Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Tri-unity in Kabbalah

A fascinating phenomena within esoteric Judaism, called Kabbalah, are the repeating themes of threes found within their mysticism. I will list these themes and then comment on the first tri-unity in comparison with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. But let me say right off that I'm not convinced that the early Kabbalists believed in, or were somehow crypto-Christians. It was Christians who utilized what they found in Kabbalah as similar to their own faith with which they either evangelized the Jews, or began the Christian Kabbalah movements.

The tri-unities within Kabbalah are:

1. Ain, Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur;
2. Keter, Chokmah, Binah;
3. Keter, Tifferet, Malkuth;
4. Pillar of mercy, pillar of severity, and the pillar of balance;
5. Mother letters Aleph, Mem, and Shin;
6. Chesed, Gebura, Tifferet;
7. Netzach, Hod, Yesod
(and there may be more for future discussion)

Commentary on the Ain, Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur:
These three Kabbalistic terms transliterate as Nothing, Infinite nothing, and Infinite Light. These are called the 3 veils of negative existence, (or the 13 veils if you count the Hebrew letters used in the 3 terms). They represent the levels of God before manifestation. This relates to the Essence of God "prior" to Him Birthing forth the Son, or Speaking forth the Logos. Though we know this Holy emanation occurs eternally. Thus the 3 veils of negative existence refer to the Non-manifest deity as yet being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, albeit "occultisized", hidden, unknown. This is Agnostos Theos spoken of in Acts 17.23.
1) Ain
Is the negative "Nothingness" that is the only way to describe the divine Essence as all affirmations are not possible. This is non-manifest deity in its most Hidden transcendent state. This is comparable to the Father insofar as the Father gives birth to the Son, or speaks forth the Logos, which He does for an eternity (Ps 2.7; Heb 13.8). In other words, like the Father as the Source. Yet it is not like the Father in that as the divine Essence beyond all activity, it is the Perfect Emptiness. As the Kabbalists explain it, it is the vacuum of pure spirit.
As God in His Inmost Essence is Pure Being, and the Absolute Self, He is non-delimited Being. To define Him is to restrict Him. This is not possible in that Ain-nothing is beyond all definition, or delimitation.
He is the Absolute Self, as Ain permutes in Hebrew to Ani- I. Thus the Essence of God is beyond all objectification.
2) Ain Soph is conceived of as the deity between transcendence to the revealed God called Yahweh. This is the non-manifest veil of nothingness, where there is a kind of contraction as in the Kabbalah of Isaac Luria (a.k.a. the Ari). This contraction the Ari called tsimtsum. Which is conceived that God in His infinite vastness contracted down to a single point of Light, to make room, as it were, for the Cosmos.
This contraction is a perfect correlation to the Son of God, as Scripture states of Him, But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men- Phil 2.7. The Greek word used for ...made himself of no reputation is kenosis which means to make empty, to empty, or to make void. This is most often applied to the Self-emptying of the Logos when He incarnated as a man (Jn 1.1, 14).
Yet applying the Scripture speaking to the eternity of the Son, the same yesterday, today, and forever.- Heb 13.8b, we know that there is a primordial kenosis of the Logos from eternity to eternity. How is this so? In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.- Gen 1.1. The Beginning is the Self-Revelation of deity as Father and Son (Jn 1.1-2). The Hebrew bereshit
is this word. The second word to follow in the Genesis text in Hebrew is bara, which is to create, but also to "cut out", to carve out. Thus meaning a negation. Creation is actually an act of negation. Thus when all things were seen pre-existently in the Logos, as with Him are all things (Jn 1.1-2; Mt 19.26), He emptied Himself- kenosis, as an act of denying nothingness from God. For the pre-existent things in them selves do not exist. And this is impossible with God, For with God shall nothing be impossible.- Lk 1.37. Because God is pure non-delimited Being, nothingness is an impossibility with Him. The things with Him in the Logos, as entities, are glories, and revelations of the Son. But as foreknown entities, non-existent in themselves there nothingness is an impossibility with God, hence they are negated from Him, which is a conceptual, if not actual kenosis. This kenotic dynamic within the God head is Ain Soph.
3) Ain Soph Aur
is the final veil of negative existence. This is the Infinite Light which is the point of Light (the point in the middle of the circle) at the final moment of the infinite contraction. This is that point of Light just prior to the first positive, or affirmative emanation of deity called Keter-crown. Ain Soph Aur is that final veil of non-manifest deity just prior to the phrase, Let there be light- Gen 1:3a.
The 10 Sephirot emanate from Ain Soph Aur- the limitless light, from Keter to Malkuth. The 10 Sephirot have been compared to YHWH- Yahweh, the Holy Tetragramaton. As Christians we see theologically that Yahweh is identical to the Godhead in His Oneness of Essence, and His Threeness of Persons. But we can see that as the 10 Sephirot are the modes in which not only does God bring about the Cosmos, but also how He relates to creation. So too, the name YHWH did not appear in Scripture until it was in relation to the Cosmos, These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD [YHWH] God made the earth and the heavens- Gen 2:4. Thus this Holy Name is associated with the cosmos as the 10 Sephirot are said to be.
It is in this sense that the Holy Spirit can be represented by Ain Soph Aur. Why? Because as the Breath sent forth from the Father and the Son, He carries with Him not only all the cosmos, but all the glories of the Glory Jesus Christ, all logoi of the Logos.
Scripture states, Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.-Ps 104.30. He goes forth as an out breath of the Father and the Son. Yet this is still as a veil of negative existence. Earlier we saw that creation (distinct from the formative and making aspects of existentiation- Is 43.7) is a negation. Hence when each entity is denied as other than God, they are thus individuated. But this too is prior to affirmative existence. All that need be said now is, Let there be light- Gen 1.3a., which begins the 10 m'amerot- commands of existentiation that result in our coming into being in the Cosmos.
Scripture also says, He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine and shall show it unto you.- Jn 16.14-15; and, But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.- 2Cor 3.18.
Thus we see that the three negative existences of deity as elucidated within the esoteric tradition of Judaism, Kabbalah, are comparable to the Godhead in His emanations and manifestations from a negative, or non-manifest aspect. We may say that deity prior to being manifest toward the Cosmos as He truly is being YHWH, there were yet inward movements of unknowableness within the very Godhead Himself. These things are truly inscrutable from our weak human attempts at explaination. Yet as Paul the apostle preached, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.- Acts 17.23b.


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