Wednesday, December 26, 2007
THE WORLD OF JEWISH COMMENTARY
Statements about the beliefs of Judaism are very frequently preceded by the name of the Rabbi who said it. This commentary of the Rabbis is the foundation on which belief rests along with the Torah and Talmud, and the Oral Law. Yet it doesn't take long to discover that all Rabbis are hardly in agreement as to what these sources mean.
Recently I came across an article at the website of the Jewish Magazine in which I found an article titled "The Existence of Other Worlds" by Baruch Crowley. Crowley gives the typical Rabinnic citations for the beliefs he offers, but what beliefs they are!
To begin he quotes Hebrew Scripture as the basis of his claims:
...in Hebrew Scripture and within the mystical or metaphysical tradition known asKabbalah, there are numerous references to worlds other than our own, with life on them, both corporeal and incorporeal. ...
In the Book of Judges...(5:23), "Curse Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse bitterly its inhabitants; because they did not come to the help of the Lord against the mighty men."
The Douay Rheims reads: "Curse ye the land of Meroz, said the angel of the Lord: curse the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord, to help his most valiant men."
Of this passage Crowley writes:
...what does this 'Meroz' reference really allude to? In his book Sefer HaBrit ('Book of the Covenant'), Rabbi Pinchas Eliyahu Horowitz, (18th century ) quotes as his authority a clear Talmud reference when he contends that Meroz is an inhabited planet somewhere in outer space. Furthermore, he states emphatically that G-d created an infinite number of worlds, of physical, spiritual and inter-dimensional nature. This view is upheld by the Ari'zal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria), who also spoke of an 'infinite number of spiritual worlds'. All of this might even be taken to indicate that the preceding battle described in Judges may even have extended beyond the boundaries of our planet's surface, unless, of course, the first reference is merely astrological.
Rabbi Horowitz refers specifically to 18,000 physical planets -- which is also recorded in the Talmud -- and claims that the stars are really worlds of a kind each with a place of habitation. Again in the Talmud, there is a reference to something like 1018 stars in the observable universe, a figure that is very close to the accepted number that can now be seen. Commenting on the 18,000 worlds mentioned above, the Oral Tradition states that each and every true Tzaddik (supremely righteous person) will eventually become the governor of a planet in outer space. This interplanetary scenario is all set to occur in the post-Messianic age, following a general resurrection from the dead. According to the Talmud, the quote in the Book of Isaiah, (40:3) "They shall rise like the eagle", refers to the righteous being able to take off and fly into outer space.
Rabbi Horowitz was of the opinion that many planets are inhabited and that just as sea creatures differ from land creatures, because of their different environments, so too will natives of other worlds differ from human beings.
Does that make your jaw drop? Does it sound like the rantings of the New Agers? But just how far distant from this concept is the Catholic belief in heaven, purgatory, and hell? We, too, believe in other spiritual worlds which angels inhabit.
Crowley claims the Talmud's extraterrestrials are "strangely known in Kabbalistic literature as 'masters of intellegence and science.'" Catholics believe that angel intellegence is superior to human. To further blow your mind, it is a known fact that Thomas Edison was an occultist. So was Marie Curie. Were electricity and nuclear war a gift from fallen angels? But I'm digressing...back to Baruch Crowley's article...
He tells us:
Over and above the many instances of worlds in outer space noted in the Talmud, Zohar and elsewhere, there is, even more surprisingly, abundant reference to a hollow planet earth, with multi-layered worlds existing right beneath our feet. In fact, it's a case of, [ahem!]'as above, so below' [bolding mine - ct] -- echoing the Kabbalistic 'unified theory of knowledge'. Just as there are said to be 'seven Heavens', so too is it recorded that there are seven nether worlds, one above the other, each inhabited by its own species. Indeed, one notable source, the 17th century Kabbalistic classic, Hesed L'Avraham by Rabbi Avraham Azulai, tells us that there are as many as 365 different species of beings living under the earth's surface. These are said to be half human and half animal, perhaps something like the legendary centaur.
The Zohar tells us, for one example, of an amazing encounter by Rabbi Hiya and Rabbi Yosi with one of the residents of an underground realm called Arka, who are human-like but have two heads! The two sages apparently stumbled upon this alien individual when he came up from an underground cave. The venerable Rabbis Hiya and Yosi actually conversed with him, the subject of what must have been a most intriguing conversation being the strange being's desire to know all about conditions in our surface world.
Kabbalists believe that the underground worlds are also the domain of the so-called mazikim, the troublemakers or demons, and of a category of being known as the 'fallen angels'.
According to the Zohar, Adam, the original forefather of the human species, visited all of the subterranean worlds, and left progeny in each.
But there is something even more unexpected in this article.
In Otzar haHaim, Rabbi Yitzchak puts forward a very profound argument relating to the concept of Sabbatical cycles that contradicts the popular fundamentalist interpretation of the six days of creation and a six thousand year old earth.
Referring to an ancient Kabbalistic work, Sefer haTemunah, the work of the first century Rabbi Nehunya Ben haKanah, Rabbi Yitzchak works out a chronology using as his base calculation figure the 'divine year' taken from Psalms 90:4 (a 'divine day' equals 1000 earth years; a 'divine year' is thus 365,250 earth years) . The Talmud states that the world will exist for seven 7,000 year 'Sabbatical' or Shemita cycles, each one different than its predecessor. Moreover, it will become desolated during every seven-thousandth year. Rabbi Yitzchak concludes that, as there are seven Sabbatical cycles in a Jubilee, the world will exist for 49,000 years. Human civilizations will thus also rise and fall seven times during this period.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Yehudah, a modern Kabbalist living in Jerusalem, sums this up very succinctly: "With the completion of each succeeding cycle of 6,000 years, the entire creation is brought one step higher in its (never ending) process of Tikun (Rectification), Birrur (Purification) and Aliyah (Elevation). This occurs in such a way that each particular level is elevated to the position of the one above it."
There is some dispute as to which cycle we are now in - some Kabbalistic sources maintain that it is the second cycle, while others believe we are already in the seventh and final cycle.
Is he speaking of a Manvantara, and/or its divisions into Yuga? The translation from Manvantara to the Sabbatical Cycle is not exact, yet the similarity in concept and its contradition in the Catholic concept of creation is striking.
Rene Guenon, in his book THE REIGN OF QUANTITY 7 THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES, bases his basic thesis on his belief in Manvantaras. Contemporary writer Charles Upton takes up Guenon's concept in his THE SYSTEM OF ANTICHRIST: TRUTH & FALSEHOOD IN POSTMODERNISM & THE NEW AGE. There is one essential difference, however. The Jewish cyclical concept posits an uplifting restoration, while the Guenonian cyclical concept posits a deterioration, and bases the claim on Hindu concepts. Catholics would see the end of the age descending into the reign of antiChrist. If the antiChrist is to come from the Tribe of Dan and rule the world from his seat in the Temple, would the Jewish perspective necessarily see a restoration in one and the same event?
In any case, H. P. Blavatsky took up the cause as she brought us closer to New Age. See the passage on her theosophy here. Was Blavatsky merely echoing a much older Jewish doctrine? Has it influenced Hinduism? The answers to those questions might prove to be quite interesting.