Query: I'm confused regarding your views.
My response: Oh, good! That makes it unanimous then!
Query: Could you clarify please?
Doreen shimmies out of her goofball get-up and gets serious:
I will attempt to do so in brief. The subject rightly deserves a book-length treatise, not a post.
Let it be said at the outset that often counterfeits are quite valuable in their own right. They are forgeries nonetheless, but are often the products of considerable knowledge and know-how. This is the case with Lurianic Kabbalah vis-a-vis authentic Kabbalah.
Interlocutor: I thought you considered the traditional kabbalah to be non-sense and superstition.
Much the same technique that was employed in making up Christianity was employed by the Lurianic Kabbalists. A heady potion was made of a few drops of truth mixed into a rather copious amount of a viscous medium of half-truth, lies and damn lies. To this, a goodly splash of superstitions that the Jews from the Maghreb had picked up from the indigenous peoples was added. The few grains of truth confer some measure of authority to Lurianic Kabbalah and seem to lend credibility to the dross.
I would not care of Madonna busied herself with such innocuous concerns as the meanings of color according to Lurianic Kabbalah, asdescribed on this URL: http://www.therapeuticsource.com/color.html,or attempting to determine a person's psychological make-up by examining the letters that constitute their name (can't find a URL for that just now) and the like. Those are the pastimes of those who will never enter the inner truth of the authentic Kabbalah and which constitute the bulk (and bane?) of Lurianic Kabblah. (That was a joke, it is not my intention to aliken Lurianic Kabbalah to String theory). In fact, they are the flashy and attractive distractions put up in order to keep those who should never enter the Garden out, by keeping them busy with the baubles and beads that delight their minds and emotions. If she would just relegate herself to those concerns, it would keep her off the streets and out of trouble.
What I detest is Madonna, a woman who painstakingly cultivated a vulgar image and made a fortune in so doing, cavorting in revealing costumes on stage with the Tetragrammaton in large neon lights behind her. I read somewhere that she has "Kabbalistic" tattoos as well. I cannot in the space of one post explain all of the reasons why something like this must not be done and how horrendous it is that her "teachers" don't censure her for doing so. It's certainly not the first time that someone with rudimentary knowledge of moral/spiritual matters sold out. I consider those who "taught" her far more reprehensible than she is.
Query: Which, if any, kabbalah is a genuine valuable esoteric tradition?
Surprisingly, it is the "heretical" Karaites, particularly the dynasty of ben Asher, who were the Masters of Hebrew and whose version of the Bible, HaMasorah, was (reluctantly) accepted by Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (the Ramba"m) due to its incontrovertible accuracy. Their understanding of Torah was much in keeping with that which would later be discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The works of Abraham ben Shmu'el Abulafia, ca. 1240-1292, a student and proponent of the rational, as opposed to the far more irrational stream of Kabbalah, i.e., Lurianic, were hidden away and dispersed in almost every main library and archive in Europe. Some have been released for publication in the last seven years or so. More manuscripts still are in the Vatican. In their largesse, the Vatican now allows some selected researchers to view the writings of Rabbi Abulafia that they still hold, but not reprint them. I believe that both the Rabbinical establishment and the Catholic Church colluded in hiding the works of Rabbi Abualfia from the public.
HaRav Abulafia's writings, great as they were for his time and generation, were of reduced understanding of Torah. So much had been lost by his time and the Rabbis had supplanted that which was lost with a good deal of improvisation. There were two reasons for this: the Temple ritual no longer existed and they knew something had to fill the void and they wished to fill that void by bolstering their power and position. Rabbi Abulafia was firmly under the influence of the Pharisaic-Rabbinic stream of Judaism. There was no other option during his time.
It was very convenient that the saintly and ascetic Rabbi Moshe Cordevero (the Rama"k), who knew of no "spirituality" without morality and who was in possession of the Kabbalistic tradition from Spain, died at the age of forty-eight, just one year after the Ari (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria), who he took on as a student, arrived inTzfat.
It is the Dead Sea Scrolls *in the original Hebrew, which cannot betranslated*, that reveal the most authentic form of ritual Judaism and, though I hate to use these terms when referring to interpretation of Torah, the correct methods of exegesis andhermeneutics.
A great deal of obfuscation is inevitable when we are dealing withthe moral/spiritual dimension of being. The super-rational, thelevel upon which moral and spiritual truths reside, is a level above grammar and syntax and so it sounds very much like the irrationalwhen we try to convey it. The laws of mathematics and linguistics that we use to create the worlds we inhabit, each of us according to our ability to do so, descend from and are derivatives of these spiritual/moral laws. The pure laws of spiritual morality truly are caught, not taught. This leaves the moral/spiritual open to the abuses of those who, knowing that the super-rational and the irrational sound about the same to the uninitiated, trap the gullible with spiritual-sounding mumbo-jumbo.
I am most wary of anyone who would offer himself or herself as a teacher the Kabbalah. If they do so for a price, I would run for dear life from that person. There simply is no being taught the Kabbalah. TheKabbalah means 'receiving', i.e., receiving directly from God, gratis, or not at all.
Interlocutor: Thank you !
My response: Pleasure. No charge.
Doreen (getting her goofball suit back on)
Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel