Lesson 1 – Part C
The Zohar describes (Zohar, VaYikra) that the Earth rolls as a ball, so while some are on top others are down; and while for some people the sun shines, for others it is dark; and there is a place where there is daylight all the time except, for a little time of darkness. The Zohar also says that there are seven continents and one of them is not populated.
We have to remember that those things were said in the 2nd century C. E. – a time when people thought the world was flat. Saying such things was much more than a new idea it was viewed as hallucinatory. However, this helps us to understand one aspect of how Kabbalah influenced the modern era.
The Zohar and the Discovery of America
One of the most famous icons symbolizing the end of the insular and dark era of the middle ages is the discovery of America. The leader of this historic campaign was Christopher Columbus, who went bravely and without fear of “falling into the other side” (because the world is flat) toward the west in order to find India.
Rabbi Abraham Zacuto was an instructor and mentor to Columbus. At the end of the 15th century, the great astronomers and navigators were Kabbalists, a guild whose knowledge of the stars and The Book of Formation (Sefer Yetsira) gave them great expertise in astronomy and navigation. Rabbi Abraham Zacuto was among the leading scholars of that time who made the connection between science and the knowledge of Judaism. He had a great influence on the royals of Spain and Portugal that financed the quests for discovering new lands. Being a Kabbalist, Rabbi Abraham Zacuto received his knowledge about the earth from the Zohar. It is clear that the knowledge he had, he passed on to his students and Christopher Columbus was among them. He was also the one who advised King Manuel I of Portugal to send Vasco da Gama to his historic journey around Africa and guided Vasco da Gama and prepared him for the famous journey.
The Da Vinci Code and the Zohar
Many books have been written about the history of science and the link between the popularity of Kabbalah in 17th century Europe (among non Jewish scholars) and the foundations of science the way we know it today. An evidence for that can be found in many principles mentioned in the best seller “The Da Vinci Code” whose origins are found in Kabbalah. In another best seller, “Jews, God and History”, Max I. Dimont claims that studying Kabbalah in the 17th century contributed to the scientific revolution of that century. Earlier, the Zohar was translated to Latin and was very widespread among European scholars. The Zohar’s approach toward the exemplary order of universal rules and the fact that nothing happens without a reason influenced many in the birth of research looking for consistency and a reason for every phenomenon in the world.
Anyone who considered himself to be a leading scholar in the world of science in 17th century Europe learned Kabbalah. Science in those days mixed several fields of mysticism, alchemy, etc. Secret orders of that time, such as the Freemasons, learned and developed their own interpretation of the Zohar and the basics of Kabbalah in order to maintain control of human’s destiny and bring an end to human suffering.
Kabbalah: Newton, Leibniz and others
In his book, “The religion of Isaac Newton”, Frank E. Manuel writes that Isaac Newton was convinced that Moses knew and controlled all of the secrets of science. He also believed that on Mt. Sinai we were not given a religion but, the knowledge and the secrets to control the forces of nature. Newton invested most of his time trying to solve the secrets of Kabbalah and finding the connection between the building of the Mishkan (The Tabernacle – a portable temple carried by the Israelites in their journeys), mentioned in the book of Exodus, and the rules of the universe and its structure; and he was not the only one. Leibniz, father of modern mathematics, also wrote that the perfect society of the future, called Utopia would be based on Kabbalah, mathematics, mysticism and mechanics; meaning that the people, who established modern science, learned and based their knowledge on Kabbalah.
Those philosophers were convinced that the ancient Kabbalists had a tremendous influence on important philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato and whenever humanity leapt forward, it was Kabbalah that pushed, inspired and lead to a new revolution, which supported humanity in another step toward the final goal of completeness and peace.
For additional study please enter the course “Level 1 – The Inner World of the Kabbalist” at Live Kabbalah University.