The Book of Zohar.

Discussion in 'Judaism' started by aged hippy, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. aged hippy

    aged hippy drifting gently

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    I've recently started reading the "Book of Zohar", and i'm wondering what it's standing and teaching is in terms of Judaism.

    For example - is it accepted as a genuine Book of the Faith?
    There is a reference in "Rose" to re-birth: "A complete replacement of egoistical desires with altruistic ones is called the End of Correction. Every person and all of humanity have to attain it in this world. Until a person achieves this, he will continue coming to this world. The Torah and all the prophets speak only about this." - is this truly one of the tenets of Judaism? (It's quite a surprise to myself if it is - but not an unwelcome one. :) )


    Any guidance or advice would be greatly appreciated.



    Regards,

    malcolm
     
  2. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    malcome - who is the author or translator for the book of the Zohar that you are reading? I'm reading several right now and one that bananabrain recommended is "In the Shadow of the Ladder" (Introductions to Kabbalah by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlay, translated with additional explanatory chapters by Mark and Yedidah Cohen) ....


    I'm also reading "Zohar" (the book of Enlightnment) edited by Daniel Channan Matt


    Beholders of Divine Secrets" (Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature) by Vita Daphna Arbel (it was from her doctoral thesis, written in Hebrew, submitted to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1997)


    "Zohar" (The Book of Splendor) Basic Readings from the Kabbalah Edited by Gershom Scholem

    The Essential Kabbalah (The Heart of Jewis Mysticism) by Daniel C. Matt

    Kabbalah (The Way of the Jewish Mystic) by Perle Epstein

    The Zohar, A Book of Splendor (The essential texts from the Zohar) forward by Z'ev Ben Simon Halevi

    Ecstatic Kabbalah (chants and guided practices) by Rabbi David A. Cooper (includes a CD with chants)

    and none of the above makes sense unless you also read The Torah along with The Tanakh (which includes the Torah and the Song of Songs)

    I'm guessing that there are many schools in Judiasm and from what I have seen, some accept and others have various views on the Zohar. The Zohar is also being taught in some sort of "new age" concept which one should be very cautious of .... the selling of an ancient spiritual tradition through red string bracelets, etc. smacks of comercialism and not spirituality. But again, there are probably many views. Ultimately Kaballism and the Zohar are, in my view, a very personal path and I've seen several references that it is not recommended that anyone under the age of 40 study it because they have not yet reached a stage in life needed to truly understand and apply its principals .... I don't know if this is true, but I can say for myself (well over 40 years old) that it wasn't until I was older that I was really able to step out of the ego of my youth and all that went with it, so I tend to believe this is good advice ....

    if you wish, please feel free to share some of your perspective on the Zohar from what you have read so far and why it draws you ..... he hawai'i au, pohaikawahine
     
  3. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    it really depends on what actual book you have got there. it is, presumably, a digest or translation, as the proper zohar is in aramaic and runs to 15 volumes. if you've got mcgregor mathers' "the kabbalah unveiled", it's a pretty ropey translation of bits of the 'sifra de-tzeniuta,' the 'idra rabbah' and 'idra zuta' sections of the zohar.

    if it's anything to do with anyone called "berg" or the kabbalah centre, it's not reputable. the most reputable and scholarly translation is the "pritzker edition", translated by the aforementioned daniel chanan matt.

    i should really say that the zohar is best understood using a medical metaphor. it is like of a similar order of difficulty to a book on brain surgery that is written for qualified, practicing brain surgeons. if you aren't a brain surgeon, a lot of it isn't going to make any sense. if you're not a surgeon at all, even more. if you're not a doctor and haven't been to medical school, you can read it all you like, but i wouldn't let you cut my head open, as it were.

    to be honest, if you are going to observe the restrictions strictly, nobody should really study anything kabbalistic if they have not already been to yeshiva for years and have mastered Talmud, Tanakh and are already married and living an observant jewish life. even lighting candles on friday night is kabbalistic when you understand the inner aspects of it and nobody suggests that is subject to the 40-and-married-and-learned restrictions. these strictures are really intended for the advanced or difficult stuff, the stuff that can really screw with your head/psyche etc. there is plenty of universalist/basic stuff in kabbalah and that is where the vast majority of value can be gained, in the same way that you can get something out of yoga even if you teach yourself from a book or a video. it's not the same as living in an ashram doing 4 hours a day and being vegetarian and meditating etc.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  4. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    perhaps in another lifetime since I can't read aramaic in this one .... hmmm, something to look forward to ...

    I agree and have stayed away from things connected with the kabbalah centre .... I do have the copy of the Zohar with translation and introduction by daniel chanan matt, but I don't know if it is the pritzker edition but it is copyrighted by daniel chanan matt ....



    I agree with this also and I know I wil never reach a high state of understanding, however, I plan to do my best with whatever years I have left in this world and in the next .... I spent 40 years studying the Hawaiian chant of creation and to this day I still discover new things (it has a depth that few today really appreciate and has been a powerful part of my learning).... I doubt seriously that I have 40 years left in this life for the Zohar, but it is part of my life now .... mahalo nui bb .... aloha nui, poh
     
  5. aged hippy

    aged hippy drifting gently

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    Hi pohaikawahine,

    Thanks for the info, that's quite a list.
    Unfortunately, a 'real' book isn't feasible at the moment, i was hoping to find something on the web, but in the fullness of time (i.e. when finances improve :) ) ....
    There's obviously much more to it than i realised - and the reason i wished to read it is that - as far as i can recall, i've only seen occasional references to it - probably three or four - over the last four years or so, but since last Saturday i've come across it mentioned six times, all while researching differing aspects of Spirituality.

    It so happens that i don't believe in coincidence.



    Hi bananabrain,

    Thanks for the guidance. By "kabbalah centre" i think you're referring to http://www.kabbalah.com/kabbalah/, the version i have came from http://www.kabbalah.info and claims to be:
    "The Book of Zohar
    By Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai
    With the Commentary Sulam (The Ladder)
    By Rabbi Yehuda L. Ashlag

    Includes Commentary of Rav Michael Laitman, PhD
    As Studied in Private Lessons
    With Rabbi Baruch S. Ashlag"


    If that's not a reputable version i'd better start saving my pennies.... :)
     
  6. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    I've noticed that, as well. Another funny coincidence, all of the have had the name, Rav Michael Laitman, PhD, connected to it. ;)
     
  7. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    that is a good point.

    kabbalah.com is the kabbalah centre website; i personally would not recommend that anyone goes there. kabbalah.info is one of the websites of "bnei-baruch", the only official "public" group of kabbalists. it is a good site for research and information and i understand there there are a lot of people learning with them. the thing to be aware of, however, is that there's an awful lot of politics connected with the legacy of the "ba'al sulam", r. yehuda ashlag.

    you have to understand that the ba'al sulam was a bnei-berak-based, ultra-orthodox kabbalist in the classical chasidic sense. as i understand it, he passed on his learning to his son, baruch (hence bnei-baruch, the sons of baruch) ashlag who then taught a number of different people. one of whom is this r. michael laitman who has made it his mission to spread the word. now, the thing about the kabbalah centre is that its founder, "rabbi philip berg" (not his real name) claims that *he* is the true heir of the ba'al sulam, not baruch ashlag or, by extension, r. laitman. since both ashlags are now dead, there's not much anything anyone can do to sort this one - oh, and there's a r. yitzhak ginsburgh (see http://www.inner.org) who is an alternative "heir". not very good succession planning, one might think.

    in conclusion - r. ginsburgh definitely knows what he's talking about, but he's terribly right-wing and not at all right-on. r. laitman also knows what he's talking about as far as i can tell, but is a bit of a self-publicist, which leads me to be a teensy bit suspicious. we've had one of his disciples on here (look for all posts by "kabbalah") so that should give you some idea of the tone he takes. he reminds me a bit of harun yahya, all this "science confirms the truth of Torah" and so on. the book by the cohens is excellent.

    and yes, poh, what you have is undoubtedly the pritzker edition. one of my mates helped on it and has nothing but nice things to say about daniel matt.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  8. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Thank you, bananabrain. :)
     
  9. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    I couldn't tell from the web site if he was connected with the kaballah center or not .... but when I read his bio there was mention that he received the title "Rav" as sort of a distinction of honor from his students and was never actually "ordained" (don't know the proper word to use) as a "Rabbi" .... I don't know how important this is or is not in Judaism .... is the formal recognition of such a title always done in a formal way, or can it be given as recognition as in the case of Michael Laitman .????

    If a proper ceremony and training is required, doesn't seem right to use the title "Rav" with one's name .... if it is not, then I suspose it is alright as long as one is Jewish .... most certainly it would not be appropriate for someone that is not Jewish to use even an honory title .... at least that is how I see it...

    I can see that The Book of Zohar could be studied by people that are not Jewish .... it offers much insights into the nature of sprituality .... however, it is a book that is deeply connected with the whole Jewish way of life and the Torah .... as far as I can tell (and I'm no expert in all these areas) its connection to other ways of thinking and living is in the world of the mystics .... the gnostics, the sufi, the druids, the shaman (and I'm not talking about the modern versions of these paths) looked at spirituality in a similar way .... where passion, desire, and love opened the doors to the place of great spirit or god .... today it seems that many who practice these ancient ways (gnostics, druids, etc.) are still at a level of understanding that is not very deep (this is not true of all, but many).... just below the surface of the ocean, but not yet in that deep, dark blue (almost black) depth

    .... I use this metaphor because the Hawaiian chant named the Kumulipo (the source) is related to the deepest darkness of the ocean (the color is lipo) where once can only perceive shapes but they are veiled by the depth .... one must learn to dive very deep to understand what is there .... and the word "kumu" means teacher, the word "lipo" is the deepest color of the ancient ocean .... the overall meaning is "the source" .... you might also notice the word "po" is included .... "po" is the opposite of "ao" which is light, "po" is the chaos, the primordal world, the darkness under the earth, the time of winter when all return to the earth to be reborn in the "ao" spring or light .... in a sense the Book of the Zohar and the Torah take us through a similar process of transition from darkness to light .... if I could draw for you one of ancient Cross of the Gods, you would be surprised to see how much it looks like the Tree of Life and the spheres in the Kabbalah .... this is what first drew me to the Book of the Zohar and Judaism .... maybe I can scan it and then copy and paste it one day .... gotta leave for work .... poh
     
  10. aged hippy

    aged hippy drifting gently

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    My sincere thanks for the help, bananabrain & pohaikawahine,
    i'm deeply indebted to you.

    One of the things which fascinates me is the concept of the Bridal Chamber, i've been trying to tease the threads apart for some time now. It's mentioned in the Gospel of Thomas and several Gnostic texts (The Dialogue of the Saviour, The Exegesis on the Soul, etc.), the Bride and Bridegroom are mentioned in Esdras, Baruch, and several times in the KJV - and i found it's also mentioned in the Zohar, so i followed the trail and downloaded the text.

    I'm now almost beginning to wish i hadn't .... :)



    seattlegal,
    the Rav Michael Laitman link was the one which convinced me to follow the co-incidences. :D


    Once again - Thank You.



    My Warmest Regards to All,

    malcolm
     
  11. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    the bridal chamber is one of my favorite symbols .... I'll give you my interpretation .... The Zohar and also Gnosticism both speak to what is termed the spiralling energy within the human body .... it must move up and down the spinal column and to reach the place of visions and revelations it must cross into the center of the brain where the pineal gland is located .... the chamber right beneath the caudate nucleus (which looks like a ram's horn or angel wings depending on the angle) is called many things in different traditions .... it is the location of the holy grail, it is the bear's cave, it is the lodge of the white brotherhood (white meaning "light" and not the color of one's skin), it is the ark of the covenant, it is most generally referred to as the bridal chamber .... why the bridal chamber .... because the spiralling energy contains both our masculine and feminine DNA .... to reach the bridal chamber is where the two energies eventually merge and open the brain to that place of visions or revelations .... in hawaii it would be the marriage of father sky and mother earth (wakea and papa) and this marriage is said to be consumated in a small chamber .... in reading The Zohar, the Torah is likened to a stately damsel that beckons to her lover .... when at last he understands her (I'm paraphrasing here) and she reveals all of her secrets, he becomes a husband of the Torah .... to understand all that she has to reveal one must enter the bridal chamber in the brain ....

    also there is a covering over the brain called the "arachnoid" and this is sometimes called the spider's net or the veil .... to go behind or beneath the veil is to go to the center of the brain .... the bridal chamber .... in Genesis 32L31 Jacob says that he has seen god face-to-face and came out alive, he named that place Peniel (the name builds on "face to face" (panim 'el panim) .... now the interesting part is that the center of the brain is the location of a gland called the Pineal gland and it is called the third-eye .... this is where one goes to have a vision or revelation .... another name for this gland is the "epiphysis" which is connected with an "epiphany" ....

    I'm beginning to understand that not very many see these things as I do, but I'm happy to share my interpretation with you on the "bridal chamber" ....

    he hawai'i au, pohaikawahine
     
  12. aged hippy

    aged hippy drifting gently

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    Thanks for your interpretation, pohaikawahine, i certainly hadn't seen it in this light.

    I tend to think that on the personal level it's the coming-together of our own Masculine/Feminine aspects (totally ignoring our perceived 'gender') and also - eventually - of these aspects of the Christ.


    I apologise for being slow to reply, i've just come across "A Course in Miracles", so i've been immersed in that. In fact, i've decided to delay my ongoing search for symbolism and instead read this instructive work, and try to put the Lessons into practice - as much as i'm able. There are only 365 of them ....


    Once again - thank you for everything ....
     
  13. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    thanks to I-brian I can now share a copy of the hawaiian cross that I mentioned above .... it was the similarity in this cross and the tree of life in the Zohar that first took me to the Zohar .... although the hawaiian cross is related to the solar dieties there are similarities .... aloha nui, poh
     

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  14. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    blimey poh - no wonder you're so interested in kabbalah. can you please post something more detailed on this hawaiian cross? - i'd like to learn more about it. looks extremely like the sefirot to me (albeit missing one)

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  15. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    I'm going to quote directly from the book that had the picture and not from my further interpretation of the cross .... it comes from a book called "Children of the Rainbow" by Leinani Melville (the religion, legend and gods of pre-Christian Hawaii) .... Leinani Melville received his instruction from an elderly Hawaiian woman who was a "tahuna mataura" (seer) .... he writes of the esoteric code of the "tahunas" (priests) and recounts some of the traditional mythology .... the book was published in 1969 ....


    here is the description of this particular cross of the gods

    "the caste of deities who composed the ancient Hawaiian pantheon was headed by the Supreme Being, Teave (Tay-yah-vay). He is represented by the sun at the top of this cross. He was the Primordial Lord of the Sun, the Primary Cosmic Force of Creation. He was known to the native of primitive Hawaii by several names. (a) Mauriora (Mar-oo-ree-o-ra), the Eternal Spirit of Ra. He was the supreme Sun God. (b) Te Ra, the Ra, the Infinite; the Absolute. (c) Te'Atua Uru Rani, the God who created heaven. (d) I'o, Inner Spirit. He was the Soul of the world. (e) I'ao, Infinite Mind, Infinite Light. He was the Mind and the Light of the World. (f) Te Tumu Nui, the Great Founder who established this world, the Great Teacher. (g) Ta 'I' i mamao, Unsurpassed Spirit in distant space. He was the "highest god."

    No. 2 on the Cross of the Gods: Tane. His Hallowed Name was Eri Eri (note this was the old way of saying it, now this would be Eli Eli) but because of its holidness only temple priests were permitted to pronounce it in an invocation lest its sanctity be profaned by people who were not purified. He was more popularly referred to as Eri which means "My God, Dear Spirit, unsurpassed in excellence." He was sometimes called Tane E, te Hatu O Havai'i, O Tane, Lord of Havai'i. He was also known as (a) Te Atua I'Mauroa, the Infinite Everlasting God. (b) Te Atua Uru, the God of Creation. (c) Tane Uru Rani, Tane, Creator of Heaven. (d) Tane, Te Atua ia vaiora mauroa, Tane, from whom the water of everlasting life flows. (e) Tane Nui Atea, Tane of the Great Cross of light. (f) Tarani o Na'Rani, King of the peaceful heavens. (g) Tane, te Atua Mana, Tane, God of Might. (hj) Tane, te Atua Te'a, Tane, God of the Cross (i) Tane, te Atua Tea, Tane, God of the Light. He was the Light of the World.

    No. 3 on the Cross of the Gods: Na'Vahine. She ws the Goddess of Serenity which is the inner meaning of that title. She was adored by the female chiefs of Hawaii as Uri Uri and more popularly known as the tanatas, as Uri, her abbreviated name which means blue, the spiritual breast of heaven from whom the milk of life flows. She was sometimes called Ta Vahine Uri, the Blue Goddess. She scintellated in heaven in raiment of blue, bluer than the bluest start. She was sometimes referred to as Ta Hotu Uri, the Blue Start. She was the Blue Star Mother of the natives of primitive Hawaii. She was sometimes referred to as Ta Vahine Te Ra, Lady Ra, Goddess of the Sun, the Infinite Goddess, the Absolute Goddess. She was the supreme female Regent of the celestial spheres. She was popularly known to the female chiefs and the priestesses of pre-Christian Hawaii by the names of (a) Nana, the grandmother of heaven. (b) Nana 'I"-A-E (Nana Ee-yah-eh), Nana, dear Infinite Flame. (c) Nana "I" Malu, Nana, Infinite Comforter. She was sometimes called Na'ri'i Vahine o no'Rani, Queen of the Peaceful Heavens.

    Nos. 4, 5, 6 on the Cross of the Gods: The Three Princes of Heaven - the Lords Tanaroa, Tu and Rono.

    No. 7 on the Cross of the Gods: The Lord Vatea, the King of Nu'umearani, the Kingdom of the gods and the goddesses of nature.

    NO. 8 on the Cross of the Gods: The Goddess Papa, the spouse of Vatea and female regent of the fifth heaven above this earth upon which we mortals dwell. Papa, otherwise known as Haumea and ofttimes referred to as Ta Ruahine (the Lady of the crater) was the Earth Mother, the mother of the nature of this earth.

    The disks indicate they were all Solar Deities, the Divinities who help supervision over God's Kingdom on earth as well as His Kingdom in heaven. The earth is designated, in this portrail, as number nine.

    The unity of Teave, Tane and Na'Vahine, Tanaroa and Rono and Tu, Vatea and Papa, formed the Sacred Eight. They were created as a harmonious unit, necessary for completeness of the whole, and were together in oneness with the Supreme Being as His Divine Ambassadors. Each was "lamp" who illumined one of the Eight Paths of Righteousness which led through one of the Eight Gates of Heaven to an everlasting ovation of blissful serenity in the Pure Highlight of God. Devotion to any one of the Sacred Eight gave a devotee one way to get to heaven; devotion to all eight opened all the gates."

    All of this is related to the inner meaning of the Hawaiian chant of Creation called the Kumulipo (the source, or the deep source). It is through the knowledge of the inner meaning of this chant as well as the symbols that I read the Zohar .... it is connected firmly in my mind and I realize that others may not always see it as I do, but I see connections and they open gates that I cannot explain well .... hope this helps, he hawai'i au, poh
     
  16. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    That is really very interesting, pohaikawahine. Thank you for sharing! :)
     
  17. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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  18. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    really interesting wil - I couldn't find anything at the site that told us about this particular symbol .... but it is certainly similar .... aloha nui, poh
     
  19. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    fascinating, poh. wil - that's the configuration of the kabbalistic tree of life according to the ar"i with the bottom sefirah (malkhut) cut off (you can see the path going out of the graphic at the bottom.

    and that's really not how the vitruvian man would map onto it, either.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  20. Nicholas Weeks

    Nicholas Weeks Bodhicitta

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    The entire Zohar is finally being translated into English. It will be about 12 volumes when finished. Daniel Matt & Stanford U. Press have put out the first six volumes as of January 2012.

    Zohar
     

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