ALBERT PIKE, quoting from Transcendental Magic, thus sums up the importance of Qabbalism as a key to Masonic esotericism: “One is filled with admiration, on penetrating into the Sanctuary of the Kabalah, at seeing a doctrine so logical, so simple, and at the same time so absolute. The necessary union of ideas and signs, the consecration of the most fundamental realities by the primitive characters; the Trinity of Words, Letters, and Numbers; a philosophy simple as the alphabet, profound and infinite as the Word; theorems more complete and luminous than those of Pythagoras; a theology summed up by counting on one’s fingers; an Infinite which can be held in the hollow of an infant’s hand; ten ciphers and twenty-two letters, a triangle, a square, and a circle,–these are all the elements of the Kabalah. These are the elementary principles of the written Word, reflection of that spoken Word that created the world!” (Morals and Dogma.)
Hebrew theology was divided into three distinct parts. The first was the law, the second was the soul of the law, and the third was the soul of the soul of the law. The law was taught to all the children of Israel; the Mishna, or the soul of the law, was revealed to the Rabbins and teachers; but the Qabbalah, the soul of the soul of the law, was cunningly concealed, and only the highest initiates among the Jews were instructed in its secret principles.
According to certain Jewish mystics, Moses ascended Mount Sinai three times, remaining in the presence of God forty days each time. During the first forty days the tables of the written law were delivered to the prophet; during the second forty days he received the soul of the law; and during the last forty days God instructed him in the mysteries of the Qabbalah, the soul of the soul of the law. Moses concealed in the first four books of the Pentateuch the secret instructions that God had given him, and for centuries students of Qabbalism. have sought therein the secret doctrine of Israel. As the spiritual nature of man is concealed in his physical body, so the unwritten law–the Mishna and the Qabbalah–is concealed within the written teachings of the Mosaic code. Qabbalah means the secret or hidden tradition, the unwritten law, and according to an early Rabbi, it was delivered to man in order that through the aid of its abstruse principles he might learn to understand the mystery of both the universe about him and the universe within him.
The origin of Qabbalism is a legitimate subject for controversy. Early initiates of the Qabbalistic Mysteries believed that its principles were first taught by God to a school of His angels before the fall of man. The angels later communicated the secrets to Adam, so that through the knowledge gained from an understanding of its principles fallen humanity might regain its lost a estate. The Angel Raziel was dispatched from heaven to instruct Adam in the mysteries of the Qabbalah. Different angels were employed to initiate the succeeding patriarchs in this difficult science. Tophiel was the teacher of Shem, Raphael of Isaac, Metatron of Moses, and Michael of David. (See Faiths of the World.)
Christian D. Ginsburg has written: “From Adam it passed over to Noah, and then to Abraham, the friend of God, who emigrated with it to Egypt, where the patriarch allowed a portion of this mysterious doctrine to ooze out. It was in this way that the Egyptians obtained some knowledge of it, and the other Eastern nations could introduce it into their philosophical systems. Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, was first initiated into it in the land of his birth, but became most proficient in it during his wanderings in the wilderness, when he not only devoted to it the leisure hours of the whole forty years, but received lessons in it from one of the angels. * * * Moses also initiated the seventy Elders into the secrets of this doctrine and they again transmitted them from hand to hand. Of all who formed the unbroken line of tradition, David and Solomon were most initiated into the Kabbalah.” (See The Kabbalah.)
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