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Updated: 2013.09.27

Qa•bâl•âh; "received," popularly (but incorrectly) spelled 'Kabbalah,' "is the traditional and most commonly used term for the esoteric teachings of Judaism and for Jewish mysticism, especially the forms that it assumed in the Middle Ages since the 12th century" ("Kabbalah," Ency. Jud., 10.489).

"The most famous work of Qa•bâl•âh, the Zohar. was revealed to the Jewish world in the thirteenth century by Moses De Leon ["Shem Tov"; Castile, Spain], who claimed that the book contained the mystical writings of the second-century rabbi [Shim•on Bar Yo•khai (post-135 C.E.)]. Almost all modern Jewish academic scholars believe that De Leon himself authored the Zohar" (Jewish Virtual Library) [emphasis added].

The Ram•ba"m vehemently opposed the irrational superstition and mysticism that his fellow countryman, De Leon, developed, a century later, into Qa•bâl•âh.

" (Ram•ba"m); statue in Córdoba, Spain.

Though heatedly denied, Qa•bâl•âh is, historically, a Jew-ish mysticism adapted (contravening ) from Christian Gnosticism. Ram•ba"m vehemently opposed Jews straying into the medieval magic practices and superstitions that evolved into Qa•bâl•âh: amulets, incantations disguised as supernatural "blessings" and other supposed supernatural powers that rival the Christian charismatic and Pentecostal "gifts of the spirit." Ram•ba"m explicitly opposed the irrationalism that developed into Qa•bâl•âh, championing, instead, rational—logical—thought and interpretation of Ha•lâkh•âh.

See especially – an oral incantation as a sign that creates ("golem," etc.).

Qa•bâl•âh was first introduced to the world in 13th century Spain by Moses de Leon (ca. 1250-1305 C.E., aka "Shem-Tov"), with his publishing of the "Kabbalists' Bible": "The Zohar." According to the foremost, most widely-recognized, modern Jewish historian and scholarly authority on Qa•bâl•âh, Gershom Scholem, the Zohar was written in the last quarter of the 13th century in Castile, Spain (The Messianic Idea in Judaism, New York: Schocken, 1971, p. 39).

The Zohar is written exclusively in medieval Aramaic and medieval Hebrew. There is no reference to the Zohar or its main tenets anywhere in Jewish literature prior to Moses De Leon. Neither Moses De Leon nor any other has ever produced any supporting evidence of the claimed authorship of Shimon bar Yokhai. The claim is self-evidently baseless and, therefore, false and, as Ram•ba"m correctly held, an apostasy from Tor•âh.

While there is an ancient spiritual tradition, it is necessarily logical—reflecting the inerrant Logic of the Creator, reflected, in turn, in His inerrantly logical universe. Therefore, while authentic spiritual tradition is intrinsically symbolic and eschatological, it cannot be the mystical and esoteric tradition adapted from medieval goy•im.

As the term Qa•bâl•âh is used today, however, it refers NOT to the authentic ancient spiritual tradition of Tor•âh but, rather, to the post-medieval, Zo•har-based apostasy of adapting and adopting (assimilating) the magic, wizardry and superstition (prohibited by Tor•âh) of Middle Ages Goy•im that infused 12th century Judaism and was condemned by no less than Ramba"m.

Rational spiritual Tor•âh tradition predating the 12th century was recorded by Tei•mân•i Sage Yi•tzᵊkhâq A•bu•hâv in his work Mᵊnor•at ha-Ma•or, which traces back through Judaism's most pristine—Tei•mân•i—oral tradition not only to Shimon bar Yokhai but back to Yi•rᵊmᵊyâhu ha-Nâ•vi (see the Tei•mân•i page of our History Museum); and was quoted by Moses De Leon in his Zo•har!!!

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