Category Archives: Kabbalah

Christological statements in the Zohar

Judaism is traditionally monotheistic, and rejects Christian concepts of the Trinity. Christianity is a trinitarian monotheistic: they hold that God exists as three hypostases, but is one being, having a single divine nature. The members of the Trinity are co-equal and co-eternal, one in essence, nature, power, action, and will.

Kabbalah Sefirot Tree

he Zohar: Pritzker Edition

But over the milennia Jewish theology and literature has developed in many different ways. In the 15th century a book began to be published called the Zohar (זֹהַר‎, “Splendor” or “Radiance”.) This was described as the work of a Spanish Jewish writer named Moses de León, who in turn said that he found a secret cache of works written by Shimon bar Yochai (“Rashbi”), a rabbi of the 2nd century CE.  Most Jews at the time didn’t accept that this was literally correct, but within another 2 centuries the Zohar became to be seen as the most authoritative and ancient work of Jewish mysticism. By the 19th century large segments of Orthodox Judaism held that it was an article of faith that the Zohar was legitimate. However, much of it is written in an unclear fashion, and even it’s adherents and commentators have a hard time understanding what the precise teachings are.

Most controversial were the sections of the Zohar which paralled almost exactly the Christian concept of the Trinity.

Moses de Leon himself had a hard explaining why the Christian terminology for the trinity is incorrect, while his Kabbalistic/Zohar explanation of the trinity is correct.

Today, at least in public, Orthodox Jewish Kabbalists claim this is a “misunderstanding” of the Zohar – but not only is it correct, we have textual evidence that the Zohar texts used by Christian missionaries are correct. Later Zohar texts used by rabbinic Jews were altered to more quietly allude to neo-Christian, Trinitarian teachings. Attached below are quotes from Studies in the Zohar, By Yehuda Liebes.

Example 1

‘The Ancient of Days has three heads. He reveals himself in three archetypes, all three forming but one. He is thus symbolized by the number Three. They are revealed in one another. [These are:] first, secret, hidden ‘Wisdom’; above that the Holy Ancient One; and above Him the Unknowable One. None knows what He contains; He is above all conception. He is therefore called for man ‘Non-Existing’ [Ayin]'”
– Zohar, iii. 288b

Example 2

And this teaching from Zohar (II, 53b)

Hear, O Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai is one. These three are one. How can the three names be one? Only through the perception of faith: in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the holding of the hidden eye alone. The mystery of the audible voice is similar to this, for though it is one yet it consists of three elements – fire, air and water, which have, however, become one in the mystery of the voice. Even so, it is with the mystery of the three-fold Divine manifestations designated by Adonai Eloheinu Adonai – three modes which yet form one unity. This is the significance of the voice which man produces in the act of unification, when his intent is to unify all, from the Infinite (Ein-Sof) to the end of creation. This is the daily unification, the secret of which has been revealed in the holy spirit.

Liebnes writes :

It is interesting to note that R. Moses de Leon also grapples in the above passage with the problematics of the ten sefirot — why they are not threefold as is the Unity of God (and not only why they are not considered one — a philosophical question) — apparently because the tripartite formulations were of such obvious importance to him. Indeed, in writing his response to the questioner in his work confirming the unity of three,13 de Leon also responds to this latter question:

And as to what you have said concerning the sefirot (divine emanations), that they are ten and not three or more, you have made your point very clear. Nevertheless, all the sefirot are contained within the mystery of the triune singularity, as our sages teach us (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer, 3): “The world was created through ten sayings, and of three are they comprised —wisdom, understanding and knowledge14 — forming a single source of reality”, {ibid., p. 134)

Indeed, Abner of Burgos also relied on this triad of wisdom, understanding and knowledge, in order to verify the authenticity of the Christian trinity. Y. Baer, in referring to Abner’s words,15 drew a parallel between them and the words of the Zohar in the Midrash ha-Ne^alam in Zohar Hadash to Genesis (Mossad Ha- Rav Kook edition, 4a) and in III:290a-b (Idra Zuta), and the commentary of R. Azriel of Gerona on the passage in his Commentary to the Aggadoth, claiming that not only could such (trinitarian) quotes be used for Christological interpretations, “but that the aforementioned Kabbalist writers had made use of  the idea of the Christian Trinity in their works.”

Later Liebes writes

In the passage cited by Heredia, we find strong emphasis placed upon the mystery surrounding the second element of the Trinity — the son. While it is true that there is no reason to doubt the Christian origin of this element, in my opinion the use of this element in no way implies a forgery. It is quite possible that these words came from the author of the Zohar himself, for allusions to such concepts are to be found in other passages of the book, as we shall see further on in this study. But first let me remark that even at this point we do have a partial proof of the authenticity of this passage: the very beginning of Heredia’s passage does appear in extant editions of the Zohar in III:263a.24 In this Zohar passage, concerning the first of the three divine names in the verse Shema‘ Yisrael, we have the following statement:

“And this is called the father.” While it is true that the term “father” is regularly applied in the Zohar to the sefirah of hokhmah (wisdom), as it is clearly alluded to here, it is nevertheless unusual for the Zohar to simply enumerate the different names of the divine spheres unless they fit within a specific framework of discourse. Thus, only if we assume that Heredia’s addition referring to “son” is authentic will the use of the term “father” seem appropriate within this discourse.

Moreover, it seems to me that if someone wishes to falsify a document, he will forge an entire passage, so as not to be caught in the act of falsifying material, rather than attach a forged section to an authentic passage. This is so especially after we have noted that there are other passages in the Zohar discussing the triune qualities of the Shema,
which the forger certainly would have known (It is hard to imagine that his forgery just happened to chance on the same idea that appears in the Zohar in these places). Why Heredia didn’t hinge his forgery on one of these passages, which would have suited his purposes better than the one in question — a passage discussing five elements rather than the three found in the Shema — is a serious question to ponder.

All these considerations have convinced me that the passage Heredia brings is an authentic Zohar passage, which was apparently later abridged because of its Christian connotation and then woven into another discourse on the Shema.

This change was very likely made by the author of the Zohar himself, who was frightened by his own daring after the first version of his work had been disseminated. Other such instances of this phenomenon — different recensions of the same passage, all written by the author of the Zohar — have been well attested.


Here is a 25 page article (PDF format) Christian Influences in the Zohar, Yehudah Liebes


The Zohar’s origin

Studies in Scholem: part 2 of a series of explorations on his essays on the Zohar and Kabbala.

Excerpts from essay entitled “The Zohar 1: the Book and it’s Author”, part 2.

Scholem explains why it may appear to the first time reader that the Zohar is a multi layered work with multiple authors having added and amended to the work, eventhough this is not the theory he himself has ultimately come to adopt.

He gives us a breakdown of the components of the Zohar which make up the full five volumes.
These may be summarized as follows:

a) A bulky part with no specific title, wholly composed of discursive commentaries on various Torah passages. Includes discourses, discussions and longer or short stories

b) Sifra di-Tsiniuta – “Book of Concealment” : Six page document containing a sort of commentary on the first six chapters of Bereishit. Style is obscure.

c) Idra Rabba – “Greater Assembly”: Simeon ben Yohai assembles his followers in order to reveal to them the mysteries hitherto hidden from their eyes. Each in turn rises to speak and is praised by the master. The totality of the speeches constitute a systematic whole. The participants of the assembly are increasingly overcome by ecstasy resulting in the death of three of them in an ecstatic trance.

d) Idra Zutra – “Lesser Assembly”: Simeon ben Yohais own death is described in the same dramatic fashion. The lengthy speech of the Idra Rabba is summed up with some novela.

e) Idra de-be-Mashkana – “Assembly on the occasion of a lecture on the Tabernacle”: follows the form of the Idra Rabba, mainly on the subject of the mysticism of prayer.

f) Hekhalot: a description of the seven “palaces” of light perceived by the soul of the devout after his death, or by the inner vision of the mystic during prayer.

g) Raza de-Razin – “Secretum Secretorum”: Seperate pieces of physiognomy and chiromancy. One chapter is anonymous, the other employs the setting Simeon ben Yohai and his pupils.

h) Sava – “The Old Man”: a romantic story centring on the speech made by an old man, who under the appearance of a donkey drive, reveals himself before the pupils of Simeon ben Yohai as master Kabbalist. The discourse deals mainly with the mysteries of the soul, the roots of which he traces in the legal code of the Torah concerning the treatment of the Hebrew slave.

i) Yenuka – “the Child”: the story of an infant prodigy, it’s discourse on the Torah and grace after meals. This child is discovered by Simeon ben Yohai after it’s parents and relatives regarded it incapable of learning.

k) * Rav Methivtha – “The Head of the Academy”: Description of a visionary journey taken through paradise by members of the circle, and a discourse by one of the heads of the celestial academy on the destinies of the soul.

l) Sithre Torah – “Secrets of the Torah”: Allegorical, mystical interpretation of Torah verses with a tendency towards theosophy & mystical psychology.

m) Mathnitin – “Mishnayot (and Tosefa)”: attempt to follow the style of the Mishna and Tosefta on a purely Kabbalistic basis. Designed to serve as introductions to speeches and discussions in part a), similar to the relationship of mishna to the discussions of Gemara. The “mishnas” seem to express some sort of revelation of heavenly voices.

n) Zohar to Shir haShirin: kabbalistic commentary on first verses of Song of Songs, with digressions.

o) Kav Ha-Midda – “The Mystical standard of measure”: Profound and searching interpretation of the meaning of Deut 6:4 (the Shema Israel).

p) Sithre Othiot – “Secret of the letters”: a Kabbalistic monologue by Rabbi Simeon on the letters which occur in the names of God, and on the origins of Creation.

q) A commentary for which no title is supplied on Ezekiels vision of the Merkabah.

r) Midrash Ha-Neelam – “Mystical Midrash”: on the Torah. We encounter Simeon ben Yohai, his pupils and other legendary figures or Talmudic teachers of the second, third and fourth centuries.

s) Midrash Ha-Neelam on the Book of Ruth: closely parallels the above.

t) Raya Mehemna – “the Faithful Sheperd”: Kabbalistic interpretation of the commandments and prohibitions of the Torah.

u) Tikkune Zohar: a new commentary on the first section of the Torah, divided into seventy chapters each of which begins with a new interpretation of the first word of the Torah, Bereishit. (In print this part constitutes a seperate bibliographical unit).

v) Further additions to the Tikkune Zohar or texts written in the same style eg. A new commentary to Ezekiels Merkabah.

These are the main parts of the Zohar, baring some “forged” parts, imitations, written much later.

These writings cover about two thousand four hundred closely printed pages.
Scholem the states that these components must be divided into two groups:
One includes the first eighteen items on the above list, the second is the last three which are said to be radically different.

The first group Scholem claims are all by one sole author. They cannot be divided as layered amendments added over time by multiple authors.
Scholem notes the uniformity of these writings and claims one noticed within them the sole authors distinctive personality with it’s strengths and weaknesses.

Evidence of this is to be found in the books literary style, language and the doctrine it sets forth.

* j) is skipped in my edition but this looks like a print error as the author refers to 21 sections which there indeed are.

Tonight: part 3

As previously discussed, Scholem rejects the multiple and time layered authored theory, instead putting crediting a sole author (Moses de Leon)

He now enters into a description of the Zohars grammatical and vocabularic characteristics: in summary, the authors Aramaic is uniform throughout the various chapters as remarkably and noticeably clumsy.

It is evident that such artificial Aramaic (it barely is Aramaic) could not have been spoken by Aramaic speakers at the time of the Tanaim. The author has fashioned his own Aramaic based on mainly the Babylonian Talmud and Targum Onkelos. (Elements of the Palestinian Talmud show up but the usage is rare).

Scholem tells us that “every page of the Zohar displays a rainbow picture of linguistic eclecticism, the constituent elements of which, however, remain constant throughout. The syntax is extremely simple, almost monotonous, and wherever there are differences between Hebrew and Aramaic, the construction is distinctly Hebrew. Syntactical peculiarities of mediaeval Hebrew recur in Aramaic disguise”.

Scholem in fact describes the language of the Zohar as being visibly influenced by and constructed from mediaeval

The Zohar’s problematic language includes, but is not limited to, the following features:
– misunderstandings and grammatical misconstructions (confusion of Hebrew verb forms)
– awkward vocabulary: mediaeval Hebrew expressions based on Arabic expressions used by the philosophers, Spanish words and phrases, Aramaic words used out of context or with new meanings, demonstrable usage of Hebrew and Aramaic words fr dictionaries of the 13th century, new words and expressions made up by the author.
– the same problems with the vocabulary applies to the Zohars phraseology. There is a great deal of phrases not found in the ancient Jewish literature but taken from Neoplatonic terminology.
– an interesting repeated usage of oxymora and paradoxes employed to describe a concept spiritual and impenetrable.
– homiletical phrases foreign to the old Midrash but common in writings of the time.

Scholem uses the footnotes to point out multiple examples of all of the above.

These characteristics are uniform across the body of works with the exceptions of the Raya Mehemna and the Tikune Zohar.
As already discussed, Scholem claims that those two works were composed by a seperate author to the other eighteen components already listed in Part 2.
He supports this now by describing the style of the Raya Mehemna and Tikunim as deliberate imitations of the other parts.
The author of this group knows even less Aramaic than the author of the other parts. He often uses pure Hebrew and appends an aleph at the end of the word to make it appear as an Aramaic word.
Scholem describes various other stylistic differences and then tells us that these two works are not too different in style but that the Tikunim is less distinguished than the Raya Mehemna.

Part 4:

Previously we had read Scholem’s philological critique of the author of the Zohar and noted problems with vocabulary and grammar, mistakes, newly invented words, words from other languages, Hebrew constructs adapted willy nilly into Aramaic, etc.

Scholem now turns his attention to the Zohars literary form.
This discussions focuses on those parts of the Zohar which Scholem has coined “the real Zohar”, which excludes the Raya Mehmna and Tikkunim, which as noted previously, are works of seperate authors with even poorer command of Aramaic.

Scholem notes that the stage setting of the contents of the narrative , ie Palestine, is more of an imaginary land than the actual one as it existed. The contents which at times include descriptions of places, do not accord with reality, therefore making it clear that the author of the Zohar had actually never set foot in Palestine.

Scholem demonstates this with a well known example: the Zohar frequently mentions a town called Kapotkia as a village in the Lower Gallilee. The reality in fact is that Kapotkia was a region of Cappadocia, in part of what is today Turkey. Like with some other geographies mentioned in the Zohar, the author read of the town Kapotkia in the Talmud but mistakenly understood it as being in Palestine. *
Similarly, his romantic descriptions of the mountains of Palestine seem more fitting a description of those in Castille.

The same issues apply to the the characters discussed in the Zohar’s narratives: the author mistakes Phineas ben Yair as Simeon ben Yohais father-in-law, when in fact the Talmud describes him as his son-in-law (Sabbath 33b).

Chronology is not a barrier either for the author: he describes certain figures who lived generations after ben Yohai as being part of the group assembled around him in the narrative. He makes mention of a Rabbi Rechumai, who first appears in the Sefer Bahir. Given however that the Bahir was written in Provence in the 12th century, this too highlights the Zohars chronological position – it must have been written after the Bahir.

Contrasting this pseudo-realism, is the setting of the Raya Mehemna and the Tikkunim, which take place in the celestial spheres. The author, different to that of what has been defined as the Zohar, saw himself as continuing the story of Simeon ben Yohai after his death.

Scholem then provides further discussion around the literary composition of the Zohar: the author attempted to imitate the style of the old Midrashim but more than often his mediaeval homily is apparent.

* As an aside, while on the topic of the Kapotkia error, one can view rabbi Josh Waxmans excellent parshablog entry on this, where he counters the publication (on the Chabad website) of a certain rabbi Miller in debunking Scholem and Tishbys theory’s on the Zohars authenticity.
Millers efforts are full of holes and Waxman points these out:


The Zohar

What is the Zohar, and where did it come from?

Kabbalah Sefirot Tree

he Zohar: Pritzker Edition


The Zohar is the most prominent “book” of Jewish mysticism. It is considered holy by many people. It contains the core teachings of modern Jewish mysticism. However, the book is not what it claims to be, its ideas are at best obscure and incomprehensible, its concept of God is often Gnostic, polytheistic,or given Trinitarian aspects.

Most strikingly, the Zohar isn;t even a book; it is an anthology of many parts, added together between 1300 CE to 1500 CE, much of it being pesudigrapha, and we don’t know the authorship of each part, nor which part is the supposed core material.

Daniel Abrams reveals the following

The Zohar was neither written, nor edited, nor distributed as a book by the various figures who produced the various literary units which were later known by the name Zohar. (10)

The Zohar is not a Book – Nor does it have an author (105)

I have tried to express my theoretical discomfort, indeed a perceived dissonance, concerning published methodologies for evaluating the literary quality and forms of the texts known by the name Zohar. (127)

No satisfactory evidence has yet been offered in the relevant scholarship proving that the zoharic writings were intentionally composed, edited, or copied as a book. Not only can ‘the’ Book of the Zohar not be restored to its full form, but there was no single original moment that is recoverable amidst the disparate writings and unstable text(s). (142)

 – The Invention of the Zohar as a Book: On the Assumptions and Expectations of the Kabbalists and Modern Scholars, Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 19 (2009), pp. 7-142.

Despite it’s acclaim as an ancient holy book, the Zohar as a unified may have created by 17th century publishers in order to sell an anthology!

Professor Alan Brill writes

Abrams claims the idea of the Zohar as a preexisting book was created in the 16th century by the printers- before that point there were only various unconnected manuscripts of esotericism. The production of the Zohar as ideas, texts, and isolated units, has little to do with consumption of the product as a book. …

Abrams rejects Scholem’s theory of a single author;
he rejects Yehuda Liebes’ theory of circle of Zohar authors- hug haZohar.
The Zohar contains variety of styles and diverse literature, hence Abrams is sympathetic to Moshe Idel’s reclamation of the theory of Moses Gaster, who considered the work a collection of diverse sources.

He accepts parts of Ronit Meroz’s articles that claim that the texts of the Zohar originated between the 11-14th centuries. But he demurs from her suggestion that there are 14th century imitators of the Zohar’s style Abrams asks: Who says there was ever a fixed thing called the Zohar to imitate?

… Abrams suggests that the field needs to go back to manuscripts and first editions, and especially colophons – every text must be treated in its context of production of the manuscript.  He notes: Danny Matt is creating a synthetic text that does not correspond to any text out there. Meroz is creating a synoptic edition but that already assumes a whole to be recreated

Was the Zohar ever really even a book? Alan Brill

Scholars have assembled a host of proofs showing that the Zohar was not an ancient document.

1. A renowned person visited Moses d’ Leon to see the ancient documents that d’ Leon claimed he used to copy the Zohar. Moses d’ Leon kept putting him off and later asserted that the documents had strangely disappeared. After his death, d’ Leon’s wife admitted that the documents never existed.

2. The ideas in the Zohar are a later development of earlier mystical notions, showing that they were composed after these earlier works, and not in 130 CE, as d’ Leon claimed.

3. The rabbis knew nothing about the Zohar until d’ Leon introduced it.

4. Moses d’ Leon had no sense of history; he describes the alleged second century author conversing with people that lived longafter his death.

5. The Zohar author knew of the existence of vowels and accent marks used in the Torah books and gave them mystical interpretations. However, these items were not invented until the ninth century, seven centuries after the alleged composition date.

6. The terms “master of dikduk [grammar]” and “tenuah gedola” (long vowel) are used in the Zohar even though they were not coined until the tenth and eleventh centuries, respectively.

7. The author inserted terms from Jewish philosophy of the Middle Ages.

8. The book contains ideas copied from the eleventh-century Kuzari of Yehudah Halevi.

9. The author introduces Maimonides’ twelfth-century concept about physics.

10. The volume mentions putting on two pairs of tefillin, a practice that arose in the twelfth century.

11. The Zohar discusses the Kol Nidre prayer of Yom Kippur, a ceremony that began in the eleventh century.

12. The language of the Zohar is later than its alleged date of composition.

13. There are many incorrect quotations from the Bible and the Talmud. The latter did not exist in 130.

14. Prophecies in the volume inform the reader that the Zohar will be revealed around 1300 C.E., a blatant attempt to justify its late appearance.

15. There are parallel passages between the Zohar and other books that were indisputably composed by Moses d’ Leon, including mistakes in the original books that d’ Leon copied into his Zohar.

16. There is no mention in the Talmud or Midrashim that the alleged author of the Zohar, Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai, was interested in mysticism. Thus, d’ Leon took the wrong hero for his work.

17. The famous mystic Rabbi Jacob Emden (born 1697) recorded 280 contradictions, anachronisms and incorrect statements and concluded that the book is a forgery of the thirteenth-century with some later additions.

Lastly I’d like to point out that De Leon “found” this text after it was supposedly hidden for centuries (there are different versions of how and where he found it, but as mentioned earlier, he claimed the original documents mysteriously disappeared). So, even if you were to believe in the secret Rebbe-to-student mesora, it does not even apply in this case since he wasn’t taught this book from his Rav (also, I’d like to know who his Rav was because that fact is also mysteriously and conveniently missing from the pages of history).



Alan Brill writes

This volume contains several sections of the Zohar called Midrash ha-Neelam, which are separate in language and theology than the main body of the Zohar. They have a Hebrew core and an Aramaic overlay, they mainly concern the soul and other allegorical topics, rather than sefirot, and the named scholars are unlike the Zohar. The works use Neoplatonic philosophic language and philosophic terminology. The Midrash ha-Neelam offer a sense of how 13th century Castilian Jews integrated the Heikhalot and early esotericism with the scholastic philosophic traditions.

In the eighteenth century, Rabbi Yaakov Emden considered these sections separate and earlier than the rest of the corpus. In 1926, Gershom Scholem speculated in his inaugural lecture at Hebrew University, that these texts were earlier than the rest of the Zohar. Scholem completely buried this article and never referred to it; he considered these sections from Moses deLeon. Samuel Belkin, (1957) argued that there were Philonic elements in the work, which received a long critique from R.J. Z. Werblowsky (1960).

Current range for the origin of the Midrash ha-Neelam is between 1250 as an allegorical precursor to the Zohar to 1280 as part of De Leon’s large oeuvre, the opposite positions of belong to Ronit Meroz and Nathan Wolski.

Ah… but all this is only background. Pritzker Zohar Volume 11 contains a selection of later texts that are modeled on Midrash ha-Neelam. They are post-Zohar and before the 14th century Tikkune Zohar, and combine philosophic allegory with kabbalistic sefirot. They also have significant amounts of reworked later Midrash such as Eichah Rabbah or the short works of Batei Midrashot.

What is the origin of these later texts? 1250 and then additions in 1280? All 1280? How many strata? Was there an Aramaic overlay on Hebrew original or mixed language right from the start. Were they written by several people? Who were they? What did they think they were doing? Did they relate to one another?

Interview with Joel Hecker- Pritzker Zohar volume 11.


Does the Zohar (Kabbalah) include Trinity?

Kabbalah Sefirot Tree

he Zohar: Pritzker Edition

* Does the Zohar (main text of Kabbalah) include the (Christian) Trinity? If so, in what way?
* Kabbalah goes beyond saying that God is Three… there are said to be ten divine emanations (sefirot) through which God interacts with the world. So how much of Kabbalah can we reconcile with traditional (non-Zohar) rabbinic Judaism?
* How did Christians recognize the Zohar as possibly Christian? (Christians took the lead in sparing the Zohar from book burnings of the Talmud, for precisely this reason, see the article)
* Are rationalist philosophers correct, or incorrect, in not only disagreeing with Kabbalah, but in radically denying all attributes to God, on order to prove God’s one-ness? In this view, perhaps Jewish rationalists like Maimonides, Ibn Tibbon and Gersonides are simply mistaken, and God does indeed have multiple attributes?

Because of reasons like this, religious rationalists reject the Zohar, and Kabbalah, as being incorrect. See Judaism as opposed to Zohardoxy

However, other Jews see the Zohar as being compatible with Judaism; for an example, see “Three Is Not Enough: Jewish Reflections on Trinitarian Thinking”, by David R. Blumenthal, Professor of Judaic Studies, Emory University
An excerpt:
….The historical interlude of the Christian reception of the Zohar in counterreformation Italy aside, it seems to me that a more profound theological question has arisen: If God can, indeed, have personalist dimensions as part of God’s own inner being, why should there be only three such dimensions? If God can, indeed, encompass different levels of being, all of which are equal within God’s inner-ness, why should there not be as many such levels as necessary? To put it clearly: If God’s being is plural, why only Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Why not Ineffability, Knowability (Father), Intuition (Mother), Grace (male), Judgment (female), Compassion (Husband), Eternity, Awe, Fecundity (male), and Providence (Bride, Mother) — all of which are equally integral to the divine whole?
To put it in declarative form: The zoharic dialogue with the trinity leads to the statement: Three is not enough! God, in God’s fullness, is more than three. God, in Whose Image humanity is created, has more than three dimensions. The awesome complexity of the human personality — in which Image humanity is created — suggests that there are many more than three basic dimensions to God’s personhood. Indeed, if we, humans, are more than trinitarian, certainly God is more than three.
Jewish readers of the Zohar and its related literature knew all this. The non-philosophers were struck by the very depth of its insight into God, and into humanity, and made the Zohar into a holy book, probably the third holiest in Judaism after the Bible and the Talmud.[26] Jewish rationalists of philosophic or halakhic bent were struck by the almost heretical pluralism within the divine and objected strenuously to teaching, publishing, and translating the Zohar. In fact, the charge of the Zohar being a book that aids and abets trinitarian thinking precisely because the sefirot are integral elements of God Godself, was first made by Jews[27] and it is surely one of the reasons why the Zohar may not be taught to Jews who are too young or uneducated, or to Christians.
Jewish rationalist hesitations notwithstanding, the question remains: If God’s being is plural, why only Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Why not Ineffability, Knowability, Intuition, Grace, Judgment, Compassion, Eternity, Awe, Fecundity, and Providence — all of which are equally integral to the divine whole? If we, who are complex beyond three, are created in God’s Image, God must be complex beyond three.