One of the best French Kabbalah
specialists is named “Secret”, Mr. François Secret. Proper names
sometimes carry in them collective fates. François Secret wrote Le
Zohar chez les Kabbalistes chrétiens de la Renaissance (1958), a
book in which such romantic names as Bartholomeus Valverdius, Knorr
de Rosenroth, Blaise de Vigenère, Alfonso de Zamora, Guy Le Fèvre
de la Boderie, or Gilles de Viterbe, the famous Guillaume Postel, and
of course Johannis Reuchlin and Pic de la Mirandole appear. These
names appear like shooting stars in the night. We would like to
follow their trajectories, engraved in the ink of long nights.
But Mr. Secret, so learned, reveals
no secrets, one can regret it.
It encourages us to continue
searching, at the sources, or among the apparently initiated.
One of the most famous books of
Kabbalah is called, without excess of modesty, Siphra di
Tsenniutha (The Book of Mystery). It begins as follows:
« The Mystery Book is the Book
that describes the balance of the balance. For before there was
balance, the Face did not look at the Face. »
Compact style. From the outset, we
get into the subject. ‘Balance’. ‘Face’. ‘Look’.
What could be higher than the Face?
What could be deeper than his gaze?
Verse 9 of the Siphra di
Tsenniutha suggests the existence of a depth scale (the unknown,
the occult, the occult in the occult): « The head that is not
known (…) is the occult in the occult ».
Verse 12 specifies important,
scattered details: « Her hair is like pure wool floating in the
balanced balance ». Chapter 2 of the Mystery Book refers to a
« beard of truth ». The « head that is not known »
wears, we learn, « hair » and « beard ».
According to one commentary, the
« truth beard » is « the ornament of everything ».
From the ears, where it begins, « it forms a garment around the
Truth clothes the Face.
There is this passage from
Revelation: « His head, with its white hair, is like white wool,
like snow, his eyes like a burning flame. »i
These materialistic images, beard,
hair, wool, flame, are common to the Christian Apocalypse and the
Jewish Kabbalah. They have been deemed relevant by our elders for the
representation of the « Face » of God. Why?
The millennia have passed. A
concrete image, even if unreal or misleading, is better than an empty
abstraction. As a trope, it suggests openings, avenues, encourages
criticism, stimulates research.
Kabbalah projects the surreptitious
idea that all the symbolism with which it is steeped is not only
symbolic. The symbol, in this context, is the very thing. Each word,
each letter of the Text, is a kind of incarnation, literally literal.
Metaphors and images also carry the burden of incarnation.
This is one of the most constant
paradoxes of the fickle science of interpretation. The more concrete
is the best symbol of the abstract.
The verbal alchemy of Kabbalah
transmutes words, transforms them into an acute surface, with a
bushy, burning aura, pulverizes them and disperses them in all
directions, sparkling with opalescence.
Let us add this. The Law is supposed
to be transparent, since it is intended to be understood and
fulfilled. But the Law is also full of shadows, darkness. How can
this paradox be explained?
Kabbalah explains the Law in its
enlightened parts. But what remains obscure is the totality of its
meaning, drowned in shadows, and its ultimate purpose is
incomprehensible, inscrutable. The darkness of the Law is systemic.
Kabbalah, verbose, confused, provides fewer answers than it forges
infinite questions. It shows that the Law is irreducible,
insubordinate to reason, to sight, to understanding.
The whole of the Law, its meaning,
its end, cannot be grasped by biased, narrow minds. Through the
centuries, the shadow, the hidden, the occult always appear again.
“O ye who have undistempered
Observe the doctrine that conceals
Beneath the veil of the mysterious
Song IX of Hell describes the 6th circle, where the heresiarchs and followers of sects are confined, who have not known how to understand or see the deployment of the Whole.
The researcher walks in the night.
Surprised by a flash, the gaze discovers the magnitude of the
landscape, an infinite number of obscure details. Immediately, this
grandiose and precise spectacle disappears into the shadows. The
lightning that reveals deprives the blind eye of its strength.
“Even as a sudden lightning that
The visual spirits, so that it
The eye of impress from the
Thus round about me flashed a living
And left me swathed around with such
Of its effulgence, that I nothing
Hell, IX, 61-63
iiiDante, Paradise, XXX