Perhaps the most fascinating idea in Lurianic Kabbalah is that it sees "God" not as a static preexistent entity, like the God of the conventional religionists, but an entity that is itself undergoing a process of formation and evolution. From this assumption arises an occult theory of world history as aprocess of continual transformation from the original "fall" (or "Breaking of the Vessels").
Essentially, the whole process of creation, which involves and includes the cosmos and all beings in it,is nothing other than God giving birth to him/herself. The entire cosmos is an organism, an organic unity, and God is the essential being or Soul or nature of that unity. As Scholem explains:
"Luria is driven to something very much like a mythos of God giving birth to Himself; indeed, this seems...to be the focal point of (his) whole involved and frequently rather obscure and inconsistent description. The development of man through the stages of conception, pregnancy, birth and childhood, to the point where the developed personality makes full use of its intellectual and moral powers, this whole process appears as a bold symbol of the Tikkun (restitution) in which God evolves His own personality." [Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p.271]
Immediately after the "Breaking of the Vessels", the world was characterised by an excess of Severity, or Stern Judgment (Din). As the Eighteenth Century Kabbalist Moses Luzzatto explains:
"...The immature stage of Z'O is Judgment, but its prenatal stage is unmitigatingly severe Judgment actual obscurity. In the "nursing" period Judgment is modified....Maturity (is) the stage which denotes more compassion...
The first step in tempering Judgment...take(s) place in the period of gestation. At this stage Z'O was being built within the Mother [Imma], that is, his Sefirot were selected from out of the chaos of the Primordial Kings [the seven fallen Sefirot] and put together inside her..." [Rabbi Moses Luzzatto, General Principles of the Kabbalah, pp.181-182]
Each of these stages is reflected in a change in the conditions of the world. According to what can only be called the "ghettomentality" of these Jews and that includes even these learned Kabbalists all history is understood in a Judeocentric way. Thus,
"during the two thousand years of chaos, a supervision of immaturity (of Z'O) reigned. Even the Law (Torah) was missing from the world....The patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob)...began to improve conditions, but the task was only completed with the giving of the Law (Torah) on Sinai" [p.191]
The Torah or Law referred to above is the Jewish Scriptures, considered to be the direct revelation from God, a "guidebook" of the cosmos. The Christians see their Bible in the same way an infallible manual and soul source of revelation. For Jews, the turning point of human and even cosmic history was the giving by God of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai, just as for Christians the turning point of human and cosmic history was the crucifiction and resurrection of Jesus.
"The Law (Torah) that exists in the world is the result of the three Sefirot "Mercy" (Hesed), "Power" (Gevurah), and "Beauty" (Tifaret), which are revealed when the infant Z'O is nourished....
When the Temple flourished, Z'O in its mature stages was the prevailing supervision. Then signs, miracles and prophecies abounded. These are all matters which come from the brains of Father (Hokmah or Partzuf Abba) and Mother (Binah or partzuf Imma), which are present in Z'O..." [p.191]
Note that with each stage there is a progression up the level of Sefirot; Hokmah and Binah being a higher up the scale than Tifaret, Gevurah, and Hesed. But there is still the historicism, such as the linking of this period to the Temple of Solomon. Obviously, this historicism is not quite consistent, because whereas the maturing of Ze'er Anpin is a steady process, the physical condition of the Jews did not likewise improve; e.g. the Temple was destroyed.
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page historypage uploaded 12 November 1998