Observations placeholder

Gershom Scholem – On the Kabbalah and its symbolism - Sefiroth



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Gershom Scholem – On the Kabbalah and its symbolism

The mythical character of Kabbalistic 'theology' is most clearly manifested in the doctrine of the ten sefiroth, the potencies and modes of action of the living God. The Kabbalistic doctrine of the dynamic unity of God, as it appears in the Spanish Kabbalists, describes a theogonic process in which God emerges from His hiddenness and ineffable being, to stand before us as the Creator.

The stages of this process can be followed in an infinite abundance of images and symbols, each relating to a particular aspect of God. But these images in which God is manifested are nothing other than the primordial images of all being. What constitutes the special mythical structure of the Kabbalistic complex of symbols is the restriction of the infinitely many aspects under which God can be known to ten fundamental categories, or whatever we may wish to call the conception underlying the notion of the sefiroth. In the Book of Creation, where the term originates, it means the ten archetypal numbers (from safar:to count), taken as the fundamental powers of all being, though in this early work each sefirah is not yet correlated with a vast number of symbols relating it to other archetypal images to form a special structure.................

…………there is no room in this world for the nihil of the theological conception. Emerging from His hiddenness, God appears in His potencies, in the trunk and branches of the theogonic and cosmogonic 'tree,' extending his energy to wider and wider spheres. Everywhere the changes are continuous. If there were a breach, a nothing, in the earliest beginning, it could only be in the very essence of God. And this is the very conclusion at which the Jewish mystics arrived, while retaining the old formula................

Examples will show that we have indeed to do with a reappearance of the myth so mercilessly liquidated by Jewish theology.

The source of the experience

Judaism and Kabbalah

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps