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Qaballistic Magick

To: alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,talk.religion.misc,alt.thelema,alt.occult,alt.magick.tyagi
From: (R. Brzustowicz)
Subject: Re: Qaballistic Magick (LONG Rvw)
Date: 29 Jan 1999 18:08:00 GMT

In article <>,
catherine yronwode   wrote:
>Why do you characterise him as "grumpy about goys getting in on the
>act"? He states a scholarly opinion, namely that so-called Christian
>cabala was an attempt to appropriate Jewish mysticism for religious
>propagandistic purposes that must be understood in light of
>then-contemporary political-religious events, particularly the mass
>murders, tortures, explusions, and forced "conversions" of the Jews in 
>certain reas within Europe between the late 1200s and the early 1700s.
>Kabbalah was, quite literally a prize in the ongoing war against Judaism
>being waged in Europe at that time. If these facts are unknown to you,
>it is possible that to you Scholem may seem "grumpy," but i suggest that
>you simply don't understand the historical context and that maybe your
>opinion of Scholem would cahnge if you were to read up on Jewish history
>in the diaspora.  

If you are not only reporting one strand of Scholem's remarks, but are
actually committed to this as a personal take on the situation, I wouldn't
want to try to change your mind.  However, if you are speaking from
an interest in the scholarship of these questions, I would recommend 
to you the work of Moshe Idel.  You might be particularly interested
in his articles in the second and third volumes of the journal _Kabbalah_

   Unif. Title:  [Kabbalah (Culver City, Calif.)].
   Title:        Kabbalah : journal for the study of Jewish mystical texts.
   Pub. Info.:   Culver City, Calif. : Cherub Press, c1996-.
   Notes:        Chiefly English and Hebrew; some Italian.
   LC Subject:   Mysticism -- Judaism -- Periodicals.
              Cabala -- Periodicals.

which is undoubtedly held by various UC libraries, and may be available
to you via interlibrary loan.  You  might be especially entertained by
his article in vol II, which in addition to containing an extensive
dsicussion of the cultural-historical context of Kabbalah, contains
a defense against a charge or "orientalism" which was directed at him
(Idel), Scholem and other scjolars interested in Kabbalah (in particular
Yehuda Liebes, whose work is also worth reading if you ared interested
in the interaction between Kabbalah and other traditions).
>Of course Scholem is not interested in so-called Christian cabala or
>so-called Hermetic qabalah. Why should he be? why should ANYBODY be? If
>you are interested in a system of mysticism -- whether it is Jewish,
>Hindu, Islamic, Taoist, or Congolese -- why on earth would you take some
>tiny extract of of this mystical system produced by its opponents during
>a period of *intense* murderous political and religious hostility
>directed against those whose system it is and consider that a defining
>version of it? 

From the very beginning, if the work of scholars like Idel, Wirszubski, et
al, is to be taken seriously, the development of Kabbalah involved a complex
of motives, some of which were eirenical and some of which were defensive.
This led not only to both eirenical and defensive adaptations from
other traditions and communities, but attempts to reach out to those
communities in various ways.  (Certain aspects of the Sabbatian and
Frankist movements can be understood in this light.)

Scholem was a great scholar, but he is not the only scholar of Kabbalah, and
the field of Kabbalah scholarship has become more extensive since he wrote.

I should add, by the way, that I'm not taking sides in this whole "EQ"
matter, which doesn't particularly interest me.  The question of the
cultural history of Kabbalah, however, does interest me.

R Brzustowicz 

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