of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and his friends, in order to derive great benefit therefrom from the learned quarters. It is added that he acted thus because he was poor and crushed by burdens." 5 "As far as I am concerned," adds the same author, "I hold that all these opinions are baseless, and I believe, to the contrary, that Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and his pious association did really say all these things and many more, but it may be that they were not properly drawn up in those days, and after they have been dispersed in several portions for a long time, they were finally collected and put in order. This is not astonishing; for it was thus that our master, Judah the Pious, edited the Mishnah, the different manuscripts of which were at first scattered to the four corners of the earth. In like manner Rabbi Ashi also composed the Gemara."
We see by these words, to which modern criticism has not added much of a decisive character, that the question we are now considering has already been solved in three different ways. Some maintain, that, barring a few passages written in Hebrew--which do not exist nowadays in any edition or in any known manuscript-- 6 the Zohar pertains entirely to Simeon ben Yohai; others, just as exclusive in their view, attribute it to an impostor called Moses de Leon, and do not date it earlier than the end of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century; others, finally, have endeavored to conciliate these two extreme opinions by supposing that Simeon ben Yohai contented himself with the propagation of his doctrine through oral teaching, and that the memories thereof left by him either in the minds or in the note-books of his disciples, were not united until several centuries after his death in the book in our possession to-day under the name of the Zohar.
Considered in the absolute sense, taking the words we have quoted literally, the first of the two opinions is hardly worthy of serious refutation. Let us first look at the fact which was to serve as its basis and which we shall borrow from the Talmud: 7
Rabbi Judah, Rabbi Jose and Rabbi Simeon were together one day, and near them was a certain Judah ben Gerim. 8 Rabbi Judah opened (the conversation) and said: "How beautiful are the works of this nation (the Romans). They let bridges, markets and public baths be erected!" Rabbi Jose kept silence; but Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai answered: "Whatever they erected is to their interest only. They built markets to attract prostitutes: they built baths for their own pleasure; and they built bridges to levy taxes on." Judah ben Gerim went out and told what he heard, and caused it to reach the ears of Caesar (the Roman government); and the latter rendered the following judgment: "Judah, who exalted shall be raised in dignity; 9 Jose, who kept silence, shall be exiled to Cyprus; 10 Simeon, who spoke ill of me, shall be put to death." Accompanied by his son, he (Rabbi Yohai) immediately repaired to the house of study, whither his wife brought him daily a loaf of bread and a bowl of water. 11 But as the proscriptive decree became too oppressive, he said to his son: "Woman is light-minded, and when tortured perhaps, may betray us." They, therefore, left this place to hide in a deep cave.
There, by a miracle, a St. John's bread tree and a spring of water was created for them. Simeon and his son stripped themselves of their clothes, and, buried to their necks in sand, they passed all day meditating upon the Law. Twelve years they thus spent in the cave, until the prophet Elijah came, placed himself at the entrance of the cave and exclaimed: "Who will announce to the son of Yohai that Caesar is dead, and that the proscription has been revoked?" They went forth, 12 and saw people sow and plow.
It is said (although not vouched for any longer by the Talmud) that during these twelve years of solitude and proscription, Simeon ben Yohai, aided by Eleazar his son, composed the renowned work to which his name is still affixed. Were even the fabulous details separated from the narrative, it would still be difficult to justify the inference drawn from it; for it is not told what were the results, or what was the object of the meditations, in which the two proscripts tried to forget their suffering. Then again, there are a multitude of facts and names found in the Zohar which Simeon ben Yohai, who died a few years after the destruction of Jerusalem, in the second century of the Christian era, could certainly not have known. For instance, how could he have spoken of the six portions into which the Mishnah is divided, when the latter was written nearly sixty years after his death? 13 How could he have mentioned the authors and the procedure of the Gemara which commences at the death of Judah the Saint, and ends only five hundred years after the birth of Christ? 14 How could he have learned the names of vowel signs and other inventions of the school of Tiberias which, at most, can not reach back earlier than the beginning of the sixth century? 15
Several critics have suggested that under the name of the Ishmaelites the Zohar refers to the Mohammedan Arabs who are so designated in all the writings published by modern Jews. The following passage, in fact, makes it difficult to deny that interpretation:
"The moon is at the same time the sign of good and the sign of evil. The full moon signifies the good, the new moon signifies the evil; as it holds equally the good and the evil, the children of Israel and the children of Ishmael have alike taken it as the rule of their calculations. 16 If an eclipse takes place during the full moon, it is not a good omen for Israel; if, on the contrary, the eclipse takes place during the new moon (an eclipse of the sun), it is a bad omen for Ishmael. Thus are verified the words of the prophet (Is. XXIX, 14): The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid." But it must be noted that these words do not belong to the text; they have been borrowed from a much less ancient commentary, entitled "The Faithful Shepherd," which has been slipped into the Zohar by the first editors, on their own authority, where-ever they thought to have found a gap.
A passage even more decisive could have been found in the Zohar; for the following is what a disciple of Simeon ben Yohai pretends to have heard from the mouth of his master: "Woe to the moment when Ishmael was brought forth and invested with the sign of circumcision! For, what did the Lord do, Whose name be blessed? He excluded the children of Ishmael from the celestial union. But as they held the merit having adopted the sign of the covenant, He reserved for them here below a portion in the possession of the Holy Land. The children of Ishmael are, therefore, destined to reign over the Holy Land, and they shall hinder the children of Israel from returning to it. But it shall last only until the time when the merit of the children of Ishmael shall be exhausted. They will then excite terrible wars on earth; the children of Edom will unite against them and war upon them, some on land, some on sea, and others near Jerusalem. Victory will rest now with one, now with the other; but the Holy Land will not be delivered into the hands of the children of Edom."
To understand correctly the sense of these lines, it is sufficient to know that with the name of Edom the Jewish writers (I speak of those who made use of the Hebrew language) designated first Pagan Rome, and next Christian Rome and all ancient Christian peoples in general. Now, as there can be no question here of Pagan Rome, the intention was doubtless to speak here of the strife of the Saracens against the Christians, and even of the crusades before the fall of Jerusalem. As to the prediction of Simeon ben Yohai, I need not tell what place it is to hold in our judgment. But I shall not dwell any longer upon the demonstration of these facts, generally known now and vyingly repeated by all modern critics. 17 We shall add only one last observation which, I hope, will not be without merit for the conclusion which we are desirous to reach at last. In order to gain the conviction that Simeon ben Yohai cannot possibly be the author of the Zohar, and that the book is not, as has been maintained, the fruit of thirteen years of meditation and solitude, it is necessary to pay some attention to the stories which are almost always mingled with the exposition of the ideas. Thus, in the fragment entitled Idra Zuta, ???? ????, of which we hope to translate a great part, and which forms in every respect an admirable episode in this vast compilation, it is told that when near death, Simeon ben Yohai summoned the small number of his disciples and friends, among whom was also his son Eleazar, for the purpose of giving them his last instructions.
"Thou," he said to Eleazer, "will teach; Rabbi Abba will write, and my other friends will meditate in silence." 18 The master Yohai is seldom introduced as speaking. His doctrines are delivered orally by his son or his friends, who again come together after his death to communicate to one another what each one remembered of his teachings, and to enlighten themselves mutually on the common faith. The words of the Scriptures: "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," were thought by them applicable to themselves. 19 When some of them meet on the highway, their conversation immediately turns upon the habitual subject of their meditations, and some passage of the Old Testament is then explained in a purely spiritual sense. Here is an example taken at random from thousands: "Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Jose were together on a journey. Rabbi Judah then said to his travelling companion: 'Tell me something from the Law, and the divine spirit will descend to us; for as often as man meditates upon the words of the Law, the spirit of God either joins him or goes before him to lead him'." 20
Finally, as has been said before, books are also cited, of which only widely scattered fragments have come down to us and which necessarily must be considered more ancient than the Zohar. We translate yet the following passage which might be believed to have been written by some disciple of Copernic, were we not compelled, even denying its every authenticity, to date it, at least, from the end of the thirteenth century: "In the book of Hamuna the Elder it is fully explained that the earth turns upon itself like a sphere; that some people are above, others below; that all creatures change their appearance to the climate of each place, although keeping always the same position; that certain places on earth are light, while others are in darkness; that some have day while others have night; and that there are countries where it is always day, or where night lasts but a few moments at least." 21
It is quite evident, accordingly, that the author of the Zohar, whoever he may have been, had not even intended to attribute the book to Simeon ben Yohai, of whose death and last moments he tells.
Are we, then, forced to honor an obscure rabbi of the thirteenth century, an unfortunate charlatan who, necessarily, must have devoted long years in writing it, and who yielded only to the cry of misery and to the hope of relieving it by such slow and uncertain means? Surely not! And even were we content with examining the intimate nature and the intrinsic value of the book, we shall have no trouble at all in demonstrating that this opinion has no better foundation than the first one. But we have still more positive arguments to combat it. The Zohar is written in an Aramean language belonging to no particular dialect. What scheme could de Leon have had in mind by making use of this idiom which was not in use in his time? Did he, as is maintained by a modern critic already quoted, 22 desire to impart a semblance of truth to his fictions by making the various persons under whose names he wished to pass off his own ideas, speak the language of their epoch? But since he was in possession of such widespread knowledge, a fact admitted even by those whose opinions we combat, he must also have known that Simeon ben Yohai and his friends were counted among the authors of the Mishnah; and, although the Jerusalem dialect was probably their every-day language, it would have been more natural to make them write in Hebrew.
Some maintain that he really did make use of this last language, that he did not invent the Zohar, but only falsified it by admixing his own thoughts, and that his imposture was soon discovered. 23 As nothing of the kind has come down to us, this assertion need not occupy us any longer. Whether true or false, it confirms our observations. Besides, we are quite sure that Moses de Leon wrote a Kabbalistic book in Hebrew which bears the title "The Name of God," or, simply, "The Name,"--Sefer ha-Sham (??? ???).
The work is still in manuscript, and was seen by Moses Cordovero. 24 From the few passages that he quotes, it is evident that it was a very detailed and, frequently, a very subtle commentary on some of the most obscure points of the doctrine taught in the Zohar. The following is an example: "What are the different channels, i.e., the influences, the mutual relations that exist between all the Sefiroth, and which channels conduct the divine light, or primordial substance of things, from one Sefiroh to another?" Is it possible that the same man, who at first had written the Zohar in the Chaldeo-Syrian dialect, be it to add interest by the difficulty of the language, or to make his thoughts inaccessible to the common people--would then consider it necessary to explain, to further develop in Hebrew, and place within reach of everybody, that which, at the cost of so much labor and trouble, he had hidden in a language almost forgotten even by the scholars themselves? Shall we say, that by such means he was still more certain of putting his readers on the wrong scent? Indeed, it is too much trickery, too much time, patience and effort spent for the miserable aim which he is accused of having placed for himself; the combinations are too learned and too complicated for a man who has been accused, both of the most stupid contradictions and the grossest anachronism.
Another reason which compels us to consider the Zohar as a work much earlier than the time of Moses de Leon, and foreign to Europe, is that we do not find therein the least vestige of the philosophy of Aristotle, and that we do not meet there, even once, the name of Christianity or of its founder. 25 It is known, though, that Christianity and Aristotle exercised absolute authority in Europe in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. How, then, can we admit that a poor Spanish rabbi would have written in those fanatical days on religious subjects, in a language which could not betray him, without lodging some complaint against Christianity, which the Talmudists and later writers attacked so frequently, and without being subject, like Saadia, Maimonides and all those who followed the same path, to the inevitable influence of the peripatetic philosophy? Were we to read all the commentaries on the Book of Formation which we possess nowadays, were we to glance at all the philosophic and religious monuments of that epoch and of several centuries previous, we shall find everywhere the language of the "Organum" and the influence of the Stagirite. 26
The absence of this character is a fact of incontestible importance. We ought not to look in the Sefiroth, of which we shall speak at greater length later on, for any veiled imitation of the "Categories"; for while the latter are but of logical value, the Sefiroth contain a metaphysical system of the highest order. If the Kabbalah does have a few features resembling a system of Greek philosophy, it is the Platonic. Yet, it is known that the same can be claimed for every kind of mysticism, and, besides, Plato was little known outside his fatherland.
It is to be noted, finally, that the ideas and expressions which belong essentially, and which are exclusively consecrated to the Kabbalistic system expounded in the Zohar, are found also in writings of a much earlier date than the close of the thirteenth century. Thus, according to a writer whom we had already occasion to mention--Moses Botril, one of the commentators of the Sefer Yetzirah--the doctrine of emanation, as understood by the Kabbalists, was known to Saadia; for he (Moses Botril) cites from him the following words which, he says, are quoted literally from the work entitled "The Philosopher's Stone" which, it is true, is wrongly attributed to him: "Oh! thou man who drawest from the cisterns at the source, 27 guard thyself, when tempted, to reveal something of the belief of the emanation, which is a great mystery in the mouth of all the Kabbalists; and this mystery is hidden in the words of the Law: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord." 28
Nevertheless, Saadia, in his work on "Beliefs and Opinions" attacks very forcibly the doctrine which is the basis of the system expounded in the Zohar, and it is impossible not to recognize it in the following passage: "I have sometimes met men who can not deny the existence of a Creator, but who think that our mind can not conceive that a thing could be made from nothing. Now, as the Creator is the only Being who was in existence at first, they maintain that he drew everything from his own substance. Those men (may God keep you from their opinion!) have still less sense than all those of whom we have spoken." 29 The meaning we give to these words becomes still more evident when we read in the same chapter that the belief to which they allude is especially justified in the book of Job: 30 "Whence then cometh wisdom, and where is the place of understanding? . . . God understandeth the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof." (Job, XXVII, 20 and 23.)
We find here, in fact, the names consecrated by the Zohar to the first three highest 31 Sefiroth which comprise all the others, and which are: Wisdom, Intelligence, and above them the Place, or the No-Thing (non-ens), 32 so called because it represents the Infinite, without attribute, without form, without any qualification, a state devoid of all reality, and therefore incomprehensible to us. 33 It is in this sense, say the Kabbalists, that all that is was drawn from No-Thing. The same author gives us also a psychological theory identical with that attributed to the school of Simeon ben Yohai; 34 and he tells us 35 that the dogma of pre-existence and of transmigration of the soul, which is distinctly taught in the Zohar, 36 was accepted in his days by several men who, nevertheless, called themselves Jews, and who, he adds, confirmed their extravagant opinion by the testimony of the Scriptures. Nor is this all. St. Jerome, in one of his letters, 37 speaks of ten mystical names, decem nomina mystica, by which the sacred books designated the Divinity. Now, these ten names which St. Jerome not only mentions, but of which he gives the full enumeration, are precisely the same which represent in the Zohar the ten Sefiroth or attributes of God.
The following is what we really read in the Book of Mystery (Sifra D’Zeniuta--???? ????????), one of the most ancient fragments of the Zohar, and, at the same time, a resume of the highest principles of the Kabbalah: "When man wishes to address a prayer to the Lord, he may invoke either the holy names of God: Eh-yeh, Jehovah, Yah, El, Elohim, Yedoud, Elohei-Zebaot, Shaddai, Adonai, or the ten Sefiroth, namely: the Crown, Wisdom, Intelligence, Beauty, Grace, Justice, etc." All Kabbalists agree on the principle that the ten names of God and the ten Sefiroth are one and the same. For, they say, the spiritual part of the names of God is the very essence of the divine numbers. 38 In several of his writings, St. James speaks also of "certain Hebrew traditions on Genesis" which attribute to Paradise, or, as is always called in Hebrew, Gan Eden (?? ???), a greater antiquity than that of the world. 39
Let us note first, that among the Jews there were no other traditions of an analogous title known, than those contained in the mysterious science called by the Talmud the "History of Genesis."
As to the belief of those traditions, it is in perfect harmony with the Zohar, where the Supreme Wisdom, the Divine word by which creation was begun and accomplished, the principle of all intelligence and of all life, is designated as the true Eden, otherwise called the Higher Eden (Eden E-to-oh; ??? ????). 40
But a fact more important than all the facts hitherto noted, is the intimate resemblance offered by the Kabbalah, in language as well as in thought, with the sects of Gnosticism, chiefly those brought forth in Syria, and with the religious code of the Nazarene which was discovered a few years ago, and translated from the Syrian into Latin. We shall postpone the proof of this fact to that part of our work where we shall investigate the relation-ship between the Kabbalistic system and the other religions or philosophical systems. Here we shall only point out that the doctrines of Simon the Magician, Elcsaite, Bardesanes and Valentine, are known to us only by fragments scattered through the works of a few of the Fathers of the Church, as in those of Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria. Now, we can not suppose that those works were familiarly known to a rabbi of the thirteenth century, who, even in the very work with the authorship of which some wish to honor him, proves to be quite a stranger to any literature, and especially to that of Christianity. We are, therefore, forced to admit that Gnosticism borrowed a great deal, if not precisely from the Zohar as we know it today, at least from the traditions and from the theories contained therein.
We shall not separate the hypothesis which we just refuted from the one which presents to us the Kabbalah as an imitation of the mystic philosophy of the Arabs, and dates its birth some time during the reign of the caliphs, at the earliest, near the beginning of the eleventh century, at the epoch when the philosophy of the Mussulmans first showed traces of mysticism. 41 This opinion, long ago expressed as a mere conjecture in the Mémoires de l’Academie des Inscriptions (Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions), 42 has recently been resuscitated by Mr. Tholuck, who lent to it the support of his rich erudition. In a preliminary memoir in which he investigated the influence the Greek philosophy may have exercised over the philosophy of the Mahommedans, 43 the learned orientalist comes to the conclusion that the doctrine of the emanation was known to the Arabs simultaneously with Aristotle's system; for the latter reached them through the commentaries of Themistius, Theon of Smyrna, Aeneus of Gaza and Johann Philoponus, in short, with the ideas of Alexandria, expressed, surely, in a very incomplete form. This germ, once deposited in the breast of Islamism, developed rapidly into a vast system which, like the system of Plotinus, raised enthusiasm above reason, and, after making all beings spring from the divine substance, proposed to man, as the last step of perfection, a reunion with it through ecstasy and annihilation of self.
It is this, half Arabic, half Greek mysticism, that Tholuck would have us admit as the true and only source of the Kabbalah. 44 To that end he begins by attacking the authenticity of the Kabbalistic books, above all, that of the Zohar, which he regards as a compilation dating from the end of the thirteenth century, although he accords greater antiquity to the Kabbalah itself. 45 After having established this point beyond doubt, as he believes, he undertakes to demonstrate the close resemblance of the ideas contained in those books to those which form the substance of Arabian mysticism. Mr. Tholuck has advanced no argument against the authenticity of the Kabbalah which we have not already refuted; we shall stop only at the last and, undoubtedly, the most interesting part of his work. But here we are forced to anticipate somewhat and enter into the very foundation of the Kabbalistic system and into some consideration bearing upon its origin. We shall not complain if this will give us some diversion from the rather dry research which occupies us at this moment.
The first thought which presents itself to the mind is, that the similarity between the Hebrew and the Arabic ideas, even if perfectly established, nowise concludes that the first ones are necessarily counterfeits of the latter. Is it not possible that both departed, by different channels, though, from one common source, much older than the Mussulman philosophy, much older even than the Greek philosophy of Alexandria? And Mr. Tholuck' must really admit that, as far as the Arabians are concerned, they knew the philosophy of Alexandria not at all from its real sources. The works of Plotinus, of Jamblicus and of Proclus never reached them, and none of these had ever been translated either into Arabic or Syrian; and of the works of Porphyrius, they possessed only a purely logical commentary: the introduction to the treaties of the Categories. 46
On the other hand, is it probable that at the time of the Mussulman invasion no trace was left of the ideas of ancient Persia and of the philosophy of the Magi, so famous throughout antiquity under the name of the "Wisdom of the Orient;" and that they took no part in the intellectual movement which made the reign of the Abbassides so famous? 47 We know that Avicenna wrote a book on the "Oriental Wisdom." By what right, then, dare some affirm, upon the strength of a few rare citations of a more modern author, that this book was but a collection of Neoplatonic thoughts? 48
When Mr. Tholuck directs our attention to the following passage of Al Gazzali: a "Know, that between the physical world and the one of which we just spoke, there exists the same relation as between our shadow and our body," 49 how is it that he does not remember that the Zerdustians, members of one of the religious sects of ancient Persia, used those same terms and the same comparison to formulate the fundamental principle of their belief? 50
As to the Jews, the whole world knows that from the time of their captivity until the time of their dispersion they continued their relations with what they called the land of Babylon. We will not dwell upon this point which is to be considered at length later. We will only say that the Zohar positively quotes the Oriental Wisdom: "That wisdom," it says, "known to the children of the East since the first days," 51 and from which it cites an example in perfect accord with its own doctrines. It is evident that the reference here made has no bearing upon the Arabians whom the Hebrew writers invariably call "the children of Ishmael," or "the children of Arabia." A contemporaneous foreign philosophy, a recent product of the influence of Aristotle and his Alexandrian commentators, could not have been spoken of in such terms; the Zohar would not have dated it from the first ages of the world, nor would it have presented it as a legacy transmitted by Abraham to the children of his concubine, and by those to the nations of the Orient. 52
But we need not make use even of this argument, for the truth is that Arabic mysticism and the principles taught in the Zohar strike us by their differences rather than by their similarities.
While these bear exclusively upon a few general ideas, common to all species of mysticism, the others cast a glow mainly upon the most essential points of the metaphysics of both systems, and leave no room for doubt that they were of different origins. Thus, to bring out the most important of the differences, we draw attention to the following: The Arabian mystics, recognizing in God the unique substance of all things and the immanent cause of the universe, teach that He reveals or manifests Himself under three different aspects: 1st, in the aspect of unity or of absolute being, in the heart of which there rests as yet no distinction; 2nd, the aspect in which the objects of which the universe is composed begin to differentiate themselves in their essence and in intelligible forms, and to show themselves as present before the divine intelligence. The third divine manifestation is the universe itself, it is the true world, God become visible. 53
The Kabbalistic system is far from showing such simplicity. True, it also presents to us the divine substance as the unique substance, the inexhaustible source from which all life, all light and all existence flow eternally; but instead of three manifestations, three general forms of the Infinite Being, it recognizes at once ten, the ten Sefiroth which divide themselves into three trinities, and then unite in one single trinity and one Supreme form. Considered as a whole, the Sefiroth represent only the first degree, the first sphere, of existence, that which is called the world of Emanation. Below these there are still to be found, each apart and offering an infinite variety--the world of Pure Spirit, or the world of Creation; the world of Spheres or of the intelligences directing them, called the world of Formation, and finally, that lowest degree called the world of Work, or the world of Action. 54
The Arabian mystics recognize also a collective soul, from which all the world animating souls emanate, a generating spirit whom they call the Father of Spirits, the Spirit of Mohammed, the source, model and substance of all the other spirits. 55
An attempt has been made to find the pattern of the Adam Kadmon, the Celestial Man of the Kabbalists in this thought. But what the Kabbalists designate by that name is not only the principle of intelligence and of spiritual life, but it is also something which they regard as above and as below the spirit; it is the totality of the Sephiroth, or the world of Emanation in its entirety, from the Being in His most abstract and most intangible character, the degree called by them the point or the non-being, to the constituent forces of nature. Not a trace of the idea of metempsychosis, which holds so important a place in the Hebraic system, can be found in the beliefs of the Arabians. In vain do we also search in their works for those allegories met with in the Zohar; for that constant appeal to tradition, for those bold personifications which multiply by endless genealogies--genealogiis interminatis--as St. Paul says, 56 and for those gigantic and fantastic metaphors which are so well compatible with the spirit of the ancient Orient.
At the end of his work, Tholuck himself, whose frankness equals his science, retreats from the thought which first misled him, and concludes, as we also may conclude, that it is entirely impossible to consider the Kabbalah as derived from the mystic philosophy of the Arabians. However, let us give his own words, which hold authority as coming from the mouth of a man profoundly learned in the philosophy and in the language of the Mussulman people: "What can we conclude from the analogies? Very little, to my mind. For, whatever is alike in the two systems, will also be found in the more ancient doctrines, in the books of the Sabeans and the Persians, and also among the neo-platonians. On the contrary, the extraordinary form under which those ideas appear in the Kabbalah is entirely strange to the Arabian mystics. Besides, in order to make sure that the Kabbalah really derived from the contact with the latter, it would be necessary, first of all, to find the Sefiroth among them. But not the least trace of the Sefiroth can be found among the Arabians; for they knew only one mode under which God revealed Himself. On this point, the Kabbalah comes much nearer to the doctrine of the Sabeans and to Gnosticism." 57 . . . The Arabic origin of the Kabbalah once proved inadmissible, the other theory, which makes of the Zohar a work. of the thirteenth century, loses the last support. I shall speak of a certain air of probability of which this theory may still boast. As already evidenced by the parallel which we have established, the Zohar really contains a highly important and widely embracing system. A conception of such a nature is not formed in one day, especially in an age of ignorance and blind faith, and with a class of people groaning under the heavy burden of contempt and persecution. And so, as we can not find any of the antecedents or elements of the system of the Kabbalah in the Middle Ages, we must look for its origin in an earlier antiquity.
We have come now to those who say that Simeon ben Yohai really taught the metaphysical and religious doctrine (which forms the basis of the Zohar) to a small number of disciples and friends, among whom was his son; that these lessons, though transmitted at first by word of mouth as inviolable secrets, were edited little by little; and that these traditions and notes, to which commentaries of more recent time were necessarily added, accumulated and, therefore altered in time, finally reached Europe from Palestine towards the close of the thirteenth century. We hope that this opinion, until now expressed with timidity and as a conjecture, will soon acquire the character and the rights of certainty.
This opinion, above all, is in perfect accord, as we already noted by the author of the chronicle "Chain of Tradition," with the history of all the other religious monuments of the Jewish people. The Mishnah, the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds were also made up by joining the traditions of different ages and the lessons of different teachers, held together by a common principle. It agrees no less with a belief which, according to the historian just cited, must be quite old. "I have learned from tradition," says the author, "that this work was so voluminous, that when complete, it would have made up a camel's load." 58 Now, it can not be supposed that one man, had he even spent his whole life in writing on such matters, could have left such deferring proof of his productiveness. Finally, we read in the Supplements of the Zohar, (Tikun ha-Zohar--????? ????), which are written in the same language, and known just as long as the Zohar itself, that the latter will never be entirely published, or, to translate more faithfully, that it will be disclosed at the end of the days. 59
If we now examine the book itself for the purpose of searching therein, without prejudice, for some light on its origin, we must soon notice, by the inequality of style 60 and lack of unity, not in the system, it is true, but in the exposition, method, application of general principles and, finally, in the consideration of details, that it is utterly impossible to ascribe it to one person. Not to multiply unimportant examples, and not to insist upon facts of language which no translation can preserve--just as it is impossible to tear certain plants from their native soil without killing them--we shall limit ourselves to indicating rapidly the different principles which separate three fragments already mentioned from the rest of the work, namely, "The Book of Mystery," Sifra d’Zeniuto--???? ????????, generally considered as the most ancient; "the Great Assembly," Idra Rabba--???? ???, where Simeon ben Yohai is shown in the midst of all his friends; and, finally, "The Lesser Assembly," Idra Zutah--???? ????, where Simeon, on his death-bed after having been preceded to the grave by three of his disciples, gives his last instructions to the surviving.
These fragments which, because of the great distance between them, seem to us at first sight lost in this immense collection, form, nevertheless, a perfectly co-ordinated whole in the progress of events as well as in the ideas. We find there, now in allegorical form, now in metaphysical language, a consecutive and pompous description of the divine attributes, of their different manifestations, of the manner in which the world was formed, and of the relations between God and man. Never are there the heights of speculation left to descend to the external and practical life, to recommend the observation of the Law or the ceremonies of religion. Never can we find there a name, a fact, or even an expression which could make us doubt the authenticity of these pages in which originality of form enhances the value of the lofty thoughts.
It is always the teacher who speaks, and who uses no other method but that of authority to convince his listeners. He does not demonstrate, he does not explain, he does not repeat what others have taught him; but he affirms, and every word spoken by him is received as an article of faith. That character is especially noticeable in the "Book of Mystery," which is a substantial, though very obscure, summary of the entire work. 61 It may be said of it also: decebat quasi auctoritatem habens (He taught as though he had authority).
The mode of procedure in the rest of the book is different. Instead of continued exposition of one order of idea, instead of a freely conceived plan persistently followed, in which the sacred texts invoked by the author as testimony follow his own thoughts, we find there the incoherent and disorderly course of a commentary. The exposition of the Holy Scriptures is, nevertheless, a mere pretext, as we have already remarked; but, it is no less true that, without entirely leaving the same circle of ideas, we are often led by the text from one subject to another. This gives rise to the thought, that the notes and the traditions preserved in the school of Simeon ben Yohai were, according to the spirit of the times, adjusted to the principal passages of the Pentateuch instead of being fused into a common system according to a logical order. We are strengthened in this opinion, when we take the trouble to assure ourselves that there is often not the least connection between the Biblical text and the part of the Zohar which serves it as a commentary.
The same incoherence, the same disorder prevail in the facts which, for the rest, are few in number and of uniform character. Here metaphysical theology no longer reigns in absolute sovereignity; but, side by side with the boldest and the most elevated theories, all too often we find the most material details of the external cult, or those puerile questions to which the gemarists, similar therein to the causuists of all other beliefs, consecrated so many years and so many volumes. Here are assembled all the arguments which modern critics have brought forward in favor of the opinion common to them, and which we believe we have just proved to be false. Everything, finally, the form as well as the background in this last portion of the book, bear the traces of a more recent epoch; while the simplicity, the naive and credulous enthusiasm which reign in the first portion, often remind us of the time and language of the Bible.
Not to anticipate, we can cite but one example from there: the story of the death of Simeon ben Yohai as told by Rabbi Abba, the disciple whom he charged with the editing of his teachings. We shall attempt the translation. "The holy light (so Simeon was called by his disciples), the holy light had as yet not finished this last phrase, when his words stopped, and yet I continued to write. I had expected to write a long time yet, when I heard nothing more. I did not lift my head, for the light was too strong to look at. Suddenly I was violently agitated, and I heard a voice crying 'Long days, years of life and of happiness are now before thee.' Then I heard another voice which said: 'He asked for life of thee, and thou hast given him eternal years.' During the entire day the fire did not leave the house, and no one dared come near him because of the fire and the light which surrounded him. All that day I lay stretched upon the ground, and I gave free course to my lamentations. When the fire departed, I saw that the holy light, the saint of saints, had departed from this world. He was stretched out there, lying on his right side, with a smiling face. His son Eleazar arose, took his hands and covered them with kisses; but I would have gladly eaten the dust that his feet had touched. Then all his friends came to weep for him, but none of them could break the silence.
But at last their tears ran. Rabbi Eleazar, his son, fell upon the ground three times, unable to utter but these words: 'My father! My father!' Rabbi Hiah was first to rise on his feet, and said these words: 'Until today the holy light has not ceased to give us light and to watch over us; now we have nothing left to render him but his last honors.' Rabbi Eleazar and Rabbi Abba arose to put upon him his death garments; then all his friends met in tumult around him and from all the house exhaled perfume. He was stretched upon his bier, find none but Rabbi Eleazar and Rabbi Abba took part in that sad duty. When the bier was carried away, they saw him on high and a brilliant light shone before his face. Then they heard a voice which said: 'Come and assemble to the nuptial feast of Rabbi Simeon!' . . . Such was Rabbi Simeon, son of Yohai, for whom the Lord gave glory to Himself each day. In this world and in the world to come his part is lovely. Of him it was written: 'But thou go thy way toward the end, and thou shalt rest in peace, and arise again for thy lot at the end of the days'." 62
We do not want to exaggerate the value which these words may add to the observations that precede them; but they give us at least an idea of the character attributed to Simeon by his disciples, and of the religious homage which his name inspired in the entire Kabbalistic school.
A more evident proof in favor of the opinion that we are defending will be doubtless found in the following text which we have nowhere seen cited, although it is to be found in every edition of the Zohar, in the oldest as well as in the most modern. After distinguishing two kinds of doctors, those of the Mishnah, ???? ????, and those of the Kabbalah, ???? ????, it is added: "It is of these latter the prophet Daniel spoke when he said: And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament. They are those who occupy themselves with this book which is called the Book of Brightness, which, like the ark of Noah, takes in two of a city and seven of a kingdom; but sometimes there is but one of the same city, and two of the same family. It is in them that the words are fulfilled: Every male shall be cast into the river. Now, the river 63 is none other than the light of this book." 64 These words form a part of the Zohar, and yet it is evident that the Zohar was already in existence at the time when they were written; it was even known under the name it now bears. We are, therefore, forced to the conclusion that it developed gradually during the course of several centuries, and by the labor of several generations of Kabbalists.
Here is the substance--as the translation would require too much space--of another passage very precious in all respects, and by which we want to show especially that long after the death of Simeon ben Yohai his doctrine was preserved in Palestine where the master lived and taught, and that emissaries were sent from Babylon to collect some of his words. One day when Rabbi Jose and Rabbi Hezekiah were travelling together, the conversation turned upon the verse of Ecclesiastes: "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one kind of spirit." 65 The two doctors could not comprehend that king Solomon, the wisest of men, had written those words which, if I may use the original expression, are an open door for those who have no faith. 66 While reasoning thus, they were accosted by a man who, fatigued by a long voyage and a hot sun, asked them for water to drink. They gave him wine, 67 and led him to a spring of water. As soon as he felt refreshed, the stranger told them that he was one of their co-religionists, and that through the mediation of his son, who devoted his entire time to the study of the Law, he was initiated into this science. The question which occupied them before his arrival was then submitted to him.
For the aim we wish to reach here it is useless to tell how the stranger solved the question; we only want to say that he was actively applauded and that they permitted him to part very reluctantly. Somewhat later, the two Kabbalists found means of ascertaining that this man was one of the Friends (this is how the adepts of the doctrine are called in the entire work); that, because of humility he, one of the most renowned of the doctors of his time, gave his son the honor of knowledge admired in him; and that he came to Palestine, accompanied by the Friends, to collect some of the sayings of Simeon ben Yohai and his disciples. 68
All the other facts recorded in this book are of the same color and take place on the same stage. When we add, that frequent mention is made there of the religious beliefs of the Orient, like Sabeism 69 and even of Islamism; that to the contrary, nothing is found there which can have any reference to the Christian religion, we shall understand how the Zohar, in its present condition, could not have been introduced into our countries until some time near the end of the thirteenth century. Some of the doctrines contained therein, as Saadia has shown, were already known before; but it seems certain that before Moses de Leon, and before the departure of Nahmanides for the Holy Land, there existed no complete manuscript in Europe.
As to the ideas contained in the Zohar, Simeon ben Yohai himself tells us that he was not the first one to introduce them. He repeated to his disciples what the "Friends" taught in the ancient books (??? ?????? ????? ????? ?????). He particularly cites Jeba the Elder and Hamuna the Elder; and at the moment when he is about to reveal the greatest secrets of the Kabbalah, he expresses the hope that the shade of Hamunah will come to listen to him, followed by a procession of seventy of the Just. 70 I am far from pretending that either these personages, or these books of so remote an antiquity, really existed; I only wish to establish the fact that the authors of the Zohar never thought of representing Simeon ben Yohai as the inventor of the Kabbalistic science.
There is another fact which deserves on our part the most serious attention. More than a century after the Zohar was published in Spain, there were still some men who knew, and who transmitted most of the ideas which form the substance of the Zohar, by tradition only. Of such was Moses Botril, who, in 1409, as he himself tells us, 71 expresses himself on the Kabbalah and on the precautions to be taken in teaching it: "The Kabbalah is nothing other than a more pure and a more holy philosophy; only that the language of philosophy is not the same as that of the Kabbalah. . . . 72 It is so named because it proceeds, not by reasoning, but by tradition. And when the master has developed these matters for his disciple, that disciple must not have too much confidence in his wisdom; he is not permitted to speak of this science if not formally authorized first by the master. This right, namely, to speak about the Merkabah, will be accorded to him when he has given proof of his intelligence, and if the seed deposited in his breast, has borne fruit. On the contrary, it will be necessary to recommend silence to him, if he is found to be but an extrinsic person, and if he has, as yet, not reached the degree of those who distinguish themselves by their meditations." (See Botril's Commentary, fol. 87b.)
Apparently, the author of these lines did not seem to know the Zohar even by its name, as the name is not mentioned a single time in any part of his work. On the other hand, he cites a large number of very ancient writers, nearly all of whom belong to the Orient, like Rabbi Saadia, Rabbi Hai and Rabbi Aaron, head of the Babylonian academy. Sometimes he tells us also of the things he learned orally from the mouth of his master. So it can not be supposed that he drew his Kabbalistic knowledge from the manuscripts published by Nahmanides and Moses de Leon. Still, the Kabbalistic system, of which Simeon ben Yohai may be considered at least the most illustrious representative, was preserved and propagated, after as well as before the thirteenth century, by a multitude of traditions which some were pleased to write down, while others, more faithful to the method of their ancestors, guarded them religiously in their memory.
Only such traditions as took birth from the first century until near the end of the seventh century of the Christian era, are found in the Zohar. In fact, we can not date--I would not say the compilation, but the existence of these traditions, so very similar or closely connected to one another by the spirit animating them--from an epoch less remote; for at that time they already knew of the Merkabah which is nothing more, as we know, than that part of the Kabbalah to which the Zohar is specially consecrated; and Simeon ben Yohai himself tells us that he had predecessors. It is equally impossible for us to consider its birth in an age nearer to us; for we know of no fact which authorizes such a conclusion. The insurmountable difficulties encountered in the opinions differing from ours, thus become positive facts which confirm our opinions, and which should not be counted as the last among the proofs of which we have made use.
There still remain two more objections to be refuted. It has been asked how the principle which is the basis of our present-day Cosmography, or the system of Copernic, so clearly summed up in a passage we have translated above, could have been known at the remote time from which we date the origin of the principal element of the Kabbalistic system. We answer that, in any case, admitting even that the Zohar is nothing but an imposture of the close of the thirteenth century, this passage was known before the birth of the Prussian astronomer. Again, the ideas contained in that passage were already spread among the ancients; for Aristotle attributes them to the school of Pythagoras. "Nearly all those," he says, "who assume to have studied the sky in its entirety, claim that the earth is at the centre; but the philosophers of the Italian school, otherwise called Pythagoreans, teach the contrary. In their opinion, the centre is occupied by fire, and the earth is only a star, the circular movement of which around that centre produces light and day." 73
In their attack against philosophy, the first fathers of the church did not regard it as a duty to spare that opinion which is, in fact, irreconcilable with the cosmological system taught in Genesis. "It is," said Lactantius, 74 "an absurdity to believe that there are men who have the feet above their heads, and that there are countries where everything is upside down, where the trees and the plants grow from above down. . . We find the germ of this error among the philosophers who claimed that the earth is round." 75 St. Augustine expresses himself on the same subject in very similar terms. (De Civitat. Dei, lib. 16, ch. 9.)
Finally, even the most ancient authors of the Gemara had knowledge of the antipodes and of the spherical form of the earth; for we read in the Jerusalem Talmud (Aboda Zarah, ch. 3), that while overrunning the earth to conquer it, Alexander the Great learned that it was round, and it is added that for this reason Alexander is represented with a globe in his hand. But even the fact which was thought to hold an objection against us, serves as proof; for during the entire duration of the Middle Ages, the true system of the world was barely known and the system of Ptolemy 76 reigned undivided.
It is also astonishing to find precisely in that part of the Zohar which is to be considered the most ancient, medical knowledge which seems to betray a familiarity with quite recent civilization. For example, the Idra Rabba, or the portion entitled "The Great Assembly," contains these remarkable lines which may be believed to have been taken from some modern treatise on anatomy: "In the interior of the skull, the brain is divided into three parts, each one of which occupies a distinct place. It is covered, besides, with a very thin veil, and then with another, tougher, veil. By means of thirty-two channels, these three parts of the brain ramify into the entire body along on either side. They thus embrace the body from all sides and spread out in all it parts." 77
We can not fail to recognize in these words the three principal organs of which the brain and its principal coverings are composed, and the thirty-two pairs of nerves which proceed from them in a symmetrical order to give life and sensation to the entire animal economy. We must note, though, that, compelled to submit to a mass of religious precepts relating to their food, and obliged to observe the different states and different constitutions of the animals for fear of eating of that which the Law declares unclean, the Jews were early stimulated, by the most potent of forces, to the study of anatomy and natural history. Thus, the Talmud counts generally the perforation of the covering of the brain, ???? ???? ?? ???, among the affections which may befall the animal, and so forbids the use of its flesh.
But there is a condition upon which opinions are divided. According to some, the prohibition is only valid when both coverings are perforated; according to others, it is sufficient when the perforation is found in the tough covering (dura mater) only. 78 Others, finally, are content with a dissolution of the continuity in the two interior cerebral coverings. 79 In the same treatise the spinal marrow, ??? ?????, 80 is also spoken of, and the diseases peculiar to it. We wish to add, that since the middle of the second century there were professional physicians among the Hebrews; for it is told in the Talmud (Baba Meziah, 85b) that Judah the Pious, the editor of the Mishnah, suffered for thirteen years from an affection of the eye, and that his physician was Rabbi Samuel, one of the most zealous defenders of the Tradition, a man who, besides medicine, occupied himself with astronomy and mathematics. It was said of him that "the paths of the heavens were as well known to him as the streets of his native city." 81
Here we close--and, no doubt, it is time to end--these purely bibliographical observations and, what we would call, the external history of the Kabbalah. The books we have had under examination are not, as enthusiasts have confidently affirmed, of either supernatural origin or of prehistoric antiquity. Neither are they, as a skeptical, superficial critic still assumes, the product of imposture conceived and consummated in sordid interest, the work of a hunger-driven charlatan devoid of all ideas and convictions, speculating in gross credulity. Once more to repeat: These two books are the product of several generations. Whatever may be the value of the doctrines contained in them, they will always be worthy of preservation as a monument to the long and patient effort of intellectual liberty in the heart of a people and a time when religious despotism made the most use of its power. But this is not the only claim to our interest. As we have already said, and as we shall soon be convinced, the system they contain is, in itself, by reason of its origin and of the influence it exercised, a very important factor in the history of human thought.
88:1 ??????, pgs. 42 and 45. The author of that book flourished in 1492.
88:2 It must be remembered that the word Zohar signifies Brightness.
88:3 The first mentioned of the two renowned rabbis, after passing the greater part of his life in Spain, died in Jerusalem in 1300. Rabbi Asher flourished in 1320.
88:4 ????? ????? (Shalsheleth ha-Kabbalah), Amsterdam edition, fol. 23, a and b.
89:5 This is also found in the very rare Constantin edition of the "Book of Genealogies." This passage, which is missing in the other editions, is quoted in Ari Nohem (ed. Fuerst) p. 58 ff. and in Hasagoth (??? ??????--Sefer Raviah) by Milsahagi, p. 29a.--Jellinek
89:6 There are two ancient editions of the Zohar which served as models for all others: the Cremona edition and the Mantua edition, both published in the year 1559.
90:7 Babylonian Talmud, Tract. Sabbath, fol. 3b.
90:8 ?? ????. The literal meaning of this name is "descendant of proselytes." The inference is that, according to a sentiment very common among the ancients, his foreign blood was the cause of his treason.
90:9 There is a play upon words in that text: ????? (sh’yaleh), ????? (yith-aleh), the one who raised (sc. laudibus), shall be raised (sc. dignitate).--Jellinek
90:10 Josephus, d. b. j. I, 3, ch. 3. Ζ?πφωρις μεγ?στη τ?ς Γαλιλα?ας π?λις.--Jellinek
90:11 The original has "gardienne" (overseer); but the word ?????? usually means "wife."--Jellinek.
91:12 The story of the flight and sojourn of ben Yohai in the cave is represented more fully in the Jerusalem Talmud, Tractat Shebuoth, ch. 9. Midrash Rabba to Genesis Sec. Vayishlah; to Koheleth, par. ???? ????.; to Esther, par. ?? ????, where the time of the sojourn is given as thirteen years. The famous Jewish archaeologist Rapaport had attempted to bring in accord the chronological part of this story with the Roman history. (See the Hebrew Year Book "Kerem Hemed," Vol. 7, p. 182-185.)--Jellinek
91:13 Zohar, Mantua edition, 3rd part, fol. 26.--ib. fol. 29b. We prefer to cite the last passage in which the six treatises of the Mishnah are compared to the six steps of the supreme throne: ??? ???? ???? ???? ?? ????? ????.
91:14 All the terms of the Talmudic discussion are enumerated in the following passages: ?????? ?? ????? ?? ????? ???? ?? ??? ??????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ????? ???? ?? ?????? ??? ???? ???? ?? ???? p. 92, Vol. III, fol. 153a. Mantua ed.
92:15 Genesis, col. 152 and 153:--Lev. 57b,--Mantua ed. Vol. I, fol. 24b.
92:16 ?????? ???? ??? ??? ????? ?? ????? ?????? ?? ??? ??????.
93:17 ????? ??????, 3rd part, fol. 281b, Mantua ed. * See Peter Beer, "History of the sects in Judaism," 2nd part, p. 50 ff.--Morinus, Exercitat. biblic. liber II, exercit. 9.--Wolf, Biblioth. hebr.
93:* The place of printing and number of volumes are given wrongly. This book was printed in Altona in 1768 in two volumes.--Jellinek.
94:18 ??? ?????? ??? ?? ??? ????? ??? ????? ??? ???? ???? ?????? ?????? ??????? Part III, p. 287b.
94:19 Part III, fol. 59b.
94:20 Part I, fol. 115b.
95:21 ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ???? ???? ??? ?? ????? ??????? ??????? ????? ???? ???? ????? ????? Part III, fol. 10a.
95:22 Cum auctor esset recentissimus, linguaque chaldaica sua actate prorsus esset extincta, eamque Judaei doctiores raro intelligerent, consulto chaldaice scripsit, ut antiquitatem apud popularium vulgus libris suis conciliaret.--Morinus, Exercitatt. bibl. 1, 2, exercit. 9, ch. 5.
96:23 Besides the two historians cited above, see Bartalocci, Magna Bibliotheca rabbinica, Vol. 4, p. 82.
96:24 Pardes Rimonim (???? ??????), fol. 110a, 1st col. ??? ????? and ??? ???????.
97:25 Adde quod etiam contra christum in toto libro ne minimum quidem effutiatur, prout in recentioribus Judaeorum scriptis pierumque fieri solet.--(Kabb. denud., Praef., p. 7.)
97:26 Synonym for Aristotle from the name of his birthplace Stagira, an ancient town in Macedonia.--Transl.
98:27 I have translated literally the French text, but it does not render as yet the correct meaning of the Hebrew original, although the author had taken notice of Dr. Jellinek's remark to this phrase in the German translation. The correct and literal translation would be: "Oh, thou man who hath (possesses) the pools at the source. . ." While the author failed to translate the word ?????? (Brihoth) in the first edition, he omitted the translation of the word ????? (B’moker) in the second edition. ?????? (Brihoth) is the plural of ????? (Briho), and means "pool" or "pond," and ???? (Moker) means "source." So also further on in the same sentence the author erroneously translates ???? ??? with "un autre mystère" (another mystery), while it should be rendered with "and this mystery . . "--Transl.
98:28 Here is the Hebrew text: ??? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??????? ????? ?? ????? ??? ??? ?? ???? ????? ?? ?????? ?????? ??????? ???? ??? ???? ??? ?? ???????? ???? ??? ???? ????? ?? ???? ?? ? Mantua ed. fol. 31.
99:29 ?????? ??? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ????? ???? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??????? ???? ??? ?? ???? ????? ???? ??? ?? ?? ????? ?????? ?? ??? ?????? ?? ???? ???? ????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ???????? Beliefs and Opinions, Part I, ch. 4.
99:30 Here too I must contradict the author. These passages from Job are not expounded by the adherents of the doctrine of emanation, but by the Atomists, who are quoted by Saadia before the others.--Jellinek.
99:31 See my previous remark.--Jellinek
99:32 In the Hegelian terminology, the Absolute-Negative which, when conceived in its abstract, is identical with the No-Thing.--Jellinek
99:33 Zohar, 2nd part, fol. 42 and 43. This first Sefiroh is sometimes called the Infinite, ??? ??? (Ayn Sof), sometimes the Supreme Crown, ??? ????? (Kether Elyon), and sometimes the No-Thing, ??? (Ay-yin), or the Place, ???? (Mokom).
99:34 Beliefs and Opinions, Part VI, ch. 2.
99:35 Ibid., ch. II.
100:36 Part II, fol. 99, sec. Mishpatim.
100:37 Hieron, ad Marcell., epist. 136, Vol. III, in his collected works.
100:38 ?????? ???????? ??? ??? ??? ?? ??????? ????? ?? ??? ???????. Pardes Rimonim, fol. 10, I.
100:39 Hieron., last volume of the Paris edition; see also the little work entitled "Questiones hebraeicae in Genesim." The traditions of Genesis are the Hebrew book of Little Genesis, or the Book of Jubilees which, no doubt, states the opinion of the Talmud that among things created before the world was also the Eden.
101:40 Zohar, Idra Zutah. ???? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ??? ???? ????.
101:41 Avicenna is generally considered the first expositor of mysticism among the Arabs. He was born in 992 and died in 1036.
102:42 "Remarks on the antiquity and origin of the Kabbalah," by de la Nauze, vol. IX of the memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions.
102:43 Commentatio de vi quam graeca philosophia in theologian tum Muhammedanorum, tum Judaeorum, exercuerit. Particula I, Hamb., 1835, 4to.
102:44 Particula II, de Ortu Cabbalae, Hamb., 1837.
102:45 Work cited, part II.
103:46 Ib. supr., Part II, p. 7-11.
103:47 Califs of Bagdad, members of the dynasty of the Abbassides, founded by Abbas, an uncle of Mohammet, and which lasted from 750 until 1258, when it was overthrown by the Mongolians.--Transl.
103:48 Work cited, part I, p. 11.
104:a Al-Ghazzali (Ghazzali Abu Hamid Mohammed ibn Mohammed Al.--); Arabian theologian and moralist. 1058-1111.--Transl.
104:49 "Jam vero mundi corporalis ad eum mundum de quo modo diximus, rationem talem, qualis umbrae ad corpus hominis, esse scito . . . ." Ib. supr., p. 17.
104:50 See Thom. Hyde, de Relig. vet. Pers., ch. XXII, p. 296, et seq.
104:51 ??? ?? ??? ???? ?? ?????? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ?? ??? ??? ????? ?? ????? ????? ???? ????? ????? ?????. 1st part, sect. Vayero, fol. 99b.
104:52 Ib. supr., fol. 100 a and b.
105:53 Tholuck, work cited, part II, p. 28, 29.
105:54 I trust to render welcome service to some reader by giving here the names of the four worlds in the original language. They are: Azilah (?????), Bre-ah (?????), Yetzirah (?????), Assiyah (????) .--Jellinek
106:55 Ib., p. 30.
106:56 It is quite difficult not to refer to the Kabbalah the following passage of the first epistle of St. Paul to Timothy: "Neque intenderint fabulis at genealogiis interminatis, quae quaestiones praestant magis quam aedificationem Dei." (Neither give heed to fable and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith.) Epist. ad Timoth. I, 4.
107:57 "Jam vero ex analogiis istis quid censes colligi posse? Equidem non multa arbitror. Nam similii etiam et in aliis antiquoribus quidem disciplinis monstrari licet, in scriptis Sabaeis et Persicis, nec non apud neoplatonicus, Contra singularis ilia forma quam ideae istae in Cabbala prae se ferunt, ab Arabicis mysticis abest," etc.
108:58 ?????? ?? ?? ??? ????? ?? ?? ???? ????? ??? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??? ???? ???. Shalsheleth ha-Kabbalah, fol. 25b.
108:59 ?????? ???? ???? ??? ????? ??? ????? ?? ???? ???? ??? ???? ????. Ib. supr.
108:60 In that work we find some passages written almost entirely in Aramean; and other passages where only the terminations of that language are used with words belonging entirely to rabbinical Hebrew.
109:61 With reference to this book, which forms a complete treatise in five chapters, the Zohar gives the following graceful allegory: Let us p. 110 picture to ourselves a man who lives alone in the mountains and who knows nothing of the ways of the city. He sows wheat, and eats nothing but wheat in its natural state. One day that man goes into the city. They give him a loaf of bread of good quality, and he asks: "What is this good for?" They answer him: "It is bread to eat." He takes it and eats it with pleasure. Then he asks again: "What is it made of?" They answer that it is made, of wheat. Some time after that they give him a cake kneaded with oil. He takes it, then he asks: "And this, what is it made of?" They answer him--"Of wheat." Somewhat later they set before him royal pastry kneaded with oil and honey. He asks the same question. Then he says: "I am master of all these things. I taste them in their root, since I nourish myself from the wheat of which they are made." Because of this thought he remains a stranger to the delights that men find in eating, and those delights are lost to him. It is the same with the one who halts at the general principles of science; for he is ignorant of all the delights that are drawn from those principles.
112:62 Zohar, part III, fol. 296b, Mantua edition.
113:63 Notice should be taken here of the phonetic similarity of these two words: ????? (Y’oroh)--into the river, and ???? (Oroh)--her light.--Jellinek
113:64 ???? ????? ??? ??????? ????? ?? ????? ??? ????? ????? ????? ?? ???????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ??????? ??????? ??? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ????? ?? ??? ????? ????? ??????? ??? ???? ????? ?? Part III, fol. 153b.
113:65 ??? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ?????? ????? ??? Eccles., III, 19.
113:66 Part III, fol. 57b. ??? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ?????? ????? ???
113:67 The text reads "L’eau" (the water) which is wrong. The first edition reads "vin" (wine) which is the correct translation of the original.--Transl.
114:68 ???? ???? ?????? ??? ????? ??? ????? ???? ????? ???? ??? ????? ?? ????? ???? ?????? Compare Zohar, Part III, fol. 157, 158.
114:69 See, in particular, the first part of the Zohar, fol. 99, 100.
115:70 Idra Rabba, ad init.
115:71 See his commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah, edition Mantua, fol. 46-
115:72 Ib. supr., fol. 31.
117:73 Τ?ν πλε?στων ?π? το? μ?σου λεγ?ντων ?στι τ?ν ?λον ουραν?ν πεπερασμ?νον ε?ναι φ?σιν. ?νανατ?ως ο? περ? τ?ν ?ταλ?αν, καλο?μενοι δ? πυθαγ?ρειοι λ?γουστιν? ?π? μ?ν γ?ρ το? μ?σου π?ρ ε?ναι φ?σι, τ?ν δ? γ?ν ?ν τ?ν ?στρων ο?σαν, κ?κλ? φερομ?νην περ? τ? μ?σου ν?κτα τε κα? ?μ?ραν ποιε?ν. De Coelo, Vol. II, ch. 13.
117:74 A christian apologist of the fourth century.--Transl.
117:75 Ineptum credere esse homines quorum vestigia sint superiora quam capita, aut ibi quae apud nos jacent inversa pendere; fruges et arbores deorsum versus crescere . . . Cujus eroris originem philosophis fuisse quod existimarint rotundum esse mundum.--Lib. 3, ch. 24.
118:76 An Alexandrian astronomer of the second century. He founded a system in which he expounded that the earth is round, that it occupies a fixed center, and that the heavens and all stars revolve around it once in twenty-four hours.--Transl.
118:77 ???????? ?? ????? ?????? ?????? ???? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ??????. ?????? ????? ??? ???? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ?????? . . . . ????? ?? ??????? ??? ???? ???? ???? ????? ???? ??????? ???? ?? ???? ??? ????? ??? ???? ?????? ???????. Part III, fol. 136a.
119:78 There is also the following in the original: a "Finally, some are content with a dissolution of the continuity of the two inferior brain coverings," which I omitted because the passage quoted by the author (Tract. Hulin, 45a) speaks only of the superior and inferior brain covering (dura mater and arachnoid--???? ???? and ???? ?????) and only of two differing opinions.--On the other hand, this does not impair the remarks of the author.--Jellinek.
119:a Not omitted in this translation.--Transl.
119:79 Babylonian Talmud, tract. Hulin, ch. 3.
119:80 Literally: Filum spinae dorsi (the thread of the spine of the back, which I note because in that passage it is spoken not only of the medulla spinalis (the marrow of the spine), but also of the membranous tube.--Jellinek.
119:81 ????? ??? ????? ????? ?????? ???????: Berahoth, 58b.
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