Wednesday, 12 March 2014

This is not a review: The Kabbalistic Mirror of Genesis: Commentary on Genesis 1-3


The back cover of "The Kabbalistic Mirror of Genesis: Commentary on Genesis 1-3" by David Chaim Smith has the following blurb:
"The Kabbalistic Mirror of Genesis is the first book of its kind. It rigorously re-examines the first three chapters of the book of Genesis from a radical non-theistic position, completely removing the concept of a creator God. Despite this 'heretical' position, the book utilizes a traditionally precise kabbalistic vocabulary and structure. Previous works that have attempted to unpack the text invariably rely on theistic dogma and mythology. Smith's book is absolutely devoid of conventional religious 'truth', and probes the ultimate mysteries using epistomological and ontological questioning from the base of gnostic realization. The Kabbalistic Mirror of Genesis was previously only available to a small group of Smith's students and close colleagues, but it is now apparent that this work is enormously important and had to be made available to a wider audience."
Firstly I would like to say that it is a brilliant book, doing a really good job of explaining some (in my opinion) difficult to traansmit concepts from Ma'aseh Bereishit (The Work of Creation).

Second of all, there is nothing heretical in this book in my opinion.

However, one thing that I am struggling to understand is why the author wanted to extract the honey from the sandwich. In other words, all of the rabbis and tzaddikim that the author quotes extensively in the book observed the commandments. And yet the author writes on pp. 116:
Religious law posits that right and wrong are a closed book; there is no creative choice when morality is frozen solid. It is up to the human beings to assert that morality does not need a set form other than kindness and awareness. It can be based on the fluid adaption to every unique circumstance, each in its peculiarities.
This to me hints that perhaps the author whilst knowledgeable of 'esoteric' Hebrew teachings, may not be as versed in 'exoteric' teachings. I use inverted comments to describe esoteric and exoteric as I believe this dualistic view of Judaism is flawed. There is no gap between and these teachings are not just known by a handful of advanced kabbalists.

Anyway, rant over. I learned a lot from the book. Including the lesson of not entering the Pardes unprepared. Which means being proficient in all levels of Pshat, Remez, Drush, and Sod.