Quakers, Scriptures, the Jewish Notion of Torah Kelulah

Dana Densmore [editor of my current readings from R. Schacter-Shalomi]:

"Michael Fishbane brings in another dimension in his book _Sacred Attunement_. He ... describes ... the divine reality that precedes the written Torah, calling it torah kelulah, 'Torah of the All-in-All.' This is something he says we can read for ourselves in all of existence.

"There is something experiential here. To learn from this torah we must be attuned to the divine presence."

Intrigued, I wandered virtually to here: https://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/sacred-attunments-part-1/ and a review by Alan Brill, saying (among other things): "We have an opening to receive God’s word in everything if we are 'attuned' to it.  The fullness of Torah Kelulah is unsayable.  What he calls the 'Torah Kelulah' is a caesural opening in which God’s creative power issues forth into a manifest universe that includes a system of natural law and the moral reality of human existence. It is the 'kiss of divine truth on the vastness of world-being.'”


For all the persistent Christian stereotyping of Judaism as a literal, letter-of-Law religion, the elements of 1st Century Judaism Jesus received and emphasized were clearly not like that -- and later Judaism, like Christianity, has developed those same strains.

We have examples from many religions of teachers & teachings that sound (in some sense) even more quakerish than many Quakers.

Without rejecting the scriptures our civilization was given -- or denying their manifold warts -- can we treat them as partial revelations (still of value) of the fuller knowledge God means to impart through them?

Sometimes an ancient perspective can provide an essential correction on our own math... and sometimes it's just an ancient mistake. We too make mistakes, which none the less represent steps towards a truer sense of itall...


Views: 423

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

which led me to this guy: [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans-Georg_Gadamer ]:


Gadamer further explains the hermeneutical experience as a dialogue. To justify this, he uses Plato’s dialogues as a model for how we are to engage with written texts. To be in conversation, one must take seriously “the truth claim of the person with whom one is conversing." Further, each participant in the conversation relates to one another insofar as they belong to the common goal of understanding one another.. Ultimately, for Gadamer, the most important dynamic of conversation as a model for the interpretation of a text is “the give-and-take of question and answer."In other words, the interpretation of a given text will change depending on the questions the interpreter asks of the text. The "meaning" emerges not as an object that lies in the text or in the interpreter, but rather an event that results from the interaction of the two.


"...There is surely a deep mystical element in all this, and Fishbane does not make any effort to hide it. He invokes repeatedly the mystical notion of the torah kelulah, the all-encompassing, not-yet-unpacked Torah, first brought to our attention from a medieval source by Gershom Scholem (in “The Meaning of the Torah in Jewish Mysticism”). It is this primordial Torah that is, according to Fishbane, the only Torah that can properly be thought to be “of heaven” (min hashamayim), and from which our sacred scriptural traditions — both written and oral — are derived."

This is from a different review... and brings out the relevance I see: as to how Quakers too might better understand the role scripture can play in keeping up with a still-ongoing process of revelation, not making what we've received so-far into a strait jacket, but remembering that it is a limited reflection of something we can't altogether reduce to 'odd stuff from ancient weirdos'... 


Good find, Forrest.  It does sound much like the experiences described by the first Friends.  

My answer to you question is, Yes!  

Might recognizing that experience as Light in their conscience given to ground and guide them be a new revelation from God to and through the first Friends?  It also appears the meanings they saw in scripture came from a process like the one described.

Wow... I think this had to have been discovered & rediscovered over and over in various parts of the world. And described in a great many ways.

Where Friends came in: Humanity finally reached an average level in which a significant number of people could share that awareness; and not be massacred. Because to most people, this looks like "Raging Individualism."

We've seen these alternatives proposed many times on this site: that our authority has to be 1) group or 2) individual.

Alternative 3, that people connect in a way that isn't hierarchical or held together by peer-pressure around some abstract idea -- remains elusive to most people to this day.

interesting.  very interesting.

Thank you for sharing this, Forrest.

I've found  The Jewish Annotated New Testament a useful tool for seeing the Christian writings through another lens. It's written by Jewish scholars in a respectful but thought provoking style.

Just now put it on hold at the library, thanks!

I like the idea of Quaker rabbis (mentors) going deep into Jewish mysticism.  My own limited experience with same includes tuning in Stan Tenen and his reinterpretation of the Hebrew alphabet. http://www.meru.org/ 

Our family switched to Hanukkah over Christmas, in emphasis, somewhat by intent, not that I have anything against Christmas other than I think other traditions were here first and should be respected (i.e. I have no interest whatsoever in "purging pagan influences" or whatever).


Stan got in an intellectual property battle with one Dan Winter, whom I do not follow closely but who gets impassioned about Phi, a number I journal about, just yesterday even

No, I don't dive in to so-called Sacred Geometry whole hog, in part because of my community.  I don't want to lose the interest of (i.e. alienate) my friends at NASA one could say (e.g. my friend David DiNucci, whom I've mentioned -- thanks for the walker for mom! -- used to work for that agency).

The Jewish and Buddhist traditions already have a lot of rapport going.  Orthodox rabbis have paid a visit to the Dalai Lama to talk turkey, as Tantra is especially attractive, in terms of its rich heritage of deities and likewise occult reputation. 

The term JewBu is meant with no disrespect.  There's nothing wrong with being eclectic.  It's synergetic!  Quakers should not be shy about diving in.

I'm just now beginning to understand why some Native Americans have felt that certain kinds of outsider enthusiasm for exotic religious practices constituted a sort of cultural rip-off.

One might feel like an outsider in any religion, to a certain extent.

But there's a difference in attitude between a tourist and a respectful guest.

Useful book when it comes to understanding outsider enthusiasm for N8V Americans and their ways:

I learned a lot from this book, in which Quakers / AFSC are mentioned quite a bit.



Forrest Curo said:

One might feel like an outsider in any religion, to a certain extent.

But there's a difference in attitude between a tourist and a respectful guest.

Reply to Discussion


Support Us

Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.

You can also make a one-time donation.

Latest Activity

Dr SJ Dodgson replied to Patrick M. Dwyer's discussion 'Prayers for good health. Schoolmate Bill Callahan passed yesterday from cardiac arrest. We attended Penn Charter together Class of 1978.'
"Holding all in the Light, especially those who found the lit path in Philadelphia. Greetings from…"
Dr SJ Dodgson posted an event

Fourth Day Meeting for Worship from Philadelphia at Virtual

12th mo. 1, 2021 at 5:30pm to 10th mo. 5, 2022 at 7pm
Every 4th Day, at 5.30pm Eastern Time (that is 10.30pm London time), friends gather for Zoom…See More
2nd day (Mon)
Kirby Urner posted a video

More Quakerish Esoterica

Elizebeth Friedman's story helps glue several timelines together, and deepens our appreciation for the role cryptography in history and society. Another look...
11th month 26
Dillon James commented on Dr SJ Dodgson's video

George Fox stood on the shoulders of giants

"Great job, Dr. Dodgson. I learned a lot."
11th month 19
Dillon James liked Dr SJ Dodgson's video
11th month 17
Kirby Urner posted a blog post

Autobiographical Snippet

Both my parents were convinced Friends, thanks to deep discussions they'd been having with their…See More
11th month 11
Keith Saylor posted a blog post

Living in the intuitive presence of Christ during persecution by the agents and agencies of the reflective nature.

The world is ruled by the faculty of the reflective nature. Human relations are guided and informed…See More
11th month 10
Jennifer Sydeski updated their profile
11th month 7

© 2021   Created by QuakerQuaker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service