בס"ד This is a blog for Jews who feel a sense of deep identification with HaYachad (Dead Sea Sect). This group is for Jews who feel nostalgia and longing for a Judaism that was, and a profound yearning for it to be again. Our way leads to the Self-realization and, on an even more deeply satisfying level, the Mutual-Realization of Mashi'ach. That is what differentiates us from HaPrushim. NO MATERIAL HERE IS TO BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION.

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Location: Tzfat, Israel

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


What Is The Difference Between Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Of Blessed Memory, And the Others?

“Interlocutor" asks a good question, one that may, at least in part, answer Leila’s query to me as to what is the difference between the true Kabbalah and pseudo- Kabbalah.

Interlocutor asks: What exactly is it in your discernment that makes you accept R.Abulafia's teachings (though on your Blog you also dare to accuse him of "distortion & obfuscation" but not that of his contemporaries eg R.Yitzchok of Akko & R.Yosef Gikatalia?

Doreen answers: First let’s get some basic computer terminology straight. A blog and a discussion board are not one and the same. I have only a discussion group by the name of Kabbalah Nevuit, not a blog at this juncture. If interest in shown in Kabbalah Nevuit, I will endeavor, B”H, to transfer the archive of the discussion group onto a blog that I will start. If I do, notification will be given here. The message you refer to was posted to the discussion group:

This response will be posted on that Yahoo! discussion board, and my blog entitled Doreen Dotan's Archive, as well, as it is related to the topic of the group. The blog can be found on:
It will also be posted on my Yahoo! discussion group Essenes Jewish and Real, which can be found on: and, lastly, on the ICQ group Essenes (Isi'im) on:

However, I’ll change “Interlocutor” to Interlocutor on the board.

Interlocutor, I didn’t tell you what I think about Rabbi Yitzchak of Acco and Rabbi Yosef Gikitilia because you did not ask. Their names were not included in either of the two lists of names you’ve already presumptuously proffered and accused me, wholesale, of rejection. While your question is good, and I will answer it, it also contains your usual subterfuge and confusion. These are signs that you have been taught to think in a manner that has seriously impaired your judgment, as is so common in the Pharisaic/Rabbinic tradition.

Having now asked about Rabbi Yitzchak of Acco and Rabbi Yosef Gikitilia, I’ll tell you what I think: I’ve only read snippets of Rabbi Yitzchak of Acco in one of those popular compendia of “Jewish mysticism” lumped together pell-mell for the general audience by editors who can’t discern the real thing from the fakes, and those snippets were in English, as so many are because those are the fools they are marketed to. I agreed with what Rabbi Yitzchak wrote about Equanimity. However, what he wrote about seeing the ספירות before him was entirely too graphic and betrays the fact that he was enraptured with his own mind. Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, of blessed memory, in contradistinction, made it clear that the true way does not involve the seeing of images or the thinking of meanings at all, no matter how grand they may seem. The report of Rabbi Abulafia’s student, attributed to Rabbi Yosef Gikitilia though not signed by him, speaks of the former’s insistence on effacement of all meaning, images, attributes, etc. when combining and permuting letters in Jewish meditaton.

The names of the ספירות that we know also appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, they did not call them ספירות and did not attempt to describe them or attribute any thing to them in any way as does Rabbi Yitzchak of Acco. Clearly that knew that
ספירות = פני התורה = מחשבות = כל עולם = כל עלום = נו"ן

The descriptions of the ספירות and their experiences meditating on the part of many of the medieval “mystics”, including Rabbi Yitzchak of Acco, are entirely too corporeal. This, by the way is what turned me off to Areyeh Kaplan. The meditative experiences he describes amount to little more than sound and light shows, "trips" as it were. One may be sure that this is all illusory.

Rabbi Gikitilia, for his part, was evidently one of Rabbi Abulafia’s most favored students. This being the case we can assume that he learned wisely and well. I accept his work, in the main, though by the time of the Middle Ages no one, not even HaRav Abulafia himself, could understand the matters of the letters as did the Isi’im. They, in turn, did not understand as well as the prophets did.

It is especially due to the work שבע נתיבות התורה that I honor Rabbi Abulafia as I do. In that work he puts the learning of Talmud in its proper place. שבע נתיבות התורה is available in Hebrew, in full, due to the monumental efforts of Rabbi Amnon Gross, of Rechovot, to publish them. Rabbi Mitatyahu Safrin, of Yerushalayim, deserves honorable mention for his great contribution to the publishing of the works of Rabbi Abulafia as well. I recommend to everyone to read שבע נתיבות התורה.

Additionally, I wrote the following about Rabbi Abulafia, who I believe was a keeper of the very same tradition of Prophetic Knowledge that HaIsi'im were privy to, in my book נקבה: הקרבנות וחכפרות

“It is the opinion of this writer that the greatness of HaRav Avraham Abulafia lies in his attempt to return the understanding of the word שכל as used by the Ramba”m, which had become entirely too philosophical and in line with the Greek definition, i.e., the uppermost faculty of the mind, to its original Jewish meaning, i.e., the uppermost faculty of the Soul.”

“It was the desire of Rabbi Abulafia that the followers of philosophy mired in mental and sense images would merit to arrive at the knowledge of the holy Names by performing the חילופים. Certainly it was the intention of the authors of the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ that those who read their writings would. “

“It may very well have been that the very best way to refute the Ramba”m, whose opinions had become well nigh incontestable by the time of Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, was to appear to laud him, to appear to be making concurring and supportive commentary on his work, even while demonstrating more correct, and authentic, meanings of the Hebrew concept שכל and other matters that the Ramba”m treated in his works. It is this author’s opinion that Rabbi Abulafia did not agree with the Ramba”m. I believe Rabbi Abulafia was in vehement disagreement with the Ramba”m’s foreign way of thinking and interpretation of Talmud, but could not say so; and so he wrote a commentary on the Ramba”m that put more correct words in the Ramba”m’s mouth. It is my contention that the purpose of Rabbi Abulafia was to have the Ramba”m remembered as having said what Rabbi Abulafia was saying. To our sorrow he did not succeed.”

Thank you, Interlocutor, for the opportunity to elucidate these matters. Perforce, I am doing so very briefly.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat