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Kabbalists Write about Kabbalah

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lutzato (The Ramchal) (1707-1747)

All of man's engagements are guided by a single, intrinsic premise, and the internality dresses within all people. It is what they referred to as “Nature,” whose numeric count is the same as “Elohim” (God). And this is the truth that the Creator concealed from the philosophers.

--Ramchal, The Book of the War of Moses, Rule 15

Rabbi Eliahu—The Vilna Gaon (1138-1204)

Our rabbi, [The Vilna Gaon] engaged extensively in the study of the qualities of nature and the studies of the Earth in order to attain the wisdom of the Torah, to sanctify the name of God among the nations, and to bring the redemption closer. From his youth, he manifested wonders in all seven teachings. He also asked and commanded his disciples to study as much as possible of the seven earthly teachings, and that too was in order to raise the wisdom of Israel according to the wisdom of the Torah in the eyes of the nations, as it is written, “for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples.”

--Rabbi Hillel Shklover
in the name of The Vilna Gaon,
The Voice of the Turtle-Dove, p. 115

Concerning the study of the seven teachings, our rabbi had told us: “The Messianic revelation comes hand in hand with the revelation of the wisdom of the Torah, and appears through the disclosure of the secretes of the Torah and the opening of the seven teachings …This is what is meant in the Zohar (VaYera, 117) that in the year 1840 the gates of wisdom will open from above and the springs of wisdom from below, with the commencement of the gradual Messianic revelation.”

The Voice of the Turtle-Dove, p. 117

He would often sigh heavily and say, “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is the wisdom of Israel?’” He would often whisper to us what those who perceive our Torah do for the glory of the name of God, as the ancient sages from Israel had done. Many of them glorified the name of God through their extensive knowledge in the research of nature’s secrets from the Creator’s wonders. Many among the righteous of the nations of the world also extolled the wisdom of the sages of the Torah in Israel—the members of the Sanhedrin, the Tanaaim, the Amoraim, etc. and in later generations our rabbi the Rambam, Baal HaTosafot, and others who did much to sanctify the name of God among the nations through their study in earthly research.

The Voice of the Turtle-Dove, p. 118

Studying the seven teachings assists in the attainment of the wisdom of the Torah in its secrets, elevates the wisdom of Israel and the sanctification of God’s name in the eyes of the nations, and brings redemption nearer.

The Voice of the Turtle-Dove, p. 118

To understand and to attain the wisdom of the Torah contained in the upper light of wisdom, it is also necessary to study the seven teachings concealed in the lower world, the world of nature.

The Voice of the Turtle-Dove, p. 119

These are the seven teachings: a) the wisdom of calculus, attribute and measurement; b) the wisdom of creation and assemblage; c) the wisdom of medicine and growth; d) the wisdom of reason, grammar and law; e) the wisdom of playing music and sanctity; f) the wisdom of correction and integration; g) the wisdom of BRW (Between Rain and Wind), and the mental forces. Our rabbi thoroughly knew all these teachings.

The Voice of the Turtle-Dove, p. 120

Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook (1865-1935)

Rationality evolves only because beyond the threshold of its consciousness, the hidden does its scientific and moral work. The prevalent assumption that the hidden obscures the clear science and the accurate critique, is false. It is precisely through the hidden, with the might of its singing and the depth of its reason, that the sound foundation of science is erected, innovative and with accurate and poignant criticism. Combining these two opulences with their great wealth—the hidden and the criticism—builds the sound foundation for the upper Godly light that stands above any word and recognition.

--Rabbi Kook, Orot (Lights), p. 92

The more the immanent secrets of the Torah—whether from the perspective of science, from the perspective of emotion, or from the perspective of imagination—appear, spread, and become qualified for regular and constant study, the higher will one’s soul and the soul of the world rise.

--Rabbi Kook, Orot (Lights), p. 90

The events of time, the growth of social relations, and the expansion of sciences greatly refined the human spirit.

--Rabbi Kook, Orot Emuna (Lights of Faith), p. 67

Man's future will indeed come, in which he will evolve to such a sound spiritual state, that not only will every profession not hide another, but every science and every sentiment will reflect the entire scientific sea and the entire emotional depth, as this matter really is in the actual reality.

--Rabbi Kook, Orot Kodesh A (Holy Lights A), p. 22

There is a certain sublime virtue, by which the stronger the apparent knowledge becomes, the greater is the strength of the hidden ken.

--Rabbi Kook, Orot Kodesh A (Holy Lights A), p. 65

One should always fill one’s intellectual measure of the natural mind in all its qualities, so the content of “a healthy soul in a healthy body” will be kept in its spiritual measure too.

--Rabbi Kook, Orot Kodesh A (Holy Lights A), p. 66

Just as man should be accustomed to material nature and its forces, study its ways and actions by the same rules that govern the world, of which he is part, and which control within him as they control without, so, and even more so, he should (and must) be accustomed to the rules of the spiritual nature, which govern the whole reality, of which he is part.

--Rabbi Kook, 1985,
from the notebooks in the manuscripts,
Treasures of the Raayah (Rav Kook), 4, p. 23

The great value of the power of human desire, its degree in reality, and its cruciality is yet to appear through the secrets of the Torah. And this disclosure will be the crown of all science.

--Rabbi Kook, Orot Kodesh C (Holy Lights C), p. 66

The sciences will deal with bringing all the details from the potential to the actual, which the good and honest inclinations that govern the world aspire for, and they are all the needs of worthy material and spiritual life.

--Rabbi Kook, Orot Teshuva (Lights of Repentance), p. 50

Around the year 1923, Professor Einstein visited in the Land of Israel. A meeting was arranged between him and our rabbi, the Raayah Kook. …the Rav related to the comprehensiveness of the professor’s method and commented that it is a common sight in ancient Jewish treasures that some wondrous revelation that astounds the whole humanity is found in some hidden corner of our ancient literature, and especially the occult, whose lightnings soar to the height of conceptual world, transcending every degree of historic evolution in the world of concepts. So also occurred with the wondrous revelation that takes every thinker’s breath away with his new relative method, whose origin is already present in the occult and Kabbalah books, and in the commentaries written about them.

…and that Professor Einstein, through the power of his great mind, bridged that great sea and have found in it a path for the ideas and concepts from which paths elicit to all the sciences. Naturally, the professor listened to the words very attentively and with interest. He commented on the philosophical side of the Rav’s comment regarding the understanding of his method, which in the end stands at the technical perception of the construction of the entire world.

--2002, Rabbi Shmuel Shulman’s description
of the meeting between Rav Kook and Albert Einstein ,
Treasures of the Raayah (Rav Kook), 1, p. 87

Rabbi Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) (1884-1954)

…they have no scientific solution as to how is it possible for a spiritual object to have any kind of contact with physical atoms and to bring them to any kind of motion. …We need only the wisdom of Kabbalah in order to move a step forward here, in a scientific manner, for all the teachings of the worlds are included in the wisdom of Kabbalah.

--Baal HaSulam,
The Freedom

…the reincarnation occurs in all objects of the tangible reality, and each object, in its own way, lives an eternal life. And although our senses tell us that everything is transient, it is only how it seems. But in fact there are only incarnations here, as each item does not rest for a moment but incarnates on the wheel of transformation of the form losing nothing of its essence on its way, as physicists have shown.

--Baal HaSulam,
The Peace

…you can deduce about the wisdom of truth, which contains all the secular teachings within it, which are its seven little daughters.

--Baal HaSulam,
Introduction to the Book The Tree of Life, item 4

As one cannot sustain one’s body without some knowledge of the corporeal arrangements of nature…just so one’s soul has no viability in the next world, except by acquiring some knowledge of the arrangements of the nature of the systems of the spiritual worlds. …One reincarnates until one is granted the attainment of the wisdom of truth through and through.

--Baal HaSulam,
From My Flesh shall I See God

Science is generally divided into two parts. One is called “Material Knowledge;” the other is called “Formative Knowledge.”

…that part of the science that engages in the quality of the materials of reality in both mere substances—without their form—and in substances and their forms together, is called “Formative Knowledge.” This knowledge is founded on empiric basis, meaning on evidence and inferences taken from practical experiences, and these practical experiences are taken as its sound basis for true deductions.

The second part of the science, which engages solely in forms abstracted from substances, without any contact with the substances themselves. …Hence, any scientific learning of this kind is necessarily based only upon a theoretic basis. This means that it does not take from practical experience, but only from research in theoretic negotiation. All the lofty philosophy belongs to this kind. Therefore, many contemporary scholars have abandoned it, since they are unhappy with any negotiation built on theoretic basis. They think it is uncertain for they only consider the empiric foundation to be certain.

Observe, that the wisdom of Kabbalah too is divided into the two above-mentioned parts: the Material Knowledge and the Formative Knowledge. Yet, there great merit here over secular science. This is because here even the part of the Formative Knowledge is built entirely upon the critique of practical reason, meaning on empiric, practical basis.

--Baal HaSulam,
Matter and Form in the Wisdom of Kabbalah

The wisdom of truth, meaning the wisdom of the Godly revelation, in His ways unto the creatures, as with secular teachings, should be delivered from generation to generation, and each generation adds another link to its former. Thus the wisdom evolves and at the same time becomes adapted for broader expansion among the masses.

--Baal HaSulam,
The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Its Essence

As the appearance of animals in this world and conducts of sustenance are a wondrous wisdom, so the appearance of the Godly abundance in the world, both the existence of the degrees and their modes of operation, join to make a wondrous wisdom, far more wondrous than the science of physics. This is because the science of physics is merely knowledge of the conducts in a certain species, found in a particular world and unique to its carrier, and no other teaching is included in it.

This is not so in the wisdom of truth, since it is general ken of the general still, vegetative, animate, and speaking, present in all the worlds in all their events and conducts as they were integrated in the thought of the Creator, meaning in the purposeful carriers. Hence, all the teachings in the world, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, are wondrous contained in it. It equalizes all teachings—those far and different from one another as the east from the west. It equalizes them in an order that is the same for all, meaning until the conducts of every teaching must come by its own ways.

For example, the science of physics is arranged precisely according to the order of the worlds and the Sefirot. Similarly, the science of astronomy is arranged by the same order, and so it is with music and so on. Thus, we find that all the teachings are arranged and follow a single connection and a single ratio—they are all similar to it as the child resembles its progenitor. This is why they are contingent upon one another, meaning the wisdom of truth is contingent upon all the teachings, and all the teachings are contingent upon it. This is also why we do not find a single genuine Kabbalist without comprehensive knowledge in all the worldly teachings, as they acquire it from the wisdom of truth itself, as they are contained in it.

--Baal HaSulam,
The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Its Essence

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