Friday, March 09, 2007


The Fall of Man

The greatest sinner, they hold, may attract the higher heavenly power by penitence, thus counteracting the poison of the serpent working in him. The warfare between man and the satanic power will only cease when man is again elevated into the center of divine light, and once more is in actual contact with it. This original glory and spirituality of man and of the world will be restored in the Messianic age, when heaven and earth will be renewed, and even Satan will renounce his wickedness....although the Cabala accepted various foreign elements, actual Christian elements cannot be definitely pointed out. Much that appears Christian is in fact nothing but the logical development of certain ancient esoteric doctrines, which were incorporated into Christianity and contributed much to its development, and which are also found in Talmudic works and in Talmudic Judaism.

The Cabala and the Talmud

As these men [Nahmanides, Solomon ibn Adret, Joseph Caro, Moses Isserles, and Elijah b. Solomon of Wilna] were the actual representatives of true Talmudic Judaism, there must have been something in the Cabala that attracted them. It cannot have been its metaphysics; for Talmudis Judaism was not greatly interested in such speculations. It must be, then, that the psychology of the Cabala, in which a very high position is assigned to man, appealed to the Jewish mind.

The Cabala and Philosophy

Like the school of Maimonides, the cabalists also interpreted Scripture allegorically; yet there is an essential difference between the two. Abraham and most of the Patriarchs are, for both, the symbols of certain virtues, but with this difference; namely, that the Cabala regarded the lives of the Patriarchs, filled with good and pious actions, as incarnations of certain virtues...while allegorical philosophy sought for exclusively abstract ideas in the narratives of Scripture. ...

(T)he great importance of the Cabala for rabbinical Judaism lies in the fact that it prevented the latter from becoming fossilized. It was the Cabala that raised prayer to the position it occupied for centuries among the Jews, as a means of transcending earthly affairs for a time and of feeling oneself in union with God.

Noxious Influences

Demonology...occupies an important position in the works of many cabalists; for the imps are related to those beings that are generally designated as demons, being endowed with various supernatural powers and with insight into the hidden realms of lower nature, and even occasionally into the future and the higher spiritual world. Magic may be practiced with the help of these beings, the cabalists meaning white magic in contrast to ("the black art").

Natural magic depends largely on man himself; for, according to the Cabala, all men are endowed with insight and magical powers which they may develop. The means especially mentioned are: "Kawwanah" = intense meditation, in order to attract the higher spiritual influence; a strong will exclusively directed toward its object; and a vivid imagination, in order that the impressions from the spiritual world may enter profoundly into the soul and be retained there. From these principles many cabalists developed their theories on casting of lots, Necromancy, Exorcism, and many other superstitions, Bibliomancy and the mysticism of numbers and letters were developed into complete systems.

Cabalistic Superstition

Astrology was legitimized...

In a word, its works
(of the Cabala) represent that movement in Judaism which attempted to Judaize all the foreign elements in it, a process through which healthy and abnormal views were introduced together.

That concludes the high points from the article on Cabala in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

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