Kabbalah and Martin Heidegger

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2/10/03 Kabbalah and Heidegger’s Dasein

Dear Dr. Drob:

Why did the values that emerged from the Ein Sof correspond to justice, wisdom, etc.?

Why not injustice and ignorance?

Basically, why did good manifest as divinity rather than evil?

I see no sufficient reason as to why, but also no need for one outside of man.

The reason I state this is because of your notion of Faith, as the starting point for these values in the human consciousness. That the human must act as the foundation. Do you see any similarities between this and Heidegger's notion of Care as the Being of Dasein. That significance for the world comes from Dasein {SD the being manifest through human reality].



Dear Mark:

Your point is a good one. Given the Kabbalist's view that there is an integral connection between God and Man, that the two are mutually interdependent, creating and completing one another, it stands to reason that the ground for the basic Sefirotic values can be found in the heart, faith and commitment of man as much as it can by looking "towards the heavens" in the direction of a transcendent God.

"Just as the Supernal Wisdom is a starting point of the whole, so is the lower world also a manifestation of Wisdom, and a starting point of the whole." (Zohar 1:153a)

In a way you might say (following Azriel) that the place where the human and supernal points of view meet and coincide is the arena of "faith," or of "Care" in Heidegger's terms, the commitment to the totality or at laest some aspect of the cosmic enterprise "with all one's soul and all one's might." Recall that the first manifestation of the Tzimtzum is Adam kadmon, the Primordial Man, which implies that human desire, values and commitments lie at the core of, and are at the very manifestation "being" itself--and this, I think is quite close to the Heideggerean notion Dasein.

By the way, the kabbalists did hold that prior to the emergence of our world, there were myriads of other worlds based on different Sefirot formulae that were created and instantly self-destructed. It is, on their view, the only world that could survive is one with the specific balance of sefirotic values, e.g. Kindness and Judgment, that is contained in our world! It is only in such a world (as Adin Steinsaltz says: "the worst possible world where there is yet hope" that human action can have a meaning. So we are again back to human action and desire.

We haven't exhausted the subject, but this is certainly a start.

Thanks for sharing this with me.

Sanford Drob

The Lurianic Kabbalah is treated in detail in Sanford Drob's Symbols of the Kabbalah and Kabbalistic Metaphors .

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