University of Pittsburgh


Kabbalah, Jewish mystic interpretations of the Scriptures, comprising the Sefer Yetsirah and the Zohar

Fishburn and Hughes: "From the Hebrew Kabbal, meaning 'to receive': 'the received', or traditional, lore. This general term is applied in Judaeo-Christianity to a body of religious knowledge and experience which seeks to provide a means of approaching God directly, and revealing the hidden inner mysteries of the Old Testament, particularly the five books of Moses. In the words of Gershom Scholem, Cabbala is not one system but is a vast variety of attempts to view, or give symbolic structure to, rabbinical Judaism.

The Cabbala is largely concerned with postulating cosmological systems: that is to say, with speculative theories of the creation, maintenance and destiny of the world and the interrelation of its components. It includes a description of the role of man and other living creatures, the behaviour of the heavenly hosts and the interaction of these with the Godhead. As a method of mystical and poetical exposition of the Scriptures, the Cabbala adopts an immanent approach to the Universe, believing in the hidden existence of godliness behind and within every material object. Thus in Cabbalistic thought the visible world is likened to a veil or curtain which esoteric interpretations are able to lift, revealing a more direct vision of the true mysteries of God and his creation. Since, according to the Jewish account of creation, language preceded the act of creation ('And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light'), there followed a belief in the magical properties of Hebrew, the language employed by God. In Hebrew each of the 22 letters has its equivalent numerical value, and an important Cabbalistic method of exegesis is Gematria, or the interpretation of the Scriptures based upon numerical calculations and combinations of the Hebrew letters. This method did not exclude belief in the magic and creative properties of the Hebrew letters which, if deciphered, might reveal not only the ineffable presence of God, but also his mysterious power of creation. A guide to the different Cabbalistic theories can be found in the Zohar, the holy book of Cabbalism. Borges was attracted to any idea which postulated the unreality of the visible world; what fascinated him particularly about the Cabbala was the idea of a systematic combinatorial method of mystical revelation (see A Defence of Kabbalah, TL 83). See Pentateuch." (36-37)

Borges Index: 
Una vindicaci√≥n de la c√°bala, Discusi√≥n, OC, 211. El Aleph, El Aleph, OC, 627. El golem, El otro, el mismo, OC, 885. Israel, Elogio de la sombra, OC, 997. Cat√°logo y an√°lisis de los diversos libros de Loomis, Cr√≥nicas de Bustos Domecq, OCC, 322. Lugones, poeta, Leopoldo Lugones, OCC, 475. La Transmigraci√≥n, Qu√© es el Budismo, OCC, 741. El Lama√≠smo, Qu√© es el Budismo, OCC, 762-63. El Siglo XVII, Introducci√≥n a la literatura inglesa, OCC, 825. Cynewulf, Literatura de la Inglaterra sajona, Literaturas germ√°nicas medievales, OCC, 880. La Edda Mayor, Literatura escandinava, Literaturas germ√°nicas medievales, OCC, 925. El libro, BO, 16, 18. Emanuel Swedenborg, BO, 48. Leon Bloy, BP, 98. La larga busca, CONJ, 79. Exposici√≥n Homenaje, CS, 66. El congreso que yo he visto, CS, 154. The Telling of the Tale, CV, 72. Thought and Poetry, CV, 82. La nader√≠a de la personalidad, I, 88. Trascendentalismo, ILN, 20. Thomas Carlyle: Sartor Restartus, P, 34. Francisco de Quevedo: Prosa y verso, P, 121. Olaf Stapledon: Hacedor de estrellas, P, 152. Emanuel Swedenborg: Mystical Works, P, 161. Una. La Divina Comedia, SN, 11. Seis. La c√°bala, SN, 125-39. Descripci√≥n del cielo, TR1, 350. Los primeros 25 a√Īos de Davar, TR3, 289, 290. Borges, un tejedor de sue√Īos, TR3, 378. La rosa de Paracelso, VA, 23.