Responses to Dr. Tom Hickey's Post

Dr Bryan Griffith Dobbs

Dr. Tom Hickey quoting earlier correspondence wrote:

Professor Boaz Huss wrote:

Rabbinic Judaism does not reject the possibility of the creature to become God, as Prof.  Dugin asserts, but rather assumes that the human creature was created as Divine.

Here is my reply on the above remarks:

[1] Prof. Dugin is in error when he asserts that Rabbinic Judaism [I'll come back to the use of that term] rejects the possibility of the creature to become God.

[a] With the exception of the Karaite movement, which was anti-talmudic but not thereby non-rabbinic, all post-biblical Judaism has been and remains rabbinic.  Therefore "Rabbinic Judaism" is as much a tautology as is the phrase "Jewish Rabbi".  There are no other varieties and the adjective in both cases is superfluous and reveals a basic misunderstanding of the religion.

The Karaites [they called themselves "Mikraites" or what we would call "Scriptural Fundamentalists"] had their own religious teachers and created their own halacha [religious law] based on their plain reading [peshat] of the 613 commandments in the Torah.  They were not anarchic or anti-authoritarian.  They were merely convinced that the heirs to the Pharisees, the Rabbinic authors of the Mishna and Gemara [which combined constitute the Talmud] willfully interpreted the Mosaic laws in an arbitrary manner and then claimed that this was the externalization of what had been an implicit, unwritten Oral Tradition.  They did not so much deny the Oral Tradition as the rabbinic interpretation of it.

The Frankists, who rejected normative Judaism, and thus all of the oral tradition embodied in the Talmud and its commentaries and supercommentaries, were nonetheless seen as Jews by their Christian contemporaries and therefore identified themselves as "Zoharites", posing a false dichotomy between themselves and the "Talmudists" and as a transitional term on their way to conversion to Roman Catholicism. [I see this as a form of social opportunism, analogous to the conversion of other Jews to various forms of Protestantism in particular during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, pace Yakov Leib.] While it is possible to see the Frankists as derivative of European Sabbatianism, they were in no way, either in numbers or in theology, representative of kabbalistic Judaism in their period.  Since my views on Frankism differ strongly from those of the moderator of this list, I will withhold further commentary.  I do wish to add that I believe that European hermeticism and occultism from the late eighteenth-century forward, however, owes much to Frankism, particularly in the role sex magic and antinomianism played in the development of those streams of Western cultural history. That, however, is a subject appropriate to a separate thread.

     [b]  I beg to differ with Professor Huss, whose work I thoroughly admire, in his assertion that:  "Rabbinic Judaism [...] assumes that the human creature was created as Divine."

The first chapter of BERESHIT [Genesis] tells us not that the human creature was created as Divine, but rather that it was created in the image and likeness of God.  That is a significant difference.

Lurianic kabbalah and its successors to date have maintained that through the process of tikkun olam, those Divine Sparks which were trapped in the klippotic and material realms at the time of the shattering of the vessels in the abortive proto-creation will be eventually reunited with their Divine source and at that time, all of creation will be reabsorbed into the Creator.  The different kabbalistic systems posit different modalities whereby this will occur.  Non-kabbalistic Judaism does not deal with tikkun olam in this manner and is concerned with it only in the sense of social justice and social action and places its emphasis on tikkun halev, the restoration or repair of the heart [literally] or, more exactly, the soul.

No form of non-heretical Judaism admits the possibility of the human becoming Divine in this world.  It is essentially for this reason that normative Judaism rejected the claims of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth and of Sabbatai Zevi with regard not so much as to the messianic nature of the claims [although they were rejected out of hand] but to the notion that these individuals participated somehow in the Divine Unity during their lifetime on earth.  Monotheistic [more properly, henotheistic] Judaism admits of no such possibility.

As regards "unio mystica", one of the major themes in current studies of Jewish mysticism, I deal with this point briefly in my response to Professor Hickey's second of three questions, toward the end of this message.


Professor Hickey responded to Professor Huss:

"This is very interesting to me as a student of mystical traditions. In most traditions, it is fairly easy to locate quotations to the effect that the creature not only can become God but is called to become God and is indeed destined to realize the inherent God-state at the end of a chain of reincarnation. For example, Advaita Vedanta's aham brahmasmi, Hallaj's anal Haqq, are often translated as equivalent to "I am God" in the sense that the embodied individual has experientially realized the mystical significance of only One is and I am That. The same can be said in different ways forBuddhism and Taoism, as well as Sikhism and Jainism also. "

[1] Professor Hickey is interpreting Jewish mysticism [whatever he means by that] through the optic of what the Christian Scriptures have to say about Judaism.  This is thoroughly inadmissible, since these documents are fundamentally antijudaic polemic and present both false information and distortion of normative Jewish beliefs and practices as well as a self-serving account of the events surrounding the otherwise historically unrecorded life of Jesus and his immediate circle of followers.

[2] Professor Hickey writes:

"In Christianity, a number of Christian mystics have described experiences of mystical union seemingly indistinguishable from ultimate transcendence, although they have generally stopped short of specifically asserting that they were God, which would have been to overstep the doctrinal boundary.  On the other hand, there is the assertion of Jesus that "Before Abraham was, I am," and "I and the Father are one," which, if we are to believe the NT reports, the rabbis of the time considered blasphemous. "

[2a] Professor Hickey correctly points out the reluctance of Christian mystics to make the claim that "imitatio dei" was identical with "unio mystica".

The highest state these mystics sought was what is referred to in the Christian Scriptures as "rapture" and what is, quite simply, the normal state of elevation to the celestial realm of the Merkabah mystics who were the contemporaries of the putative writers of the scriptures.  Indeed, the apostle Paul [the Jewish apostate Saul] reports an ascension experience which is precisely that of the yordei haMerkavah, the "descenders to the Chariot".  [This is not the place to discuss why the ascension was regularly described as a descent by those who experienced it.]

"On the other hand, there is the assertion of Jesus that "Before Abraham was, I am," and "I and the Father are one," which, if we are to believe the NT reports, the rabbis of the time considered blasphemous. And while the putative "apostasy" is the chief charge against Sabbatai Zevi as an impostor, his claim to divinity is not received favorably either. My understanding has been that the conventional teaching of Judaism is that divine union to the degree that one can state that "I am God" is not permitted doctrinally."

[2b] Jesus's two claims cited by Professor Hickey were not only rejected by the rabbis of the time as blasphemous. They have been rejected by all Jews, rabbis included, who have remained within the faith community of Judaism for the past two thousand years.  The claim of pre-existence is inadmissible since it is not accord with the traditional beliefs that only the Torah, the Shekinah and [the Name of] the Messiah pre-existed within God prior to Creation.  The Christian apostle, John, solves that problem by declaring that the Torah or "logos" [properly, however, "nomos"] is identical to Jesus, in the celebrated gnostic opening of his gospel.  The second claim, of identity with God, the Heavenly Father, is likewise rejected not only by the contemporaries of Jesus, but also by all Jews subsequently, since the Divine Unity permits no plurality, whether it is gnostic duality or Christian trinity.

"Considering that this mystical testimony of the realization of Unity is found in virtually all other mystical traditions, it has always seemed to me that it would be quite remarkable if it were not found in mystical Judaism also. Yet, I have not yet been able to uncover it other than in Jesus and Sabbatai Zevi, both of whom conventional Judaism has rejected as false prophets, judging from what I have read.  Perhaps I am not acquainted with the relevant texts. Also, I am well aware that in many traditions there are open-door and closed door teachings, and it may be that in mystical Judaism the acknowledgment of is a closed door teaching and that some in mystical Judaism may have privately claimed experience of the "I am God" state, or simply remained silent about it. But if no one has gone public in the long history of Judaic mysticism, one wonders if perhaps this may have been due to the prevailing doctrinal climate rather an lack of experience or personal reticence concerning its expression."

[3] In response to Professor Hickey's statement " My understanding has been that the conventional teaching of Judaism is that divine union to the degree that one can state that "I am God" is not permitted doctrinally" I would state that he is correct, though his use of "conventional" is patronizing and posits a knowledge of a form of Judaism with which I am not familiar.  If, however, he means by "conventional" merely "non-heretical" or "normative" he should so state.

[4] Apart from the notions that Judaism fosters conspiratorial activities and that much of its "true doctrine" is secret and hidden behind closed doors, a belief exemplified by the Czarist antisemitic forgery, the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." let me hasten to assure Professor Hickey that everything that he might wish to know is available to him openly in Hebrew and in Aramaic [and increasingly in English].  Even though the kabbalah is called "hokhmah nistarah" which means "secret doctrine," that merely means that to understand it one must be privy to the fundamental beliefs out of which it arose and to the accompanying commentaries.  The notion that kabbalah was reserved for married men over the age of forty was always observed more in the breach than in the letter, the Ari [Rabbi Isaac Luria], Sabbatai Zevi and Nathan of Gaza being prime examples.

"In summary, I would appreciate knowing the following:" 1. What would be the position of Rabbinic Judaism with respect to such assertions as "I am God," as in aham brahmasmi, anal Haqq, and "I and the Father are one."

Quite simply, Judaism [please refrain from using Rabbinic Judaism unless you are contrasting it with some other form of Judaism, such as Karaism] rejects the claims inherent in all three statements for reasons that I have discussed above.

"2. Are there any such assertions 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.

"3. Did Sabbatai Zevi make such a mystical assertion of manifestation himself or was a divine state only attributed to him by others?" Please refer to the works of Gershom Scholem and Harris Lenowitz, where you will find that both Sabbatai Zevi and his followers [including Nathan of Gaza foremost] made such a claim.

This reply, although brief, is already quite lengthy and I am certain that Yakov Leib HaKohain will wish to append his remarks to it.

Isaac Luria and Sabbatai Zevi in Russian Orthodoxy - Professor Alexander Dugin | Union with God in Judaism - Yakov Leib haKohain | God's Seed: A Comment On Union with God in Judaism- Professor Boaz Huss

posted on the Donmeh mail list
Mon 25 Oct 1999

About the authors:

Bryan Griffith Dobbs Phd, lecturer and scholar, is Principal Consultant of The Circuit Communications Group, Sometime Professor of Jewish Studies in the Universities of Texas at Austin and Arizona, among other numerous awards, honours, and positions held, and is an Admiral in the Navy of the Republic of Texas.

external link Thomas Hickey is Director of the Circle School, spiritual counselor, Vedic astrologer, Yogacharya of the Advaitin tradition, Bishop in apostolic succession in the Communion of the Christos, and Taoist sifu.

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