Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Point-By-Point Refutation Of The Academic Critique

(Painting by Hyman Bloom)

Rabbi Moshe Miller, author of an important volume of translations from the Zohar and Rav Moshe Cordovero's "Palm Tree of Devorah", has written a point-by-point refutation of the academic critique of the Zohar as a medieval work, rather than emanating from the school of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Anyone interested in this issue should read Rabbi Miller's essay on the Ascent Institute's "Kabbala Online" website here.

More on this topic can be found in Rabbi Dovid Sears's posting here.


At March 5, 2008 at 7:19:00 AM EST, Blogger Gandalin said...


This is very important. It always astonishes me, how the "epicureans" are willing to accept as perfect truth the opinion of one academic "Scholar" rather than the views of generations upon generations of learned men, or the statements of the Holy Texts themselves.

At March 5, 2008 at 9:42:00 AM EST, Anonymous Yankee Mike said...

I was originally excited when I read Rabbi Miller's post a number of years ago. Unfortunately, when I spent time on further research I discovered that in every case he was completely, without a doubt, wrong in his reading of the sources he brings - and Scholem and Tishby were right. I wrote a long essay on the topic which I do not have with me where I am now but can probably get a hold of in a few weeks. I showed it to my Charedi Rov who agreed with my readings. Rabosai, the academics are not idiots. Your are not going to beat them at their own game. The problems they point out are for the most part real. You must just believe that even though some additions may have crept into the work over centuries of transmission the work remains emes. After all, even the gemarah has such later accretions. I write this in order to prevent the raising of false expectations - if I should not have said anything, may Hashem forgive me.

At March 5, 2008 at 10:09:00 AM EST, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

I have never Read Rav Miller's post, but have you (or your Rav) every read Magen V'tzinah by Rav Yitzchak Izak Chaver? Or Sefer Kidmas Hazohar by Rav Dovid Radal?
Are you aware that Rav Aryeh Kaplan writes that he had a manuscript from Rav Yitzchak d'min Acco, written 20 years after that great Rishon investigated the Zohar in which he clearly and unambiguosly states that the Zohar was written by Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai? The academics you mention did not know this since it came to light long after they died.
I think that you may wish to reevaluate. Many seeming proofs are no proofs at all as discussed at very great length in the seforim I mentioned.
Nothing in Shulchan Aruch would have prepared a Rav for dealing with the questions asked. As you wrote they sound very plausible. But don't give the academics too much credit until you learn the sources very carefully or ask someone who has.
I would be happy to see your essay though. Please send it at your leisure:

At March 5, 2008 at 12:22:00 PM EST, Anonymous Yirmeyahu said...

"The problems they point out are for the most part real. You must just believe that even though some additions may have crept into the work over centuries of transmission the work remains emes"

That is widely recognized, before the academics if I am not mistaken, although the additions aren't necessarily something which "crept" in, unneeded or unwanted:

"Those who believe, in accordance with Jewish tradition, that the Zohar is indeed an authentic document of the teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai ( Rashbi), generally agree that part, but not all, of the Zohar was written by Rashbi." (From the article).

It does not follow that "Scholem and Tishby were right", there are issues but that doesn't mean they have reached the correct conclusion.

In Torah im Derech Eretz Rav Hirsh zt'l mentions an idea that seems obvious to me but is often missing. I don't have his exact words but we should expect to have disagreements with academic perspectives. We start out with a whole different set of premises. If these premises, which I believe we have reason to hold, do not effect how we weigh the evidence then I don't know how we can say we actually believe them.

That is not to say that we should disagree on any given issue, but when one's opinions line up time after time with the materialist academic view, it should give one pause.

At March 5, 2008 at 1:07:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always said to others who tried to tell me the Zohar was a forgery or of medievel origins: Look the Baal Shem Tov, The Vilna Gaon and the Holy Arizal and Ramak all learned studied and practiced based on the Zohar as did the Beit Yosef author of the Shulchan Aruch and the Mishna Brurah. I will choose great Rabbonim, Tzadikim and Ba'alei ruach hakodesh over any academic any day no matter how real their "proofs" are.


At March 5, 2008 at 1:08:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops I meant the Chafetz Chaim author of the Mishna Brurah


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