Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Was the Maimonides a Kabbalist?

I've been asked a few times about whether I think the Maimonides was a Kabbalist.

My understanding is that while I don't think he was a member of the secret societies which taught Kabbalah in those days, still he was at least in the category referred to in Ethics of the Fathers as, "And they reveal to him the mysteries of the Torah."

This means by virtue of his intense devotion to Torah, he was likely granted an independent revelation of many of the mysteries which select few among the spiritually elite were being taught in secrecy via the mystical tradition.

This also explains why when he expounded on the mysteries it did not come out in the language of Kabbalah, like Sefirot or Ein Sof, but rather in his own familiar intellectual parlance; namely, the language of philosophy.

1 comment:

  1. Face Book Comments to the Original Post:

    Ze'ev: That would be consistent with his definition of ruach hakodesh. Shkoyach

    Liza: Thank you for this, Choni

    Choni: That's right Ze'ev. I simply wanted to be understood by an audience who might not be familiar with that term.

    Choni: My pleasure Liza. The Maimonides was a towering figure in the history of our Rabbinic tradition and how familiar he was with the esoteric lore always seems to be an open question, as there are hints in his writings which can be understood either way. So the post above represents what I think was likely the case.

    Eric: I agree with your assessment of Maimonides, Choni . I never thought of him as a Kabbalist, but he certainly explored Jewish mysticism in his own unique way

    Choni: In fact Eric a noted Jewish mystic, Rabbi Abraham Abulafia wrote several mystical commentaries on the Maimonides' "Guide for Perplexed". Though I haven't seen them, yet the knowledge that it was possible to do is in itself very telling.

    Choni: To Ze'ev: I was shocked to learn a couple of hours back that today's HaYom Yom is the following: "My father wrote that he heard in the name of the Alter Rebbe that all rabbinic authors until and including the Taz and Shach, composed their works withruach hakodesh, the Divine Spirit. An individual's ruach hakodesh, as explained by Korban Ha'eida in Tractate Sh'kalim (Talmud Yerushalmi), end of ch. 3, means that the mysteries of Torah are revealed to him. This comes from the aspect of chochma in its pre-revelation state."

    Eric: Interesting, Choni .
    I haven't seen Rabbi Abulafia's commentaries either. That would would be interesting to explore further

    Choni: Eric, One of the best biographical descriptions about whom he was can be found in Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's "Meditation and Kabbalah".

    Eric: Thanks Choni . :)