Messianism in the Christian Kabbalah of Johann Kemper

  • E. R. Wolfson
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 173)


A number of scholars have duly noted the complex and fascinating spiritual odyssey of Moses ben Aaron Kohen of Cracow who became Johann Kemper of Uppsala.1 The story of Kemper’s conversion to Christianity from Judaism in the latter part of the seventeenth century would have been interesting enough, but what adds to this intrigue is the fact that all of his compositions, which were written in Hebrew in the early decades of the eighteenth century, demonstrate beyond any doubt that he possessed complete mastery over traditional Jewish learning of both an exoteric and an esoteric nature. Indeed, the primary goal of Kemper’s treatises was to establish the truths of Christianity on the basis of Jewish sources, including most importantly the classical work of medieval Jewish esotericism, the Zohar, to show that the messianic faith of the Christians was in fact the truly ancient Kabbalah of Judaism. The polemical aspiration of Kemper is stated clearly in his compositions. Thus, on the title page to Kemper’s first work, his Hebrew translation and commentary to the Gospel of Matthew, which he called Me’irat Einayim, his literary intent is well communicated:

Evangelium Matthæi, Jesus Christi Filii Dei Apostoli, Ex Syriaca in Sanctam Hebraeam linguam terse, polite & luculenter versum, non vero ut pridem in hanc translatum habetur. Porro, ut ex collatione Novae & Veteris Legis, Mosis nimirum Prophetarum & Hagiographorum, de earundem similitudine & harmonia constaret; fini ejus brevis commentarius adjectus est, titulo מאירת עינים Illuminatio Oculorum, quo validis, ab ipsis Talmudicis Doctoribus, aliisque religionis Judaicæ Explanatoribus & Mystis petitis argumentis.2


Christian Faith Central Pillar Messianic Figure Jewish Ritual Hebrew Translation 
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  1. 1.
    H.J. Schoeps, “Rabbi Johan Kemper im Uppsala,” Särtryck ur KyrkohistoriskArsskrift (1945), 146–177; idem, Barocke Juden, Christen, Judenchristen (Bern and Munich: Francke Verlag, 1965), 60–67, translated into English by G.F. Dole, “Philosemitism `in the Seventeenth Century,” Studia Swedenborgiana 7 (1990), 10–17; R. Elior, Galya’ Raza’ (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1981), 19 n. 9; G. Scholem, Studies and Texts Concerning the History of Sabbateanism and Its Metamorphoses [Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1982), 94 n. 72; Y. Liebes, On Sabbateanism and Its Kabbalah: Collected Essays [Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1995), 172 and 222; idem, “A Profile of R. Naphtali Katz of Frankfort and His Attitude Towards Shabbateanism,” [Hebrew] Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 13 (1996), 301–302; D. Abrams, “The Boundaries of Divine Ontology: The Inclusion and Exclusion of Metatron in the Godhead,” Harvard Theological Review 87 (1994), 318. On the probable relationship of Kemper and Swedenborg, see M.K. Schuchard, “Emanuel Swedenborg: Deciphering the Codes of a Celestial and Terrestrial Intelligencer,” in Rending the Veil: Concealment and Secrecy in the History of Religions, ed. E.R. Wolfson (New York and London: Seven Bridges Press, 1999), 181–182.Google Scholar
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    At the bottom of the first (unnumbered page) of Maqqel Ya’aqov, Ms Uppsala Heb. 24, there is an explanation of why the composition has two names in what appears to be the signature of the author himself: “I, Moses Kohen of Cracow who is now Johann Kemper, and [the treatise] is called Matteh Mosheh on account of my past name, and [it is called] Maqqel Ya’aqov on account of my present name, for I struggled with and against the Jewish people, and I prevailed.” The explanation for the second name, Maqqel Ya`agov, is an obvious allusion to the account of the change of Jacob’s name to Israel in Gen. 32:28. Kemper reviews the explanation of the name of this treatise in the introduction to Leget he-’Ani, fol. 149a: “I made a start with my first composition, which is called Maqqel Ya’aqov, as a memorial to my name, which is Johann Kemper, for the name ya’aqov also instructs about this.”Google Scholar
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    In addition to the work of Wirszubski cited above, n. 12, see H. Greive, “La Kabbale chrétienne de Jean Pic de la Mirandole,” in Kabbalistes Chrétiens, ed. A. Faivre and F. Tristan (Paris: Albin Michel, 1979), 159–179; K. Reichert, “Pico della Mirandola and the Beginnings of Christian Kabbala,” in Mysticism,Magic and Kabbalah in Ashkenazi Judaism, ed. K.E. Grözinger and J. Dan (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1995), 195–207; and Beitchman, Alchemy of the Word, 65–207.Google Scholar
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    See J.L. Blau, The Christian Interpretation of the Cabala in the Renaissance (New York: Kennikat Press, 1965), 41 64; J. Dan, “The Kabbalah of Johannes Reuchlin and Its Historical Significance,” in The Christian Kabbalah, 55–95.Google Scholar
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    See M.L. Kuntz, Guillaume Postel: Prophet of the Restitution of All Things: His Life and Thought (The Hague, 1981), 130–133; McGinn, “Cabalists and Christians,” 25. In the preface to the second translation of the Zohar, Postel declares his aim as showing that Christ is the “purpose of the law,” finis enim Legis est (cited by McGinn, op. cit., 24).Google Scholar
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    McGinn, “Cabalists and Christians,” 16, cites the observation of Idel from an hithertofore unpublished paper, “Jewish Kabbalah in a Christian Garb: Some Phenomenological Remarks,” to the effect that the “basic change that the theosophical Kabbalah underwent in the Christian presentation is the obliteration of the theurgical nature of this mystical lore.” As I argue in this study, Kemper represents an interesting exception inasmuch as he preserved the theurgical dimension of theosophical Kabbalah in particular and demonstrated a sustained interested in the role of ritual praxis more generally in a manner that exceeds the approach that one would expect of a Christian seeking to illustrate the foundational theological truths of Christianity, to wit, the incarnation and the Trinity. The claim made by Idel seems reasonable enough, but it must be pointed out that the theurgical aspect of theosophic Kabbalah would have at least resonated with the exalted role accorded human nature in Renaissance Hermeticism, another major source of influence on Christian kabbalists. See A.P. Coudert, Leibniz and the Kabbalah (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1995), 106–111. Traditional kabbalistic theurgy is not, however, universalistic in nature, and the particular role accorded to Israel in this cosmic drama through fulfillment of halakhic ritual is what is missing in Christian Kabbalah.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    In this study, I will speak of the zoharic anthology as a unified literary corpus, reflecting the hermeneutical assumption of Kemper. I am obviously aware of the current trend in zoharic scholarship to be more attentive to the complex interweaving of diverse textual strands, but in terms of the task of reconstructing Kemper’s thought this scholarly debate it is irrelevant.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    While I have no reason to assume that after his conversion Kemper continued to practice the rituals of Judaism, it is reasonable to presume on the basis of his writings, as I will argue in more detail below, that he maintained that faithfulness to the laws of Judaism could be seen as an expression of the messianic belief in Jesus. With respect to this claim there is a natural affinity between Kemper’s spiritual comportment and the orientation of Jesus as well as the early Jewish—Christian sects in contrast to the view of Christianity proffered by Paul and his followers. For a highly readable summary of this issue, see D. Flusser, Jesus (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1997), 56–80.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    This is not to suggest that Kemper did not take a harsh stand against the beliefs and practices of the Jews of his time, and especially for rejecting the messianic calling of Jesus. A particularly poignant expression of his animus is found in the stories he recounts in Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 123b-124b, regarding the opposition on the part of Jews in Poland and in Czechoslovakia toward those who wanted to pronounce their faith in Jesus. In the incident that Kemper reports from Prague, a man apparently even killed his own son because the latter wanted to accept the belief of the Christians. As Kemper notes, it is against this background that it is necessary to understand the Seder ha-Tefillah u-Mesirat Modaâ; the declaration of faith in the God of Israel to be uttered close to one’s death so that the person is not tempted by Satan to convert to Christianity. The manifesto is included in Nathan Neta Hannover’s Sha`arei Siyyon from which it is cited by Kemper, Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 121a-122b. Kemper also cites a passage from the Midrash ha-Ne’elam section of the Zohar (1:98a; see note 24 with respect to the issue of which edition of Zohar Kemper used) to illustrate that within the kabbalistic tradition there is justification for the view that the moment of the demise of the physical body is a propitious time to declare the basic tenet of Christian faith, for only by proclaiming belief in Jesus can one drive Satan away to the “pasture of pigs and to the depth of the sea” (Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 124b). Another rather strident remark against the Jews occurs in Avodat ha-Qodesh, MS Uppsala Heb. 26, fols. 138b-139a. Kemper refers to the Jews in derogatory terms as `lacking knowledge and understanding“ since they believe that every Sabbath the wicked go out from Gehenna until the end of Sabbath when they return. Kemper offers a Christological reading of this zoharic idea, viz., the Sabbath in which the wicked rest is Jesus who eliminates their suffering permanently.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    In Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 186b, Kemper explains that the seventy cows sacrificed in the course of the festival of Tabernacles correspond to the seventy nations (Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 55b), “for the essence of the coming of Jesus was to redeem Israel, and to perform miracles and wonders for them. By means of this event all of the other nations were also redeemed, and especially when the Jews degraded and rejected him.” Kemper thus emphasizes the Judaic component as the primary factor of the messianic task of Jesus. See ibid., fol. 196b, where Kemper responds to the ethnocentric position of a particular zoharic passage in the following terms: “For the essence of the coming of the Tree of Life into his garden was for the sake of Israel… that is, to perform miracles and wonders, but with respect to the aspect of redemption and the reception of the Gospel all are equal.”Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    See E. Mazet, “Freemasonry and Esotericism,” in Modern Esoteric Spirituality, 248–276; A. Versluis, “Christian Theosophic Literature of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” in Gnosis and Hermeticism From Antiquity to Modern Times, ed. R. van den Broek and W.J. Hanegraaff (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), 217–236, esp. 228–229.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Zohar 1:13a. Kemper utilized the Lublin edition of the Zohar, but for the sake of convenience I have cited the relevant zoharic passages according to the more standard pagination, which follows the Mantua edition.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 12b—I4a.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    For discussion of this motif, see E.R. Wolfson, “Circumcision and the Divine Name: A Study in the Transmission of Esoteric Doctrine,” Jewish Quarterly Review 78 (1987), 77–1 12.Google Scholar
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    See E.R. Wolfson, `Anthropomorphic Imagery and Letter Symbolism in the Zohar, [Hebrew] Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 8 (1989), 147–181.Google Scholar
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    See Wolfson, “Circumcision and the Divine Name,” 96–106.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Rom. 2:28–29. The typical Christian approach to circumcision, which may be traced to Paul, is affirmed in Maqqel Ya’aqov, fol. 117b: “Immediately, when the Messiah came and he was circumcised, the sign of the covenant of circumcision ceased. Know that the word milah is numerically equal to ’elohim, for milah equals 85, and élohim is 86, but if you combine [the addition of one derived from] the word [to the sum of milah] they are identical.” See, by contrast, Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fol. 10b, wherein Kemper (based on Zohar 2:60b) describes the kabbalistic account of circumcision as providing the means by which one cleaves to Jesus, who is symbolized by the letter waw. Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Maqqel Yaâgov, fols. 50a-51b, 59b-60b.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 18a.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ibid., fols. 116a—b.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ibid., fol. 150a: “The Messiah is the Shekhinah,which is called the sign of the covenant Cot berit)” And ibid., fol. 225b: “It is known that the one who is the holy mystery is the Messiah, for he is the concealed point of Ein-Sof… and he is the sign of the covenant spoken of with respect to the rainbow.”Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Maqqel Ya`agov, fol. 82b.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    The radical division between Israel and the other nations along the axiological line of holy versus demonic is precisely the consequence of the zoharic view, as we see, for instance, in Zohar 3:91a—b: “From the eighth day Israel cleave to him, to his name, and they are inscribed in his name, and they are his, as it says, `And who is like your people Israel, one nation on this earth’ (2 Sam. 7:23). The nations do not cleave to him, and they do not walk in his laws, and the holy marking is removed from them to the point that they cleave to the other side that is not holy.” In spite of the unequivocal ethnocentrism of the zoharic perspective, Kemper maintains that the Christological expansion of boundaries is the hidden intent of the Jewish ritual when perceived through the lens of the theosophic symbolism.Google Scholar
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    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 14a. On the identification of Jacob and Elijah as the Son of God, see ibid., fol. 186b.Google Scholar
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    Maqqel Yaâgov, fols. 73b-75b. See Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 105a: “Therefore, Jesus established in prayer, `Hallow be your name,’ for he is in his name and his name is in him.” The connection between Jesus and the divine name is an ancient Jewish-Christian mythologoumenon, as we find attested, for example, in Johannine and Gnostic Christologies. See J.E. Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism (Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1985), 96–112; idem, “In the Beginning Was the Name: Onomanology as the Key to Johannine Christology,” in The Image of the Invisible God: Essays on the Influence of Jewish Mysticism on Early Christology (Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1995), 109–133.Google Scholar
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    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 201a-b.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Zohar 2:60b.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fols. 10b-1 la. On the nexus of the waw, the Son of God, and the sign of the covenant, see Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 186b.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Avodat ha-Qodesh, fol. 141b. On the link between Adam and Jesus, see below, n. 117.Google Scholar
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    See Avodat ha-Qodesh, fols. 135b-136b.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Rom. 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:3–6. Needless to say, the topic of Paul’s attitude towards and personal observance of the law are highly complex issues that have been discussed by a host of scholars. Here I refer only to a sampling of relevant sources that offer a range of different perspectives. See H.J. Schoeps, Paul: The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History, trans. H. Knight (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961), 168–218; W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970), 69–74, 224–226; idem, Jewish and Pauline Studies (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), 91–122; E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977), 474–515; P.J. Tomson, Paul and the Jewish Law: Halakha in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990); J. Murphy-O’Connor, OP, Paul: A Critical Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 152–157, 206–207.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Num. 15:38.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Isa. 61:10.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
  48. 48.
    Lev. 19:19.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Matt. 6:24; Lk. 16:13; The Gospel of Thomas, trans. R. Valantasis (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), 47:2, 123–124.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 18a.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Ibid, fol. 18b.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    In the introduction to Beriah ha-Tikhon, Kemper states explicitly that his intent is to silence the Jews from speaking out against those who believe in Jesus because it is a “tradition, an ancient teaching, and a heritage from our sacred forefathers, the masters of the kabbalah and halakhah.”Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Matt. 5:17–20. Consider the more ambiguous reworking of this passage in Lk. 16:16–17.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Mark 12:28–34; Matt. 22:36–40; Lk. 10:25–28.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Deut. 6:5.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Lev. 19:18.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 212a-b.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Zohar 1:241b.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 233b. On the nexus of the salt of sacrifices and Jesus, see ibid, fols. 217a-b.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Maqqel Ya’agov, fol. 186.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    On the older Jewish-Christian identification of Jesus as Sabbath, see Wolfson, Along the Path, 80–82, and references to primary and secondary sources given in the accompanying notes.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Kemper adopts the standard theosophic symbol of the kabbalists that identifies the sixth of the emanations, Tif’eret,as the central pillar, which is also depicted as the son that emerges together with his twin sister (Malkhut) from the union of the father (Hokhmah) and mother (Binah). For Kemper, of course, the Christological implication involves the identification of the central pillar as Jesus. However, he offers an interesting viewpoint whereby the first and the last of the ten emanations, Keter and Malkhut, are contained within the central pillar, an idea that is linked exegetically to the verse “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no god but me” (Isa. 44:6). See Beriah ha-Tikhon,fols. 200a-b.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 117b: “The sign of circumcision and the Sabbath instruct about him, and the eight days of circumcision instruct about the [letter] het of Hokhmah, and similarly the eight days of the sacrifice… and from these signs a crown is made for the head of a saddiq.” On the sacrificial nature of Jesus, see the remarks of Kemper to Matt. 26:15 in Me’irat Einayim, fol. 184a.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 118b. Interestingly, Kemper misquoted the tradition reported in the name of Simeon ben Yohai to the effect that if Israel were to keep two consecutive Sabbaths, then the redemption would come immediately. Perhaps he had in mind an independent tradition reported in the same talmudic context in the name of Ray that if Israel were to keep one Sabbath, no foreign nation would have dominion over them. The important point is that from Kemper’s perspective the talmudic dictum indicates that correct observance of the Sabbath on the part of the collectivity of Israel occasions the coming of the Messiah who is the Lord of Sabbath (see following note for references). This designation of Jesus indicates the aspect of the nomian tradition that transgresses its own boundary as ceremonial law, a phenomenon that I refer to as “hypernomianism.” In Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 112b, Kemper combines the New Testament designation of Jesus as the “Lord of Sabbath” with the rabbinic depiction of the world-to-come as the “day that is entirely Sabbath” (see below, n. 68) in order to support the Christian practice to celebrate Sabbath on the first day of the week as opposed to the Jewish custom of the seventh day. In Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fols. 27a—b, Kemper utilizes the description of Jesus as the “Lord of Sabbath” to interpret the halakhic ruling (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 61a, 132a; `Bruvin 95b, 96a; Menahot 36b) that it is not necessary to wear phylacteries on the Sabbath. See ibid., fol. 35b: “Thus you see who is the Lord of Sabbath, that is, the king to whom peace and the world-to-come belong, that is, the eternal Sabbath and the eternal rest.” And in Avodat ha-Qodesh, fol. 138b: “It says [Zohar 3:94b] that Sabbath is the joy of everything, this refers to the one about whom the Sabbath instructs… that is, concerning the one who is the Lord of Sabbath, and he is the joy of the righteous in the future to come, and he is the Father’s unique Son… and the day of the wedding is the day that he acquired for himself the Matrona, that is, our holy community of believers, and this is the day he rose from the dead, for then he is wed to those who believe in him.”Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Based on the reference to Jesus in the synoptic gospels as xûptos tia aaßß&rou. See Mk. 2:28; Matt. 12:8; Lk. 6:5.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    See Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 27a—b: “Concerning Aaron it says [Zohar 1:261a] that he holds on to the sixth gradation, that is, of the ten sefirot, that is, Tif’eret, which is the splendor of the entire world (tif’eret kol ha-clam). As [it says] in the New Testament, he who wants to be glorified should be glorified in Jesus, and he is called the sixth day, that is, `the sixth’ (hashishi), with the definite article (he’ ha-yediâh)… and this definite article instructs about the man who is known above (’adam ha-yadu`a le-ma`alah)… and this is the secret of the double bread (lehem mishneh) on the sixth day, for he is the second gradation, and subservient to his Father. Thus the double bread alludes to the two attributes, human and divine.” Kemper proffers a Christological interpretation of the rabbinic custom to have two loaves on bread at the Sabbath table (Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 39b, Shabbat 117b), which is anchored exegetically in the biblical verse (Exod. 16:22).Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    I am not certain to whom Kemper refers when he speaks of the “masters of tradition” (baalei qabbalah) who identify Jesus as the sixth day in preparation of the Sabbath, which is eternal life, but it is of interest to recall that Abraham Abulafia identified Jesus as the sixth day in polemical contrast to the Jewish messiah who corresponds to Sabbath. See M. Idel, Studies in the Ecstatic Kabbalah (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 51–52.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 97a.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 116a-117a.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    His polemical treatise written to his children, the Liber Visorum Divinorum, was published in Paris, 1554. Regarding this figure, see R. Bonfil, “Who Was the Apostate Ludovico Carreto?,” [Hebrew] in Exile and Diaspora: Studies in the History of the Jewish People Presented to Professor Haim Beinart on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, ed. A. Mirsky, A. Grossman, and Y. Kaplan (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1988), 437–442; idem,Jewish Life in Renaissance Italy, trans. A. Oldcorn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 118.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 20b. See ibid., fol. 217b, wherein Kemper interprets the claim in Zohar 1:216a regarding the efficacy of protecting the sign of the covenant of circumcision as the means of conjunction of the righteous male to the Shekhinah as follows: “Accordingly it says, `And all of your people are righteous’ (Isa. 60:21), that is, those who are with him and who believe in this Messiah, and they are Israel (yisra’el), the just ones (yesharim) who believe in the just God (él yashar), and therefore `they will inherit the land.’ It says [in the zoharic text], What is the reason? For they are circumcised, that is, they were then implanted in the righteous one, foundation of the world.”Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    See Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fol. 68a: “In every place that you find the Zohar explaining one of the holy names with reference to one of the patriarchs, you must understand that the patriarchs believed in him, and especially the name `Israel,’ which instructs about the just God (él yashar), a reversal of the letters of yisra’el.” In Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 104b, the expressions yisra’el and ’el yashar are applied to the Holy Spirit. See also Maqqel Ya’agov, fol. 111b. On the identification of the Church, the community of Israel, and the Shekhinah, see ibid., fol. 15b.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Zohar 1:260a.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    See P. Borgen, Bread From Heaven: An Exegetical Study of the Concept of Manna in the Gospel of John and the Writings of Philo (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981), 114, 147–192; The Gospel According to John I—XII, transl. with introduction and commentary by R.E. Brown (Garden City: Doubleday, 1986), cxxii-cxxv.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 22b.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Mk. 14:22; Matt. 26:26; Lk. 22:19. See also 1 Cor. 11:23–25.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Jn. 6:48–58; see the study of Borgen cited in n. 74.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Deut. 16:3.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Maqqel Ya’agov, fol. 26b.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    The identification of Jesus as the Torah underlies Kemper’s remark in Maqqel Yaâgov, fol. 97a, “When he ascended and sat to the right of his Father, he was his delight every day, and he was one with his Father.” The appropriation of this motif of God taking pleasure with Jesus, which is based on the Christological reading of Prov. 8:30, is predicated on the presumed identity of Jesus as divine wisdom. See Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 202b.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 22b-23a.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    See, for instance, Zohar 3:96a—b, 97b (Piqqudin); The Book of the Pomegranate: Moses de Leon’s Sefer ha-Rimmon, ed. E.R. Wolfson (Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1988), 138–139.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 21b; Nedarim 38a.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Zohar 2:123a, 132a, 155b; 3:253b.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Zohar 1:2a, 154a; 2:85a; 3:290a, 290b-291a; G. Scholem, On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, trans. J. Neugroschel, ed. and revised J. Chipman (New York: Schocken, 1991), 174–176; I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar: An Anthology of Texts, trans. D. Goldstein (Oxford: Littman Library, 1989), 293, 295; E.R. Wolfson, Circle in the Square: Studies in the Use of Gender in Kabbalistic Symbolism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), 98–106. The last of the sefirotic emanations, Shekhinah, is also designated in some zoharic passages by maternal images, such as the “holy mother,” ’imma’ qadisha’, in Zohar 2:125a.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    On the nexus of Jesus, the symbol of the mother, and the Torah, see Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 232a. In Maqqel Yaâgov, fols. 70a—b, Kemper applies the symbol of the interrogative pronoun “who,” which is associated in the theosophic symbolism of the Zohar with Binah, to Jesus. Kemper decodes the Hebrew word for this pronoun mi (>YD) as an abbreviation for mashiah yeshu (WP n>v)o), the “messiah Jesus” Underlying the association of Binah and Jesus is the standard identification of this divine gradation as the Jubilee, the fiftieth year corresponding to the fifty gates of understanding. On the depiction of Jesus as the Jubilee, see Qarsei haMishkan, fol. 9a.Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    For recent discussion of the impact of the soteriological function of Binah on the messianic pretense of Sabbatai Zevi, see M. Idel, “Saturn and Sabbatai Tzevi: A New Approach to Sabbateanism,” in Toward the Millennium: Messianic Expectations From the Bible to Waco, ed. P. Schäfer and M.R. Cohen (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998), 181–199, and idem, Messianic Mystics (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998), 187–197.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Zohar 3:290b; R. Moses de Leon’s Sefer Sheqel ha-Qodesh,ed. C. Mopsik [Hebrew] (Los Angeles: Cherub Press, 1996), 26. As Mopsik notes, ad locum, the source for this zoharic wordplay is Sefer ha-Bahir. Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    Zohar 1:21b, 261a—b; 2:43b, 46a, 83b, 85b; Book of the Pomegranate, 133–134, 137; J.H.A. Wijnhoven, `Sefer ha-Mishkal: Text and Study,“ (Ph.D. diss., Brandeis University, 1964), 102103; Joseph Gikatilla, Shdarei ‘Orah ed. J. Ben-Shlomo, 2 vols. (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1981), 1:111, 2:48–49, 68–69.Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Sheqel ha-Qodesh, 25.Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    See, for instance, Zohar 2:85b, wherein the various symbolic images coalesce: “It has been taught that Israel went out from Egypt from the side of the Jubilee, and thus the exodus from Egypt is mentioned fifty times in the Torah, and it took fifty days for them to receive the Torah, and the liberation of slaves occurs after fifty years.”Google Scholar
  92. 92.
    Zohar 2:46b. For Kemper, the “great ram’s horn,” shofar gadol, which is mentioned in an eschatological context in Isa. 27:13, refers to the evangelical teachings of comfort (see below, n. 124) that come forth from the mouth of Jesus. See Maqqel Ya`agov, fol. 68b; Beriah haTikhon, fol. 214b. Kemper thus offers a symbolic explanation of the ritual to blow the shofar on Rosh ha-Shanah. Kemper accepts the rabbinic notion that the shofar is reminiscent of the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, which he connects (following a much older typological approach in Christian sources) with the crucifixion of Jesus. However, on this very basis, he is critical of the Jews for fulfilling the ritual in a concrete, literal manner. Somewhat cynically Kemper remarks that instead of the Jews confusing Satan by blowing the shofar, Satan confuses them, for their ritual observance leads to a neglect of Jesus. See Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 223b-224a.Google Scholar
  93. 93.
    See Wolfson, Circle in the Square, 102–103; idem, “Tiqqun ha-Shekhinah: Redemption and the Overcoming of Gender Dimorphism in the Messianic Kabbalah of Moses Hayyim Luzzatto,” History of Religions 36 (1997), 317–320. The influence of the kabbalistic terminology is evident in Kemper’s designation of the eschatological redemption as the “universal repentance,” ha-teshuvah kolelet. See Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 20la, 203b, 204a, 220b.Google Scholar
  94. 94.
    See Maqqel Ya’agov, fol. 46b, where the Trinity is described in the following way: Hokhmah is the Father, Binah is the Son (based on decoding the word as ben yah,the son of yod-he; the letters that stand respectively for Hokhmah and Binah), and the Holy Spirit is the vapor that comes out from their combination and overflows to the prophets. The zoharic idea of the heterosexual union of the father and the mother, Hokhmah and Binah, is transformed in Kemper’s mind into the ontological (and, apparently, asexual) union of the Father and the Son. In Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 202b, Kemper similarly relies on the tradition of the baalei qabbalah to decode the word binah as ben yah, to explain the attribution of the gradation of Binah (or Tevunah) to Jesus. On the attribution of the symbol of the mother to Jesus, see ibid., fols. 213a—b. In that context, the depiction of Jesus as mother is the basis for linking the persona of Rachel to Jesus, for just as Rachel was the mother who sacrificed her life for the sake of her children, so Jesus sacrificed his life for the sake of his children. See ibid., fols. 232a—b, where Kemper again links the image of Rachel weeping over her children to Jesus, who is identified as the Shekhinah in her angelic posture. In that context, however, the feminine depiction of Jesus, related especially to the figure of the mother, is associated with the execution of judgment, in contrast to the image of the son, which conveys the quality of mercy. Kemper derives this correlation of attributes and gender from the standard kabbalistic symbolism. The androgynous nature of Jesus is linked exegetically in that context to the description of the angel of God as both male and female in Zohar 1: 232a. See Wolfson, Circle in the Square, 203 n. 34. The image of the nurturing mother who bears the pain of her children is implicit in the description of Jesus in Matt. 23:37 (with parallel in Lk. 13:34) as the “hen that gathers her brood under her wings,” which is based ultimately on Deut. 22:6. On the application of maternal imagery to Jesus in medieval Christian sources, see C.W. Bynum, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); and G.M. Jantzen, Power,Gender and Christian Mysticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 297–304.Google Scholar
  95. 95.
    Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fols. 2b-3a.Google Scholar
  96. 96.
    Ibid, fol. 67b.Google Scholar
  97. 97.
    Maqqel Ya’agov, fols. 9a-b, 33a-b; Beriah ha-Kikhon,fols. 28b and 54a.Google Scholar
  98. 98.
    The feminine nature of Jesus (identified explicitly with the Shekhinah), in contrast to the masculine nature of Christ, is affirmed by Postel. See F. Secret, “L’Hermeneutique de Guillaume Postel,” Archivio di Filosofia 3 (1963), 101–102. On the importance of Jewish (and especially kabbalistic) sources for Postel’s idea of the feminine principle of Jesus, see also Kuntz, Guillaume Postel, 82–83, 105.Google Scholar
  99. 99.
    In Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 116a, Kemper attributes the title Shekhinah to Jesus for he “dwells in the midst of people,” even though he is also the “righteous one who is the foundation of the world.” Kemper explains the confluence of the masculine and the feminine symbolism in light of the zoharic passage (from the Ra’aya’ Meheimna’ section) wherein the Shekhinah is called the “sign of the covenant” (’ot befit) from the side of Yesod (Zohar 1:166a). See ibid., fol. 230b, where Jesus, identified as the Shekhinah, is also referred to (on the basis of Josh. 3:11) as the “ark of the covenant, Lord of all the earth,” ’aron ha-berit ‘adon kol ha-’ares. In Qarsei haMishkan, fol. la, the term Shekhinah is applied to the Holy Spirit but also to Jesus who is identified as well with the attribute of Hokhmah. See Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 179a, where Kemper applies the technical zoharic term for the Shekhinah, haqal tapuhin qadishin,the “orchard of holy apples” (see Zohar 1:143b, 151b, 224b; 2:61b, 84b, 88b; 3:128b, 288a, 292b), to Jesus, for “this tree in its branches (the Trinity) is planted in the field of apples, which refers to his holy community who believe permanently in this Trinity.” On the attribution of the expression matronita’ to Jesus in talmudic and zoharic sources, see Maqqel Ya’agov, fol. 27a; Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 216a-b. The identification of Jesus with the Shekhinah allows Kemper to apply an array of symbols associated with the feminine divine presence in zoharic literature to Jesus. See, for example, the application of the symbol of the “opening,” petah, or that of the “opening of the tent,” petah ha-’ohel,to Jesus, in Maqqel Ya`agov, fols. 77b-78a, based on zoharic passages wherein these symbols refer to the Shekhinah (see Zohar 1:36b-37a, 54b, 98a, 103b; 2:36a; 3:14a, 71b). Kemper extends the kabbalistic symbolism to include the image of the curtain (parokhet) or the veil (yeri’ah) as a symbolic reference to Jesus. On this latter image, see the interesting exegetical remark in ibid.,fols. 64b-65a: “The holy curtain instructs about the Messiah. And this is a great secret, for on the day of the crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah the curtain was torn and rent. The reason why the curtain is called that which divides is because just as it is impossible to enter into the Holy of Holies except through the curtain, so it is impossible to enter before the Father except by means of the Son”Google Scholar
  100. 100.
    In Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 177b-178a, the doctrine of incarnation is not only related to the attribution of feminine symbols to Jesus, but also to the virtue of humility, although the link between the two is an ancient and prevailing association. Given the bond of this quality and Moses, Kemper draws a typological link between Moses and Jesus. The former is the “first redeemer” concerned with physical redemption, whereas the latter is the “final redeemer” concerned with the spiritual redemption. On the relationship of Moses and Jesus, see ibid.,fol. 209a: “The letters of 7v.Y.) [`Moses] are the reverse of ovn [’the name,’ which here signifies the divine], and thus he was the paradigm (defus) for Jesus in the labor of redemption, and Moses did what he did through him.” See Maqqel Ya’agov, fols. 96b, 113b. And the following interesting remark that Kemper makes after copying an account of Moses and the uniqueness of his prophecy in Zohar 3:268b-269a: “The splendor of the glory of Moses appeared when the Messiah was revealed to the apostles” (Leger he- Ani, fol. 160b). The analogies that Kemper draws between Moses as the first redeemer and Jesus as the final redeemer are reminiscent of the connection made between Moses and Sabbatai Zevi in Sabbatian texts. For references to the latter in primary and secondary sources, which has been interpreted in a Christological way, see E.R. Wolfson, “The Engenderment of Messianic Politics: Symbolic Significance of Sabbatai Sevi’s Coronation,” in Toward the Millennium, 222–223 n. 60.Google Scholar
  101. 101.
    On the identification of Jesus as the Torah of truth, which is the Word of God, see Beriah haTikhon, fols. 183a-183b.Google Scholar
  102. 102.
    The use of this verse to denote the suffering of the Messiah, which is related more specifically to his ostensibly antinomian behavior and his enduring hardship for the sake of redeeming others, is a prominent feature of various Sabbatians tracts, especially those of Nathan of Gaza and his followers. In some of the relevant contexts, the Sabbatian thinkers reinterpreted the exegesis of this verse in Zohar 3:69a. For references, see Wolfson, “Engenderment of Messianic Politics,” 228 n. 74.Google Scholar
  103. 103.
    Maqqel Ya`agov, fols. 10a-b. On the attribution of Ze’eir ‘Anpin to Jesus, see Qarsei haMishkan, fol. 13b.Google Scholar
  104. 104.
    Ibid., fol. 34a. On the enthronement of Jesus to the right side of the divine, see also Heb. 1:3, and the comments of Kemper, Me’irat Einayyim, fol. 198b. In Maqqel Ydaqov, fol. 65a, the descent of Jesus to earth to bear the iniquities of humanity is described as the exile of the divine, which is related exegetically to the verse “and I was amidst those who were in the exile” (Ezek. 1:1). Similarly, in Beriah ha-Tikhon,fol. 177b, the incarnation of Jesus in the human form is characterized as the exile of the Shekhinah. See ibid., fols. 214a-b.Google Scholar
  105. 105.
    I note, parenthetically, that on the basis of a passage from the Ra’aya’ Meheimna’ stratum of zoharic literature (Zohar 3:279a) Kemper assigns image of the donkey to the Messiah son of David who is in a state on contrition in contrast to the image of the ox applied to the Messiah son of Joseph, which signifies his exalted state. The traditional dual Messiah of Judaism is thus interpreted by Kemper as a reference to the incarnational theology in Christianity, which is predicated on the belief in one messianic figure characterized by the paradox of elevation in heavenly kingship and debasement in the suffering of the material world. For a survey of the two messianic figures from classical rabbinic texts to sixteenth-century kabbalistic sources, see R. Goetschel, “Les Figures du Messie fils de David et du Messie fils de Joseph,” Pardés 24 (1998), 21–49.Google Scholar
  106. 106.
    Maqqel Ya`agov, fol. 116a. The theme is elaborated in Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fol. 68a, in an interpretation of the distinction between the two forms of Israel found in Zohar 2:216a: “The elder Israel (yisra’el sabba’ is the Father, the Ancient of Ancients, and the younger (zuta) is the Son, Zeeir ‘Anpin, for he diminished himself (hiz`ir ’et âsmo) and descended to the earth, and he is the youthful (naar) Metatron.”Google Scholar
  107. 107.
    See the study of Abrams referred to above, n. 1. In Maffei Yaâgov, fols. 68a-b, Kemper cites the piyyut from the liturgy for the blowing of the ram’s horn on Rosh ha-Shanah wherein there is a reference to yeshu`a sar ha-panim, “Jesus the angel of the countenance,” who is identified further as Metatron. See Phosphorus Orthodoxtr,15 n. 12. Regarding this poem, see Y. Liebes, “The Angels of the Shofar and Yeshua Sar ha-Panim, [Hebrew] Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 6,1–2 (1987), 171–198.Google Scholar
  108. 108.
    See E.R. Wolfson, Through a Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 224–226, 258–259.Google Scholar
  109. 109.
    For a recent study of this motif, which has been examined by many scholars, see Ch. Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998).Google Scholar
  110. 110.
    Kemper also identifies Jesus as the “angel of the covenant,” mal’akh ha-berit (Mal. 3:1), and as the “angel of the countenance,” mal’akh ha-panim, terms that are applied as well to Metatron. See Me’irat Einayim, fols. 179a-b, 186a.Google Scholar
  111. 111.
    Zohar 1:122b.Google Scholar
  112. 112.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 152a.Google Scholar
  113. 113.
    See reference, n. 111.Google Scholar
  114. 114.
    Matt. 23:12.Google Scholar
  115. 115.
    The source for the nexus between the humility, which entails the concern for others, and the incarnation of Jesus in human form, which is depicted as an emptying of himself until the point of death, is Phil. 2:3–8.Google Scholar
  116. 116.
    M. Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 119 and 135; Y. Liebes, Studies in the Zohar, trans. A. Schwartz, S. Nakache, and P. Peli (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), 110–114.Google Scholar
  117. 117.
    Zohar 1:266b (Raâya’ Meheimna’). On the feminine character of the symbol of Jacob in Ashkenazi esotericism and its impact on the Spanish Kabbalah, see Wolfson, Along the Path, 27–29, 40, 43, 51–52, 144 n. 189. The central motif that I studied in this connection is the image of Jacob engraved on the throne. Interestingly enough, in Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 186a, Kemper interprets the statement that in a time of distress for the people of Israel God looks upon the icon of Jacob and he is filled with mercy (Zohar 1:168a; regarding this passage and related sources, see Wolfson, op. cit., 177 n. 347) as a reference to the Father gazing upon the Son. The icon of Jacob symbolically represents Jesus, for, as Kemper reminds the reader, according to the “masters of the tradition” (ba’alei qabbalah) the form of the supernal Adam is in the likeness of Jacob, Surat ’adam ‘ila’ah ke-surato shel ya’agov (the precise formulation in Zohar 1:356 is “Jacob was the pattern of primal Adam,” ya`agov dugma’ de-âdam ha-ri’shon hawah). Hence, the image of Jacob refers to Adam, who is identified further as Jesus. The nexus between Adam and Jesus is an ancient one in Christian soteriology. See M. Simon, “Adam et la rédemption dans la perspective de l’église ancienne,” in Types of Redemption: Contributions to the Theme of the Study-Conference Held at Jerusalem 14th to 19th July 1968, ed. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky and C. Jouco Bleeker (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1970), 62–71. On the relationship of Jacob and Adam as a polemic against this Christological perspective in zoharic literature, see E.R. Wolfson, “Re/membering the Covenant: Memory, Forgetfulness, and the Construction of History in the Zohar, in Jewish History and Jewish Memory: Essays in Honor of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, ed. E. Carlebach, J.D. Efron, and D.M. Myers (Hanover and London: Brandeis University Press, 1998), 218–220. On the possibility that in one of its original settings the image of Jacob actually had implicit Christological overtones, see Wolfson, Along the Path, 5.Google Scholar
  118. 118.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 176a-177b.Google Scholar
  119. 119.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 22b.Google Scholar
  120. 120.
    The rabbinic interpretation of the Christological depiction of Jesus as the incarnation of the Word as referring to the Oral Torah underlies the expression peh qadosh, the “holy mouth,” which Kemper frequently applies to Jesus when he cites words from the gospel texts. See, for instance, Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 211a, 2316.Google Scholar
  121. 121.
    Zohar 2:60a—b.Google Scholar
  122. 122.
    Cf. Me’irat Einayyim, fol. 175a.Google Scholar
  123. 123.
    Based on Isa. 51:4. Cf. Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 223a, where Kemper reminds the reader that on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost it is necessary to remember the one to whom the Torah alludes, the “Word of the Lord,” and “especially the new Torah that comes forth from him.” The new Torah is the Gospel, which Kemper elsewhere identifies as the Oral Torah. The nexus Kemper establishes (on the basis of the zoharic text) between Jesus and the revelation of the Torah is the true meaning of the Pentecost. Kemper is thus critical of the Jews in his day who thought that the only significant practices for the holiday were reading the 613 commandments and the’agdamot poem, which is complex recounting of the Sinaitic epiphany (see ibid., fol. 223b). Interestingly, Kemper concludes his commentary on Matthew by copying the ’agdamot, presumably on account of the messianic implication he imputed to it. See Me’irat Einayyim, fols. 206a-207b.Google Scholar
  124. 124.
    In Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 196a, Kemper refers to the “Gospel of comfort” And see ibid., fols. 211b-212a, where the voice of Jesus is described as the “voice of comfort, the Gospel, the sweet voice.”Google Scholar
  125. 125.
    Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fol. 1lb. See ibid., fol. 27a, where the Written Torah is identified as the Torah of Moses and the Oral Torah with the Gospel. On the contrast between the Written Torah or the Torah of letters, which is the Torah of Moses, and the Oral Torah, which is the Gospel, see also Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 201b-202a.Google Scholar
  126. 126.
    The precise formulation cited by Kemper, leit toy ‘ela’ torah, appears in Zohar 2:117b (Raâya’ Meheimna’), but it is based on the statement, ’ein toy ‘ela’ torah, which appears in earlier rabbinic texts, such as Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 5a. For a list of some of the other relevant sources, see Midrash Mishle, ed. B.L. Visotzky (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1990), 30 n. 41.Google Scholar
  127. 127.
    Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fol. 26a.Google Scholar
  128. 128.
    I bid., fol. 73b.Google Scholar
  129. 129.
    Zohar 3:90b. In the original context, the symbolic meaning of this statement is the Malkhut, which is the Oral Torah, emanates from Tif’eret, which is the Written Torah, in the same manner that the female is constructed out of the male.Google Scholar
  130. 130.
    Avodat ha-Qodesh, fol. 133b.Google Scholar
  131. 131.
    Mk. 4:11–12. See A.Y. Collins, “Messianic Secret and the Gospel of Mark: Secrecy in Jewish Apocalypticism, the Hellenistic Mystery Religions, and Magic,” in Rending the Veil: Concealment and Secrecy in the History of Religions, ed. E.R. Wolfson (New York and London: Seven Bridges Press, 1999), 26–27.Google Scholar
  132. 132.
    Ibid., fol. 134a.Google Scholar
  133. 133.
    Zohar 3:98a.Google Scholar
  134. 134.
    Avodat ha-Qodesh, fol. 139b.Google Scholar
  135. 135.
    For a recent discussion of this idiom in its multiple nuances, see D. Weiss Halivni, “Reflections on Classical Jewish Hermeneutics,” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 62 (1996), 21–127.Google Scholar
  136. 136.
    Avodat ha-Qodesh, fol. 140a.Google Scholar
  137. 137.
    Babylonian Talmud, Menahot 99a-b. I explore this dimension of rabbinic legalism in a separate study, “Beyond Good and Evil: Hypernomianism, Transmorality, and Kabbalistic Tradition,” which will appear in a volume on Jewish mysticism and ethics that I am presently writing. It is of interest to note that G. Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism and Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality (New York: Schocken, 1971), 84, remarks that the nihilistic doctrine that the “violation of the Torah could become its true fulfillment (bittulah steel torah zehu kiyyumah)” is the “dialectical outgrowth of the belief in the Messiahship of Sabbatai Zevi.” I would propose that the nihilistic tendency is a much older tendency within the nomian tradition, and the words from the talmudic passage that Scholem (incorrectly) cites lend expression to the hypernomian perspective that the measure of the law is determined by the possibility of trespassing its limit. This, I submit, is the meaning of the rabbinic insight that the abrogation of the Torah is at times its very fulfillment. Scholem, by contrast, tended to see the irruption of the antinomianism in the Sabbatian and Frankist movements, and especially the latter, as a fundamental overturning of the rabbinic ethos. See, for example, Scholem’s observation, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York: Schocken, 1954), 318, that the doctrine of the holiness of sin and the conception that transgressive acts must be practiced with religious fervor “are radically opposed to everything which for centuries had formed the essence of moral teaching and speculation in Judaism. It is as if an anarchist rebellion had taken place within the world of Law.”Google Scholar
  138. 138.
    Scholem, Major Trends, 348, speaks of the “tradition of breaking away from tradition” to characterize Hasidism.Google Scholar
  139. 139.
    Matt. 5:17–20.Google Scholar
  140. 140.
    Zohar 1:261a.Google Scholar
  141. 141.
    Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 55b.Google Scholar
  142. 142.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 26a-b. See above, n. 23Google Scholar
  143. 143.
    The logic of Kemper’s orientation can be fruitfully compared to the anti-Talmudism in the anonymous Sefer ha-Qanah,which is likewise presented in terms of a radically symbolic interpretation of traditional Judaism in light of kabbalistic theosophy that leads to a reductio ad absurdum of the halakhic orientation insofar as everything is interpreted as a symbol. See Scholem, Major Trends, 211. See also idem, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah 1626–1676 trans. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), 117: “The author [of Sefer ha-Qanah] clearly wished to preserve the world of halakhah, but only by showing that a purely interpretive or `literal’ Judaism simply cannot exist…. The literal, exegetical understanding of the Talmud breaks down in the dialectic of its own immanent criticism and can only be saved by virtue of its inherent mystery. The only possible interpretation of Torah and Talmud is mystical interpretation.”Google Scholar
  144. 144.
    Maggel Ya’agov, fol. 16a: “And thus [the name of the prophet Haggai] instructs about the word hag [festival] or shabbat [Sabbath], and Jesus is the master of the festivals and the Sabbaths.”Google Scholar
  145. 145.
    In the zoharic context, the reference is to the sixth and the tenth of the sefirot,Ttf’eret and Malkhut, the Qadosh barukh hu’ and the Shekhinah,the king and the matrona. Google Scholar
  146. 146.
    Zohar 2:119a (Ra`aya’Meheimna). Google Scholar
  147. 147.
    See above, n. 65.Google Scholar
  148. 148.
    Matt. 23:5. In his comments on this verse in Me’irat Einayyim, fol. 175a, Kemper relates the broadening of the phylacteries on the part of the Pharisees to the phylacteries of Rabbenu Tam worn by Jews in his time.Google Scholar
  149. 149.
    Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fols. 27a-b.Google Scholar
  150. 150.
    In Me’irat Einayyim, fol. 177b, Kemper praises the monarchy of Sweden for spreading the Gospel to all corners of the world, and thus preparing for the great day of the Lord. Kemper’s participation in this missionizing activity consisted of his trying to convince the Jews in particular to repent in the name of Jesus and assent to the messianic faith.Google Scholar
  151. 151.
    In Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 148a-b, Kemper express the view (following Zohar 1:131b) that the Torah provides Israel with the means to be delivered from the angel of death. For Kemper, the Torah, which is the Tree of Life, is identified as Jesus who is the Word of God by means of which heaven and earth were created. In principle, therefore, the Torah is the antidote to evil. However, the inevitability of human transgression makes it impossible for even one of the laws in the Torah to be fulfilled properly, and thus there must be another means of justification so that one may be delivered from death.Google Scholar
  152. 152.
    Zohar 1:226b. Google Scholar
  153. 153.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 221b-222a.Google Scholar
  154. 154.
    I Cor. 5:6–8. In that context, the sacrificial offering of Jesus is presented as liberation from the old leaven, and unleavened bread of the festival is identified as the virtues of innocence and integrity.Google Scholar
  155. 155.
    See Maqqel Ya’agov, fol. 71a: “We can explain the verse `The scepter shall not depart from Judah… until he comes to Shilo’ (Gen. 49:10), that is, the evil inclination, which is Satan, will not be removed from the earth until the coming of the Messiah, for then he will cause the spirit of impurity to pass from the earth (Zech. 13:2), and this even the Jews acknowledge, for in the time of the Messiah the blessed holy One will destroy this leaven.”Google Scholar
  156. 156.
    See E.R. Wolfson, “Left Contained in the Right: A Study in Zoharic Hermeneutics,” AJS Review 11 (1986), 50–51.Google Scholar
  157. 157.
    Mishnah, Rosh ha-Shanah 1:2.Google Scholar
  158. 158.
    Zohar 1:226b. Google Scholar
  159. 159.
    In its original rabbinic contexts, this dictum (attributed to Samuel) indicates that the decree of the ruling political power is a decree that must be upheld. See Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 28a; Gittin 10b; Baba Qama 113a, 113b; Baba Batra 54b, 55a. When refracted through the lens of the theosophic symbolism of the Kabbalah, the dictum conveys the mystery of the providential execution of judgment that comes forth to the world from Malkhut,the last of the ten luminous emanations.Google Scholar
  160. 160.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 222b.Google Scholar
  161. 161.
    The matter is stated succinctly in Maqqel Ya`agov, fols. 46b-47a: “When the heart is not purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit, the understanding and wisdom of Jesus do not dwell within it…. This is the secret of destroying the leaven before the time to eat the unleavened bread, for the bread of affliction alludes to the Messiah.”Google Scholar
  162. 162.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol.222b.Google Scholar
  163. 163.
    For the history of this term, see B.M. Bokser, The Origins of the Seder: The Passover Rite and Early Rabbinic Judaism (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984), 65 and 132 n. 62.Google Scholar
  164. 164.
    Me’irat Einayim, fol. 184b.Google Scholar
  165. 165.
    Ibid., fos. 184b-186b.Google Scholar
  166. 166.
    See M.M. Kasher, Hagadah Shelemah: The Complete Passover Hagadah ed. S. Ashknage [Hebrew] (Jerusalem, 1967), 77.Google Scholar
  167. 167.
    It is also important to bear in mind that Kemper interpreted the three pieces of unleavened bread on the Seder plate to be a reference to the Trinity, and the middle one, which is broken and consumed as the ’afiqomon, is designated as the “bread of affliction” (lehem ‘Uni) or the “bread of the Messiah” (lehem mashiah),the “bread of the body of Jesus” (lehem guf yeshu â). See Maqqel Ya’agov, fols. 25b-26b.Google Scholar
  168. 168.
    A similar point is made by Kemper, Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fol. 6b: “The festival of bread and wine that Jesus established… were also in the case of the paschal sacrifice, as is known”Google Scholar
  169. 169.
    Tosefta’, Pesahim 10:4. On the prescription to drink wine as the seder, see also Mishnah, Pesahim 10:1, 2, 4, and 7, although in these passages no prooftext is adduced to anchor the ritual in Scripture.Google Scholar
  170. 170.
    See Bokser, Origins of the Seder, 45–46.Google Scholar
  171. 171.
    Zohar 1:257b.Google Scholar
  172. 172.
    See J. Dan, The Esoteric Theology of Ashkenazi Hasidism [Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1968), 224–229. For an extensive list of other relevant sources wherein this religious practice is discussed, see D. Sperber, Customs of Israel: Sources and History vol. 1 [Hebrew] (Jerusalem, 1990), 15–16 n. 14.Google Scholar
  173. 173.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 15a-b.Google Scholar
  174. 174.
    Ibid., fol. 16a.Google Scholar
  175. 175.
    See Tishby, Wisdom of the Zohar, 772 and 776 n. 109; I. Ta-Shema, Ha-Nigleh She-Banistar: The Halachic Residue in the Zohar [Hebrew] (Tel-Aviv, 1995), 22–23.Google Scholar
  176. 176.
    A key scriptural passage in this regard is Col. 1:15. For the possible link between this verse and ancient Jewish esotericism, see Fossum, Image of the Invisible God, 13–39.Google Scholar
  177. 177.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 49b.Google Scholar
  178. 178.
    Ibid., fol. 50a. See ibid., fol. 231b. On the designation of Jesus as the malakh ha-go’el, see Maqqel Ya`agov, fols. 105a-106a, 11b-112a.Google Scholar
  179. 179.
    A nexus is drawn between the ma’lakh ha-go’el and the rabbinic teaching regarding the proximity of ge’ullah and tefillah in Zohar 1:205b. In that context, the redeeming angel refers symbolically to the Shekhinah, and tefillah to the masculine potency.Google Scholar
  180. 180.
    Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 4b, 9b, 21a, 30a.Google Scholar
  181. 181.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 229a-b.Google Scholar
  182. 182.
  183. 183.
    Kemper’s remarks are based on the connection made in some rabbinic sources between the word `rock’ (sur) attributed to God and the activity of creation, which is related to the verb yasar. For select references, see Wolfson, Through a Speculum that Shines, 71 n. 69.Google Scholar
  184. 184.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 230a-b. Kemper makes clear in the context that the messianic salvation is related more specifically to the dissemination of the Gospel throughout the world.Google Scholar
  185. 185.
    Regarding the kabbalistic context for this liturgical formula, see G. Scholem, Major Trends, 275–276, 413 n. 97; idem, On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead, 192 and 300 n. 100I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, 1160; D. Sperber, Customs of Israel: Sources and History, vol. 2 [Hebrew] (Jerusalem, 1991), 116–121; M. Hallamish, “The Place of Kabbalah in Custom,” in D. Sperber, Customs of Israel: Sources and History,vol. 3 [Hebrew] (Jerusalem, 1994), 186187.Google Scholar
  186. 186.
    Maqqel Ya’agov, fol. 15b. It is of interest to note that Norrelius, Phosphorus Orthodoxe r, 24–25 n. 6, cites 2 Cor. 3:15 in conjunction with the kabbalistic practice to say “for the sake of the unity of the blessed holy One and his presence” prior to putting on the phylacteries.Google Scholar
  187. 187.
    Zohar 1:98a.Google Scholar
  188. 188.
    Babylonian Talmud, Ketuvot 104a.Google Scholar
  189. 189.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 119b.Google Scholar
  190. 190.
    Zohar 3:291 b.Google Scholar
  191. 191.
    Leget he- Ani, fol. 162a.Google Scholar
  192. 192.
  193. 193.
    See Maqqel Yaagov, fol. 29b.Google Scholar
  194. 194.
    Kemper uses the term ’asilah, but I have taken the liberty to use the more conventional expression.Google Scholar
  195. 195.
    On the use of this philological device to link the Christological teaching regarding the Son to the act of creation, see the remarks of Liebes, Studies in the Zohar, 146–152; see also Wolfson, Along the Path, 73.Google Scholar
  196. 196.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 45a-b.Google Scholar
  197. 197.
    Maqqel Ya`agov, fol. 18a.Google Scholar
  198. 198.
    . Ibid., fol. 26a.Google Scholar
  199. 199.
    Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 26b.Google Scholar
  200. 200.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 104b.Google Scholar
  201. 201.
    Ibid., fol. 105a.Google Scholar
  202. 202.
    On the presumption that the utterance of the three names of God in Deut. 6:4, the proclamation of the monotheistic faith, alludes to the Trinity, see Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fol. 8b. See Maqqel Ya’aqov, fol. 29a. For an earlier exegetical linkage of the threefold unity of the divine to three names of God mentioned in Deut. 6:4, see Liebes, Studies in the Zohar, 140145.Google Scholar
  203. 203.
    Maqqel Ya`agov, fol. 20b.Google Scholar
  204. 204.
    Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 31aGoogle Scholar
  205. 205.
    Maqqel Ya`agov, fols. 16a—b.Google Scholar
  206. 206.
    Kemper often distinguishes sharply between the masters of esoteric tradition, ba’alei qabbalah, and the masters of law, ba’alei talmud, for the former expressed opinions that resonated with the truths of the Christian faith. Needless to say, pejorative terms are used with reference to the rabbis on account of their effort to explain the laws and customs in a concrete manner. See, for instance, Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 207a—b, 2I9b, 224b. A typical presentation of Kemper’s ambivalent attitude towards the ba’alei talmud appears in a lengthy discussion of the rabbinic dictum that in the days of the Messiah Israel will not receive converts (Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 24b) in Avodat ha-Qodesh, fols. 122a—l23b. Even though this statement is preserved in the talmudic corpus, Kemper is of the opinion that the rabbis did not comprehend this tradition or at the very least they removed it from is contextual meaning and attempted to interpret it wrongly in order to destroy the edifice constructed by Jesus based thereon (fol. 122a). The ostensible contradiction between this statement and the missionizing tendency of those who believed in the messianic claim of Jesus is resolved by relating the rabbinic idea especially to an inferior element such as the mixed multitude (erev rav) who accompanied Israel when they exited from Egypt (Exod. 12:38). According to Kemper, the tradition recorded in the Talmud is not talking about righteous converts such as those who professed the Christian faith. On other occasions, Kemper distinguishes a view expressed by the author of the Zohar and masters of Talmud. For example, see Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 186b and 211a—b. The latter example is of interest because it displays the complexity of Kemper’s attitude towards his rabbinic heritage. On the one hand, he finds support in rabbinic texts, including the Mishnah (Berakhot 5:1), for the admonition of Jesus that to pray one should seclude oneself in one’s room and worship the invisible God in contrast to the hypocrites who stand and pray in the synagogues and street corners (Matt. 6:5–6). On the other hand, he sets the spiritual idea of worshiping in silence expressed in Zohar 1:209b-210a, which is presented as in accordance with the perspective of Jesus, against the spatial reading of Ps. 130:1 attested in Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 10b.Google Scholar
  207. 207.
    In many occasions, Kemper deduces Christological truths from Jewish liturgical practices even if Jewish worshippers are ignorant of the true intent of these practices. For example, see Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fol. 15a: “You must know who is the holy name, and he is the one to whom they pray [in the qaddish] and respond in a loud voice, `Amen, let his great name be blessed forever and ever.’ They said in the Talmud [Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 119b with slight variation], `Whoever responds ”Amen, let his great name“ with all his might is guaranteed the world-to-come.’ This great name is no other than the Messiah, for he is the master in heaven, and in every place that you find in the prayers of the Jews [the formula] `for the sake of your name’ it is necessary to understand for the sake of your Messiah’… and especially in the prayer designated for fast days, `Save us and atone for our sins for the sake of your name.’ This must be understood as a reference to the Messiah, for [the word] Inv [’your name’] numerically equals 11’ JYD1 [’by means of the Messiah’].” For a parallel discussion of the Christological implications of the qaddish prayer, see Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 105a. See ibid., fol. 109a—b, where Kemper deduces the messianic truth of Jesus from a verse in the kabbalistic hymn, Lekhah Dodi, written in the sixteenth century by Solomon Alkabets, to which Kemper refers simply as qabbalat shabbat. Typically, Kemper concludes his discussion by saying that the Jews in his time chirp like birds, but they do not know the true intent of the words that they utter in prayer. In Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 198b, Kemper even finds a Christological allusion in the Sabbath hymn, barukh ‘adonai yom yom ya`amos lanu yesha’ u-fidyom, composed by Simeon bar Isaac Abun. See ’Osar ha-Tefillot (New York, 1966), 1:767–780.Google Scholar
  208. 208.
    Maqqal Ya`agov, fols. 48b-49b.Google Scholar
  209. 209.
    Regarding the kabbalistic custom of making a fourth meal at the termination of Sabbath, see E. Ginsburg, The Sabbath in the Classical Kabbalah (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), 277 n. 2.Google Scholar
  210. 210.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 111b.Google Scholar
  211. 211.
    For references to this idea in rabbinic and zoharic sources, see L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1968), 5:363 n. 345.Google Scholar
  212. 212.
    The allusion is to the bread of the Last Supper, which Jesus distributed to his disciples and identified as his body. For references, see above, n. 76.Google Scholar
  213. 213.
    On the distribution of bread by Jesus to those who believe in him (see reference in previous note as well as Mk. 6:41, 8:19–20; Lk. 24:30; Jn. 6:11, 21:13), see Maqqel Ya’agov, fols. 113b-114a, where the matter is related exegetically to Zohar 3:244b (Ra’aya’ Meheimna’). Google Scholar
  214. 214.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 112a-b.Google Scholar
  215. 215.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 143a-144a.Google Scholar
  216. 216.
    Mk. 12:25; Matt. 22:30; Lk. 20:35–36.Google Scholar
  217. 217.
    Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 17a.Google Scholar
  218. 218.
    Zohar 1:122b.Google Scholar
  219. 219.
    Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 13b.Google Scholar
  220. 220.
    . Maqqel Ya`agov, fol. 20b. See Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 152a.Google Scholar
  221. 221.
    A most striking halakhic understanding of Jesus is presented in Me’irat Einayyim, fol. 151b, where Kemper interprets the blessing of bread on the part of Jesus when he broke bread with his disciples (Matt. 14:19): “`He raised his eyes to heaven and blessed.’ From here you see that Jesus fulfilled the blessing of the bread before eating, and there is no substance to what they said in the Talmud [Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 48b] that the blessing over the bread is not from the Torah, since it is said, `When you have eaten your fill, bless [the Lord your God]’ (Deut. 8:10), it follows that one must bless prior to eating if one is bless after eating.” Kemper elicits from the narrative about Jesus evidence for the existence of a ritual that challenges the rabbinic viewpoint that the blessing before the meal is not an explicit scriptural injunction.Google Scholar
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    See references to the work of Schoeps, Scholem, and Liebes cited above, n. 1.Google Scholar
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    Maqqel Yaâgov, fol. 6b. Regarding this messianic episode, see I. Tishby, “The Report of the Redemption of R. Sadoq of Grodno in 1695,” [Hebrew] Zion 12 (1947), 88.Google Scholar
  224. 224.
    After his conversion, Kemper demonstrated the tendency to view the crises in Jewish history of his own time from the Christological perspective, especially in terms of the messianic drama. For example, see Beriah ha-Tikhon, fols. 173b-174a, where he mentions the massacre of thousands of Jews in the Ukraine in 1648/49. On the impact of the Chmielnicki catastrophe on messianic speculation in kabbalistic texts from the seventeenth century and the specific role these pogroms may have played on the flourishing of the Sabbatian phenomenon, see Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi, 88–93; Y. Barnai, “Christian Messianism and the Portuguese Marranos: The Emergence of Sabbateanism in Smyrna,” Jewish History 7 (1993), 119–126; idem, “The Outbreak of Sabbateanism - The Eastern European Factor,” Journal for Jewish Thought and Philosophy 4 (1994), 171–183; S. Berti, “A World Apart? Gershom Schalem and Contemporary Readings of 17th-century Christian Relations,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 3 (1996), 212–214.Google Scholar
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    This is not to suggest that Kemper made a clean break with Sabbatian material after he converted and moved to Sweden. On the contrary, there is textual evidence that indicates that he continued to study and to teach this material to his students. For example, consider the citation of a passage from Nehemiah Hayyon’s `Oz l’elohim (Berlin, 1713), 80a, by Norrelius in Phosphorus Orthodoxæ, 23 n. 4. Consider also Leget he- Ani, fol. 160b, where Kemper copies a pseudo-zoharic passage from a manuscript of R. Solomon Saraval that proposes 5427, i.e., 1666/67, as the time of the messianic redemption. Kemper comments, “Consider that in that very year there was turmoil amongst the Jews related to the fact that the Messiah would come to them” Regarding the Venetian rabbi Solomon Hay Saraval and his involvement with the messianic fervor of the Sabbatian movement, see Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi, 360,362,499–501, 766.Google Scholar
  226. 226.
    My conjecture with respect to the spiritual odyssey of Kemper parallels the argument that Liebes, On Sabbateanism, 212–237 has made with respect to a clandestine circle of Jewish-Christians in Prague that arose in the early part of the eighteenth century. After the demise of their leader, Jonathan Eybeschutz, the members of the group despaired of their hope in the messianic status of Sabbatai Zevi and adopted an esoteric form of Christianity. As Liebes notes (212), this transition was made possible by the Christological elements of their faith, which were rooted in the older Kabbalah, and especially in zoharic literature, and in the syncretistic nature of the Sabbatian phenomenon itself. The same dynamic is discernible in the case of Kemper.Google Scholar
  227. 227.
    I am here deliberately leaving out of consideration the more nihilistic attitude toward law and ritual that one finds in the Dönmeh sect in Salonika who converted to Islam in 1683 and the Frankist sect in Poland who converted to Catholicism in 1759. It is particularly relevant to contrast the more radical nihilism exemplified in the case of Jacob Frank and his followers to the more attenuated approach to Jewish law that one finds in the writings of Kemper. Given the fact that Kemper, like Frank, became a Christian, one might have expected a similar attitude with respect to the unqualified abrogation of the law to emerge from their thought, but it is decidedly not the case. Regarding the crypto-Jewish sect of the Dönmeh, see Scholem, Messianic Idea, 142–166. On the extreme religious nihilism of Frank, see Scholem, Major Trends, 308, 318, 330; idem, Messianic Idea, 127–134; idem, Kabbalah (Jerusalem, 1974), 287309. For an attempt to place Frank’s antinomian eschatology in a social context, see H. Levine, “Frankism as Worldly Messianism,” in Gershom Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism 50 Years After: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on the History of Jewish Mysticism, ed. P. Schäfer and J. Dan (Berlin, 1993), 283–300, esp. 296–298.Google Scholar
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    See Scholem, Major Trends, 291–294, 296; idem, Messianic Idea, 19–24, 49–141; idem, “Der Nihilismus als religiöses Phänomen,” Eranos Jahrbuch 43 (1974), 27–35. On the necessity to preserve the traditional commandments in the thought of Abraham Cardoso, see E.R. Wolfson, “Constructions of the Shekhinah in the Messianic Theosophy of Abraham Cardoso With an Annotated Edition of Derush ha-Shekhinah,” Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 3 (1998), 25–27, and sources cited on 26 n. 47.Google Scholar
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    Recently, Idel, Messianic Mystics, 197, has argued that in addition to the “antinomianism” of Tiqqunei Zohar, Sabbatai Zevi may have been influenced by the “anomianism” of the ecstatic Kabbalah and the theosophic Kabbalah from the circle of Joseph ben Shalom Ashkenazi, which may have been communicated to the pseudo-Messiah through works like Sefer haPeli’ah. I would raise two problems with Idel’s conjecture. First, I am not certain that “anomianism” is in fact the right term to characterize the ecstatic Kabbalah. I prefer the term “hypernomianism,” by which I mean the fact that the meditational practices, which induce the prophetic states of consciousness, push at the limits of the law and thus extend the boundaries of prescribed ritual behavior. See E.R. Wolfson, “Mystical Rationalization of the Commandments in the Prophetic Kabbalah of Abraham Abulafia,” in Perspectives on Jewish Thought and Mysticism, ed. A. Ivry, A. Arkush, and E.R. Wolfson (Reading, 1998), 311–360. Second, the role of ritual in Sefer ha-Peli’ah is itself a complex question, which can only be evaluated by examining carefully the other work written by this kabbalist, Sefer ha-Qanah. I am not certain that “anomian” is a term that can be used to characterize the approach of these sources. See M. Kushnir-Oron, “The Sefer ha-Peli’ah and the Sefer ha-Kanah: Their Kabbalistic Principles, Social and Religious Criticism and Literary Composition,” [Hebrew] (Ph.D. diss., Hebrew University, 1980), 230–272; T. Fishman, “A Kabbalistic Perspective on Gender-Specific Commandments: On the Interplay of Symbols and Society,” AJS Review 17 (1992), 199–245.Google Scholar
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    See R.J. Zwi Werblowsky, “Messianismus and Mystik,” in Gershom Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism 50 Years After, 20–21. The Sabbatian abrogation of the law as an expression of the fulfillment of the law in the messianic moment seems closer in spirit to some of the teachings attributed to Jesus. See M. Bockmuehl, “Halakhah and Ethics in the Jesus Tradition,” in Early Christian Thought in Its Jewish Context, edited by J. Barclay and J. Sweet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 273–275. On the analogy between Paulinism and Sabbatianism, see Scholem, Messianic Idea,58–59. Parallels between key elements of the Sabbatian messianism and early Christianity, particularly as expressed in Paul, have been drawn elsewhere by Scholem and by a number of other scholars. See Scholem, Major Trends, 307 (in that context, Scholem emphasizes the antinomian tendencies of both Christianity and Sabbatianism); idem, Sabbatai Sevi,282–286, 332–354, 545–548, 795–799 (however, for a rejection of the impact of seventeenth-century Christian millenarian speculation on the messianic calculation of the Sabbatians, see 153–154); idem, Messianic Idea, 123–125; C. Wirszubski, Between the Lines. - Kabbalah, Christian Kabbalah, and Sabbatianism, ed. M. Idel (Jerusalem, 1990), 131; Y.H. Yerushalmi, From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto Isaac Cardoso: A Study in Seventeenth-Century Marranism and Jewish Apologetics (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1971), 307 n. 11; S. Sharot, Messianism, Mysticism,and Magic: A Sociological Analysis of Jewish Religious Movements (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 120; W.D. Davies, “From Schweitzer to Scholem: Reflections on Sabbatai Svi,” in Gershom Scholem, 77–97; E. Schweid, Judaism and Mysticism According to Gershom Scholem: A Critical Analysis and Programmatic Discussion trans. with an introduction by D.A. Weiner (Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1985), 82–86. On the possibility of tracing some of the phenomenological affinities between Sabbatian doctrines and Christianity through historical channels like the converso who returned to Judaism, Jacob Hayyim Semah, who was the teacher of Nathan of Gaza, see M. Idel, “Differing Conceptions of Kabbalah in the Early 17th Century,” in Jewish Thought in the Seventeenth Century ed. I. Twersky and B. Septimus (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987), 198, and in more detail in idem, Messianic Mystics, 205–206. The Christological element seems to be rather evident in the presumption made by several Sabbatians regarding the fact that Sabbatai Zevi was Adam redivivus and thus he had the power to rectify the primordial sin of spilling semen in vain. See the text of Bär Perlhefter published by A. Elqayam, “The Rebirth of the Messiah,” [Hebrew] Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 1 (1996), 134–135, and references to other sources on 135 n. 37. While I would not disagree with Elqayam that Islamic esotericism exerted an important influence on the Sabbatian faithful, I cannot agree with his assessment in this context that the identification of Sabbatai Zevi as Adam is based on the Shiite notion of the Messiah being the incarnation of Adam. The description of the messianic figure rectifying the sin of Adam suggests a Christological background. For a more sustained discussion of the impact of Sufism on Sabbatai Zevi, see A. Elqayam, “Sabbatai Sevi’s Manuscript Copy of the Zohar, [Hebrew] Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 3 (1998), 365–378. In that study, 378–379, Elqayam mentions the letter written by Sabbatai Zevi in 1666 wherein he describes himself as the “firstborn son of the Lord, his only son,” terms that bring to mind the depiction of Jesus in Christianity. The fuller text is cited in Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi, 616617, and see the sustained discussion of the description of Sabbatai Zevi as the firstborn of God in A. Elqayam, “The Mystery of Faith in the Writings of Nathan of Gaza,” [Hebrew] (Ph.D. diss., Hebrew University), 1993, 213–220. The passage has been more recently noted by Idel, Messianic Mystics, 206, who remarks on 399 n. 111, that he is unaware of any discussion of this text. On the relationship of Sabbatai Zevi and Jesus, see also Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi,399.Google Scholar
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    Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi, 728.Google Scholar
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    Scholem, Major Trends, 309–310, 319; idem, Sabbatai Seri,546–547, 796–797.Google Scholar
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    Major Trends, 293–294.Google Scholar
  236. 236.
    See Scholem, Major Trends, 297; Sabbatai Seri, 227, 235–236, 391, 813; Liebes, On Sabbateanism, 172–182. Apropos of the identification of the savior and the serpent, which is supported by the numerical equivalence of the words mashiah and nahash, it is of interest to consider Kemper’s interpretation in Maqqel Ya’agov, fol. 69a, of a passage from the author of Tiqqunei Zohar preserved in Zohar 1:27a, “And the Lord showed him a tree’ (Exod. 15:25), this is the Tree of Life, and by means of it `the water became sweet’ (ibid.), and this is Moses the anointed one (mashiah), concerning whom it is said `the rod of God is in my hand’ (ibid., 17:9). The `rod’ refers to Metatron, who is from the side of life and from the side of death. Thus he turns into a rod if he is an assistant (ezer) from the good side, but he turns into a serpent is he is in opposition to him (kenegddo).” Commenting on this text, Kemper writes: “Jesus is the Tree of Life, and he is sweetened water to the one who has faith in him, and the rod of indignation to one who denies him, for then he turns into the serpent.” Kemper’s interpretation of the zoharic passage leads him to identify Jesus and the serpent, which may indeed be a resonance of the Sabbatian identification of mashiah and the nahash. On the attribution of the same terms to Satan and the Messiah, see Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 180a; Qarsei ha-Mishkan, fols. 5b-6a.Google Scholar
  237. 23.
    Maqqel Yaâgov, fol. 28b.Google Scholar
  238. 238.
    Kemper’s terminology may be based on the expression torat hesed, the “Torah of Mercy,” in Prov. 31:26. It will be recalled, moreover, that in Sabbatian thought (perhaps traceable to Sabbatai Zevi himself) Judaism is referred to as torat mosheh, the “Torah of Moses,” or torat ‘emet, the “Torah of truth,” in contrast to Islam, which is designated torat hesed. See Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi, 813, 863–864; idem, Researches in Sabbateanism, ed. Y. Liebes (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1991), 115–117, 182–183, 244; Liebes, On Sabbateanism, 32–33, 250, 292 n. 228, 439 n. 82. Perhaps Kemper’s berit hesed is based on the biblical torat hesed, which has been read through the Sabbatian lens.Google Scholar
  239. 239.
    Several medieval figures cite this dictum (with slight variations) in the name of the rabbis. See Rabbenu Bahya: Be’ur `al ha-Torah ed. H. Chavel, 3 vols. (Jerusalem, 1981), 2:459; Menahem Recanati, Be’ur `al ha-Torah (Venice, 1545), 137c. For other relevant sources regarding this tradition, see Wolfson, “Tiqqun ha-Shekhinah, 308–309 n. 83.Google Scholar
  240. 240.
    Me’irat Einayyim, fol. 116a.Google Scholar
  241. 241.
    Maqqel Yaâgov, fol. 25b.Google Scholar
  242. 242.
    Zohar 1:119a. Google Scholar
  243. 243.
    Maqqel Ya`agov, fol. 59b.Google Scholar
  244. 244.
    Ibid., fol. 60a.Google Scholar
  245. 245.
    Ibid., fols. 64a, 70b.Google Scholar
  246. 246.
    Kemper employs this logic to argue against adopting a literal approach to certain passages in the zoharic text, such as the description of the reward and punishment in the hereafter. See Maqqel Yaâgov, fols. 97b-98a; Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 106b. See ibid., fols. 11la-b, where Kemper challenges the literal interpretation proffered by the rabbis regarding the resurrection of the body from the one imperishable bone (see above, n. 211).Google Scholar
  247. 247.
    Maqqel Ya’agov, fol. 73a. See Beriah ha-tkhon, fols. 114a, 226b.Google Scholar
  248. 248.
    Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 3a-b.Google Scholar
  249. 249.
    The expression is used in Babylonian Talmud, Baba Mesi`a 38b with reference to those who are from Pumbeditha.Google Scholar
  250. 250.
    Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 23b. See, however, ibid., fol. 173b, where the masters of the Mishnah presumably hid the secret that the masters of Talmud got wrong.Google Scholar
  251. 251.
    Leqet he- Ani, fol. 149b.Google Scholar
  252. 252.
    See M. Saperstein, Decoding the Rabbis: A Thirteenth-Century Commentary on the Aggadah (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980), 1–20.Google Scholar
  253. 253.
    Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 12b.Google Scholar
  254. 254.
    See Beriah ha-Tikhon, fol. 151a, where Kemper states explicitly that the intent of the rabbis in the Talmud was to “remove from the nation the matter of faith in the word of Jesus.”Google Scholar
  255. 255.
    Ibid, fols. 159a-160a.Google Scholar
  256. 256.
    Ibid., fol. 160b.Google Scholar
  257. 257.
    Ibid., fols. 160b-161a.Google Scholar
  258. 258.
    Ibid., fol. 161a.Google Scholar
  259. 259.
    See above, n. 131.Google Scholar
  260. 260.
    Maqqel Ya’agov, 16b.Google Scholar
  261. 261.
    See, for instance, the title page to Me’irat Einayyim: “Translatum & enucleate explicatum ab erudito & ad fidem Christianam converso Judæo, Rabbi Johanne Kemper, cuo olim apud suos nomen Moses Cohen de Cracovia.” Kemper is also referred to as “rabbi” in Phosphorus Orthodoxre, 8–9,22–23,32–33,34–35,38–39,44–45.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. R. Wolfson
    • 1
  1. 1.New York UniversityUSA

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