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Kabbalah and Postmodernism

A Dialogue


Sandford L. Drob

Kabbalah and Postmodernism: A Dialogue challenges certain long-held philosophical and theological beliefs, including the assumptions that the insights of mystical experience are unavailable to human reason and inexpressible in linguistic terms, that the God of traditional theology either does or does not exist, that «systematic theology» must provide a univocal account of God, man, and the world, that «truth» is «absolute» and not continually subject to radical revision, and that the truth of propositions in philosophy and theology excludes the truth of their opposites and contradictions. Readers of Kabbalah and Postmodernism will be exposed to a comprehensive mode of theological thought that incorporates the very doubts that would otherwise lead one to challenge the possibility of theology and religion, and which both preserves the riches of the Jewish tradition and extends beyond Judaism to a non-dogmatic universal philosophy and ethic.


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Introduction 1


1 experience, and all things. In short, the Lurianic Kabbalah purports to provide the very sort of thing that postmodern thought in general, and Derrida in particular, regarded to be impossible. While I have held that the metaphor of the Lurianic Kabbalah is “basic” in a sense akin to the grand metaphors of Hegel and earlier metaphysicians, I have not claimed exclusivity for it. In fact, in Symbols of the Kabbalah I held that the Lurianic theosophy is one basic metaphor amongst many others, and that its appeal lay not so much in its claim to absolute truth, but rather in its comprehensiveness, non-triviality, ethical value, etc. In that sense it is one world-hypothesis, one creative way of looking at the world. The Lurianic Kabbalah as I described it in my previous work would then be one grand vision, one “symphony of ideas” amongst an indeterminate number of others. However, several considerations point to the conclusion that the Lurianic Kabbalah is potentially wider in its implications than other basic metaphors of the past. Amongst these considerations, which I detailed in Symbols of the Kabbalah and Kabbalistic Metaphors, is that the metaphor of creation/dissolution/re-creation, embodied in the Lurianic dynamic of Sefirot/Shevirah/Tikkun (as well as in many of the details of the Lurianic system) has appeared and reappeared in various guises throughout the history of ancient and modern thought. Of course, the existence of a perennial philosophy is no guarantee of its validity or truth, as history has repeatedly proven that delusion...

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