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Union with God in Judaism

Yakov Leib haKohain


Dear Bryan,

You wrote in response to Tom Hickey's question, "Are there any such assertions [about man achieving union with God] in mystical Judaism?":

"There are not.  The furthest Jewish mystics have been prepared to go is to declare that they have been able to behold [contemplate] the Divine Majesty seated on the Throne [korsia] in the seventh palace [hechal] of the seventh heaven . . . Any further claims would have been and would be rejected as heretical."
I need to differ with you here.  Lurianic and Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah (as well as the Kabbalah of the Baal Shem Tov and others like it) proclaim the living presence of the Nitzotzot ("Holy Sparks") not only in man, but in all other things. For example, the Baal Shem Tov writes:
"It is known that each Holy Spark [of God] that dwells in a stone or plant or living creature has a complete figure with the full number of limbs and sinews and, when it dwells in the stone or plant, it is in prison, cannot stretch out its hands and feet and cannot speak, but its head lies on its knees."
("The Baal Shem Tov's Instructions in Intercourse with God," translated by Martin Buber in Hasidism and Modern Man, Horizon Press, 1958, page 187.)

Now, since, according to these teachings, the Nitzotzot ARE God -- not facsimilies or second-rate "reproductions" of Him, but actual LIVING fragments of His shattered "Face" (and of this there is no question or debate in Lurianic, Neo-Sabbatian and Chassidic Kabbalah) then, ipso facto, man is ALREADY in a state of divine union with the Deity by virtue of being one with the Holy Spark (or "figure", as the BeShT calls it) contained within each sentient being.

Consequently, the correct answer to Tom's question is: Yes, there ARE assertions about man achieving union with God in mystical Judaism. In fact, that has been the subject of countless online lectures I have given to the Donmeh over the past year. To illustrate this point, the Baal Shem Tov states:

"He who applies himself to the Transmission [teaching] in the fervor of CLEAVING TO GOD, he makes his body the throne of the heart and the heart the throne of the spirit and the spirit the throne of the light of the indwelling glory, and he sits IN THE MIDST OF THE LIGHT and trembles and rejoices."
(ibid, page 193.)

Granted, this may have been (until now) what Tom Hickey calls a "closed door" teaching, but there is no question that it not only exists in Judaism but has always existed there in one form or another over the centuries DESPITE whatever resistence there may have been to it from mainstream Judaism.

I also need to emphasize -- and I cannot do so strongly enough -- that whatever else it may be, the fact of man's inherent unity with God -- and the requirement that man liberate God from its imprisonment in man -- is at the very heart of Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah, at least as we teach it on the Donmeh of the Internet . . . whether or not that teaching has any precident in "rabbinic" Judaism (which it does).

Aaron's Blessings,

Yakov Leib

posted on the Donmeh mail list
Mon, 25 Oct 1999


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uploaded on 27 October 1999