Zitate von Gershom Scholem

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Gershom Scholem

Geburtstag: 5. Dezember 1897
Todesdatum: 21. Februar 1982

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Gershom Scholem war ein jüdischer Religionshistoriker, der in Ivrith, Deutsch und Englisch über 500 Werke publizierte. Er hatte ab 1933 einen Lehrstuhl zur Erforschung der jüdischen Mystik an der Hebräischen Universität Jerusalem inne und gilt als deren Wiederentdecker.

Zitate Gershom Scholem

„The elements of the divine language appear as the letters of the Holy Scriptures.“

— Gershom Scholem
Context: Here I need not go into the paradoxes and mysteries of Kabbalis­tic theology concerned with the seflroth and their nature. But one important point must be made. The process which the Kabbalists described as the emanation of divine energy and divine light was also characterized as the unfolding of the divine language. This gives rise to a deep-seated parallelism between the two most im­portant kinds of symbolism used by the Kabbalists to communi­cate their ideas. They speak of attributes and of spheres of light; but in the same context they speak also of divine names and the letters of which they are composed. From the very beginnings of Kabbalistic doctrine these two manners of speaking appear side by side. The secret world of the godhead is a world of language, a world of divine names that unfold in accordance with a law of their own. The elements of the divine language appear as the letters of the Holy Scriptures. Letters and names are not only conventional means of communication. They are far more. Each one of them represents a concentration of energy and expresses a wealth of meaning which cannot be translated, or not fully at least, into human language. There is, of course, an obvious dis­crepancy between the two symbolisms. When the Kabbalists speak of divine attributes and sefiroth, they are describing the hid­den world under ten aspects; when, on the other hand, they speak of divine names and letters, they necessarily operate' with the twenty-two consonants of the Hebrew alphabet, in which the Torah is written, or as they would have said, in which its secret essence was made communicable. Ch. 2 : The Meaning of the Torah in Jewish Mysticism<!-- , p. 35 -->

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„The Kabbalah, literally 'tradition,' that is, the tradition of things divine, is the sum of Jewish mysticism.“

— Gershom Scholem
Context: The Kabbalah, literally 'tradition,' that is, the tradition of things divine, is the sum of Jewish mysticism. It has had a long history and for centuries has exerted a profound influence on those among the Jewish people who were eager to gain a deeper understanding of the traditional forms and conceptions of Judaism. The literary production of the Kabbalists, more intensive in certain periods than in others, has been stored up in an impressive number of books, many of them dating back to the late Middle Ages. For many centuries the chief literary work of this movement, the Zohar, or 'Book of Splendor,' was widely revered as a sacred text of unquestionable value, and in certain Jewish communities it enjoys such esteem to this day. Introduction

„The process which the Kabbalists described as the emanation of divine energy and divine light was also characterized as the unfolding of the divine language. This gives rise to a deep-seated parallelism between the two most im­portant kinds of symbolism used by the Kabbalists to communi­cate their ideas. They speak of attributes and of spheres of light; but in the same context they speak also of divine names and the letters of which they are composed. From the very beginnings of Kabbalistic doctrine these two manners of speaking appear side by side.“

— Gershom Scholem
Context: Here I need not go into the paradoxes and mysteries of Kabbalis­tic theology concerned with the seflroth and their nature. But one important point must be made. The process which the Kabbalists described as the emanation of divine energy and divine light was also characterized as the unfolding of the divine language. This gives rise to a deep-seated parallelism between the two most im­portant kinds of symbolism used by the Kabbalists to communi­cate their ideas. They speak of attributes and of spheres of light; but in the same context they speak also of divine names and the letters of which they are composed. From the very beginnings of Kabbalistic doctrine these two manners of speaking appear side by side. The secret world of the godhead is a world of language, a world of divine names that unfold in accordance with a law of their own. The elements of the divine language appear as the letters of the Holy Scriptures. Letters and names are not only conventional means of communication. They are far more. Each one of them represents a concentration of energy and expresses a wealth of meaning which cannot be translated, or not fully at least, into human language. There is, of course, an obvious dis­crepancy between the two symbolisms. When the Kabbalists speak of divine attributes and sefiroth, they are describing the hid­den world under ten aspects; when, on the other hand, they speak of divine names and letters, they necessarily operate' with the twenty-two consonants of the Hebrew alphabet, in which the Torah is written, or as they would have said, in which its secret essence was made communicable. Ch. 2 : The Meaning of the Torah in Jewish Mysticism<!-- , p. 35 -->

„A mystic is a man who has been favored with an immediate, and to him real, experience of the divine, of ultimate reality, or who at least strives to attain such experience.“

— Gershom Scholem
Context: We shall start from the assumption that a mystic, insofar as he participates actively in the religious life of a community, does not act in the void. It is sometimes said, to be sure, that mystics, with their personal striving for transcendence, live outside of and above the historical level, that their experience is unrelated to historical experience. Some admire this ahistorical orientation, others condemn it as a fundamental weakness of mys­ticism. Be that as it may, what is of interest to the history of reli­gions is the mystic's impact on the historical world, his conflict with the religious life of his day and with his community. No his­torian can say — nor is it his business to answer such questions­ whether a given mystic in the course of his individual religious experience actually found what he was so eagerly looking for. What concerns us here is not the mystic's inner fulfillment. But if we wish to understand the specific tension that often prevailed between mysticism and religious authority, we shall do well to recall certain basic facts concerning mysticism. A mystic is a man who has been favored with an immediate, and to him real, experience of the divine, of ultimate reality, or who at least strives to attain such experience. His experience may come to him through sudden illumination, or it may be the result of long and often elaborate preparations. From a historical point of view, the mystical quest for the divine takes place almost exclusively wit a prescribed tradition-the exceptions seem to be limited to modern times, with their dissolution of all traditional ties. Where such a tradition prevails, a religious authority, established long before the mystic was born, has been recognized by the com­ munity for many generations. Ch. 1 : Religious Authority and Mysticism

„We shall start from the assumption that a mystic, insofar as he participates actively in the religious life of a community, does not act in the void.“

— Gershom Scholem
Context: We shall start from the assumption that a mystic, insofar as he participates actively in the religious life of a community, does not act in the void. It is sometimes said, to be sure, that mystics, with their personal striving for transcendence, live outside of and above the historical level, that their experience is unrelated to historical experience. Some admire this ahistorical orientation, others condemn it as a fundamental weakness of mys­ticism. Be that as it may, what is of interest to the history of reli­gions is the mystic's impact on the historical world, his conflict with the religious life of his day and with his community. No his­torian can say — nor is it his business to answer such questions­ whether a given mystic in the course of his individual religious experience actually found what he was so eagerly looking for. What concerns us here is not the mystic's inner fulfillment. But if we wish to understand the specific tension that often prevailed between mysticism and religious authority, we shall do well to recall certain basic facts concerning mysticism. A mystic is a man who has been favored with an immediate, and to him real, experience of the divine, of ultimate reality, or who at least strives to attain such experience. His experience may come to him through sudden illumination, or it may be the result of long and often elaborate preparations. From a historical point of view, the mystical quest for the divine takes place almost exclusively wit a prescribed tradition-the exceptions seem to be limited to modern times, with their dissolution of all traditional ties. Where such a tradition prevails, a religious authority, established long before the mystic was born, has been recognized by the com­ munity for many generations. Ch. 1 : Religious Authority and Mysticism

„No one has a right to speak who, in the midst of thinking, hasn't been overcome with the experience of glimpsing the essence of history.“

— Gershom Scholem
Diary Entry (2 March 1916), published in [http://books.google.com/books?id=QSGHABOOFhAC&pg=PA109 Lamentations of Youth : The Diaries of Gershom Scholem, 1913-1919, p. 109]

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