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JSmith: Lurianic Influences on QBLH

To: alt.divination,alt.magick,alt.magick.tyagi
From: (tyaginator)
Subject: JSmith: Lurianic Influences on QBLH
Date: 27 Mar 1999 02:16:53 -0800

[from Jeffrey Smith ]

Picking up my assertions that Luria had little influence on the Qabalah 
of the Golden Dawn and Thelema, let me throw a few details to show why I 
feel that way.

First, dates:

Luria was born in 1534, and died in 1572.  This means that the first 
phase of Christian Cabala was finishing up by the time he began to teach 
(taking Reuchlin and Postel as markers of the first phase's culmination).
In 1590 the first text was published in Italy detailing at least portions 
of Luria's system; prior to this the teachings reached Europe only by 
word of mouth or in the form of individual manuscripts of varying 
quality; and it was not until about 1630, after the death of Chaim Vital, 
that the Lurianic system was published in any extensive format.   It 
would therefore require a Christian scholar to have some very good 
connections, and some sense of important developments in the Kabbalah 
going on around him, to gain any solid information on Luria's teachings, 
until the middle of the 1600s CE.  Kabbalah Denudanata was published in 
1677, and contained a good deal of Lurianic material--the first 
non_Hebrew publication of Luria in any form.  Remember that Luria lived 
in Safed, in the Holy Land, under Ottoman rule.   Eleven years prior to 
the publication of KD, the Sabbatai Zevi movement reached its scandalous 
apex; this would prompt the Jewish establishment to either reject much of 
Kabbalah as dangerous nonsense, or seal it off from the general public as 
dangerous period.  Thus after 1666, a Christian would face added barriers 
in gaining input from Jewish sources; and after the mid-1600s we see 
Christian Cabalah moving off in its own direction in a definitive way.

Second set of data:  the most original and important innovations of Luria 
are the following:  the doctrine of tzimtzum, the techniques of 
meditation of theurgy-via-religious law [given new forms and rationale 
that differ from those found in the Zohar], and the eschatological 
emphasis.  The rest of the system is essentially a systemization of the 
Zohar.  The points listed above are the ones most reliant on Jewish 
observance and ritual, and the ones most inherently based on Jewish 
theological issues that had no bearing to Christian spiritual life.  
Luria in fact became the dominant theologian of Judaism into the 20th 
century because of the influence of these ideas;  but all of them are 
almost completely absent from the material of Christian Cabalah.  What 
was taken over from Luria were concepts already found in the Zohar, and 
familiar in some fashion to Christian scholars already.
And in the context of Thelema, how do you treat a teaching which is built 
on the central idea that Restriction is the foundation of 
existence--which is the doctrine of tzimtzum phrased in six words....
Be well.

  Jeffrey Smith
  His daughter went through the River singing, but none could understand 
     what she said.
  --John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress, Second Part


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