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Updated: 2017.12.11

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

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

According to the foremost, widely-recognized, modern Jewish historian and scholar on Qabâl•âh, Gershom Scholem, the Zo•har is a work of the superstitious, medieval world of the Dark Ages, written in the last quarter of the 13th century in Castile, Spain (The Messianic Idea in Judaism, New York: Schocken, 1971, p. 39).

"Sefer ha-Zohar, a collection of Kabbalistic writing from the late 13th and early 14th became, especially since the 16th century, the central text of Kabbalah, and one of the most authoritative and venerated text of Judaism, alongside the Old Testament and the Talmud." (Dr. Boaz Huss, Senior Lecturer, Bën-Gurion Univ. of the Negev, Interpretation and Power: The Emergence of Zohar Hermeneutics in the 16th century; ).

"Since the early 14th century, the Zohar was attributed to [Rabbi Shim•on Bar-Yo•khai]. Yet, through the ages, and especially since the age of enlightenment, doubts were cast on the antiquity (as well as the literary integrity) of the Zohar, a stance accepted by Modern Kabbalah scholarship.

"Although the exact authorship of the Zoharic literature is unknown, it is evident that most of this literature was created in Castile in the late 13th and early 14th century." (Huss).

"Date of Composition Calculations of the time of redemption, which are to be found in several sections of the Zo•har, confirm the conclusions concerning the time of its composition. These calculations give an assurance, in various forms, and be means of different interpretations and conjectures, that the redemeption will commence in the year 1300… According to the Zo•har, 1,200 years had passed since the destruction of the Temple—a century for each of the tribes of Israel… The basic date is always 1268" (Zohar, Ency. Jud., 16.1208).

"The Author. … the book was published by part, not all at once, by the Spanish kabbalist Moses b. Shem Tov de Leon, who died in 1305… it is impossible to uncover any section that was written before 1270…" (EJ, 1209).

The Zo•har and Qabâl•âh were rejected by the original Ba•lad•i Tei•mân•im as well as Ramba"m and other rationalist Sages, who regarded it as a work by and for the superstitious who preferred medieval mysticism to dealing with the real (rational) world. In other words, such superstition is for those who bury their intellectual faculties in a world of their own imagination, like an Ostrich, rather than those who live Tōr•âh of the real Creator in His real world. The Zo•har differs from children's fairy tales only in complexity – and it is that very complexity that deludes and deceives the gullible, the ignorant and the superstitious.

While the Zo•har is quoted in the al-Nakawa (d. 1391, Spain) version of Mᵊnor•at ha-Mâ•or (who called the Zo•har "Mi•dᵊrâsh Të•hi Or"), the Zo•har is not cited at all in the Tei•mân•i Mᵊnor•at ha-Mâ•or by Yi•tzᵊkhâq A•bu•hâv.

By its very nature as mysticism, Qabâl•âh depends upon a messianic figure – he (and/or his "true followers") being the "only" ones who "properly and correctly" understand and can, therefore, explain the mystical world. Historically, this has led to false messiahs, the most famous being Jesus and Shabᵊt•ai Tzᵊvi (pop. "Zevi").

The Ram•ba"m

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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