o .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Lamrot Hakol (Despite Everything)

Musings and kvetchings and Torah thoughts from an unconventional Orthodox Jew.

My Photo
Name:

"I blog, therefore I am". Clearly not true, or I wouldn't exist except every now and then.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can you help me with a source?

So. There's a midrash that says that we had fallen to the 49th level of tum'ah in Egypt, and that had we fallen one level more, we never would have been able to be redeemed. And there's a midrash that says that during the 7 weeks between the Exodus and Matan Torah, we rose to the 49th level of bina. I don't know if the two are the same source.

I've been trying to find the source of these statements for many years. You see the idea mentioned all over the place. But it's never sourced. Seriously never.

A few years ago, a rav I exchanged some e-mails with told me that the source is in the Zohar Hadash, parashat Yitro. And sure enough, it's there, at the very beginning, albeit in Aramaic. But it seemed strange to me that the source should be in the Zohar Hadash. I mean, there are a lot of people who cite this midrash who would probably be appalled to find that the idea came from Kabbalah. Still, it's the only source I've ever seen.

This past Shabbat, I was speaking with an expert in Jewish textual analysis at shul. And he said the idea is definitely from the Gemara or midrash, and did not originate in the Zohar. Of course, he didn't have a particular source in mind. So I remain a little skeptical and a little puzzled.

Folks in the JBlogosphere tend to be fairly bright, so I thought I'd toss this out to y'all. Is there any source earlier than the Zohar Hadash for the idea that were down 49 levels of tum'ah in Egypt and up 49 levels of bina at Sinai?

8 Comments:

Blogger Ben-Yehudah said...

B"H

I'm afraid I don't know, but you've been tagged,...sort of.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Nachum said...

I once heard that every day, they lost a level of tuma and gained one of tahara. That always seemed to me illogical- you have to get out of the former before even starting on the latter- so bina makes more sense.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Truth Wherever It Leads said...

The latter midrash as far as getting to the 49th level of Binah, is definitely not in any Midrash other then the Zohar or other kabbalistic literature

The midrashim/gemera never openly refer to any of the seiroth in a kabbalistic way, rising to the 49th level of binah is a purely kabbalistic concept with no overt parallel in midrash/shas.

Chazal use binah chochmah and daat,(i.e binah yeteira, -im ain daat, havdala minayin? etc) but never with overt kabbalistic themes.

When they are referring to the sefirot as such, (if we follow the kabbalists reading of chazal which I personally do) they do it in a very veiled fashion and are very consistent in their verbiage all over the aggadetot.

Its not in the midrashim or gemara.

1:22 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks. It's amazing how many people refer to that idea without having any idea where it's actually from.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Truth Wherever It Leads said...

The first part may be in a Midrash but not the rising t the level of Binah. We dont really realize how differant Orthodox Judaism is because of the Zohar. The Zohar has changed the face of Orthodox Jewry, kind of amazing in and of itself.

Simon

3:42 PM  
Blogger ari kahn said...

the one who popularized the teaching is the Arizal

1:11 PM  
Blogger mzk said...

I would suggest Ginzburg's Legends of the Jews, which gives a source for everything. Unfortunately, the copy I have access to is 6000 miles away. (Did you know there is no known source for the legend about the two brothers on the Temple mount)?

Regarding the sefirot, the Zohar is not the only source. For example, in Rabbi Chavel's Kitvei HaRamban there is a work attributed to Rabbi Akiva dealing with the Sefirot.

12:53 PM  
Blogger mzk said...

I would suggest Ginzburg's Legends of the Jews, which gives a source for everything. Unfortunately, the copy I have access to is 6000 miles away. (Did you know there is no known source for the legend about the two brothers on the Temple mount)?

Regarding the sefirot, the Zohar is not the only source. For example, in Rabbi Chavel's Kitvei HaRamban there is a work attributed to Rabbi Akiva dealing with the Sefirot.

12:53 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

 

Google