A Warehouse of Mythical Wisdom Because this book goes beyond the literary uses of Kabbalah and makes some claims about 'what's really there, it is interesting to contrast it with similar claims by modern cosmologists. The book is also an intriguing anticipation/echo of various modern philosophical views.But because Kabbalah's claims are about reality rather than truth, the best way to appreciate it is as a cultural compendium of symbolic knowledge, a warehouse of myth in which all sorts of intriguing stories are stacked awaiting distribution. Schaya is obviously a theist who is employing Kabbalah as a theological tool, particularly to explain God's role in creation. This impression is reinforced in his description of subsequent divinely creative activity: "God's wisdom determines the uncreated archetypes; his intelligence manifests them as spiritual and supraformal realities, which in their turn clothe themselves in subtle substance and gross matter, in order to give birth to the heavens and the earth."Although Schaya's determinism isn't quite as deterministic as that of physicists (there's a bit of divine self-determination in everything for Schaya), this theory is not incompatible with, say, the scientific description of Quantum Gravity in its progression from the granular formation of space up through the manifestation of non-quantum events. This is also a contention of Kabbalah when it refers to the "...infinite chain of interpretations from Moses onwards...ultimately connecting Adam and the Messiah." When combined with the idea that there are missing elements in revelation, this contention is explained as a necessity: "The entire creation is an illusory projection of the transcendental aspects of God into the 'mirror' of his immanence. Many of these themes - hiddenness, secrecy, incompleteness, infinite interpretability - are also themes in the modern philosophy of language. And precisely this second part is the important one." "The limits of my language are the limits of my world." Or even "The mystical is not how the world is, butthatit is." When Schaya claims "The objective reality of The Sefirot is their indivisible infinity, their unlimited unity, which implies that every divine aspect is identified with the totality of God," it is unlikely Wittgenstein would have demurred.
Revisiting Leo Schaya More than thirty years ago, I became interested in Jewish mysticism and read in some traditional Jewish sources as well as in the books by Gershom Scholem and this book, "The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah" by Leo Schaya. I have gone on to read other religious and philosophical books but haven't revisited Jewish mysticism for many years. As I understand it, the Traditionalists hold that each particular religion, Judaism, Buddhism, Sufism, teaches its followers in its own way how to unite with the Divine and with reality. Schaya writes: "The idea of the transcendent unity of religions, of the unity manifested at the beginning of time and in the presence of a humanity still united by a single primordial tradition, has been expounded in the works of Rene Guenon and Frihjof Schuon and also of Ananda Comaswamy. Finite human beings have fallen away from understanding their unity in God, and the path of meaning and wisdom lies in reuniting with God through repentance and through following Jewish law. Subsequent chapters of the book become increasingly difficult to follow and explore Kabbalistic understanding of the heavens, of the creation of the earth, the place of human beings in the divine scheme, how wisdom lies in the Return to the One, the metaphysical meanings of the various names of God, and concluding observations about the unity of Being and returning to God in Jewish mysticism. I read this work as a non-practicing Jew of many years and was moved as I had been when I first studied Jewish mysticism by the spirituality of this book and by the meaning it found in Jewish and other religious practice. Schaya's book describes the underlying goal of Kabbalism and of the mystical traditions of all religions as the return of the soul to God through repentance and study.