90.03 Partial Exception (p.59)

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90.03 Partial Exception

There is one great exception to the approach of mainstream Jewish philosophy to the “eternal origins” question. Whereas questions of eternal origins and the dynamics of creation are not addressed by classic Jewish philosophy, the kabbalists concentrated their creative energies and their mental, emotional, and perhaps mystical powers, on these very areas. Specifically, they focused on the stages of Divine emanation and the stages of creation.211 Indeed, the kabbalists knew that they ultimately had to work their way back to the dynamics of creation-in order to reconcile the existence of evil in the Middle Ages. However, the kabbalists by and large leapfrogged the field of classic philosophy into the field of mysticism and imagery. And it would seem that they attempted too much.

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211 See Encyclopaedia Judaica, s.v. “Kabbalah,” and Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, both by Gershom Scholem. The valid question remains whether the voluminous extent, depth, obscure complexity, and mystical imagery, which they explored, dissected, and pro- pounded, was not quite beyond “mortal competence,” however spiritualized the writers. This is probably one of the reasons that the fate of kabbalistic philosophy, notwithstanding its preeminence at one time, is to be relegated to the very borderline of Jewish doctrine.

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