Kabbala Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein 1 - Kabbala and the Balancing Mechanism of Hebrew Mysticism Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein Kabbala is the name for Jewish mysticism and esoteric study. According to Kenneth Hanson in his book Kabbalah, Gershom Sholem, the great modern scholar of Kabbalah, has conceived of the evolution of biblical religion as a three- stage process: First was the primitive stage, in which God or “the gods” (Elohim) were perceived to be within and one with the creation (a somewhat pantheistic concept). Hence, humans worshipped the forces of nature, and a multiplicity of gods developed from this consciousness. Next came the creative stage, in which God was seen as being separate from the creation; this is the essence of the experience at Sinai, which gave humans God’s “laws” (the 10 Commandments) and demonstrated God’s power and justice. But being omnipotent, God was also distant, too far away for human beings to grasp. The third stage is the “mystical” stage, which comes full circle with the first. In mysticism, God’s subjects can have a deep and intimate relationship with God on a personal level (in what outside of Judaism might be considered a “Gnostic” relationship). Kabbalah, then, is not tangential, but makes possible a personal relationship between humans and God. Kabbala has several points of similarity with Egyptian Hermeticism. One of the most studied books in Kabbalism is the Zohar, or Book of Splendor, which some researchers claim was first written down in about AD 150. However, as we are aware from many other studies, much of the written works from the ancient world had a long oral history preceding their first written texts. (Also, the library at Alexandria in Egypt, which had been established by Alexander to collect all of the ancient wisdom, was burned in later times.) So I’m choosing to look at some of the symbols of Kabbalism and Hermeticism here simply because they have so often been attributed to earlier times than the extant written texts would suggest. (See: Notes on Kabbalah by Colin Low) Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily