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Author:  Gershon
E-mail:  Beercon2@aol.com
Date:  4/10/2004 11:38:00 PM
Subject:  Kabbalah
Message:  After looking around your Q&A postings, I noticed a rather long posting a while ago regarding the Zohar and Kabbalah. I found it very interesting. However, I want to clarify something. Were you referring to Kabbalah in our days? It would seem clear from the Rambam and Ramban and others that the very name Kabbalah inplies that there must be a tradition involved. In fact it seems that this was the very nature of the machlokes between Rambam and Ramban -- whether this mesora existed during their times. The Rambam apparently held that it did not. Surely, in our times, this mesora no longer exists. Even regarding the Zohar, if we no longer have the principles of kabbalah through direct mesora, it would seem that it would be impossible or even assur to try to learn it in this manner. The Ramban in his introduction to sefer Bereishit says explicitly that sod/kabbalah requires kabbalah ish mipi ish.
Please update me if I am mistaken.
Reply:  You are mistaken. Reading the Seforim of the Ariza"l and others is "Mesorah Ish Mepi Ish." (transfered from person to person)
The only real issue is when can a person study Kabbalah. The clear answer to that is only after he has a full broad knowledge of Tanach, Shas, and all the Halachot that are relevant, and only after proper control of his character.

Additionally, let's drop the issue of the Ramba"m's opinion on Kabalah. There are serious sources that say the Ramba"m retracted that in his later years. Even if the Rambam did hold onto that opinion, The consensus of the Rabbanim, which are our Mesorah, say that Kabalah is legit. The people that use this Rambam to back them already have a decision and mindset, and are using him to further their own personal agenda.

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