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BS"D   The Rambam wrote in Mishna Torah that the dialogues of Rava and Abbaye (Talmud) are a small thing and Ma’aseh Merkava (Kabbalah) is a great thing. Why is this so and how is this so?

The reasons are manifold. The Ramak, zy”a, could have written a small book focused on only this question because that is how many reasons one can easily think of concerning the superiority of Kabbalah over Talmud. 

Now, I know that one of the hallmark aspects or Geula is ribui vs miyut, inclusion as opposed to exclusion. As my friend Ze’ev Kaman, z”l, once told me, “Remember, sometimes when you have to choose between two things, you can choose both.” That is inclusion. Pitting Kabbalah against Talmud sounds like exclusion, but it is not, because when a person is discussing Torah, there is no exclusion of any part of it. Talmud and Kabbalah are intrinsic revelations or Torah, so they are one. That is, more or less, Da’at Elyon, the view from on High. But from the perspective of our world, which Kabbalah tells us is ruba c’culah rah, almost entirely evil, Da’at Tachton, the lower knowledge, from that perspective, our reality perspective, Talmud and Kabbalah are opposites. Talmud is a body and Kabbalah is a soul. 

So, the question is which is given preference, or perhaps they rule equally. By the way, neither Hebrew Scripture nor Mishna or Midrash figures in this discussion because no one leads their lives by them, except a few sects of narcissists with bellybuttons full of lint, such as the Ephiastic Hebrews who claim to be the freed slaves and descendants of the 10th century Greek scholar Hystericles who converted to Judaism in the year 623 BCE.

As an adherent of true Judaism, one inevitably follows either a hashkafa of Talmud, which is halacha, Shulchan Arukh, Jewish Law or one follows a path of pnimiyut HaTorah, which basically means Kabbalah. Some think it includes Chassidut, but Chassidut is sect-specific, ultimate pirud, and we are talking clalim, inclusions.

Between Talmud and Kabbalah, about 97% of observant Jews follow a hashkafa derived from the Talmud and 3% follow a hashkafa derived from Kabbalah. 

We learn processes and systems and institutions from both. The processes and systems and institutions of Talmud are of the exile in their essence. Every stitch of it began in Babylon in the generation of the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, the First Temple in Jerusalem, and the slaughter of several million Jews in Jerusalem by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Prior to that, Judaism was nothing at all like we know today. 

One of the main reasons that the yeshivot stifle learning Tanach is that they fear it will put bad ideas in the bocherim’s heads. They will see the disparity between Torah observances during the 890 years between the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and the destruction of the First Temple, and our Judaism today, and everything is different. That entire 890-year period was Geulah, Redemption, except that we did not have the kelim to receive the ohr, and we kept screwing it up. Through that entire period of 890 years, everything was in place to begin the Final Redemption and bring the Mashiach, but we were not equal to it. And then came the event that Yeshayahu and Yirimiyahu and Yechezkel warned us about and nobody listened…utter destruction. About 12,750 Judeans left alive and exiled in Babylon, and the northern kingdom of Israel assimilated out of existence as the Ten Lost Tribes. Fashluchenreisen. Pachnunsk. The eastern mountains of darkness. Across the Sambatyon River. Lost among the banyan trees.

Out of those ashes, Orthodox Judaism was formed by a self-instituted organization called Anshei Knesset HaGedolah, The Men of the Great Assembly, consisting of scholars and prophets, led by Mordecai the uncle of Esther and Ezra the Scribe, and they created a religion from what previously was a covenant with G-d. We broke the covenant, so G-d connected us to Him through religion. The difference is revelation and concealment. If you will look closely, G-d is an active principle throughout Tanach until the books written in Babylon, beginning with the Book of Daniel and culminating in the Book of Esther, the only book of Tanach in which Hashem’s Name is not mentioned. And if you look at the Talmud, you will see that Hashem is not there as an active principle at all. To be sure, every now and then there is a Bat Kol, a Voice from heaven, but it is a heavily filtered revelation as compared to anything in Tanach. G-d is simply not the issue of Talmud. Processes, and systems and institutions are the issues of Talmud. But G-d is the issue of Kabbalah and that is why Kabbalah is the great thing and the Gemara is the small thing. 

Compare the process of the rabbinic derivation of halacha, which is the heart and soul of the Talmud, with the process of emanating a vessel in the Olam HaElyon of Akudim in Kabbalah. One has relative existence, whereas the other is the Torah’s revelation to us of the essence of G-d, what the Kabbalah calls Light, Ohr in Hebrew. In this world of almost total darkness, the little Light goes a long way.

Kabbalah is the interface between the physical realm, our world of Assiyah darkness, and the higher worlds where the souls bathe in the Light of the Shechina. When we are looking at the words of Kabbalah, we are seeing both. The term is transducer. 

In recorded sound, there are two transducers, everything else is pure electronics. The first transducer is when the human voice or the saxophone is turned into electronic impulses by the microphone and second transducer is when it is turned into audible sound waves by a speaker. The microphone and the speaker are transducers. The words of Kabbalah are transducers. Looking into the words of Kabbalah is looking into Heaven.

So when we are looking at the Talmud, we are looking into Torah that is 3000 levels beneath Kabbalah, and of little relevance in the Final Redemption, as the Rashbi, Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai, zy”a, said, “We will walk into the Geulah with the Zohar under our arms.”

Kabbalah is the soul and Talmud is the body. One cannot exist in this world lacking either one. The question is: Who rules over the other?

If the Talmud rules, the Jewish psyche will remain in Galut forever. That is who and what the Talmud is. It is the voice of spiritual restraint. It is essential for growth on a lower level, but a curtain over the higher levels. If Kabbalah rules, there is true freedom within the Torah. Never a matter of forbidden and permitted, which is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil. In Kabbalah it is a matter of opportunity and missed opportunity. This is freedom, the Tree of Life. Fortunate are those who grasp it and fortunate are those who support it. Good news is coming, b’ezrat Hashem.

Chaim Clorfene