Nietzsche and the Kabbalah

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7/20/01, From: avi

On Nietzsche and the Kabbalah

I appreciate your efforts very much, and I agree with the value of the questions you raise. Have you read Nietzsche? If so, how do you view his philosophy through the kabbalistic lens? Following is a quote from Nietzsche's Zarathustra which may especially deserve commentary: "Unconcerned, mocking, violent: Thus wisdom wants us. She is a woman and always loves only a warrior."

Author’s Response

Dear Avi:

Thanks for writing. I think there is much in Nietzsche that can help us in the formulationof a New Kabbalah. First off, Nietzsche is really the founder of the anti-foundationalist, deconstructive point of view, a point of view that traditional religion must first pass through prior to becoming relevant to contemporary thought. Nietzsche in effect plays the role in western philosophy that the "Breaking of the Vessels" plays in kabbalistic theosophy; he is a total tearing asunder of all that seemed certain and an opportunity to start anew. On the other hand, Nietzsche, like the Kabbalists, understood the complete interrelationship between all ideas and all things: "In the actual world, in which everything is bound to and conditioned by everything else, to condemn and to think away anything means to condemn and think away everything." (The Will to Power. p.316). So Nietzsche provides us with an opportunity to be both non-dogmatic, non-foundational, multi-perspectival and at the same time comprehensive and, in a way, systematic. His comment here is actually very good description of Ein-sof.

After Nietzsche we can hardly view theosophy as anything other than a poetic vision of the universe, i.e. a product of the imagination--yet it is just such productive imagination that on my view provides us with the Kabbalistic key to mystical truth. For Nietzsche, myth as much as science, is an avenue to truth. Also, Nietzsche is the hermeneutic philosopher par excellence: for him all philosophy is a commentary on an unknown text, and this fits in very well with the Kabbalistic conception of truth being a commentary on a hidden, ideal Torah.

Finally, Nietzsche respected the infinite play of possibility, and indeed regarded this play as the one conception of God that might make some sense, an idea that I believe is very close to the multi-perspectivism and infinite play that I take to be present in Jewish mysticism.

As for your quote, I need to give it some more thought, but it certainly tells us that "wisdom" is not merely a cognitive enterprise but requires an engagement with one's entire soul.

Please feel free to dialogue on this and other topics further. Sanford


Further Thoughts on Nietzsche and the Kabbalah 4/29/02

Several people have inquired about Nietzsche and the Kabbalah, enough to make me consider the topic more seriously than I had done in the past. As you might gather I have a very strong interest in Jung, and I hope to tackle Jung's seminar on Zarathustra in the coming year. This may be another clue to my grasping the subject of Nietzsche and the Kabbalah. As for Heidegger, I have always thought that his notion of Dasein is a key to a contemporary understanding of Primordial Man (Adam Kadmon), as each overcomes the distinctions between man, the world and being as such. What are your thoughts on this, and have you read anything else that moves between Kabbalah and contemporary philosophy?

Sanford Drob


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

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All material on New Kabbalah website (c) Sanford L. Drob, 2001-4.


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