Friday, 10 July 2009

On Learning Qabbalah - Some Concerns

One of the concerns re: learning Qabbalah was articulated by Reb Shloymie as follows:

"It [spirituality] means that everything we do is done in Hashem's Presence (first se'if in Shulchan Aruch from Moreh Nevuchim). It's goal is not to map the cosmic circuitry (if there is any) and to make metaphysics resemble physics. The latter seeks to make spirituality physical rather than the other way around."

Thus, a major potential error is conflating physics and meta-physics or worse morphing meta-physics into physicality. This Ch"V Is a potential violation of "ein lo demus haggoof"

The Rambam to the rescue.

It has been argued that the metaphysics of the Rambam equates to the metaphysics of the Qabbalah. This is a dubious extrapolation. However R Sasha Pecaric has demonstrated a different but essential relationship between the two, a relationship that the Rambam himself probably never anticipated. The Moreh Nevuchim was so strong and so firm in rooting out any physicality or anthopomorphic aspects of HKBH that a "new world order" :-) became possible.
In other words, given the Moreh as a prerequisite to Qabbalah, the danger of making the conceptual sprituality into anthropomorphic reality was removed or at least diminished.

Thus the Rambam's Moreh created at least 2 dynamics:

  1. 1 The abandonment of seeing anthropomorhic references as literal - following the lead of Targum Onkelos
  2. 2 Permitting Qabbalistic speuclation in a purely conceptual way w/o fear of it devolving into heretical notions of physciality regarding HKBH (iow HIS so-called "Godhead"). I.E.That a firm grounding in Rambam would save souls from going astray.

As I best understand it, anyone without this firm rooting in the definition section of the Moreh IS indeed in danger. And so to divorce the two paths into metaphysics is risky.

Caveat: The first chapters of the Moreh do not deal with the Haqira investigatory aspects of understand G-d. As such, they should be kosher and safe even for those who otherwise oppose Haqira. Also, this post does not address the need for - or the legitimacy of - Qabbalah itself. There are those who opine that the metaphysics of the Moreh covers all the necessary basis.

It would seem that both Rema and Rabbi Pecaric would advocate mastering Moreh Nevuchim first but not to stop there, but rather to investigate Qabbalah, too.


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