Exoteric and Esoteric Judaism

Isaac Luria and Sabbatai Zevi in Russian Orthodoxy

Professor Alexander Dugin

an opposing thesis

Dear members of donmeh-INTERNET,

I am very glad to receive the first answers to my questions and I am waiting with great joy for the possible remarks from other enlightened persons.

I occupied myself with the great themes of Tradition for many years. I have written some books on the sacral geography, metaphysic of Orthodox Church, geopolitics and so on. Besides Rene Guenon I was also reading the precious books of Gershom Scholem, whom I consider to be the greatest traditionalist thinker. I am happy that I can develop some of the considerations on Qabbalah tradition that I have collected through the years.

I suppose that the main problem in correct analysis of Tradition, esoterism and so on is the individuation of two general approaches -- manifestationist and creationist. All the rest is based on this division. If we manage to identificate correctly these approaches in traditionalist doctrines we would grasp the essential.

In my book "The metaphysics of the Good Message" I have developped the thesis that correct understaning of Christian doctrine in its metaphysical level is possible only through confronting the creationist and manifestationist motives in early Church fathers writings.  Manifestationism is Hellinic (platonic), creationism is properly Judaic.  The Christian Church makes very particular superposition of both, refusing Hellenic and Judaic approaches taken separately.

Next step. In his writings Guenon affirms implicitely that manifestationist approach is related to esoterism, creationist approach to exoterism and religion as very particular western form of Tradition originated in abrahamic and semitic sources.

With all this we are dealing in study of Isaak Luria's Qabbalah, sabbataism, hassidism, masonic and occult movements.

I propose such a model. The exoteric judaism, rabbinic version is pure form of creationist approach up to extreme rationalist consequences, up to Maimonid position that could be regarded as early sign of modern world rationalist-positivist conception of reality. Creationism leads to entire desacralisation of world, because it is based on the supposition of abscence of any possibility to creature to become the God. It is the sine qua non of strict monotheism.

The early Qabbalah (Moishe de Lion and so on) is clearly manifestationist teaching that contradicts openly the very spirit of exoteric creationist judaism. That was reason to regard early Qabbalah as something alien to orthodox jewry (the closely studied by Scholem).  But up to certain moment two trends in judaism - qabbalistic and exoterist-rabbinic - coexisted without bringing  their respective position in common terminological field and confronting theme there. Creationists approach of exoterics made critic of meqabbalim basing on its own presupposition refusing understand the main thesis of Qabbalah that implicitely affired manifestationist position. Qabbalah answered by the symmetrical step, interpreting classic judaic religion subjects and sumbols in its own manifestationist spirit without individuating the main subjacent problem in specifical qabbalistic language.

Such situation ended drastically with Isaak Luria and his Safed school. Luria in his particular doctrine put the conflict of these two "operational systems" in the center of qabbalistic attention.

Zim-zum conception is the essence of creationist approach interpretated in mythological qabbalaistic manner. Conctracting of Godhead is precisely the only possibility to explain in metaphysical terms the typically creationist point of view on the origins of CREATED (not MANIFESTED!) world.

Second emanation of Azilut light that has caused "cheverit haKelim" is MANIFESTATION process that has entered in deadly conflict with zim-zum consequences, with the state of tehiru (three worlds of BYA) and reshimu.

Reshimu is essential ontological landscape of tehiru. It is not casual phenomena. Tehiru is nihil (appearing with the self-contracting of Godhead) and not the world, it can became a world only with something additional. Theese additions to tehiru are double: reshimu is creationist seal (God as Pure Transcendance), Light, the Godhaed as Immanent Transcendance (that broke the vessels) is manifestationist seal (our sparks).

Before Luria Qabbalah simply ignored the catastrophic motive of profoundly judaic understanding of creation, repeating the hellenico-platonic attitude of Philon. Now in Lurian Qabbalah the traumatic subject of the profound roots of Evil was introduced in the center of metaphysical attention.

It is very significant that Luria himself hasn't made the last discusion on the subject. Tikkun conception was added by his disciples.

The culmination in the resolving of this problem was Sabbatai Zevi. In some aspect that was repetition of early Christian metaphysical situation that gave (among other consequences) rise to gnostic conclusions.

Sabbatai Zevi (and Nathan de Gaza) has proposed the solution. Manifestationist approach was jugded good and right, the thoughtless serpents (reshimu, finally judaic orthodoxy) were considered as evil ones. Not absoluteley evil, but evil nevertheless. The attitude to orthodox judaism in sabbatainist cercles was very similar to early Christian groups to the same. Not the negation, but absorption in the highest synthesis. The fury and hate was logical answer from rabbinic orthodoxy. In both cases.

In sabbataism the metaphysical traumatic duality is very clear and it is most interesting point in all this. In later hassidism the trauma is perceived with less clarity, the hassidic Qabbalah repeated incertain evasive attitude to the orthodoxy of per-Lurian zoharic qabbalist. It is the metaphysical reason of the existing hesitation from the hassids to aknoweldge Sabbatai Zevi, Yakob Leib Frank and so on.

On the other hand sabbataist methaphysical approach is very close to some non-judaic metaphysical trends - above all Christian-Orthodox (hesychaste), gnostic, sufi-ismaeli-shiah.

With my best wishes to all members of this extremely interesing list,

Yours in sparks,


About the author: Professor Alexander Dugin is an occultist and mystic of the Guenon Traditionalist orientation. He is opposed to the Western secular materialistic society, and an advocate of the traditional values of Euroasian civilization. His web site is called Arctogaia, meaning The North Land, refering to a mythical polar continent and spiritual axis.

Web SiteArctogaia Home Page
posted on the Donmeh mail list
Wed, 20 Oct 1999

an opposing thesis

internal linkProf. Dugin On "Exoteric" vs. "Mystical" Judaism - Professor Boaz Huss

internal linkA. Dugin on Manifestationism vs. Creationalism - Professor Evgeni Torchinov

internal linkEsoteric vs. Exoteric Judaism - Professor Alexander Dugin

internal linkMore on Exoteric vs. Esoteric Judaism - Professor Alexander Dugin

Esotericism and Exotericism in Judaism main page Esoteric Exoteric

images not loading? | error messages? | broken links? | suggestions? | criticism?

contact me

page history

uploaded on 27 October 1999
upgraded to dynamic html 19 May 2000

html by M.Alan Kazlev