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Author Topic: Jewish Magic? What happened here  (Read 2885 times)

Hippie-Witch

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Re: Jewish Magic? What happened here...
« Reply #30 on: March 21, 2016, 12:29:40 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;188588
The most comprehensive translation of Sefer Yetzirah was translated by Aryeh Kaplan and published by Samuel Weiser Inc. in 1990. Sefer Yetzirah exists in four manuscript versions, and Kaplan's edition contains all of them. Kaplan also wrote a very detailed commentary, which includes large amounts of traditional Jewish kabbalah.

Jewish Kabbalah and Neo-Hermetic Kabbalah are not identical to each other, although they stem from a common historical root: Early Jewish Kabbalah. The second, middle, branch of Kabbalah's historical development is Christian Kabbalah. It branched off from early Jewish Kabbalah in the 15th century, and it is out of Christian Kabbalah Neo-Hermetic Kabbalah evolved. Two authors in particular stands with one leg in Christian Kabbalah and one leg in Neo-Hermetic Kabbalah: Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (who wrote Three Books on Occult Philosophy) and Athanasius Kircher (who wrote Oedipus Aegyptiacus). The modern stage of development of Neo-Hermetic Kabbalah began with the French author Eliphas Levi in the 1850s.

Meanwhile, traditional Jewish Kabbalah has survived in especially three Jewish communities:
  • Lithuanian descendants of mitnagdim
  • Hasidim
  • Mizrahi Jews and Sephardic Jews in the Middle East


Since the beginning of the Haskala movement among Western and Central European Jews in the 18th century, Kabbalah has been looked upon in disdain among those Jews who became Reform Jews, Conservative Jews and Modern Orthodox Jews.

Jewish Renewal is a movement which began in the 1960s, which brings the progressive values of Reform Judaism (which otherwise is anti-mystical) together with the mystical dimension of Hasidism (which otherwise nurture extremely conservative values). The most famous Renewal Jew is Zalman Schachter Shalomi.

 
Quote from: FraterBenedict;188590
What I wrote had not so much to do about being skewed or borrowed. 'Original form' is a concept that is very hard to define, when it comes to literary works of the age we are discussing. My point was, that using a pseudonym (or afterwards being given one by others) was quite normal for some communities in the past. That was not forgery in the modern sense.

 
Quote from: FraterBenedict;188597
My first attempt to answer came out jumbled, and it is too late to edit, so I write this clarification.

The Hebrew word Kabbalah means The Received (and is today used in a non-religious way about receipts in Israel). When it is used about religion, it refers to a particular type of Jewish mysticism and to two branches of mysticism that has branched off from early Jewish Kabbalah: Christian Kabbalah and Neo-Hermetic Kabbalah.

Mysticism exist within every religion, although to varying extents. Mystical experiences are altered states of consciousness by which a person have a direct experience of a spiritual, transcendent or divine reality. There are several different types of mystical experience.

Jewish mysticism existed before Kabbalah. Kabbalah is a particular type or sub-set of Jewish mysticism. Although influential on Kabbalah, Sefer Yetzirah is not kabbalistic in itself: It belongs to an earlier stage of Jewish mysticism, and was compiled at some point in time between 100 CE and 600 CE. According to legend, it was written by Abraham, but that is just a legend. The subject matter of Sefer Yetzirah is (among other things) the idea that the entire Cosmos consists of Hebrew letters, and each letter correspond to a particular set of correspondences - non-causal connections of symbolic (but not exclusively symbolic) nature.

As I just wrote, Sefer Yetzirah became influential on Kabbalah. Kabbalah proper emerged in the Iberian Peninsula around the year 1200. The most important founder was Isaac the Blind, and the most important early Kabbalistic literary work was Sefer Bahir (translated by Aryeh Kaplan into English in 1979). The new things with this Iberian Kabbalah was the idea of Sephirot: Ten emanations out of the divine Unlimited, through which God - in the Jewish sense - manifest itself.

A new wave of Kabbalah occurred in the 1290s, when Kabbalist Moses de León distributed the book Zohar to the Jewish world. According to legend, Zohar was written by 2th century rabbi Simeon bar Yochai, but in reality Zohar was most probably written  by Moses de León himself.

In 1492, the Spanish king decreed all Spanish Jews to emigrate, and the town Safed in the Holy Land became one of the destinations for fleeing Spanish Jews, among them some kabbalists. In the mid-16th century, the kabbalist rabbi Isaac Luria became very influential, and most forms of Jewish Kabbalah today are influenced by him. The central idea of Lurianic Kabbalah is that an imbalance occurred in the gradual manifestation of the divine, and that Jews are supposed to mend the 'broken parts' of the divine, by acting in conformance to Jewish Law. Luria's ideas became known among Jews in Central and Eastern Europe thanks to two disciples of Luria: Israel Sarug (the writings of whom influenced Kabbalah among mitnagdim - the critics of hasidism) and Hayyim Vital (the writings of whom influenced Kabbalah among hasids).

Some Jews fleeing intolerant Spain ended up in the Italian Peninsula - then consisting of a large number of independent city-states, duchies, principalities and republics. The trendy mode of thinking at the time was (and is) called the Renaissance. Some Renaissance thinkers expected a primordial truth equally available in Christian theology, ancient Egypt and among Greek philosophers, and when some of these Christian philosophers acquaintanced recent Jewish immigrants, they came to hear about Kabbalah. Pico de la Mirandola was an important author belonging to what became a new branch of Kabbalah: Christian Kabbalah.

Among some adherents of Christian Kabbalah there existed an interest in magic. I have already mentioned Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and Athanasius Kircher. In the 1850s this Neo-Hermetic attitude within Christian Kabbalah emerged as a third branch of Kabbalah:Neo-Hermetic Kabbalah. The most conspicuous thing with Levi's thinking was that Levi supposed a correpsondence between the Hebrew letters and the trumps of the Tarot cards. The idea was not entirely new: A man called De Mellet had suggested the same thing in the 1770s and 1780s (but counting backwards). Levi counted forwards, and also associated the ten pip cards of each suit with sephirot, and associated the four court cards of each suit with the four letters of the divine name YHWH. Levi set an occult movement in motion, and after his death, in 1875, there existed Occultists interested in Neo-Hermetic Kabbalah in both France and UK. Some of them organised themselves in several esoteric orders in the 1880s and 1890s.

It is worh remembering, that Levi's idea of a connection between tarot and Kabbalah is not a part of Jewish Kabbalah: It is typical for Neo-Hermetic Kabbalah. Most Jewish kabbalists were at the time probably not aware of Levi and his ideas, but scholar Gershom Scholem, the first Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jersualem, wasn't impressed and wrote (collected and published in Kabbalah, New York/Harmondsworth 1974, p. 203):

 
You must have studied this your entire life. Thank you so much. I really wasn't sure if a pagan forum would be such a bounty of information on Jewish tradition.
There really is such a rich history there, and with that an extremely large amount of reading to do. Not that that's a problem for me ;)
I'm really appreciative of being given a better idea as to where to start. Reading the 6th and 7th books of Moses made so little sense to me due to the fact that they are part of something much larger.
"There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that kind of the point?"

Darkhawk

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Re: Jewish Magic? What happened here...
« Reply #31 on: March 21, 2016, 02:07:06 pm »
Quote from: Hippie-Witch;188623
I'm not trying to say that Christians are ignorant, however I am saying that a lot of them seem to not actually study their religion as deeply as other groups may. (I know many Christians that have never read the bible, however you'll never find a practicing pagan that hasn't read multiple books)

 
In theory, converts have to actually learn about what they're converting to.

On the flip side, I've met many, many practicing pagans who haven't understood a damn thing they've read.  And a few who have not in fact read books; they've listened to other people who have read books and taken their word for it.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Jewish Magic? What happened here...
« Reply #32 on: March 21, 2016, 04:47:46 pm »
Quote from: Hippie-Witch;188625
You must have studied this your entire life.


I have been interested in perennial wisdom for a rather long part of my life - initially from a Christian point of view, then from a pagan one, but historical source material  remain the same, regardless of the observer.

Quote from: Hippie-Witch;188625
There really is such a rich history there, and with that an extremely large amount of reading to do. Not that that's a problem for me ;)


For short introductions into Kabbalah, I would suggest Joseph Dan: Kabbalah: A very short introduction and after that Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah. The first one is very up to date, but the latter one is slightly dated. As far as I know no one has written another comprehensive book of that reasonably small size, yet.

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Jewish Magic? What happened here...
« Reply #33 on: March 21, 2016, 04:57:10 pm »
Quote from: Hippie-Witch;188623
It really depends where you are in Christianity. I believe their are some groups that realize that deity is above gender, however the groups I've been involved with really seem to think he's a man sitting in the sky.


I am sad to hear this. Baroque and late Renaissance art is probably to blame. Like Michelangelo.

Byzantine art is generally more tasteful in that regard (with some exceptions): Divine presence is usually indicated by painting a dark quarter of a circle surrounded by light, sometimes with a hand pointing at something important.

Quote from: Hippie-Witch;188623
I have heard Priests say every Sunday that Jesus sits at the right hand of the father; I've seen many people take this very literally. They pray to their Heavenly Father.


Back in my Lutheran days, I always viewed that as figures of speech.

Quote from: Hippie-Witch;188623
I'm not trying to say that Christians are ignorant, however I am saying that a lot of them seem to not actually study their religion as deeply as other groups may.


I guess I have been happy to be surrounded by Lutherans, Anglicans, Pagans, Catholics and Moslems who read the classics of their own tradition, respectively - the Lutherans to a lesser degree than the other.

Chatelaine

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Re: Jewish Magic? What happened here...
« Reply #34 on: March 21, 2016, 08:14:42 pm »
Quote from: Wimsaur;187899
When Christianity took our holy books, they omitted the different names of God (some masculine, some feminine, some singular, some plural), and replaced them with Lord.


The Septuagint translation predates Christianity.
'You created us restless, O Lord, and we find no rest until we rest in You.'
~St Augustine~
Whole blog o' nonsense: Are We There Yet?

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Jewish Magic? What happened here...
« Reply #35 on: March 21, 2016, 08:17:12 pm »
Quote from: Chatelaine;188674
The Septuagint translation predates Christianity.


That is true, and it was performed by Jews in Egypt, not by Christians.

Chatelaine

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Re: Jewish Magic? What happened here...
« Reply #36 on: March 21, 2016, 08:34:23 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;188676
That is true, and it was performed by Jews in Egypt, not by Christians.


It is still the version that the Orthodox Churches use, which can lead to some interesting debates with members of other traditions, whose translations come from the Masoretic Text or the Vulgate.
'You created us restless, O Lord, and we find no rest until we rest in You.'
~St Augustine~
Whole blog o' nonsense: Are We There Yet?

SunflowerP

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Re: Jewish Magic? What happened here...
« Reply #37 on: March 21, 2016, 08:36:44 pm »
Quote from: Hippie-Witch;188623
The thing about a lot of Christians and Catholics is....

 
While there are some Protestant denominations that insistently claim otherwise (and I suspect you might have been raised in one of those), Catholics are Christians. So saying 'Christians and Catholics' is like saying 'fruit and apples'.

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RecycledBenedict

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Re: Jewish Magic? What happened here...
« Reply #38 on: March 21, 2016, 09:02:33 pm »
Quote from: Chatelaine;188679
It is still the version that the Orthodox Churches use, which can lead to some interesting debates with members of other traditions, whose translations come from the Masoretic Text or the Vulgate.


Like the numeration of Psalms.

Now and then I have to take a look in a conversion table between the Hebrew numeration, the Greek numeration and the Aramaic numeration. Without such a table, it would be very confusing to hear a Protestant (or Jew) discuss Psalms with, let's say, a Russian Orthodox and an Assyrian.

'No! No! It's in Psalm number 113! No, 114! No, 115!'.

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