Sunday, December 04, 2011

Reb Zadok on Attribution -

Several years ago I read an article which referred to an interesting approach by Reb Zadok Hacohen of Lublin  regarding attribution. At the time I was lazy to look it up and promptly forgot where I had seen the quote and of course could not find in the writings of Reb Zadok.  This Shabbat I read an article by Professor Moshe Halamish and lo and behold there is the quote again. This time I went to the source and looked it up. It is quite interesting so I decided to translate it and post it. It is in Sefer Hazichronot page 68a in a discussion regarding the different trends in kabbalah. Reb Zadok explains that Kabbalistic insights cannot be developed solely through rational processes. Reb Zadok then continues to explain how these metaphysical insights are acquired intuitively and through deep contemplation by certain perfected individuals.

“For this apprehension is an emanation from above to prophets through prophetic processes and to sages through Ruach Hakodesh, each apprehending according to the status of his knowledge, apprehension and personal perfection.  Moshe rabbeinu in his vision of the burning bush first and his later vision when God passed all His goodness in front of him, was shown God’s true unity. However, unlike Yechezkel he did not see the chariots, the Chayot and the Ofanim; he had other visualizations according to his status…. These different visualizations varied according to each sage amongst them Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai [the protagonist of the Zohar] whose visualizations varied at different times. So too in the Sefer Habahir attributed to rabbi Nechunya ben Hakana, and Sefer Hatemunah, attributed to rabbi Ishmael the High priest, other visualizations are found where they speak in a completely different vein. So too  the kabbalah of the Geonim that we find in the Pardes and other holy books,  a selection of which is reprinted in a small sefer named “Selection of Kabbalah from Geonim” (Warsaw edition), a reader may notice that it is a  totally different approach to kabbalah then what is found in Sefer Hazohar and its companions.  That is so because it is based on the vision that was experienced by one of the Geonim, the head of their school …. There is also is printed a sefer Mayan Hachochma that is attributed to Moshe rabbeinu which is also quoted in Pardes, Pelach Harimon, in the introduction to Sefer Emek Hamelech and others. It appears to me that it is accepted by the earlier sages that it is a holy book and it seems to me that it was written in the days of the later Geonim or close to that time by one holy person who through his Ruach Hakodesh was able to apprehend what Moshe rabbeinu did receive from Sinai (!) for a Chacham is greater than a prophet as Ramban in Baba Batra 12a writes see there as quoted in Ayin Yaakov.  The beginning of that sefer is already found in sefer Haiyun by Rav Chamai Gaon parts of which is printed in the above mentioned Selection. It is also mentioned in sefer Hakana etc… It seems to me that Sefer Haiyun was in front of the author of sefer Mayan Hachochma and he followed along the same path a little though we find many additional novel things that he apprehended during his own contemplation. For those who visualize the Chariot do it via Ruach Hakodesh  gained through knowledge and rational thought, which is however supplemented by superhuman apprehension emanating from above through Ruach Hakodesh as explained by Ramban…     ”

Reb Zadok is referring to Ramban who explains the Gemara that Nevuah no longer exists, as limiting it to prophetic visions however Ruach Hakodesh that accompanies knowledge of great sages still continues to exist. Reb Zadok explains that to be a supplemental insight that emanates from HKBH and that is Ruach Hakodesh.  I have attached a scan of the pertinent page in the original Sefer Hazichronot.

This is a fascinating concept developed by a Chassidic Rebbe who was also a great scholar and thinker and who had a very keenly developed critical sense. He discerns the different schools of Kabbalistic thought. The amazing thing is that he understands that Kabbalah is a personal experience rather than something that is transmitted. There seems to be a basic philosophical thinking that goes back to antiquity but is reinterpreted by each visionary according to his personal state of mind and thinking. That tradition of personal intuition and insight seems to go back to the prophets all the way to Moshe rabbeinu.  A sefer attributed to an earlier sage may be written by someone else at a later date and attributed to the earlier person if it supposedly was based on his thinking.  Is that what happened to the Zohar? Was it Rav Moshe de Leon’s insights according to Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai? Reb Zadok does not say so but can we infer so from his way of thinking?   



  1. see here for the Nazir's approach in the name of R. Kook:

  2. The Rav ha-Nazir tries to systematically expand upon these notions in Kol ha-Nevua.