Kabbalah. This word, this logical ballerina, is said to mean “tradition”: successive delivery of a great secret that is supposed to have been incorporated by God in his own Creation in order to be used by human beings.
We are contemplating a Hebrew ballerina with a penetrating gaze. A dancer whose eyes, always half open, always half closed, are painted with lands of many worlds.
In the sky of these phrases appears the mountain where it is said that Moses was contacted by God; and where it is said that he received, from that omnipotence, from that omnicreativity, decisive information. Some call it Mount Sinai. Others call it Gebel Musa (Mount Moses). I find it, anyway, surprisingly beautiful and wild.
We could visualize that mountain as the inner part of an USB, a plug, a port of entry used by God to introduce data, instruction manuals, in its Creation (in its prodigious program, or in its prodigious spell if you like).
Let’s read Exodus 3.1-6:
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Why was he afraid of looking at God? It is not illogical the possibility of lets say “dying” because of an excess of beauty. Remember feeling shocked, taken out of the world, by something extremely beautiful. What might happen if the intensity of that beauty were multiplied by one million, or one billion?
The fact is that Moses received instructions to save the people of Israel, who were enslaved in Egypt. And he obeyed. And he returned with the people (saved at least politically) at the foot of that “open” mountain, at the foot of that kind of black hole with the shape of a mountain through which God entered his Creation.
But he climbed alone, because his God commanded him, maybe on the grounds that only Moses was designed to endure a direct conversation with the radical omnipotence (Exodus 19, 21):
and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish.
Shortly after Moses received the Law (the Torah). According to the Rabbinical tradition, God would have transmitted to Moses a double Torah: the written one (which would be exoterically accessible to all the people by the simple reading of the sacred scriptures) and the oral one (the secret Torah, only transmissible from master to disciple). From this oral tradition, eventually, might have emerge the Talmud, the fundamental text of Rabbinic Judaism.
We are facing what is known as “Jewish esoterism”. Some people also talk about Jewish magic.
I have entered Kabbalah thanks to my admired friend Álvaro Calle Gliugueri. I owe him a brief but luminous introduction of something that, for many years, mobilizes his generous intelligence and spacious heart.
For the moment, I am mainly interested in drawing the model of totality from which Kabbalah operates: how does that tradition see the “Total Box”, where do those wise people think they are, what is the ultimate goal of their wisdom.
I recommend reading Pico de la Mirandola: Mystical and cabalistic conclusions. And also the works of Gershom Scholem, Ben Shimon Halevi and Gerald Schroeder… This last author has made an attempt to legitimize the literal narration of Genesis with the data offered by what, according to him, is current Science. I have not yet made a study of his proposal, but I am going to offer some reflections on this attempt to merge two systems of truths (this logical-cosmic hybridism). This is the webpage of Schroeder: http://www.geraldschroeder.com. He is a surprising thinker.
A beautiful book about the Kabbalah that fell some time ago in my hands is this: Mario Satz: Árbol Vebal, Altalena, Madrid 1983. I received this book from a dear student whose name is Paloma Marugán. In this work there are phrases like this: “The writing is the footprint of the centipede of the spirit on the rock of the centuries” (p.9). And like this: “The power over language was the goal of every zoharic kabalist, this power was not translated, it should not be translated into a domain over the other, but over oneself”.
What follows are some thoughts that the logical ballerina “Kabbalah” has caused in me:
1.- Transparency. Transparencies. The model of Being (the model of totality) from which the Kabbalist seems to think and feel is constructed with transparencies. Everything that appears before human beings -included texts- would be transparent: it would be an epidermis that might be transmitting a magma of messages. Everything might be speaking through transparencies: any fact, any relation between things, would have meaning, if we are attentive enough to pierce its epidermis: its veil. Think of a simple billboard on the road. Suddenly, we read in it a sentence that contains a crucial message for our life.
2.- The New Testament. According to some Kabbalistic schools in that text God might have condensed all the Truth (in capital letters), and also all the small truths (lower case), including the laws of Physics and Politics. Thus, it would suffice to remove the logical veils that cover the New Testament to be wise, or at least as much wise as human beings can be, which I guess is not too much. Actually it must be limited: there are levels of wisdom that might incinerate our mind in the bonfire of the infinite.
3 .- If we consider the conclusions to which I am coming with the logical ballerina “Logos” [See here in Spanish], it could be said that the cabalistic wise might trespass the inner flesh of his cosmos (of his “mind” if you will, if you consider Kant) and might visualize the structure of ideas with which that cosmos has been constructed: he might see the program, the logical architecture, that sustains his world: and that architecture might be presented at any point to which his gaze would accede, at least his “intellectual” or “intellectual” gaze (which is taken by a Logos, by a “discourse of totality” if you like). Gerald Schroeder, for example, would live in a cosmos built, at least, with two systems of ideas (those that offer their sacred texts and those offered by what we call “Science”). Schroeder, when he searches, when he calculates, he will always find that hybrid cosmos. He is trying to legitimize the literal narration of Genesis in the Bible with the literal narration of some scientific hypotheses (hypotheses that are always threatened of being, within a few years, a tribal, but “real” dream).
4.- The Kabbalist would handle a kind of logical x-ray machinery that would allow him to see the structure of the cosmos that, precisely, models his look. Every look is blind because it is intracosmic; that is to say: “intra-logical”. Every look is dreamlike.
5.- Two fundamental pillars of Kabbalah are monotheism (there is an omnipotent God and creator) and “the tree of life”: a drawing that represents something like God´s process of self-estrangement and return to Itself. That symbolic tree, so essential in the Cabala, has been explained in many different ways. There are those who see in him a model of the different states of consciousness that we can access until we reach the top of our human condition. That upper limit is called Keter, the crown. Or, said the other way round, in a descending way: the tree of life of the Kabbalists shows the different levels of consciousness to which God can come down: it would mark the maximum limit of what that Being is capable of moving away from Itself .
6.- Now I would like to share here a vertigo, an extreme window of my mind: What if the sacred texts were truly sacred? What if they were living membranes, permanently watered with the omnipotent blood of the God who sets them in his Creation? I want to say: What if the text, any text, had a metaphysical dimension that escapes us? What if he who read a sacred text such as the Bible, or any other, sacred or not, were in contact with a metaphysically membranous tissue? The Kabbalist would see through it, as if it were the cell walls of his cosmos: the sacred texts would be places of entry, and of use, for what is not thinkable from here inside.
7.- The tree of life, from the perspective of the Kabbalah, might be something like the footprint that God would leave in his passage through finitude. Or, perhaps better explained: a predesigned system -a radical legality- that might allow “that” what is infinite and metamorphic to live, to live in a world: to doubt, to play, to suffer, to endure bitter shadows, to love: to be a human being.
Finally, it could be said from the Kabbalistic monotheism that the tree of life is the tree of God’s life. And that each man would be a new opportunity of life for God himself. Hence his sacredness. I mena the sacredness of human beings. And that’s why we can never lose respect to any human being.
The man, each man, in his different levels of consciousness, would be a metaphysical tree: the tree where God gets access to the full life, that imposing storm of lights and shadows.