Gregory Margovsky



An introduction into metaphysical history

The theosophic and esoteric doctrine of Cabala (literally meaning «reception» or «transfer») to a large extent was a repetition of the historical Jewish vagrancy route. It is not a mere accident that pan of the most ancient texts created in the first through the third centuries A.D., in Eretz Israel and Babylonia, reached our times under the name of Sifrut-ha-Merkava (the literature of chariot); this kinetic term is not so much a result ofEllada's gnostic influences (see the fierce myth about Phaetons, the unsophisticated coachman, as interpreted by Euripides and Goethe, Michelangelo and Picasso), as it is the consequence of long-term statelessness within this vagrant ethnic group, its alienation in space. Provence, Zefat, German Worms and Catalan Gerona are just the most visible stations of the mystical train en route, the train is comprised of dozens of schools establishing quasi-contacts and then occasionally interacting with each other. However, even those short term stops at Eurasia's rest areas were sometimes sufficient for the souls of traveling mystics yordei-merkava to ascend to the throne of divine Glory and contemplate visual aspects of the Unutterable Name sitting on the Heavenly Throne. The impact of their ecstatic visions on the history of civilization is truly universal; (evidently, with a certain margin of error, it holds on to the proportion of the tenets of Judaism's impact on Christian dogmatic development); one cannot help being amazed by the fact that the academic world has yet to show genuine interest in this phenomenon.

The backwater Catalan town of Corona happened to be one of the cabalistic centers of Spain between 1230 and 1260. Within just thirty years an invaluable precious stone extracted by the Jewish mystics of Provence during the previous period, such as an incredibly esoteric commentator of the famous «Book of Creation» (Sefer-Yetzira) Itzkhak Saggi Nakhor (Itzkhak the Blind, 1165?-1235) underwent subtle prophetic processing. An apprentice's awesome attitude to his master's authority played a major role here; Ezra ben Shiomo and Arid of Gerona, the brightest representatives of the local circle, were direct descendants of the blind Provencal and maintained correspondence with him on a permanent basis; it is difficult not to notice a coincidence between that constant flow of letters and St. Paul's Epistles; (St. Paul, incidentallywas not blessed withex ñ client sight throughout his life, either). Being the most fruitful writer of his circle Arid left us not only his discourse on ethical and thematic subtleties oftheTalmud but also his comments on the system of Sfirot (digital hypostases of nonre-vealed God, each one of which has specified properties). Purely cabalistic works of Nakhmanides (Rab Moshe ben Nakhman, or, in short form, Ramban) whose name is also associated with Gerona are not numerous. However, biblical commentaries left by this unforgettable participant of the Barcelona between Jews and Christians (incidentally, the tournament resulted in the winner's expeditious departure to Eretz Israel, in spite of all the good intentions by Jacob of Aragon, the Spanish monarch who favored religious disputes) easily reveal motives unmistakably pointing at the knowledge of and infatuation with Cabala.

Representatives of the school of Gerona held similar methodological and research premises in their works, their differences being merely in insignificant details. Their rabbinical mysticism contains quite a generous share of neoplatonism and other medieval philosophical heresies. Here is what Hershom Gerhardt Sholem (1897-1982), one of the most prominent historians of cabalistic ideas, or, rather, a founder of the science of Cabala describes this period. «Even though we have only a vague and superficial idea about some prominent thinkers, and do not possess the data sufficient to come to a definite opinion about all of them, research that has been conducted within the last thirty years brought an amazing abundance of revealing facts. We have to keep in mind that each of these prominent individuals possessed his own characteristic spirituality which, due to its definite nature cannot betaken for anyone else's. Trends and tendencies have borderlines that are no less distinct, being characterized by terminology and specific nuances of mystical thought».(0snovniye techenya v yevreiskoi mistike,v.l,p. 169, Jerusalem, 1989). This citation by an Ashkenazi intellectual who studied in Berlin and Munich and left the future Third Reich well in advance in 1923 (it might be possible to explain his farsightedness by the fact that the same year 1923 saw the publication of his German translation and comments on the enlightening and cheering «Sefer-habakhir», the book that happened to come to Provence probably from the Orient and was so much enjoyed by the Qatars) is fully applicable to the «Book of Image» («Sefer-hatmuna») that was probably written in Gerona, too. This anonymous work is dedicated to the creation and the structure of the Universe.

According to this treatise by an unknown Catalan cabala scholar the Universal cycle is similar to the agricultural (land tilling) process in ancient Israel. Just like a new cycle begins in the fields every seven years, and there is an anniversary year every 49 years, the world is recreated each 7 thousand years. Every time this recreation occurs under the influence of one of the seven bottom sfirot; after 49 thousand years there comes an anniversary millennium when the matter dissolutes completely as the bottom sfirot crave to fall down to drink from their source which is Bina (Mind) or the Third Sfira. This is quite a metaphor for earthly civilization! Gesiodus himself who perpetuated the toils of an ancient ploughman in the treasure of poetry might have been jealous!

Now let us move two and a half centuries forward to Muscovy where Ivan the Third, a zealot of the autocracy restoration, already proclaimed himself the Tzar of all Russia and refused to pay tribute to the Mongols after winning a loud victory over them on the river of Ugra. His reign so modestly squeezed in between the reigns of Vasily the Dark and Ivan the Terrible is as enveloped in the darkness of ignorance as it is pierced through with a feeling of an approaching thunderstorm. Here is how Karamzin described that feeling: «In addition to external dangers and enemies, young Joann faced the challenge of overcoming widespread spiritual yearning, some kind of relaxation and dozing of hearts inside the nation. According to Greek chronographers it had been already seven thousand years after the Creation of the world. Common superstitions were expecting the end of the world. Unfortunately this idea dominated people's minds as it imposed indifferent attitudes on the nation's glory and welfare. People were less ashamed of their country's state of dependence, they were less easily captured by the idea of independence because everything looked ephemeral to them. That left hearts and imaginations even more prone to sad things. Sun eclipses, pseudomiracles seemed to be more terrifying to simple folks than at any previous period. There were assurances that the lake of Rostov was howling every night for the whole week and would not let local residents fall asleep. There were important and real disasters; crops were destroyed by severe colds and trosts: heavy snowhail happened in May two years in a row. The plague, to which chronicles refer to as zhelezo (iron), was still seeking new victims in Russia, particularly in the Novgorod and Pskov regions (regions where the heresy of «Judaizings» had originated from- G.M.). There, if we are to believe the information provided by an annalist 250, 652 persons died within two years: 48,402 in Novgorod alone, and about 8000 in monasteries. Also, there were many people who died from this infection in Moscow, other cities and villages, and on the roads». (Istoriya Gosudarstva Rossiyskogo, v.6, gl. 1).

In ancient Russia, the chronological system back in those days was based on the creation of the world, that is according to the chronology established by Panadorus, a monk from Alexandria as early as the 4 century A.D. It was only in times of Peter the First, in 1700, that the system «from the nativity of Christ' was introduced. The difference between these two systems was 5,508 years. Hence, it is easy to figure out that the people of the Third Rome were full of superstitious horror of the mystical meaning of the number 7 as they were waiting for the end of the world and Doomsday by the year 1492.

Let us make a note that Ivan the 3rd who had married a masterful Byzantine princess Sophia (Zoia) Paleologue, was quick to pick up lots of Byzantine customs and prejudices from his wife. Global tribal invasions were followed by radical shifts in social thinking of the Eastern Christendom.

Constantinople, the religious and cultural center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity fell in 1453 at the hands of Turkish yataghan,- Greek and Eastern Slavic lands found themselves under the power of Sultan. The approaching catastrophe had long before directed the thought of Byzantine orators toward unavoidable global calamity. That calamity was predicted to happen within the near future; Byzantine literature many times indicated that the world created by God in seven days was supposed to exist within seven thousand years.

Most scholars in the fields of theology, rhetoric, esthetics and linguistics from Constantinople lived in Western Europe in 1492. Florence was a place they enjoyed more than anywhere else; that was where they found shelter and welfare under the wing of Lorenzo Medici, a man of various talents and profound education. That Florentine ruler without a crown, even though he had been born to a family of bankers who usurped power in the city, did not only patronize poets and painters but entertained himself with picturesque pastoral poems in flexible and stentorian everyday volgare. It was he who gave young Michelangelo a taste for sculpture, welcomed great Leonardo, hid Pica della Mirandola persecuted by the papal bull, and also contributed to the success of the Greek philological intricacies as represented by Argiropulos and Plifonus, Khalkondilus and Laskaris, all refugees from Turkisized Byzantium, within the walls of his Platonic Academy. However, the year 1492 turned into tragedy even in that careless Mediterranean nook. Here is how the humanist Angola Poliziano describes the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent in his letter writr ten on May 18,1492 to Jakopo Antikvario, a clerk in the office of the Duke of Milano: «In nons of April (5th of April- G.M.) about 3 p.m„ three days before his death, a female God's fool who was listening to the sermon from the podium of Santa Maria Novella Temple suddenly took to her heels as she was yelling: «Look, look, citizens, can't you see a furious ox who is overthrowing this magnificent temple with his fiery homs?» In the evening when the sky suddenly became overcast with clouds the roofing of the said basilica supported by the most beautiful arc in the world was stricken by lightning, and a major part of it collapsed right in the direction where the palace of Medici was located; huge marble pieces rolled down with a horrible force and speed...» (Sochineniya italyanskikh gumanistov, str. 241, Moscow, 1985).

Fragments of the past magnificence tumbled down on tile heads of the Florentine visionaries. This is how the prophetic damnation of Girolamo Savonarola, who hated arts passionately, was accomplished; his gloomy rigor was Renaissance's eschatological pain in the neck. Pope Innocentius the 7th passed away three and a half months later, precisely in accordance with the prophesy of the monk who had been so zealously mortifying other people's flesh. Rampant bloodshed set itself in Rome; during the Pontifs long agony, he was consumed by his immesurable lust, 220 residents were killed on the streets of the Eternal City, their dead bodies were floating on the surface of water in the Tiber without burial. This lawlessness continued until odious Alexander the 6th (Lenzuoli Borgia), born in Spanish Valencia, through the shameless bribing of cardinals put on a garment of the Christ's deputy on Earth. This mean plotter and cruel poisoner who was rumored to have molested his own daughter Lucrecia, ended up dying from poison prepared for one of his victims. These horrible convulsions suddenly occurred in the Apennines Peninsula eight years before the end of the century.

As for Spain, a reader who is at least partially knowledgeable in history hardly needs to be reminded of what happened there in 1492. The year began with the complete capitulation of Moors in Granada on the second of January; the Spanish flag and a cross instead of a crescent were raised on the watchtower ofAlhambra. The moral peak of the year, however, was reached on the 12th of October when clothmade symbols of Iberian restoration caught the virgin eye of a native Haitian as they were flapping in fair wind, being brought there by a light hand of a charismatic man from Genoa. Probably old Gumilyov was not completely and hopelessly out of touch: how can we explain the frantic leap of the Ottoman Turks to the Balkans from Minor Asia and a logically following leap of the Spaniards into Northern Africa and India by anything other than the passionary push? It looked like a cargo train was started and all its cars set into motion but it was done consecutively, not simultaneously like in mechanics, one ethnic group after another, sometimes in chess order. On August 2,1483, Pope Sixtus the 4th, fearful of loosing the last citadel of Catholicism in the West, cracked out with a decree on establishing a stationary «holy» court martial headed by an Inquisitor General in Castille. This sinecure position of a torture professional ended up being grabbed by a confessor of a royal couple, a Dominican fanatic and bigot Thomas Torkvemada (his grandmother on his father's side was from a Marrano family). During his 18 year long career that virtuoso of fire and rack «burnt alive 1022 victims; 6860 people were burnt symbolically after death or in absense; 97,321 persons were defamated and fired from their positions in public offices of honor. The total number of those barbaric executions reacheit 141400 families destroyed forever» (H. A. Liorente, «Kriticheskaya istoriya ispanskoi inkvizitsii», t.2, str.250). In 1484, Sixtus the 4th in a personal letter to Torkvemada advised him on his being praised by Cardinal Borgia (the prospective Alexander the 6th) and added the following on his own behalf:

«We rejoiced at having heard this reference. We are delighted that you, enriched by knowledge and vested by the authority directed your pursuits on things glorifying the name of the Lord and useful for our true faith.
We ask for God to bless you and encourage you, my dear son, to continue to contribute to the strengthening and enhancement of the foundation of religion with the same energy and indefatigableness. You can always count on our special blessing in this regard». While cracking down on «new Christians» with tortures and executions (he had a mania of suspecting them of hidden preferences to Judaism) the Supreme Inquisitor, in the long run, was sharpening his fangs against the Jewish community of Spain. That rallying for national and religious unification served as a superb disguise for his screwed libido's craving for revenge. That old scar of the Dominican's heart had never completely cicatrized; as a young man, Torkvemada had fallen in love with a pretty Moorish girl, but naturally she preferred a son of Islam. You may ask, though, how it is related to his antisemitism, and from a naive standpoint the question is legitimate. This is the whole trick of the fundamentalism-seeking Christian mentality of those days that felt itself squeezed by Moorish and Turkish vice on both eastern and western flanks: in its profound depression the Catholicworld could not help reacting to the myth of internal enemies, it instinctively developed a stratagem (or perhaps a first geopolitical concept in history) according to which the Jews were hidden collaborators of the Islamic world, external resemblance of culture and lifestyle and the Spanish refugees' being welcome in the Ottoman empire seemed to be just additional pieces of evidence to that. The formation of this extremely superficial «world model» was probably influenced by Byzantine refugees, such as Andrea Paleologue, brother of the Russian Tsarina Sophia, who embarked on feeble flirtation with the royal couple of Aragon and Castille and even conceded his hereditary rights of the Eastern Empire to Ferdinand and Isabella. It is well known that Greek-speaking intellectuals had in their possession the most ancient and detailed treatises on scientific antisemitism. We also should keep in mind that as early as 1439, the union agreement between Catholic and Orthodox churches on conditions of papal supremacy was concluded at the Council in Florence. Joseph the 3rd, Patriarch of Constantinople passed away the same year in Spain. It is possible that he could foresee the spiritual and political crash of Byzantium fifteen years in advance; he could indoctrinate some of the Spanish Catholic bureaucrats with the millenialist expectations of the sound of Archangels' trumpets as he was matching his own despair with monk Panadorus' calendar.

On March 3 lst, 1492, the rulers of the Pyrenean peninsula issued, under fanatical pressure of Torkvemada, an edict on the expulsion of Jews from Spain and its protectorates. According to the edict, the Jews were obliged to leave the country by the end of July (or by the 9th of Ava as if it were made deliberately). The edict was based on a rotten idea that the sons of Israel had been luring Christians into Judaism, and the Maranas could not become honest Catholics because of the Old Testament influence. All attempts of the Jewish courtiers, particularly Itzkhak Abravanel and Abraham Senior, to achieve voiding of that decision by means of familiar oiling of the palms of this world's princes failed, and the tribe of eternal vagrants left Spain in silence. Houses and belongings were being sold at rock bottom prices, and that «clearance sale» preceded the following incessant devaluation of the peso. The confiscated property of the Jewish community was being used to establish new churches and monasteries; the Spaniards believed that the said metamorphosis was a logical result of the preceding historical and architectural Stambulization of Constantinople. By historians' estimates, the number of refugees was as high as one fifth of a million,- and such a number could easily drive any of the then demographers nuts! Most of the Jews found temporary asylum in neighboring Lusitania. About 50 thousand crossed the Pillars of Hercules and were the first to taste the zealous hospitality of Moroccan throat cutters. The luckiest ones found asylum in the Ottoman empire, the only power which, according to the Sultan's caustic remark, was accessible to its potential enrichers; some Jews moved to Heptameron's homeland or to the papal Avignon located next to the County of Navarra. This expulsion resulted in the shift of the Jewish spirituality center to the countries of Central Europe and Minor Asia but there was no way to help it: only the Throne of His Glory has remained insurmountable in centuries.

The disaster of 1492 providentially transformed the external appearance of cabalistic pursuits while leaving intact their spiritual core. The Jewish mystics asserted the idea of the necessity and possibility of influencing the approach of the global crash by means of returning to the initial point of creation. The cataclysm, coming as soon as this return was achieved, was being expected by hundreds of initiated people merging their efforts in their unified push to crown the syntactical period of visible eventfulness with a point. The lonely exercises were intertwined with meditative pursuits of the whole community like threads of the Orthodox tzitzit brocade. The call to improve the Universe (tikkun) turned out into a terrible weapon called upon to destroy all evil forces: the annihilation of devilish tricks was identified with the Act of Deliverance (Geula). Thus, the nation of exiles disintegrated as a result of its dispersed condition and deprived of its right to partake in the global political game, and, moreover, once again serving as an altar sacrifice for tricky tossing of alien historical entities kneaded a mystical and ethical dough from its suffering experience which later served as a collateral for its physical survival. Actually, nuclear weapons and Einstein's formula created, to a large extent, through the efforts of Jewish thought, could hardly emerge out of a calm and happy existence not ploughed by traitors, apostates and creatures of the third generation of the strong Semitic genes. And it was this weapon that nowadays has served as an instrument of checking factor against the global expansion of uproaring evil, and as the most reliable form of self-defense for the State of Israel recreated in Levantine latitudes.

This is how Gershom Sholem covers this subject with his enviable imperturbability: «Even though ideas and visions of the Messianic century were not a substantial element of the early Cabala, the fair share of them was well known, and it would be wrong to assume that the Cabala completely ignored an issue of Deliverance «nowadays». But when Cabala was to get involved in the issue it was doing so as something optional, located beyond the scope of its basic tasks. The ominous fact that it was the year 1492 that had been announced by some Cabala scholars to be the first year of Deliverance long before it came was typical for the catastrophic aspects of Deliverance well digested as such by the Cabala scholars. However, instead of Divine freedom, that year brought the most cruel expulsion in history. The awareness of the fact that Deliverance combines the notions of freedom and catastrophe was so pervasive in the new religious movement that it can be defined as the flip side of the Apocalyptical mentality dominating Jewish life... The Messianic doctrine that had earlier captured only the attention of apologists for a while turned into business for belligerent propaganda. Classical compendiums in which Itzkhak Abravanel codified Messianic doctrines of Judaism several years after the expulsion were followed by numerous epistles, treatises, sermons, and apocalypses which became the highest point of waves caused by the disaster of 1492. (Incidentally, Abravanel was that very Minister of Finance who persuaded Ferdinand and Isabella to provide funds for the expedition of Columbus (Columb-Colon was descended from baptized Jews of the island of Mallorca and considered himself King David's spiritual heir. Probably he was daydreaming about exotic India not only for the sake of gold of Ophir but also seeking reunion with the lost tribes of Israel who, according to the legend that inspired even the cabalism scholar Abulaphiah lived behind the mysterious river Sambation. G-M.). The authors of those works did their best attempting to match the expulsion with the ancient prophecies of the end of the world as they emphasized the redemptive nature in the disaster of the year 1492. It was suggested that the Expulsion was the beginning of the labor contractions of the Messianic Era through which history must come to a completion (the authors of apocalyptical works referred to this as «crash» of history) (G. Sholem. Osnovniye techeniya v yevreiskoi mistike, torn 2, str.59).

Now, let us reiterate and address the prophetic masterpiece of the nameless cabalist scholar ofGerona mentioned at the beginning of my article. Did not Sefer hatmunah specify the time of the world's renovation which is every 7 thousand years? The world was truly sort of reborn in 1492: the Moors were completely kicked out ofGranada, the Jews were deprived of the shelter they loved so much, Russia saw the spread of the «Judaizing» heresy and the restoration of autocracy, Italian humanism was experiencing its most profound of the possible crises while Catholic obscurantism reached the scope unthinkable any time before as it transferred its heathenish acts into the territory of the newly-discovered huge continent. The fact is indisputable: the planet's landscape changed drastically, and from a geographical standpoint the planet doubled itself, and through that doubling received collateral for the future balance of power, collateral embodied in the continent which unexpectedly aped the Old World. The objection to this last thought is certainly obvious: the Gerona «Book of Image» contained the foresight of the apocalypse in conjunction with the Jewish chronology, not Orthodox Christian (the year 1492 A.D. was the year 7071 according to the calendar of Galacha). From our standpoint even this «failure», along with the suddenness of expulsion which came instead of salvation, can be justified by aberration of ethnic sight. After all, even the Turks who sheltered the Jews for the sake of their own profit-loving sympathy could not expect Balfour's Declaration at the end. After all, each nation is merely another zigzag of an intricate and continuous ornament of human civilization, and no ethnic group of this planet, even though it possesses historical intuition so swollen and subtle as the one granted to the bearers of the Law of Moses, is capable of contemplating the picture of the future with complete objectivity. Another thing is important though: the Cabala scholars of Gerona, who lived in the first half of the 13th century, demonstrated an incredibly good command of the spirit and the letter of metaphysical history. That is the science (if it ever emerges as such) whose name may remain the responsibility of the author of this article. Metaphysical history is necessary for all mankind and that is why only the homosphere as such must be the object of its research, on conditions of maximum localization of a particular chronological period. In other words, to ensure the efficiency of our research of about ourselves, we would be better off if we look not only at all rings of a single tree section but, having figured out, by means of sample sawing of all the trunks of the oak wood, the hoop described by a particular circle of nature we are looking at, determine commonly shared features of its contour which brings a year restored in memory maximally close to being deciphered. Such research and study will enable us to foresee painful knots and stigmas of our civilization's development, conduct mutual adjustments of geopolitical doctrines of nations and continents and possibly even prevent some of history's seismic disasters. The number of chronological systems in our world is limited; it is obvious that for a computer whiz it is not difficult to browse through them one by one with regard to a particular sacred text forecasting. Moreover, along with a set of cabalistic sfirot, the Pythagorean theory of numbers has been attracting curious people since times immemorial; it is hardly more readily accessible for amateurish minds than Cabala; the news of the fact that both systems were initially derived from the same innermost source would not be much of a surprise.

Just to complete the landscape of facts I would like to add that the year 1492 has every right to claim to be the year of birth for philosophic ecumenism: in that particular year the rebellious Count Pica della Mirandola from Florence began to write one of his most important treatises «On the Existing and the Unified» (De Ente et Uno); unfortunately that work remained uncompleted. While attempting to reconcile the doctrines of Plato and Aristotle Pica who was guided from the highest was moving in the direction of creating syncretic concepts on the basis of the ideas ofneoplatonic syncretism. The count in disgrace dreamt about the union of philosophers of all countries and trends; along with Johann Reichlin in Germany he studied Hebrew grammar; his contemporaries marveled at his knowledge of many ancient and modern languages (Greek, Latin, Arabic and Aramaic); according to some sources he was proficient in 22 languages (incidentally, this is the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet). Pica was seeking a clue to the knowledge of the world in the doctrine of Pythagoreans and, at the same time, in the doctrine of Cabala. «On the Existing and the Unified» is referred to his friend Angola Poliziano who was teaching a course on the doctrine of Aristotle at the University of Florence as he was besieged by a question of how to appease his patron Lorenzo Medid who was opposed to the ideas of the great peripatetic. Mirandola who was trying to help his friend out attempted to justify the ancient Greek philosopher but did not finish his pursuits; the need for such justification suddenly disappeared after the death of the ruler of Florence. If we think of this seemingly usual episode of the chronicles of Italian humanism metaphorically we can certainly say that the development of the syncretic trend in modern historiosophy would be a direct completion of the unfinished work of the quattrocento period aimed at justifying the Cabala's genius intuition as viewed by representatives of the world's science of history.