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The Philosopher and the "Rav:" J.N. Findlay, Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz and the "Double Movement" in Kabbalistic Thought.

The 20th century philosopher, J.N. Findlay, in a series of little known but profound works presents a modern Neoplatonic philosophy that can help serve as a guide to a contemporary interpretation of the Kabbalah[1]. Findlay, whose Neoplatonism is enhanced by a reading of Kant and Hegel, provides a view of the deep philosophical antinomies of earthly life and experience that can shed light upon several important Kabbalistic symbols and ideas. As we shall see, many of Findlay's views are echoed by the contemporary Kabbalist, Adin Steinsaltz. Steinsaltz, who as a rather unique representative of what I would call the "New Kabbalah," makes use of the same species of reasoning that Findlay utilizes in his philosophical works. (for the author’s retrospective on J.N. Findlay see J.N. Findlay: A Personal Appreciation; For more on Adin Steinsaltz see Interview with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.)

Findlay holds a view of the Absolute that is in many ways similar to the Kabbalistic conception of the Sefirot. For Findlay, the Absolute embodies not only "the metaphysical values of simplicity, unity, self-existence and power" but also "the values...of justice, mercy, truth, beauty, etc." Like the Kabbalists he holds that "God or the religious absolute cannot fail to will these values because, in a manner which defies ordinary grammar, he not only has them, but is them."[2] Yet, like the Kabbalists Findlay also holds that the "will in the religious absolute can and must determine itself quite freely."[3]

On Findlay's view, the various values of mind, reason, intelligence and will, along with those of satisfaction, happiness, freedom, fairness, beauty, etc. "culminate in a single, unique intentional object to which devotion, worship, unconditional self-dedication are the only appropriate attitude."[4]

The Antinomies of Experience

To this point Findlay is mainly Neoplatonic, and his views scarcely depart from those contained, for example, in Plotinus' Enneads. However, like the Kabbalists, Findlay adapts his Neoplatonic perspective to a far more dynamic view of the cosmos and God. He does this through a careful phenomenological description of the paradoxes, absurdities and antinomies that are endemic to earthly life, what he refers to, in accordance with the Platonic metaphor, as life within the "cave."

According to Findlay, " an all-pervasive phenomenon in the experienced and interpreted world."[5] Findlay states that the fact that antinomies abound in human experience leads us to "find the world a queer place" and has led Plato and others to describe it as a "cave."[6] He argues that "the pervasive antinomy of the world is far too serious and too deep to count as a mere formal contradiction."[7] Findlay's world-view is quite close to that of the Lurianic Kabbalah. Gershom Scholem has a succinct phrase which summarizes the contradictory nature of the world after the Breaking of the Vessels: "Nothing remains in its proper place. Everything is somewhere else."[8]

As will become clear, the contemporary Hasidic thinker, Adin Steinsaltz, holds a view of the contradictoriness of the world that is quite similar to Findlay's. According to Steinsaltz, the world of experience is riddled with so many contradictions that only the hypothesis of a "higher world" can provide it with any genuine sense.

Findlay holds that while the world's antinomies can be specified as formal contradictions, this provides us with little insight because formal contradictions can be readily dissolved through a specification of the "senses" in which each pole of the contradiction is true and false. For Findlay, the antinomies of human experience are more akin to "discrepancies in a person's character," and it does us no good to either define or argue away an "apparent contradiction." Rather than adjust our concepts to accommodate antinimous experience, Findlay calls upon us to extend our experience to accommodate our concepts.

Findlay seeks an accommodation that will "explain rather than explain away such antinomies." The absurdities and antinomies of the world are many, and included amongst them are such classical philosophical and theological problems as the opposition between the dictates of morality and the rewards that are obviously bestowed upon the wicked, the opposition between our experience of ourselves as possessing free will and the scientific assumptions of determinism, the puzzles engendered by the observation that all we can really know is the data of our own senses and yet we feel certain of the existence of an objective, external world, and the absurdities associated with the ideas that we only have direct awareness of our own minds but also feel certain of the existence of the minds and inner experiences of others.

Findlay focuses upon several antinomies connected with space and time; he points out, for example, that these great "media" of experience appear to be the "containers" within which all events occur, but are also defined by the very events that transpire within them. A second antinomy arises from our consideration of the temporal "now," the series of which seem to constitute the march of time, but none of which can be defined apart from reference to a past and a future. There are antinomies related to the opposition between efficient causality, and teleology, and, according to Findlay, the consequent absurdities of bodies adjusting themselves to (future) happenings that never actually occur.[9]

There are antinomies that derive from a consideration of the fact that while we can appeal to the experience of others as proof of an occurrence we ourselves have observed, the very experience and testimony of the other is ultimately only apprehended through our own. Findlay also points to the paradoxical interdependence between the private and public criteria we utilize to comprehend our own and others' mental states. On the one hand we can only come to label and describe ours and others inner states through the publicly observable manifestations of them, e.g. through the behavioral expressions of anger, grief, thoughtfulness, etc. On the other hand, our understanding of such outward expressions is itself dependent upon private "inner" states, both the "inner" states that serve as fulfillment of, and thus give sense to public behavior and the inner states through which we are aware of our own observations.[10]

Findlay explores a number of paradoxes that relate to material bodies, for example, pointing out that while such bodies are thought to be completely independent of any mind cognizing them, they cannot even be conceived except as in relation to a conscious perspective upon them [11] or under the aegis of some category or idea. Findlay also holds that there is something highly paradoxical regarding our attitude towards our own bodies; on the one hand they seem essential to our mental and interpersonal life, while at the same time they seem alien to it, [12] so much so that theologians have long posited the mind or soul's independence from them.

The Immanent Solution

Findlay proffers two broad metaphysical responses to the existence of the antinomies that are endemic to experience. These are, in effect, two possible "solutions" to the Kabbalist's Breaking of the Vessels, the metaphysical event, which according to the Kabbalists has produced the antinomies of earthly life. The first, immanent solution, is to hold with such philosophers as Fichte and Hegel that the difficulties and conundrums posed by the world's antinomies are goads toward the formation of common, aims, interests and meanings, and ultimately towards the forms of artistic, scientific and philosophical representation that constitute historical, communal and cultural life.[13]

On this view our varied ways of seeing and interpreting things do not ultimately reflect an underlying fixed nature, but rather permit and encourage the emergence of the inquiry, debate, cooperation, creativity and self-consciousness of the our rational, social selves. The problems of this world are neither open to simple solution nor hopelessly enigmatic. Though they may present themselves as conundrums for millennia, they are eventually accommodated by the human spirit, and remain enigmatic only and precisely to the degree as to force the fullest development of human values, imagination, culture, science and philosophy.[14]

As Findlay puts it: "these oppositions and indifferences exist for the sake of the rational activities they render possible." [15] The untoward, the irrational, the merely personal, have the teleological role of providing the necessary incitement and raw material for the rational, common, self-conscious result, and so all phenomenal existence can be brought under the sway of values, and something like the dominion of Good taught in the Phaedo proven true.[16]

Findlay's immanentist solution has clear parallels to and implications for the Kabbalistic doctrine of Tikkun.[17] For example, we read in Moses de Leon's Ha-Nefesh ha-Hakhamah (1290): "The purpose of the soul in entering the body is to exhibit its powers and abilities in the world...And when it descends to this world it receives power and influx to guide this vile world and undergo a tikkun above and below..."[18]

Findlay's world of antinomies can readily be likened to Luria's "World of making", our actual world, in which divine sparks have mixed with shards of the broken vessels, thus yielding a distorted, conflicted world, that is desperately in need of restoration and repair. For the Kabbalists, the purpose of our highly imperfect world is precisely to provide a context for the exercise of human worship and other values toward the achievement of Tikkun ha-Olam    

. For the Kabbalists, the world is perfected through the exercise of human free will in choosing good over evil, in proper worship of God, and through a deep understanding of reality as described by Kabbalistic theosophy. According to Moses Chayyim Luzatto:

The partnership that exists between Israel and the Creator is described as follows: The Creator devised the darkness inherent in man as a means for maintaining the evil which is to be transmuted into good. Because of this man must effect many emendations in this darkness.[19]

Man's service is the result of his own choice. It is this factor of choice which brings greater advantage to creation, resulting in its perfection and completion. Consequently, Man is partner to the Creator in maintaining and perfecting His world.[20]

This Kabbalistic conception is clearly articulated by the contemporary Kabbalist, Adin Steinsaltz. In an interview with the author Steinsaltz relates:

There is a quotation from the Kabbalistic work of Rabbi Chaim Vital, Sefer Ets Hayyim, that our world is one that in its majority is a world of evil. Evil is the ruler of the world and there is very little good in it.

...When you speak about the world from this point of view, it is, so to speak, a tour de force, an experiment in existence, an experiment in what I might call "conquering the utmost case." So in a way, existence in any other world is not "proof." "Proof" in the "utmost case" occurs only when you can do things under the worst of circumstances. L'havdil. If I want to test a new car, the way that I test it is not on the smoothest of roads, under the best conditions. To have a real test to prove that a car really works, I have to put it under...the worst conditions in which there is yet hope. I cannot test it by driving off a cliff, but I can test it on the roughest terrain where I must come to the edge of a cliff and have to stop...The same with Creation. Creation would have been pointless unless it was Creation under precisely these difficult circumstances. So I am saying, theologically speaking, that the worst possible world in which there is yet hope is the only world in which creation makes sense.[21]

Steinsaltz, who is himself a follower of Chabad Chasidism, is here clearly influenced by the Chabad doctrine that all things are revealed through their opposite, and specifically that divinity is revealed through evil and its transformation into good. As put by Rabbi Aharon Halevi Horowits of Staroselye:

It is known that all the descents are for the purpose of ascent. For His main intention, blessed be He, is to have his Blessed divinity be revealed precisely through inversion, in darkness, and in concealment. This is also in order to coerce the sitra achra [the realm of evil] and transform darkness into light...and it is precisely in the revelation of evil that His blessed will be revealed.[22]

The Transcendent Solution

Findlay, however, proposes a second solution, a transcendental one, to the presence of antinomies, conflicts, absurdities and contradictions in this world. This second solution is necessitated because the first solution "remains a difficult unstable way of viewing things which like some strange effort at stereoscopy, is ready at any moment to switch back again to the deeply unsatisfying, but more stable ways of viewing things out of which it arose."[23] Part of our dissatisfaction with the immanentist solution is that it places human life and endeavour at the center of the universe and relegates to insignificance much of the vast cosmos of stars and galaxies.

Findlay now suggests that behind the antinimous manifestations of our "cave" there is another world, or series of worlds that both explain our current condition, and when properly understood, provide a metaphysical solution to our philosophical and moral dilemmas. He asks us to consider the possibility that "the solution of this world's absurdities lies in another dimension and another life altogether."[24] This dimension or life is actually a "higher world", or better put an upper half to our own world, "and the two halves only make fully rounded sense when seen in their mutual relevance and interconnection."[25] At another place Findlay hints at the possibility of a number of "higher worlds": Where scientific tensions only lead us to postulate new types of particle or modifications of fundamental scientific formulae, philosophical tensions lead us to complete our world with a whole new type or set of types of worlds.[26]

Findlay's transcendent model bases itself on an analogy with earthly geometry, with our "world" occupying a region of maximum differentiation close to the "equator" and God or the absolute occupying a region of maximal convergence at the poles. As we pass our equatorial zone and advance toward the "higher latitudes" there is a

steady vanishing of the harsh definiteness and distinctness of individuals, and a steady blurring or coming into coincidence of the divisions amongst kinds and categories, until in the end one approaches and perhaps at last reaches a paradoxical unitary point of convergence, where the objects of religion may be thought to have their habitat.[27]

According to Findlay, the progress towards higher worlds or latitudes involves a steady diminution of individuality, corporeality and temporality, and the objects in these worlds will be governed by associations of meaning as opposed to causality.[28] Individuality will begin to vanish, as things become more and more indistinguishable from their species and genera, resulting in a realm of values that exist generically apart from any instantiation.[29] As individuality diminishes, the obstacles that it and materiality place between communicating minds will vanish as well, as will the communicative gulfs that exist between persons in our own realm.[30] The attenuated matter of the upper realms, rather than being an obstacle to consciousness and reason, will simply serve as a context for communication and a vehicle for the expression of thought and will.[31] Simple location will vanish, and all things will be "predominantly somewhere, but more distantly present everywhere else."[32] Temporality will be altered, and prophecy made possible, as alternative futures are displayed, teaching us what will almost certainly happen or will happen unless we take counter-measures,[33] etc. Finally:

At the mystical pole of our whole geography we may place an object of infinite and no longer puzzling perfection, which we need no longer conceive as a mere supreme instance of incompatible values, but as the living principle of all those values themselves.[34]

Thus, at the apex of all the worlds, Findlay places what Plotinus described as "The Good" and what the Kabbalists understood as the Infinite, Ein-sof. Adin Steinsaltz describes the gradual descent from higher to lower worlds in much the same manner as Findlay:

The highest of the four worlds, the World of a mode of existence characterized by absolute clarity, no concealment, and no separate beings. There is no individuation, and no "screens" or filters separate God from that which is not God. In fact, the World of Emanation is not a world in the sense that the other three are: in a certain sense it is the Godhead itself.[35]

As one descends in the system of worlds, there is more and more matter. Another way of stating this is that the beings of the lower worlds have a greater awareness of their independent, progressively separate selves, of their private "I," This consciousness of self obscures the divine light, and dims the true, unchanging "I" that exists within each individual being...[36]

According to Steinsaltz the higher worlds do not manifest "space as we know it, but a framework of existence within which all forms and beings are related." Further "Time, too, is manifest in a totally different fashion in the higher world...the system of time becomes increasingly abstract...It becomes no more than the essence of change or the potentiality of change."[37]

A Rational Mysticism

One might think that Findlay would follow Plotinus in an appeal to a supra-rational mystical vision to justify his assertions regarding the upper worlds. However, he holds his philosophy to be rationally derived, as following logically from the antinomies and conundrums of our earthly existence. His mysticism is a rational mysticism. According to Findlay, the world as we experience it is broken, disjoint, absurd and incomprehensible, and only begins to make sense when we posit a higher realm as its complement and completion. The various puzzles and antinomies of our world find a solution and vanish in the higher realms. Findlay argues that the kind of world that would resolve our philosophical dilemmas is very similar to the higher world, the "There" described in Plotinus' Fifth Ennaed. It is also similar to the higher "Worlds" described in the Kabbalah.

The world described by Plotinus resolves our earthly antinomies because it is a unified, purely spiritual and conceptual world that exists outside of space and time. It is a world governed by thought, rather than material necessity, and in contrast to our own contingent, chaotic realm it is ordered by connections of reasons and significance. It is a world in which acts of thought and volition are neither mediated, hampered nor contained by space and time, and hence are unconstrained by material causation. As Plotinus emphasizes it is a completely translucent realm in which "every being is lucid to every other," and where the objects of thought are known clearly and immediately. In such a world the philosophical problems of the nature of time, space and eternity, of the relationship between the mind and matter, and knowledge of "other minds" are completely resolved, or, better, do not even arise. It is a world devoid of gross matter, and as such a world in which to know a concept is to know its instance, and vice versa. Finally, it is a world in which there are no material rewards for one's thoughts and deeds, and hence a world where thoughts and deeds are their own reward.

Much the same, of course, can be said of the "higher worlds" of the Kabbalah, and moreover, regarding the Lurianic system as a whole. The Kabbalistic symbols of Tzimtzum, Sefirot, Shevirat ha-Kelim , Tikkun ha-Olam, etc. which the Kabbalists utilized to resolve their own theological problems[38] are relevant to the philosophical conundrums of our own age.

To begin with, the Tzimtzum, and to even a greater extent, the Breaking of the Vessels, results in a confused and chaotic condition in which the primordial values and ideas (the Sefirot) become entangled in a realm of "matter." As a result of these events, our deepest spiritual values, e.g. morality, freedom, teleology, knowledge, communication, etc. have become highly problematic and even appear to be contradicted by experience. Morality has no hegemony in a world of random, natural disaster and material power; teleology (the progression of events towards a rational goal) is upstaged by material causality; freedom too is contradicted by the processes of material causation; knowledge is questionable because a gulf exists between matter and mind; and communication is barred because others' minds are "enclosed" in bodies that render their inner life opaque to our own. From a Kabbalistic perspective we might say that each of our philosophical notions (morality, teleology, freedom, knowledge, communication, etc.) have shattered and become enmeshed in a material realm, which renders them contradictory and opaque. Only through an act of birur, extraction, can these values be restored and understood in the light of a higher conceptual and spiritual realm.

Steinsaltz's Kabbalah

Again Adin Steinsaltz provides a contemporary Kabbalistic parallel to Findlay's trnscendental solution to the antinomies of worldly experience. Steinsaltz analogizes the problem of higher worlds to a problem in two-dimensional geometry that can only be solved by positing a point in a third dimension. He holds that with respect to the problems of our world we are looking for a solution in four dimensions (the three dimensions of space and the fourth of time) when what is needed is a solution in "five." According to Steinsaltz without getting to the fifth dimension, you cannot solve any problem in this world.

Now when I speak about problems of the world I am talking about all the basic questions, not just the theological and philosophical ones such as "What is the purpose of things?" "Why are we here?" or "What is the justification of things we undergo and experience?" But I am speaking of other more mundane questions as well. I don't believe, for example...that you can really resolve problems regarding economic justice or social equity from within any given "earthly" frame...This is because the world contains enough contradictions, enough destructive elements, so as to eliminate any possibility of a solution. The only way you can solve these questions is through movement to a higher dimension or world.[39]

As an example, Steinsaltz argues that "you cannot have an egalitarian society in which justice prevails unless you have a belief in something higher." The reason for this is that a democracy in which all individuals are equally valued and where each is provided with one equal vote, cannot be justified on any empirical or rational view that all men are equal. This is because, from an empirical point of view the equality of man is "obviously untrue."

People are not equal from any point of view. Therefore to create a society based on the notion that the vote of a wise and learned man has the same value as the vote of somebody who is unlearned and doesn't know what he is talking about, you must posit that they have equal souls. This is also true with respect to the rights of man as well. Why should a person who is the highest intellectual be regarded as equal to somebody who is ignorant or who is a criminal with respect, for example, to the right to be saved by a given medical procedure? So you see, this principle, this belief that people have souls and that souls are of inestimable, equal value, is the source of every social structure we hold dear.[40]

Further Dialectics In Kabbalistic and Hasidic Thought

Findlay and Steinsaltz each propose two solutions to the surds and antinomies of our world, the first an immanent solution and the second transcendental. According to the immanent solution, our world is perplexing, absurd and contradictory in order to bring out the highest aspirations and accomplishments of humankind--in Kabbalistic terms, in order to actualize the Sefirot, or value archetypes in man. According to the second, transcendental solution, the world's antinomies point to their own resolution in a higher, spiritual realm.

We might observe, however, that each of these solutions, the immanent and the transcendent are themselves poles of yet another philosophical antinomy; on the one hand the contradictions in this world appear to have no explanation other than the solutions we create for them in our earthly endeavors (the Immanentist solution), while on the other hand they must have a cause and a resolution in something real that transcends human experience and endeavoour (theTranscendent solution).

Findlay, at least in his lectures on the cave, has a decided preference for the latter, transcendental solution. The Kabbalah, on the other hand, sees them each as poles of yet another coincidentia oppositorum, and is inclined to accept both of them as valid and true. (See S. Drob: The Coincidence of Opposites in Jewish Mysticism).

On the one hand the broken state of affairs, the antinomies, injustices in own world, represented in the symbols of the Kellipot and the Sitra Achra, are only resolved, emended and restored through the moral and spiritual efforts of mankind in forging Tikkun ha-Olam. On the other hand, man is able to transcend the perplexities of this life, and glimpse ha-Olam haba, the "World to Come" through devekut, "cleaving" to the upper Sefirot and the worship of God. Unlike the Gnostics who saw this world as a thoroughly evil one from which the divine spark in man's soul must escape, the Kabbalistic program is at once a transcendence and emendation or repair of ha-Olam hazeh, the world of the here and now.

This double movement of transcendence and immanence is most clearly evident amongst the later inheritors of the Kabbalistic tradition, the Hasidim. As stated by Schneur Zalman:

There are two aspects to the service of the Lord. One is love in tongues of flame...and [the heart] seeks to leave its sheath of bodily material...The second is the aspect of fervor...of the drawing down of the divinity from above.[41]

According to Schneur Zalman, the first divine service, what we have spoken of as the "transcendent" solution, involves a "quietist" effort to leave the body and seek union with the one above, while the second divine service, our "immanent solution," involves an "activist" effort to bring divinity into the daily activities of life.

Rivka Schatz Rivka Schatz-Uffenheimer has pointed to the tension and ultimate balance between activism and quietism within Hasidic thought. The activist tendency is rooted in the Lurianic concept of Tikkun ha-Olam and involves engagement in the corporeal world, precisely in order to "redeem the external world by its spiritualization."[42] The quietist tendency, which is rooted in the ecstatic Kabbalah, seeks a union with the divine through a negation of this world and an annihilation of the self. According to Schatz Uffenheimer, the quietist "elevates his own will to the Divine 'nothing,' to the world of reconciliation of opposites in which 'he and his opposite are one.'"[43]

Both activist and quietist tendencies are evident in the writings of the foremost theorist of Hasidism, Dov Baer (The Maggid) of Mezhirech. According to the Maggid the broken nature of the World of Action is a necessary even deliberate divine act, in order to provide an impetus to human activity:

It was therefore necessary that there should be a shevirah (Breaking of the Vessels), for by this means forgetfulness occurs in the Root, and each one can lift up his hand to perform an act...and they thereby elevate the sparks of the World of Action...[44]

Yet the Maggid also holds that the happenings of this world are nothing in comparison to the treasures of the world to come. Accordingly human beings "must abandon themselves and forget their troubles, so that they may come to the world of thought where everything is equal."[45]

It is not much of a step to hold that part of the dialectical equalization that occurs within the godhead, is a reconciliation of activist and quietist modes of theory and worship on earth. Through a "quietist" renunciation of personal desire, one becomes better equipped for the active task of "raising the sparks" and spiritualizing one's worldly encounters. Conversely through such active "spiritualization" one is brought into close contact with the holy Sefirot which constitute the world of thought on high.

While the relative prevalence of transcendent and immanent solutions to the world's broken state waxed and waned in the history of Jewish mysticism, the general tenor of the Kabbalah and Hasidism was to accept both, and to hold that in repairing this world one could transcend it, and in transcending this world one could restore it. It is the very acts prompted by the world's antinomies that both constitute the activist "immanent solution," and provide humanity with an intuition of the value archetypes or Sefirot, which comprise the higher worlds (the transcendent solution). Indeed, the Kabbalists held that in performing Tikkun ha-Olam, the individual could not only make emendations in this world, but in all the worlds on high as well. Those who suggest that there is a choice between the immanent and transcendent solutions to the problems of the world's absurdities and contradictions, have failed to be sufficiently dialectical in their theology.

There is a further dialectic that is present in the symbols of the Lurianic Kabbalah. According to the Lurianists, just as the higher worlds resolve the contradictions and absurdities that exist in our own world, our world was actually created to resolve the antinomies of heaven and God. The reason for this is that it is only in a material world of chaos, toil, and trouble that the values, which are mere abstractions in the heavens, can become fully real. The vessels must break, spirit must become enmeshed in matter, if the Sefirot (and God Himself) are to become what they truly are. As put by Vital:

If the worlds had not been created, along with all that is in them, the true manifestation of His blessed, eternal existence-past, present, and future-could not have been seen, for He would not have been called by the Name, HVYH.[46]

The Kabbalah, like Plotinus and the philosophers of the east, posits a transcendence of this material world as a means for relieving the puzzles, contradictions and sufferings of our own. The Kabbalah however, implies a transcendence in the other direction as well. In creating the material world, Ein-sof, as it were, transcends and thereby completes itself, by actualizing and fulfilling the values that lie at its core. It is in this sense that Zohar can assert that humankind creates and completes God.[47] Our world is the answer to the problems of the heavens just as the heavens are a solution to the antinomies on earth. On earth we have imperfect, chaotic and obscured actions that seek pure values to give them meaning. In heaven God has pure, abstract values, that must be instantiated in a chaotic, dangerous realm to make them real. As Findlay puts it:

The other world is, in fact, not so much another world as another half of one world, which two halves only make full rounded sense when seen in their mutual relevance and interconnection.[48]

The dual trends in which man yearns to transcend finitude and God seeks to become actual and real, constitute Ein-sof, in the fullest sense of this term. It is only as a result of the differentiation, deconstruction and later restoration and reunification of these two complementary realities (God and man) that the purpose of creation is ultimately realized and fulfilled.

[1] J. N. Findlay, Values and Intentions (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1961); J. N. Findlay, The Discipline of the Cave (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1966); J. N. Findlay, The Transcendence of the Cave (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1966); J. N. Findlay, Ascent to the Absolute. (London: George Allen & Unwin 1970).

[2] Findlay, The Transcendence of the Cave, p. 112.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid., p. 98.

[5] Ibid., p. 20.

[6] Ibid., p. 21.

[7] Ibid., p. 21.

[8]Gershom Scholem, "Kabbalah and Myth." In Scholem, On The Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, Ralph Manheim, trans. (New York: Schocken, 1965), pp. 87-117, p. 112.

[9]Ibid., p. 27.

[10] Findlay, The Discipline of the Cave, p. 204.

[11] Ibid., p. 261.

[12] Ibid., p. 206.

[13] Findlay, The Transcendence of the Cave, pp. 31, 100ff .

[14] ibid., p. 34.

[15] Ibid., p. 101.

[16] Ibid., p. 76.

[17] This perspective, which Findlay refers to as the "German theology" will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 5, Hegel and the Kabbalah.

[18] Quoted in Scholem, Kabbalah, p. 159.

[19] Luzzatto, General Principles of the Kabbalah, p. 249.

[20] Ibid., p. 247.

[21] Drob, "The Mystic as Philosopher; An Interview With Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz," p. 14.

[22] Aharon Halevi Horowitz of Staroselye (Shklove 182), as quoted in Elior, The Paradoxical Ascent to God, pp. 206-7,

[23] Findlay, The Transcendence of the Cave, p. 103.

[24] Ibid., p. 105.

[25] Ibid., p. 121.

[26] Ibid., p. 122.

[27] Ibid., p. 123-4.

[28] Ibid., p. 127.

[29] Ibid., p. 137.

[30] Ibid., p. 134-5.

[31] Ibid., p. 128.

[32] Ibid., p. 129.

[33] Ibid., p. 131.

[34] Ibid., p. 137.

[35] Adin Steinsaltz. Worlds, Angels and Men. In his The Strife of the Spirit (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1988), p. 50.

[36] Ibid., p. 49.

[37] Ibid.,. p. 44.

[38] For example, the problems engendered by the doctrine of creation ex nihilo and the difficulty of conceiving of creation at all by an omnipresent and (already) perfect deity.

[39] Drob, "The Mystic As Philosopher," p. 14,

[40] ibid., p. 17.

[41] Schneur Zalman, Torah Or, p. 49., Translated and quoted in Elior, The Paradoxical Ascent to God, p. 134.

[42] Rivka Schatz Uffenheimer, Hasidism as Mysticism, p. 121.

[43] Ibid., p. 69.

[44] Dov Baer of Mezhirech, Maggid Devarev le-Ya'aqov, par. 73, pp. 126-7. Quoted in Schatz Uffenheimer, Hasidism as Mysticism, p. 121.

[45] Dov Baer of Mezhirech, Maggid Devarev le-Ya'aqov, par. 110, p. 186. Quoted in Schatz Uffenheimer, Hasidism as mysticism, pp. 81-2.

[46] Sefer Etz Chayyim 1:1; Menzi and Padeh, The Tree of Life, p. 4. The term HVYH represents a reaarangement of the letters in God's holiest name, the tetragrammaton, and has the meaning "existence." Vital implies that God's existence is dependent upon creation.

[47] Zohar III, 113a. Sperling and Simon, The Zohar, Vol. 5, p. 153; cf. Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives, p. 187.

[48] Findlay, The Transcendence of the Cave, p. 121.

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


Sanford L. Drob holds doctorates in Philosophy and Clinical Psychology. He is the author of Symbols of the Kabbalah: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives, and Kabbalistic Metaphors: Jewish Mystical Themes in Ancient and Modern Thought (both published by Jason Aronson, 1999). He is currently completing a book on Carl Jung, Jewish Mysticism, and Anti-Semitism, working on studies on Kabbalah and Psychotherapy and the Kabbalah and Postmodern thought, and developing a Kabbalistic "Tree of Life," "axiology" or "firmament of values" (progress on which appears periodically on this website). Dr. Drob served as head psychologist on the Bellevue Forensic Psychiatry Service from 1984-2003 and was for many years the Director of Psychological Testing at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. He is currently on the clinical faculty of New York University Medical School, continues on as a Supervising Psychologist at Bellevue Hospital and maintains an active practice as a psychologist and psychotherapist in Brooklyn and Manhattan. He can be reached by email at or by phone at 718-783-1769.

Dr. Drob is available for psychotherapy consultations In New York City. Call: 718-782-1769.

Click here for Dr. Drob's CV in clinical and forensic psychology.

Click here for a description of Brownstone Brooklyn Psychological Services, for which Dr. Drob and his wife, Dr. Liliana Rusansky Drob are co-directors.


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