The Sepher Ha-Zohar (The Book of Light)
Category: Judaism
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The Zohar (Hebrew: זֹהַר‎, lit. "Splendor" or "Radiance") is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah (the five books of Moses) and scriptural interpretations as well as material on mysticism, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology.

The Sepher Ha-Zohar
The Book of Light

Nurho De Manhar


AS a preliminary to the translation of the great Kabbalistic work, “The Sepher Zohar, or Book of Light,” we purpose to sketch in brief outline the history of its origin, the nature and purpose of its doctrines and teachings, as also the great influence of its philosophy which is reflected in the writings of Albert the Great, Reuchlin, Raymond Lully, Boehmen, More the Platonist, Spinoza, Balzac, and many others whose names are famous in the annals of literature and learning. To the readers of the late Madame Blavatsky’s works, “Isis Unveiled” and “The Secret Doctrine,” this will doubtless prove acceptable and enable them to understand and comprehend those parts in which she has incorporated the philosophy respecting the Sephiroth and shown its close similarity in many of its aspects with Eastern teachings. There is scarcely a page in which some reference to it is not found, with Hebrew words, the explanation of which would have enhanced the value of the above works and added to the enjoyment and edification of theosophical students in general. To supply this desideratum it will be necessary to give details respecting Kabbalah of which the Zohar is justly considered to be the prolific fountain from which has flowed that stream of occult philosophy that has entered so largely as an element in the teachings of mystics of ancient and modern times.

The ancient Jews were not different from other nations in having occult schools and institutions in which secret doctrines were inculcated and imparted to neophytes, or the sons of the prophets, as they are termed in the Bible. These teachings were twofold in their nature and character, and denominated Beresith, or the science of the natural world; also Mercaba, which had relation to heavenly or spiritual science, and which was esteemed and regarded as most sacred and never to be revealed except to initiates, and then only orally, as amongst the ancient Druids. That which was received was termed “Kabbalah,” a Hebrew word, signifying reception, or, rather, what is received and handed on to others in short aphorisms and mnemonical words, the meaning of which could only be deciphered and comprehended by those who had successfully passed through a long course of esoteric studies. For instance, A D M, or Adam, taught that the soul of Adam the first was incarnated in David the King and will eventually appear in the form of the Messiah. It is said that Kabbalah first originated after the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden, and was communicated to him by the angel Raziel in order that he might be better able, through attending to its teachings, to regain his lost estate. The common tradition and most generally accepted is that Moses himself was the real author of Kabbalah, having received it during his residence of forty days and nights on Mount Sinai. After his descent therefrom he imparted it to Aaron, who in turn handed it on to his sons, through whom it was given to the seventy elders of the children of Israel and coadjutors of Moses in juridical government and polity. Through the judges, especially the prophet Samuel, it was delivered to David and Solomon, the latter becoming renowned throughout the East for his extensive and profound knowledge of Kabbalah, by which he was able to perform marvelous things and acquire control over all beings, demons, spirits of the air, fire and water, and make them his obedient and subservient ministers.

During the reigns of the various kings of Israel and Judah we gather that this Kabbalah was widely taught and studied in the schools or colleges of the prophets, presided over by hierophants, of whom Elijah and Elisha were remarkable examples, and distinguished not only by their loftiness of character, but also for their knowledge and manipulation of nature’s occult forces and powers, by which they stand out boldly and prominently in Jewish history. These occult societies were generally distinguished by the wearing of some special badge or emblem indicative of the peculiar occultism of which they were the professed followers and adherents, such as a raven or hawk, eagle or dove, a lion, a wolf, an ox or a Iamb. Their members, whenever sent out on any benevolent expedition or political mission, always went in couples, similar to the rule of custom in vogue at the present time with monks and nuns in the Roman Catholic community. From this fact we obtain a satisfactory and rational explanation of the extraordinary and miraculous feeding of Elijah by two ravens, who brought him in his place of retirement and concealment bread and meat for his daily sustenance. Instead of two birds noted for their thievish propensities, we see how two members of an occult school, who were perfectly acquainted with the whereabouts of Elijah, and so ministered to the bodily wants and necessities of their great hierophant. It is also related of Alexander the Great, on his entering into one of the chief cities of Egypt, that he was welcomed by twelve doves at the head of a large procession of the citizens, and who greeted his presence with some remarkable signs of congratulation, the strangeness of which vanishes and disappears when we recognize in these doves members of some occult institution held in veneration by the general populace, and thus qualified to be the exponents of their good wishes and feelings toward the conquering Alexander. The Babylonian captivity brought the Jews into immediate contact with Chaldean and Persian philosophy, which introduced a great change in their speculative ideas of the creation and divine government of the world, Chaldean magic and occult science became objects of deep interest and study, and ultimately resulted in the formation of new societies and sodalities, in which secret rites and ceremonies were performed and celebrated. All knowledge of their teachings was jealously guarded, and their members were bound by the most solemn oaths not to divulge or reveal them to the profane or common people. These esoteric schools abounded throughout the East, especially in parts of Arabia and adjacent countries.

And now we enter into the historic domain and gather from the pages of Philo Judaeus, a famed Jewish mystic and philosopher, who in his treatise on the advantages accruing from a contemplative life makes mention and reference to the Essenes and gives a somewhat full account of their methods and objects of study. They lived an ascetic life, and at stated intervals indulged in meditation after reading portions of sacred hooks or writings entrusted to them. At other times they assembled in solemn conclave for interchange of thoughts and ideas which had come to them in the seclusion and silence of their cells. “They spoke slowly and with deliberation,” says Philo, “regarding eloquence not so much as clearness in expression of ideas. They frequently repeated themselves in order that their sayings might become engraved on the minds of their auditors. In the interpretation of Scripture they indulged greatly in the use of allegories, as the law appeared to them like a living being. The physical body was the letters and words; the soul was the invisible spirit hidden within them, a spirit by which the student, guided and led by reason, begins searching after those things which are of importance to him; discovering most wondrous and beautiful thoughts under the form that envelops them; rejecting mere outward symbols in order to lead the mind to the light and for the use and advantage of those who, with a little aid, are able to perceive truths and things invisible by means of and through things visible.” They fully recognized that the spiritual world was no remote region in the universe, but was surrounding them and not very far away from them. For them there existed no broad deep gulf, no solid wall or partition between the natural and spiritual worlds, no insuperable and impenetrable barrier between them and the spirits of great and good men made perfect and who had once been teachers to nations. If differences there was between them, it was one of state and condition, and this they endeavored to mitigate and obviate by purity of life and thought, esteeming no self-denial too great, no sacrifice too transcendant or comparable to the enjoyment of spirit intercourse and instruction, resulting in the subjugation of their lower nature, and so clarifying their minds that they became luminous mirrors in which were reflected the secrets of the universe. This was their philosophy as expressed by an old Arabian sago. “When my soul,” said he, “shall become in harmony with the divine life, then will it be a reflection of nature’s great and secret truths.”

Such is the general description of these occult schools or lodges widely prevalent in the East, and which continued to exist to the time of Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai, the great Kabbalist and reputed author of “The Zohar, or The Book of Light,” whose name is held in reverence and esteem by all true students of occult philosophy. His biography, though short, is not uninteresting in its character and details. He lived and taught in the reign of Hadrian, the Roman Emperor, when the Jewish nation was subject to much hardship and persecution and their Rabbis or recognized teachers labored under grievous disabilities, being prohibited from giving instructions to their students, a restriction which Rabbi Simeon had the singular boldness and courage to ignore and disregard, and thus incurred the anger and displeasure of the Roman rulers. He had to flee for his life and conceal himself in an unknown and solitary abode. He had been holding a discussion in one of the synagogues with Jehuda ben Illai and Jose ben Halefta, two famous Rabbis, on the comparative character of Jewish and Roman manners. Jehuda commenced his discourse with an eloquent eulogium on the Romans as the greatest promoters of the material convenience and civilization of the people they governed, instancing their public works, architecture, and the patronage they gave to the useful arts. When Rabbi Jose’s turn came to speak he exhibited the cautiousness which had given him the surname of “The Prudent,” and observed an impressive silence. The discretion of his colleagues was, however, lost upon Simeon, whose animosity to the Romans for the harshness and cruelty exhibited toward his brethren vented itself in a fiery invective against the oppressors, which, becoming the topic of public conversation, aroused and excited the displeasure of the civil authorities. He, along with the above Rabbis, was summoned to appear before the magistrates. The silence of Rabbi Jose was deemed a sufficient ground for banishment to Sepphoris; Rabbi Jehuda was allowed to exercise the office of a preacher in the synagogue; but Rabbi Simeon was condemned to death, a sentence which he evaded and escaped by immediate and timely flight, accompanied by his son Eliezar. For several years he remained in seclusion and lived as a hermit in a cavern, engaged in the development of Kabbalistic science as embodied in the Book of Zohar. After the death of the Emperor Antoninus he left his place of concealment and reappeared as the founder of a school in Tekoa, a town in Palestine. About three hundred of his sayings are recorded in the Talmud. The whole of his life was absorbed and spent in the study of Kabbalah, in which science he was and still is regarded as one of its most eminent masters. He lived in a world of his own, in a region beyond the bounds of ordinary nature. Students and learned Rabbis from all parts flocked to him and enrolled themselves as members of his school, in which subjects of the highest philosophy were discussed. Instructions by great teachers, such as Moses, who in the Zohar is styled The Faithful Shepherd, and the great prophet Elijah, who in luminous and resplendent forms appeared in their midst, were imparted on matters and subjects of the most abstruse and occult character, and which were recorded in secret writing by students deputed and chosen for that object. There is an affecting account of his death given by one of his students in the “Idra Seta, or “Lesser Assembly,” one of the appendices to the Zohar. As a teacher he had lived and as a teacher he died, surrounded by scholars who loved him dearly. “Mercy,” he was saying, “hath ascended unto the Holy of Holies, for there Adonai hath commanded his blessing forevermore, even life everlasting.” There was a sudden pause. His head fell slowly on his breast. Intently gazing upon him, they listened in deep silence for further words, but no words came from those lips that had been so eloquent in speech. They were his last words, and not inappropriate as a finale to a life like his. Suddenly a strange supernatural light surrounded the house. “At that moment,” says Rabbi the Scribe, “I heard a voice, which said: ‘Before thee are countless days of blessedness,’ and then another, saying: ‘He asked life of thee and thou gayest him the years of eternity.’ Throughout all that day the flame continued around the house, and no man entered or went forth. I lay weeping and sobbing on the ground. At length the fire departed, and I perceived that the soul of him who was the Light of Israel had departed also. His corpse was reclining on the right side, and a smile was on his face. Eliezar, his son, took his hands and kissed them. We could find no utterance for our grief till tears began to flow. Three times his son fell down in speechless sorrow. At length the power of utterance came to him, and he cried, ‘Father! Father!’ As the funeral procession moved toward the grave a light revealed itself in the air, and a voice was heard exclaiming: ‘Come! Gather yourselves together to the marriage feast of Simeon.’”

Ere entering upon the analysis of the Zohar and its con-tents, we would premise that the Kabbalists teach that the Divine Being has expressly committed his mysteries to certain chosen individuals, who in their turn handed down to others who proved themselves worthy recipients of them. These mysteries relating to man’s spiritual existence and guidance are concealed in parts of the Holy Scriptures, the interpretation of which is the province of Kabbalah. To understand these mysteries the student will find it necessary to acquaint himself with the metaphysical principles as laid down in the earliest writings and documents of this science, as in later times professors of Kabbalah have incorporated with it many of their own ideas and philosophic doctrines culled from Greek and Arabian sources.

Kabbalah as a constituted science or system of Theosophy is divided into two separate sections, The Theological and The practical; this dealing with the visible creation and termed Bernhik; that dealing with the spiritual world and the attributes and perfection of the Divine Being is denominated the Mercaba, or the chariot throne, with its attendant angels, as seen and described in the opening chapters of the Book of Ezekiel the Prophet.

The doctrines of Creation are succinctly outlined in the “Sepher Yitsira, or Book of Creation,” the imputed author of which is said to be no less a personage than Abraham the Patriarch himself. As this work, with a translation of its contents, will form a subject of future consideration, we shall confine our remarks to the no less important Kabbalistic work, The Zohar.

In order that our readers may obtain a clearer idea of the philosophy of this strange and remarkably interesting book, it will perhaps not be out of place to lay down or touch upon a few of the fundamental axioms which more or less form the basis of systems of philosophy, ancient or modern, Eastern or Western, and especially in Kabbalah; such as “From out of nothing, nothing can proceed; therefore no substance that now exists has been produced from nothing, and whatever exists is in one sense untreated. All existing substances are emanations from one eternal substance.” In the act of what is commonly termed creation the eternal Being drew from himself; consequently there is no such thing as matter in our sense of the word. Whatever we call matter is only another form or species under which the spirit comes into manifestation. Therefore the universe is a realization of the Infinite, an immanent effect of his ever-active power and presence. Though all existence flows front the divine, yet is the world different from the Godhead, as the effect is different from the cause. Nevertheless, as not separate, but abiding immanently in him, creation is evermore the manifestation of himself. The world is the mantle with which he clothes himself, or, rather, it is a revelation of the Godhead, not in his hidden essence, but in his visible glory. In giving existence to the universe the first act of the almighty was the production of a power and principle intimately and specially related to himself, to which are given the names of his holy spirit, his personal world, his first-begotten son and which the Kabbalists in general personify and term Adam Kadmon, or the archetypal Man, and who in turn caused to proceed from emanations from himself all the lower forms of actual existence in their several descending series and gradations.

According to Kabbalists, God is the author of the letters. Spirit is a revelation of thought and the form in which intellect or mind pronounces itself most distinctly. Letters are the organic elements of speech, and therefore he who taught man language or who made him, as one of the Targums expresses it, “ruach mamelella,” a speaking spirit, must have been the author of the letters of the primeval language. The first ten numbers and the twenty-two letters of the alphabet, considered analogically as types of divine operation, are denominated the thirty-two paths of wisdom of which the almighty created the universe. “The works of God,” says the author of “Cosri,” another famous Kabbalistic work, “are the writing of Him whose writing is his Word, and whose word is his thought, so that the words, work and thought of God are one, though they seem to man to be three.” As in the universe harmony reigns in manifoldness, so the letters and numbers constitute a system which has its centre and hierarchy. The unit predominates over the three. The three rules over the seven; the seven over the twelve. The centre of the universe is the celestial dragon. The circuit of the zodiac is the basis of the year. The heart is the centre in man. The first is elevated in the world like a king upon his throne. In the seven organs of the body there is a kind of opposition which sets the one against the other as in battle array. Three promote love, three engender hatred. Three bestow life, three lead to dissolution, and one cannot be apprehended by the mind without the other. Over the whole of this triple system, over man, the world and time, over numbers, letters and sephiroth, the only true king, the one God rules forever and ever. Such are the chief fundamental ideas which permeate the whole texture of the Zohar, which, as we have observed, forms the standard and code of Kabbalistic philosophy. The body of the books takes the form of a commentary extending over the five books of Moses, viz.: the Book of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and is of a highly mystical and allegorical character, and which was the most general and favored method of teaching and imparting instruction in Eastern countries. In addition to these, there are eighteen supplementary portions, viz.:

1. Siphra Dzeniutha, The Book of Mysteries.

2. Idra Rabba, The Great Assembly, referring to the school or college of Rabbi Simeon’s students in their conferences for Kabbalistic discussion.

3. Idra Seta, The Lesser Assembly, of the few disciples that that remained for the same purpose toward the end of their master’s life or after his decease.

4. Sabba, The Aged Man.

5. Midrash Ruth, a mystical exposition of The Book of Ruth.

6. Seper Ha Bahia, The Book of Clear Light.

7. Tosephtha, An Addition.

8. Raia Mehima, The Faithful Shepherd (Moses).

9. Hechaloth, The Palaces.

10. Sithrey Torah, The Secrets of the Law.

11. Midrash Ha-Neelam, The Concealed Treatise.

12. Rose de Rasin, The Mystery of Mysteries.

13. Midrash Chasith, On the Canticles.

14. Maamar Ta chasi, a discourse, so-called from its first words, “Come and See.”

15. Ianuka, “The Youth.”

16. Pekuda, Illustrations of the Law.

17. Chibbura Kadma, The Early Work.

18. Mathuitin, Doctrines.

The commentary is sometimes called Zohar gadol, the Greater Light; the supplements, Zohar Katon, or the Lesser Light. Though the Zohar is said to be a commentary on the Pentateuch, it must be understood that the interpretation is Kabbalistic, and that the literal sense of the words is only a covering or garment of the true meaning. With the Kabbalists there are two ways of regarding and speaking of the Divine Being. When they speak simply and directly of his nature and attributes their style is severely metaphysical and abstruse, but at other times they indulge in the use of metaphor and allegory to a most extraordinary, if not extravagant, degree, at the same time declaiming against the possibility of any attempt to describe the incomprehensible (because infinite) Being. This is especially the case with the Siphra Dzeniutha, or Book of Mysteries, of which the following extract is a fair sample of its style:

“He is the ancient of ancients, the mystery of mysteries, the concealed of the concealed. He hath a form peculiar to himself, but he hath chosen to appear to us the ancient of ancients. Yet in the form whereby we know him he remaineth still unknown. His vesture is white and his aspect that of an unveiled face. He sitteth on a throne of splendors, and the white light streameth over a hundred thousand worlds. This white light will be the inheritance of the righteous in the world to come. Before all time En Soph, the boundless One, the unoriginated and infinite Being, existed without likeness, incomprehensible and unknowable. In the production of finite existence the first act was the evolution of the Memra, or the Word, which was the first point in the descending series of beings, and from whom in nine other degrees of manifestation emanated those forms which at once compose the universe and express the attributes and presence of its eternal ruler. To these nine forms is given the common name of Sephiroth, signifying Splendors. The whole or some of these Sephiroth constitute the universe, the manifestation of God, their names being:

1. Kether, Crown.
2. Chocma, Wisdom.
3. Binah, Understanding.
4. Chesed, Mercy.
5. Din, Justice.
6. Tiphereth, Beauty.
7. Netzach, Triumph.
8. Hod, Glory.
9. Yesod, Foundation.
10. Malkuth, Kingdom or Dominion.

The primordial essence is before all things. In his abstract and eternal nature and condition he is incomprehensible, and as an object of the understanding, according to the Zohar, he is nothing, the mystery of mysteries; but he took form as he called forth them all. The ancient of ancients is now seen in his own light; that light is his holy name, the totality of the Sephiroth. The order of their emanation is as follows: From Kether, the Crown, the primal emanation of En Soph, proceed two other Sephiroth — Chocma (wisdom), active and masculine; the other Binah (understanding), passive and feminine, the combination of which results in thought, of which the universe is the effect. The crowned Memro, or Kether, or primordial Logos, is the thinking power in creation, Chocma the act of thinking, and Binah the subject of the thinking. Says Cordovero, author of a famous Kabbalistic work, Pardis Rimmonim, or the Garden of Pomegranates: “The forms of all earthly beings are in these three Sephiroth, as they themselves are in him who is their fountain.” The seven other Sephiroth develop themselves also into triads, in which two antithetical members are united by a third. Thus Chesed (mercy) is the antithesis of Din (justice), and both are united in Tiphereth (beauty). These terms, however, are not used as in our common theology and ethics in the moral or spiritual sense, but have rather a cosmological or dynamic meaning, Chesed signifying the expansion of the divine Will, and Din its concentrated energy. These two attributes are called in the Zohar the arms of God; and Tiphereth, whose symbol is the breast or heart, is the expression for the good they produce and uphold. The next three Sephiroth — Netzach, Hod, and Yesod — are also of a dynamical character, representing the producing power of all existence. Netzach, masculine, and Hod, feminine, are used in the sense of expansiveness and grandeur, and denote the power from which all the forces of the universe proceed and combine themselves in a common principle, Yesod, the foundation or basis of all things. Viewed under one aspect, these three Sephiroth or attributes reveal the Deity in the character in which the Bible speaks of him as Jehovah Zebaoth, or the Lord of Hosts. The tenth and last of the Sephiroth, Malkuth, sets forth the divine sovereignty and its never-ending reign within and by all the others. Thus we see that these Sephiroth are not mere instruments different from the divine substance. He is present in them; but is more than what these forms of being make visible. They cannot in themselves express the Infinite. While each of them has a well-defined name, he, as Infinite, can have no name. Whilst, therefore, God pervades all worlds which reveal to us his presence, he is at the same time exalted above them. His immutable nature can never be meted or scanned; therefore the Zohar compares these Sephiroth to classes of various colors through which as media the divine light shines unchanged as the sun-beam is unchanged, whatever medium transmits it. Again, these ten theogonic Sephiroth are resolved into three classes, and make what is termed olam atzoloth, the world of emanation. The first three are of a purely intellectual nature, and are exponents of the olam maskel, or “intelligent world,” and set forth the absolute identity of being and thon ht. The second triad is of a cosmological and moral character, expressing the energy of rectitude and grace in the revelation of the beautiful. In them the almighty appears as the summum bonum. The remaining triad represents the divine architect as the foundation and producing cause of all visible being, and is termed olam hamotava, the physically developed world.

Furthermore, these worlds are divided in a fourfold manner, viz.: (1) Atzeloth, emanative world; (2) Bariah, creative world, referring to the higher order of spirits; (3) Yetsira, formative world, including all the heavenly bodies; (4) Asosah, or olam hamotava, terrestrial world, which latter, though containing the dregs of existence, is nevertheless considered as immaterial, for matter in the ordinary idea or conception of it, on account of its imperfection and inability, would be, as an emanation from God, an impossibility and a contradiction. The divine efflux of vivifying glory, so resplendent at its fontal source, becomes less potent as it descends in the scale of being, till, in the phenomenon termed “matter,” it exists in its embers, or, as the Kabbalists describe it: “Like a coal in which there is no longer any light.” The Zohar gives a beautiful illustration of the intimate and unique relation of three worlds from the flame of a lamp, the upper and white light of which symbolizes the intellectual; the lower and more shaded light, which insensibly blends itself with the upper one, represents the world of feeling; whilst the grosser material, which is beneath all, is the emblem of the physical world. That the above remarks may be better understood, we subjoin the following:

Taking the three central Sephiroth as the highest manifestation of their respective trinities, the Zohar represents the crown as symbol of the one infinite substance; Tiphereth, or beauty, as the highest expression of moral perfection, and Malkuth, the kingdom, the permanent activity of all the Sephiroth together — the presence or shekinah of the divine in the universe. The ground principle of Zohar philosophy is that every form of life, from the lowest element of the organic world up to the purest and brightest beams of the Eternal Wisdom, is an emanative manifestation of God, and consequently that every substance separate from the first great cause is both a chimera and an impossibility. All substance must be ever with and in him, or it would vanish like a shadow. He is therefore ever-present, not with it only, but in it. In him it has its being, and its Icing is himself. All is one unbroken chain of Being, of which the Memra is the second and En Soph the first element. There can therefore be no such thing as annihilation. If evil exists, it can only be an aberration of the divine Law, and not as a principle. With the Kabbalists bereshith (creation) and beraka (blessing) are interchangeable terms. He believes that in the moral world wicked beings will eventually develop a better state of character and conduct; that Satan himself at some future time will regain his primitive angel name and nature. Cordovero asserts that “hell itself will vanish; suffering, sin, temptation and death will be outlived by humanity and he succeeded by an eternal feast, a Sabbath without end.” Another teaching of the Zohar is that the lower world is an image of the one above it. Every phenomenon of nature is the expression of a divine idea. The starry firmament is a heavenly alphabet by which the wise and spiritually-minded can read the interpretation of the present and the history of the future. So with respect to man; he is the compendium and climax of the works of God, the terrestrial shekinah. He is something more than mere flesh and bone, which are the veil, the vestment, which, when he leaves earth, he throws off and is then unclothed. As the firmament is written over with planets and stars, which, rightly read, make the hidden known, so on the firmament of the human surface or skin there are lines and configurations which are symbols and marks of character and destiny. The inner man is, however, the true man. In him, as in the Divine self, there is a trinity in unity, viz.: 1, The Neshama (spirit); 2, Ruach (soul); 3, Nephesh (the sensuous or animal life), intimately related to the body and dissolving when it, the body, dies. The Nephesh never enters the portals of Eden or the celestial Paradise. Besides these elements in us, there is another representing an idea or type of the person which descends from heaven at the time of conception. It grows as we grow, remains ever with us, and accompanies us when we leave the earth. It is known as our ycchidah, or principle of our individuality. The temporal union of the two higher elements, spirit and soul, is not regarded, as with the ancient Gnostics, an evil, but a means of moral education, a wholesome state of trial, in which the soul or lower nature works out in the domain of sense, a probation for ultimate felicity. Human life, in its perfect character, is the complete agreement between the higher and lower selves, or, as the Zohar expresses it, between the king and queen. The soul at present is being schooled and disciplined to this harmony. It is like a king’s son sent away for a time from the palace to fulfil a course of training and education, and then to be recalled home. Another prominent doctrine in the Zohar regarding man is the union of the masculine and feminine principles in him, and which in combination form one moral being. Before the earthly state the male and female soul, the two halves of our nature, existed then in union. When they came forth upon the earth to work out their probation they were at first separated, but eventually will come together and be indissolubly united. If probation of final bliss he not accomplished or successfully achieved in one life, another life is entered upon, and then, if necessary, a third. When the work of purification and enlightenment is completed and ended the soul attains to the consummate happiness in the fruition of the divine; that is, in the intuitive vision of his glory, in perfect love, and in that oneness with himself in which it will have the same ideas and the same will with him and like him will hold dominion in the universe as St. Paul himself affirms: “We shall judge the angels.”

From this brief outline and sketch of the teachings of the Zohar we may sum them up as follows: Regarding the facts and words of the Scriptures as symbols, it teaches us to confide in our own powers in the task of interpreting them. It sets up reason in place of priestly authority. Instead of a material world distinguishable from God, brought out of nothing by his will and subjected to successive changes in fulfilling the purposes and plan of the creator, it recognizes countless forms under which one divine substance unfolds and manifests itself and all of them pre-existent in the divine intelligence; that man is the highest and most perfect of these forms, and the only one through whom God is individually represented; that man is the bond between God and the world, being the image of each according to his spiritual and elemental nature. Originally in the divine substance, man returns to it again when the necessary and preparatory process of the earthly life shall be finished and completed; for from the Divine have we come, and unto the Divine must we return at last.

The chief aim and object of all systems of philosophy has been to give a rational account of man’s relation to the Divine; a right conception of which is the fundamental basis of all social, political, and spiritual growth and progress. Ignorant of this, the mind of man can never become imbued with clear ideas and conceptions as to the true object of his existence, of its whence or whither, and is therefore doomed to wander in a state of mental darkness and incertitude highly prejudicial to the exercise of those faculties by which he is able to investigate the real nature of things and understand the laws governing the universe in which, as a part, he lives and moves and has his being. In proportion that he has attained to the knowledge of nature, and extracted from her the secrets of his being, so has he succeeded in ridding himself from the errors of the past and marched with slow though steady steps towards a higher plane of life and thought, which, having gained, brighter and grander vistas of higher truths present themselves, inviting him to further research and investigation which, though attended with errors and mistakes, have been corrected by experience — the test of all true knowledge and the great and universal teacher of mankind. For this reason the history of philosophy may be described as the epitome of human errors and mistakes, of erroneous opinions and misconceptions; of cosmological systems based upon inadequate notions and imperfect inductions; all of whist had their day and then vanished into oblivion, the tomb of creeds, the grave of specious systems and dogmas that were unable to subsist and endure because they were not the true expositions of human life and destiny. To trace their origin and investigate their beginning is not without profit and advantage to those students who, comparing past and present systems of religion and philosophy, are thus able to divine and cull therefrom the truth that makes us free, that expands the mind and qualifies us to behold and view things not as they seem to be, but as they are in themselves; so that we catch glimpses of her majestic form not as in a glass darkly, but face to face.

In our preceding remarks on The Zohar, we gave in brief outline the substance of its teachings on the dogma of man’s origin and existence, and his relationship to the Creator and the universe; teachings which in their nature and character are so different from the ordinary views both of Jews and Christians, that the question naturally rises, how was it that such a system of philosophy arose and became propagated amongst a nation whose conceptions of the Deity and Creation are so diametrically and radically dissimilar, as light to darkness? How came it about that a people so conservative in their religious notions, fostered within itself a feeling amounting almost to veneration for the teachings of The Zohar, or Kabbalah, as they were termed, as is evidenced by a long list of Jewish Rabbis, honored and still held in esteem for their great learning, piety and scholarly attainments’?

The answer to these questions compels us to take a comparative view of those systems of eastern philosophy amidst which Kabbalah sprang up and manifested such a vigorous growth as to outlast many of its competitors in the power and influence it has exercised over the minds of the thoughtful and studious. Ere, however, we do this, we shall have to dismiss, and put aside as erroneous, the common tradition that Kabbalah is of divine origin; first imparted to Moses on Mount Sinai, and then handed through him to the seventy elders, which could not be for the reason just advanced, that its teachings and philosophy are opposed to and bear scarcely any resemblance to Jewish theology. This being the case, we have to consider to what system of philosophy Kabbalah was related in the time that Rabbi Simeon Ben Iochai first taught it. We may reduce these to four, viz., the Platonic philosophy; that of the Alexandrian School in Egypt; of Zoroaster in Persia; and of the Brahmins in India.

Though there is in some respects a striking analogy between Platonism and Kabbalah, yet, after a comparison of their distinctive leading tenets, we are forced to the conclusion that Kabbalah did not originate from Platonism. In both systems the Logos, or Divine Wisdom, is the primordial archetype of the universe and acts a mediatorial part between the divine idea and the objects that are the manifestation of it. In both are to be found the dogmas of pre-existence, reminiscence, reincarnation and metempsychosis, so that some Kabbalists have supposed Plato to have been a disciple of Jeremiah the prophet, in order to account for this rather remarkable and coincident similarity of ideas. There are, however, great differences between the two that make it impossible to assert that the one is a copy of the other. The Kabbalists believed in one primal substance, Spirit. Plato acknowledged two, spirit and matter, the intelligent cause and the created material produced. Neither can the Kabbalistic Sephiroth be reconciled with the ideas and doctrine of Plato or his teaching respecting those forms or archetypes of things which existed in the divine Mind from eternity. Those ideas, according to him, abide in that Mind, are inseparable from it, are the divine Intelligence itself, and are the prototypes of all existing things; whereas the Sephiroth are divided into two classes and figuratively set forth as masculine and feminine, proceeding alike from the eternal fountain En Soph, then combining themselves in a common personified power called the Son, from whom they again become distinguished in a new and further form of development. It is impossible to compare this doctrine with Plato’s triad of the Father, the Son, and the Soul of the World, without perceiving that Kabbalah and Platonism can never be identified and considered as one. We must therefore seek its origin from some other source than the Platonic philosophy.

Some writers have sought to prove that Kabbalah took its rise from what is known as the Alexandrian School of philosophy, the home of Neoplatonism. Here, again, though there are great resemblances and close coincidences between them, as, God is the immanent ground and substantial source of all being — all goes out from him and all returns to him again. They both recognize the necessity of a trinity and also agree in regarding the universe as a divine manifestation, also in their doctrines concerning the Soul and its final return to God; yet if there has been any copying we are warranted in supposing that the Neoplatonists copied and took from the Kabbalists. Kabbalah was developed in Palestine. Its very language, its composition and direct association with rabbinical institutions set this beyond doubt. The Jews of Alexandria held but little intercourse with their brethren in Palestine and never entered into intimate relations with the rabbis either of Palestine or Babylon, who were greatly averse to Greek wisdom and learning and forbade that children should be instructed therein. Whilst the Palestinian Jews detested and despised Greek philosophy, they took kindly and received Kabbalah, which was held in honor and esteem long years before Neoplatonism was ever thought of or appeared as a system of philosophy. It has also been said that Kabbalah was either directly or remotely the result of the teachings of Philo Judaeus, who resided at Alexandria at the beginning of the Christian era. This assumption, after a strict analysis of Philo’s works cannot be drawn nor substantiated, inasmuch as they are totally and altogether opposite in their principles and systems of philosophy. Philo is more Platonic than Kabbalistic in his ideas. For instance, he posits the Platonic dualism; God, and a creation which once had a beginning, an active principle, divine Intelligence; and a passive one, matter pre-existent, shaped and conformed to an idea conceived in the divine Mind. “God,” he says, “is not only the Demiurgos or Architect of the world, but also its Creator, calling all into creation by an act of his will, and as he pervades the universe by his presence in order to sustain it, he may therefore be said to be the place of the universe, for he contains within himself all things. He himself is the world, for God is All.” To explain these assertions, he proceeds: “God is the unapproachable and incomprehensible Light. No creature can behold him — but his image shines forth in his thought, the Logos, through which we can become acquainted with him.” But to this first manifestation of the divine Being, Philo, like Plato, gives an hypostatic or personal character. He is God’s first begotten. This first or elder Logos produces another Logos who exerts a creative power of which the world is a manifestation. In the exposition of his ideas of creation, we meet with many interspersed remarks on the nature of angels which are very different from the ideal principles as represented by the Kabbalistic Sephiroth. In his discourses on man, Philo distinguishes between the intellectual and the sensuous soul, which latter he affirms has its seat in the blood. In attempting to ascend to the intuition of divine and spiritual truth, it may be well, as he teaches, for the mind to occupy itself at first with merely human knowledge, just as the body requires milk before it can be capable of strong meat. But in the direct effort to obtain an insight into higher or heavenly truth, it is necessary to curb or place the senses in abeyance and let the intellect exercise itself independently of them altogether. When, however, such knowledge is attained, it is not by mere dint of mental labor or by the aid of philosophy, but by direct illumination from the Divine. He also believed in the possibility of the mind to attain intuitive perceptions of Deity himself, at the same time laying great stress on the exercise of faith, which he calls “the queen of all virtues.” Faith lifts the veil of sense and conducts the spirit of man to an union with God, which has been exemplified more or less in the lives of all great mystics of ancient and modern times. From the study of early Christian and Gnostic writings, we arrive at the same conclusion, that though there may be found similarities and affinities between some of their teachings and those of Kabbalah, they are too slight to warrant the notion that the latter proceeded from Christianity. The dualism of the Christian faith, of a God and a created universe of matter and spirit as components of the universe, cannot be reconciled with the one substance of the pantheistic Kabbalah, In the Gnostic Bible, Liber Adami, the Book of Adam, or the Codex Nazareus as it is known to students (of which an account of its contents and teachings will be given for the first time in English, in the pages of THE WORD), we meet with scattered remarks on the degeneration of natures at each degree of remoteness from the Divine fountain of being, the production of actual things by the Logos; the four worlds — the male and female soul and their union — also the symbolism of numbers and letters of the alphabet, which, though showing some relationship, does not confirm the derivation of Kabbalah from it.

Whence then did Kabbalistic philosophy derive its origin, For the resolution of this question we must go eastwards to Babylon, whither the Jewish people were transplanted as captives at the fall of Jerusalem, and where the teachings of Zoroaster were exercising a wide influence over the popular mind. What those teachings were we are able to judge from the sacred book of the Persians, the Zend Avesta, a copy of which was first found and brought to Europe in the beginning of the 18th Century by Anquetil Perron, a learned Frenchman. In this sacred book may be found all the great primordial principles of the Kabbalistic system. Thus the En Soph of Kabbalah corresponds to Zeruane Akarene, the “Eternal Boundless One,” of the Zend Avesta. Another epithet of the Deity amongst the ancient Persians was “Boundless Space” similar to the Kabbalists Makom or Place. The Logos, or Memra, or THE WORD, is the Honofer or Ormuzd of the Persian, by whom the world was produced and who is a Mediator between the boundless and incomprehensible Zeruane and finite beings. As the medium by which the attributes of the Deity become known, his throne is light, and like Adam Kadmon or “the heavenly man” in Kabbalah, he unites in himself true wisdom, the highest understanding, greatness, grace, beauty, power, and glory, and is the fashioner and sustainer of all things, of all beings, a most remarkable coincidence with the doctrine of the ten Sephiroth. Now Zoroaster flourished at the very time of the Jewish captivity, during which their rabbis first came into contact and under the influence of a religious philosophy which in many particulars was very similar to their own cherished teachings. In the Zend Avesta they found, as in the Book of Genesis, the tradition of the six days of creation, an earthly paradise, the demon tempting in the form of a serpent — the fall of the first pair who, before it, lived the life of angels, but after were obliged to clothe themselves with the skins of animals and delve in the earth to acquire the means of sustenance for their bodily wants. There also was found a prophecy of a future resurrection of the dead and a last judgment, which, in order to explain their presence in the Persian scriptures, some Biblical scholars assume that Zoroaster, their author or compiler, took them from the Jewish writings and incorporated them into his own theological doctrines. Be that as it may, it must always remain a supposition and a debatable question. There is, however, no gainsaying that the Jews appropriated some of his ideas which eventually were embodied in their Talmuds. In the rabbinical schools of Babylon there were esoteric teachings imparted, but only to a select few, some of whose names have been handed down as famous Kabbalists, such as Rabbi Chanina and Rabbi Oshaya. In this way Kabbalah was propagated, and at last found a home in Palestine.

Again, we must go more eastward still until we come to India, whence Zoroaster drew the fundamentals of the system of religious philosophy by which he is distinguished and regarded as one of the great teachers in ancient times. In that far off land beyond the river Indus, is found a people who at that remote period in the world’s history had reached its zenith and attained to a high state of civilization never enjoyed by any other preceding nation. In its magnificent and stupendous monuments of architecture and sculpture which have escaped the ravages of time or of vandal conquerors — in its profound systems of philosophy elaborated by Rishis, who were accounted as divine beings and renowned and venerated for their wisdom and learning — in their compositions of art and poetry, whose beauty, elegance and sublimity have never been surpassed by the productions of Western mind and thought, and beyond all these, in its solemn and mysterious religion with its esoteric doctrines and teachings, its imposing symbolic ritual and ceremonies, the Hindus, even in those ancient times, were far in advance (the Egyptians excepted) of all other nations. She was the ark in which were preserved the sacred remnants and fragments of a previous and now unknown civilization, which were systematized by her great Rishis and handed down for the benefit of humanity in succeeding ages. To her as to a great shrine of truth, great souls from out of all lands and countries, as Pythagoras and others, wandered and came for instruction and knowledge that would explain the great mysteries of life and being, ignorance of which is the great obstacle and barrier to human progress. Though through the all-prevailing law of change and the action of Karma which operates in the life of nations as of individuals, the glory of India has been eclipsed and her fair and fertile territories have been overrun and ravaged by ruthless and barbarous conquerors whose object was plunder anti rapine, yet lives she on, unconquered, unsubjugated in soul, in which still pulsate and throb those ideas and conceptions of beauty, and, working like leaven, silently, yet effectually, are both a prophecy and a guarantee of a future renovation of national life which will cause her to become again the paragon of nations and the teacher and instructor of the world. It is only since the beginning of the 19th Century that we have become acquainted with the religion and philosophy of India through the works of great scholars such as Sir William Jones, Schlegel, Bopp, Colebrooke, Max Muller, and others who by their excellent translations of Hindu Shastras, Puranas, etc., have made it possible for students to become acquainted with them and form a better and truer estimate of what India can teach us, The language in which her sacred scriptures are written is considered the most ancient of all, and distinguished beyond all others for its extensive vocabulary, its varied and perfect grammatical forms and inflections of speech by which it is adapted and able to express the most abstract ideas and metaphysical conceptions. Her sacred books, regarded as divine in their origin and revelation, are divided into Vedas and Puranas treating of a great variety of subjects, theological, legendary, ethical and devotional. In addition to these are the magnificent epic poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, in the latter of which is found that gem of human thought, that flower of spiritual philosophy, which stands unique in the world’s literature: the Bhagavad-Gita, the divine song, the song par excellence. We do not presume to assert that all the details of Kabbalistic philosophy are found in these most ancient documents. What we would assert after analyzing and comparing them is, that in these Hindu writings are to be found the radical principles of Kabbalah in unmistakable form. In both the systems, Indian and Kabbalistic, there is a recognition of a self-existent and eternal nature, indefinable, inconceivable, to which is given the appellation of Brahm, corresponding to Zeruane Akerene of the Persians, mid En Soph of the Kabbalists. There is also it filial emanation of this infinite nature who is as a firstborn son of Brahm and bears the name of Brahma. “From that which is,” says Manu, “without beginning or end, was produced the Divine Man famed in all worlds,” a personification strangely similar and coincident with the Memra, the Adam Kadmon, the heavenly man, prototype of mankind, of the Kabbalists. Again the universe is produced by Brahm. “From him proceeded the heavens and the earth beneath. In the midst he placed the subtile ether, the light regions, and the permanent receptacle of the waters.” Yet the natural universe is considered to have been self-emanative, similar to the procession or development of the Sephirothic worlds from the first begotten son, who is at once the archetype and principle of all finite beings. In Hindu philosophy the soul, or rather spirit, is regarded as an efflux from the Deity, an emanation from the Light of Lights and destined ultimately to return to its great original. Subjected to the depraving effects of evil in time, the soul has to work out a purifying probation, and if it fails in this it reincarnates until the work be completed. With respect to creation we learn, “the entire world is an emanation from the Deity, and therefore of one substance. The one only has existed from eternity. Everything we behold and ourselves too are portions of him. The Soul, the mind, the intellect of man and all sentient creatures, are offshoots from the universal Soul, to which it is their fate to return. The human mind is impressed with a series of illusions which it considers as real, till reunited with the great fountain of truth.” Of these illusions, the most potent is that of Ahamkara or the feeling of self. By its influence and action the soul, when detached from its source, becomes ignorant of its own nature, origin and destiny, and erroneously considers itself as a separate and independent existence, and no longer a spark of the eternal fire or part of the universal whole, a link in one unbroken and immeasurable chain. As in Kabbalah, the universe being of one substance and an emanation from the Divine, it follows there can be no such thing as matter in the gross and vulgar sense of the word. What we take to be attributes of matter are in effect so many manifestations of spirit. The substance we call matter is and yet is not eternal from the point of view whence we regard it, — eternal when considered in its relation to Deity, non-eternal with regard to its figured states or phenomenal development and manifestation. Such are the fundamental views and propositions of Hindu philosophy displayed with more or less clearness in the works above mentioned, the oneness and coincidence of which with those of Kabbalah is, as we have stated, too plain to be denied, and the only question remaining for explanation is, how came they to find a home in Palestine and become incorporated as elements in the Kabbalistic system of philosophy?

There are three ways by which we may account for their sameness: (1) from the intercourse of the Jewish rabbis during the Babylonian captivity with Zoroaster, who, as we have stated, drew his ideas primarily from India; (2) another probable mode of transmission was through the commercial intercourse between India and Egypt. It is not incredible that the scholars of Alexandria should have visited Persia in their quest after the scientific and esoteric learning of the East, nor is it improbable that Zoroaster himself, along with his monarch, King Gushtap, at whose court he resided and taught, should have made a pilgrimage to Alexandria as is stated in the Annals of Ammonius Marcellinus, an ancient Roman historian. This visit would afford opportunity to the sages and learned of that city of becoming acquainted and conversant with the peculiar tenets and principles of Eastern religious philosophy, which eventually found entrance into Palestine; (3) the most probable and likely is that it was conveyed thither by Buddhist propagandists, who inaugurated those secret lodges of esoteric schools or societies such as those of the Essenes and Therapeutae, as they were termed. Buddhism, as is well known, was an offshoot from Brahmanism and its adherents in accordance with the injunctions of their great founder, Gautama, to make known the Good Law, went forth into all the neighboring countries, Tibet, China, Japan eastward, to Syria, Egypt and Arabia westward, founding institutions and communities from which ultimately originated monkery and nunnery in all their different forms and customs. Everywhere, where they penetrated, they made proselytes and inaugurated rites and ceremonies and introduced modes of dress and ecclesiastical ornaments, which afterwards became the accessories in the rituals and worship of Christian churches. Through these Buddhist missionaries the basic ideas and principles of Kabbalah were first implanted in a soil favorable for growth and after development. It was a time when national decay had set in and old time systems of religion and philosophy were being shaken to their very foundations. The reign and regime of the old gods and goddesses and their worship were coming to an end and men’s minds were craving after a purer faith, a nobler philosophy, a religion of light and truth, without which there is no real progress, no true progression in society. Kabbalah then sprung forth and manifested its existence, and whilst raising the mind above the phenomenal and temporal, introduced its followers, as did the Mystics afterwards in the dark ages, into a new world of thought, teaching them their true position in the universe and their real relationship to the divine Being in whom and through whom we live and move and have our being. Amidst this general darkness and mental uncertitude, this eclipse of faith and hope, Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai elaborated his philosophy of life, teaching the divinity of man as a derivation, or rather an emanation, from En Soph the “Boundless One,” the one unknown yet omnipresent Being.

To whom, no high, no low, no great, no small,
He fills, He bounds, connects and equals all.
Sustains heaven’s myriad orbs and all their suns
From seeming evil, still educing good
And better thence again, and better still
In infinite progression.

In doing this, and infusing into the mind and heart of man new and lofty ideas of human existence, Rabbi Simeon has done good service to humanity, and contributed both directly and indirectly to the overthrow of that system of polytheism which for long ages had enervated and depraved the moral life of nations. He lived not in vain, nor did his philosophy perish with him. Cherished and preserved by his followers, it was handed down and became the basis of all esoteric teachings imparted in the secret lodges of the Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and Mystics throughout the dark and mediaeval ages, so that his epitaph may well be “though dead, he speaketh still.”

Having now sketched and outlined the theoretical part of Kabbalah as found in The Zohar, we will conclude by giving a short account of the practical, which is usually divided under two heads, viz., the Exegetical applied to the interpretation of the occult meaning of holy scripture, and the Thaumaturgic, comprising rules and methods for producing certain preternatural results in the cure of diseases and the exercise of Magical rites and practices. Exegetical Kabbalah is founded on the assumption as before stated that Moses received from the Lord on Mount Sinai not only the words of the law, but also the key to unlock and reveal the mysteries enwrapped and hidden in each section, verse, letter, point, and accent of the Pentateuch, and that this key has been handed down through wise men who had qualified themselves for its reception. This system of exegesis or explanation is threefold, and arranged under the heads of Gematria, Notarikon, and Temura, each of which we will now describe.

Gematria deals with the numerical value and power of letters, their forms, and sometimes their situation in a word, and is either arithmetical or figurative. In arithmetical gematria each letter has its numerical value. One word whose letters are equivalent to those of another may be accepted as an explanation of that other. For instance, Genesis, ch. I. V. 1, Brashith bara in the beginning created = 1116, also the words, berash hashanah nibra (in the beginning of the year was created) = 1116. Therefore the creation took place in September, in which month the Jewish New Year commences. So in Genesis xlix: 10, the words yabo schilo (shall come to Shiloh), = 358, and meshiach (Messiah) 358. Therefore Shiloh is the Messiah. Figurative gematria is employed in speculations on the letters which (from accident, but as the Kabbalists affirm, from divine design) are greater or smaller, reversed or inverted in the manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures. An instance of this occurs in Numbers x: 35. “And when the ark went forward,” the letter nun in the word arun (ark) is written the wrong way of turned back to show the loving warning of God to the people, Again, in Genesis xi.: 1, “and the people became as murmurers.” The nun in the word mthannanim (murmurers) is also written backwards to show the perverse turning of the people from God, and thus are these two places written in every true Hebrew Bible throughout the world. Another branch of figurative gematria is called architectonical, consisting of mystical calculations on the size, form, and dimensions of the holy temple, the tabernacle in the wilderness, and the future temple described in Ezekiel, of which some very curious and most interesting particulars are given in Sheckard’s Bechinath Happerushim (select comments).

Notarikon is used when one letter is made to signify an entire thing or person. The term is taken from the practice of notaries in abbreviating words, though others derive it from notare, to note. Thus a single word is formed from the first or last letters of several words, as in Genesis i.: 3, the finals of the words bars elohim laasoth, which God created and made = amth. Another instance is the word agla, which, with the Tetragrammaton or holy name, was, as the Kabbalists say, inscribed on Magen David or the Shield of David, and is formed by taking the initials of the words atta gibbor leolom adonai (thou art, O Lord, eternally mighty).

Temura signifies permutation. That is, the interchange of letters by various methods, such as that known as Athbash, in which one word is composed that shall answer to another by inverting the order of the letters as they stand in the alphabet, making the last letter Th stand for the first and so answer to A, then Sh to correspond with B, and so on in the subjoined order:

The Sepher Ha-Zohar (The Book of Light)

By this method the meaning of Jeremiah li: 1, lb kmy (in midst of them that rise up against me) becomes Chasdim (Chaldeans). Another method is (there are 22 of them):

The Sepher Ha-Zohar (The Book of Light)

By which the alphabet is divided into two equal parts, and the first letter interchanged with the eleventh, the second with the twelfth; thus Isaiah vii: 6, the word T B A L Tabeel becomes Ramla, the King of Israel. Sometimes letters of a word may be transposed as to compose another word as Mlachy (my angel) may be made Michael (the angel Michael).

Thaumaturgic Kabbalah is founded on the assumption that a certain virtue or energy is inherent in the words and letters of the Scriptures, which on the pronunciation of them with a specific and steadfast purpose will communicate itself to spiritual or heavenly powers, of which those names, words, and letters, are the symbols, producing effects which to those who have no knowledge of the occult power of vibrations would be altogether deemed incredible. Yet in our own experience have we met with instances of the occult power of words and symbols of a most extraordinary character, the results of which were most pronounced and beneficial. Kabbalists strongly affirm that by such means effects are produced in the higher or noumenal world which become expressed and manifested in the changes sought to be accomplished in this our phenomenal and lower life. It was and still is an article of Jewish belief that he who can rightly pronounce the Tetragrammaton or holy name, is able to do wonders and produce miraculous effects. The parts of Scripture employed for this purpose are those which contain or are by the preceding modes made to be expressive of the divine names and those of angels and the Sephiroth, each of which corresponds with a part or member of the human body. The interrelation of these names is as follows:

The Sepher Ha-Zohar (The Book of Light)

In the cure of diseases, the name of the heavenly power is invoked which corresponds to that part of the body affected, or the member to be healed. These names are sometimes, together with what are termed the signatures of the angels, inscribed on kemeoth or amulets of various kinds, and constructed according to certain rules, which Paracelsus in his magical works has outlined. They are also given in such Kabbalistic works as The Sixth Book of Moses, Shemosh Tehillim, and others. That part of practical Kabbalah relating to the conjuration and evocation of good spirits and angelic beings is denominated Theurgy or White Magic. That referring to the invocation of evil powers is called Goety or Black Magic, is found in the frightful grimoires of the Middle Ages. It must, however, be admitted that the most learned and enlightened Kabbalists ignore this latter entirely, holding it as an abomination, and denounce both the study and practice of it as having no connection whatever with the sublime Kabbalah elaborated by Rabbi Simeon.

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