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Kelippot in Jewish Qabala

To: alt.magick
From: (BhP)
Subject: Re: Kelippot in Jewish Qabala (was Re: Beg. Enoch)
Date: 10 Apr 2002 09:33:03 -0700

"Casey Sheldon"  wrote 
> > Kaplan and Scholem's interpretations do not correspond with eachother.
> I don't see the differences, could you provide examples?

I will work on it.  

> Meditation and Kabbalah, p. 40, an excerpt written by Chaim Vital
>     "From then on, people only made use of techniques involving the universe
> of Asiyah. Since this is the lowest of the universes, its angels have only a
> little good, and are mostly evil. Besides this, this is a level where good
> and evil are closely intertwined [and it is very difficult to separate
> them]. This does not bring any enlightenment, since it is impossible to
> perceive good alone, and one's perception is therefore a combination of good
> and evil, truth and falsehood.

What I'm really trying to get at is what various people mean by the
word "evil".  In the above, he is equating "good and evil" with "truth
and falsehood".  He is making a statement about the nature of reality
and our perception of reality.   Evil is an issue of awareness rather
than something that can be avoided.

It's like this - when we deal with the husks, we are confronted by the
absence of God.  This absence, this darkness, is what is "evil", not
the husks themselves.  (Even the husks contain a teeny tiny spark of
Light, because light and darkness cannot be fully separated.)  Maybe
you and others here don't see any difference between calling the
kelippot evil and calling the "absence of light" evil, but to me there
is a profound difference between the two that has implications that
permeate one's entire kabbalistic studies.

>     This is the significance of the Practical Kabbalah. It is forbidden to
> make use of it, since evil necessarily attaches itself to the good. One may
> actually intend to cleanse his soul, but as a result of the evil, he
> actually defiles it.
>     Even if one does gain some perception it is truth intermingled with
> falsehood. This is especially true today, since the ashes of the Red Heifer
> no longer exist. [Since one cannot purify himself,] the uncleanliness of the
> Husks attaches itself to the individual who attempts to gain enlightenment
> through the Practical Kabbalah.
>     Therefore, "he who watches his soul should keep far from them." For
> besides polluting his soul, he will also be punished in purgatory (Gehinom).
> We also have a tradition that such an individual will be punished in this
> world."
> "Uncleanliness of the Husks" seems to be equated with the evil mentioned in
> the previous paragraph.

Unclean because they are devoid of the Light of God, or unclean
because of human moralistic associations we attribute to the husks? 
I'd like to get at the abstract symbolic meaning of this
'uncleanliness', this 'evil', rather than assuming it is equivalent to
the Christian concept of 'original sin' and human fallibility, human

Please don't misunderstand - I'm not trying to water down the darkness
of the husks.  In fact I think their nature is much more terrifying
than some kind of moralistic evil...  So, consider the above
paragraph.  Essentially, he is saying that the evil will attach itself
to the practitioner regardless of the actions of the practitioner,
because evil and good, truth and falsehood, are intermingled.  It is
the nature of duality, which is part of the nature of the world of
humans.  Interpreting the passage in this way, where as we try to
'work up the tree' we also are confronted with the pull of the
kelippot because that is the nature of reality, is much different than
teaching that the kelippot must be avoided (as if we have a choice)
because they are evil and we must detach ourselves from evil at every
moment (as if that's possible).

The comment "We also have a tradition that such an individual will be
punished in this world" seems to imply that there will be punishment
from one's elders, or even punishment by an angry God, which would
conform well with the "human choice to follow evil" perspective. 
However, I believe this statement to mean that individuals who
practice kabbalah, who step on the path out of ignorance to
enlightenment and unity with the divine, are punished in this world
because we become conscious of the duality inherent in our perception
of reality, we become aware that "Even if one does gain some
perception it is truth intermingled with falsehood."  This, to me, is
the real meaning of 'original sin', that once we eat the apple from
the tree of knowledge, we become aware of duality, thus we become
faced with the pull between light and absence of light and forever
have to battle this pull with every decision we make (forget for a
moment the idea of progressing beyond duality... i'm trying to
simplify the discussion here, though we can explore that if you're

> Meditation and Kabbalah, p. 286, an excerpt written by the Baal Shem Tov
>     "When an extraneous thought comes to you, this is a sign that you are
> being cast out. But if you are wise, you can use that thought itself to bind
> yourself to God all the more. The thought consists of letters that are part
> of the Divine Presence's body, but they fell as a result of the Breaking [of
> the Vessels]. The combination of these letters therefore becomes bad,
> intermingled with the Husks.
>     This is like sweetmeats intermingled with other things. Each thing is
> good by itself, but mixed together they are vile and disgusting. This
> likewise becomes evil."
> The intermixture of the Divine Presence and the Husks is said to become
> evil.

Interesting.  He seems to be saying that this world inevitably will
become evil, meaning, we are in a downward spiral rather than a back
and forth battle.  But he also says that the simple knowledge of this
will bring you out of evil to God.  So we are not even confronted with
making choices between good and evil, we are told if we simply raise
our awareness we can bind ourselves to God.

Are you starting to see where I'm coming from?  There is a profound
difference between seeing evil as part of the nature of reality that
existed along with 'good' prior to the creation of humanity, and
seeing evil as a fault of human actions, or a fault in humanity

>     Okay, one more point I'd like to mention here, though. What about Sefer
> Yetsirah? Many have said that it, too is full of Gnostic influences, which I
> might add are not all similar to Xtianity, and yet, do we simply discard a
> useful tool of undoubtable Kabbalistic importance? 

Yeah!  I was wondering if or when someone might bring this up, because
I've been pretty generic in my previous arguments.  Gnostic influences
are not necessarily similar to Christianity, obviously they diverge
quite a bit.  The "problem" with the Gnostic influences is that their
language was the same used by Christians.  They may not mean the same
things, but they used many of the same words.  So after centuries pass
and translations into different languages are made of these
Kabbalistic documents and Gnosticism falls into the shadows while
Christian inspired mystics reinterpreted these works, the original
Gnostic meanings of words got lost and were replaced by Christian
interpretations.  Hey I'm not a linguist or historian, if anyone knows
more about this I'm happy to be wrong, this is just my guess about how
the deeper meaning of "evil" and the kelippot became degraded and
misunderstood by many hermetic kabbalists.

> SY was Abulafia's first
> training manual, so should we throw out good ole' Raziel??? 

Heh, never!

> Scholem was a
> Kabbalistic scholar of the highest order. Assert that he is a tainted source
> if you will, but I'm not buying it without some citations from other Jewish
> Mystics.

Scholem is not a "tainted source" if you are aware of his influences
and if you know that he is not "THE" authority, he is only presenting
one of many different opinions.

I'll search for the passage where Kaplan takes down Scholem a few
notches.  It's interesting.

>     Kaplan states in his commentary to the Sefer Yetsirah that on the level
> of Chokmah we must learn from evil. However, he also states that on this
> level, one loses individuality. I think this is more than the ego loss that
> many struggle to attain. This is loss of any sort of identity, and it is
> only at this level that one can see through the division between good and
> evil. He even says that this is above the Understanding which is associated
> with the Neshamah. So, good and evil don't exist, but only to people who've
> already gone the way of Enoch and Elijah. To the rest of us, evil is still
> here.

Which brings up the questions:  what do you interpret evil to be? what
about the kelippot?  Do you think these are things that we have the
ability to avoid or detach from?   What is the moral nature of the

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