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A Clarification

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Editor--

Your recent article on the Kabbalah Learning Centres [January 8] seems to imply (perhaps accidentally) that according to the kabbalah multiple sclerosis and the like (heaven forfend!) are the fault of the victim's flawed character traits. I am entirely willing to admit that I have not read the quoted article in Kabbalah magazine; however, it sounds as though the article is referring to common kabbalistic concepts, and, as best I can, I will address it as such.

All of a person's external characteristics stem from the soul within him, both his animating soul and his divine soul. All his traits and actions can be traced back to these souls. (This applies, it should be noted, to Jews, but non-Jews work quite similarly.) The personality of every person--whether they will be strong or weak, smart or slow, and so on, is determined before their birth by God, with the exception of whether they will act righteously or (heaven forfend!) sinfully, which is a choice they make every moment. And just like the seed of a great tree, which if only slightly nicked will produce an utterly different tree, so too the slightest changes in the root of a person's soul will produce an utterly different person.

If a seed has nicks hidden deep within it, it is the fault neither of the gardener nor the seed that the tree will have a contorted shape. Yet the resulting shape can still be traced to the nicked seed. So too, even though we can trace various (may heaven protect us!) illnesses to certain aspects of the soul, that does not necessarily bear on either the parents or the victim. Sometimes things happen for reasons far beyond our understanding, and as best as we may be able to point to their immediate cause, we can still not reach their essential core.

One of the reasons kabbalah was long hidden was to prevent accidental misinterpretation. May it be the will of God, this will head off some of that, without utterly doing so itself.

Max Schneider

Evanston

PS: Irving's is not a kosher restaurant.

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