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Kafka and Kabbalah Karl Erich Grozinger In the dual role of writer and thinker, Franz Kafka forged

new directions for the German language as well as for world literature; he was also a Jew. Is this last fact of any significance, or can modem Kafka criticism simply state it and move on to the task at hand !fter all, the reception of Kafka"s work has demonstrated how adapta#le it is to a num#er of interpretative approaches, all of which were a#le to make their point without emphasizing the Jewish component. $ore mindful of necessity than of silent scruple, critics usually kept to their own intuition, paying little more than cursory tri#ute to Kafka"s Jewishness. Fortunately, this is no longer the case in %ust a#out every modem representation of Kafka"s life and work. &ardly any scholar today would fail to emphasize the significance of the predominantly Jewish atmosphere that surrounded Kafka, and this is essentially a sign of respect and recognition of the enigmatic and far'reaching references Gershom (cholem made regarding the ka##alistic influences in Kafka"s work. )oward the end of his article titled *)en +nhistorical (tatements a#out the Ka##alah* ,%udaica III-, (cholem writes. *!lthough unaware of it himself, /Kafka"s0 writings are a secularized representation of the ka##alistic conception of the world. )his is why many of today"s readers find something of the rigorous splendor of the canonical in them'a hint of the !#solute that #reaks into pieces* ,123-. In his #ook on 4alter 5en%amin, )he (tory of a Friendship, (cholem 6uotes himself. *I said then.., that one would have to read the works of Franz Kafka #efore one could understand the Ka##alah today, and particularly )he )rial" ,Friendship, 378-. 4ithout intending to minimize the astuteness of (cholem"s insight, the fact is that references such as these remain e9tremely pale and colorless for most critics. )he ma%ority either restrict themselves to vacuous generalities or else proceed from an image of Judaism that #ears no resem#lance whatsoever to Kafka"s Jewish milieu. )ake, for e9ample, the statement 5ert :agel makes in his informative chapter on Kafka"s Judaism, where he claims *that the old commandant"" of*In the ;enal <olony*represents *the God of the =ld )estament,* and *thus there is undou#tedly something of the =ld )estament God >ahweh in the fathers 5endemann and (amsa and in the commandant of the penal colony* ,338-. =r again, when he sees in Katica the *author of Judaism". *)he fact that Kafka not only identified himself as a Jew and took up the cause of Judaism, #ut, perhaps even more importantly, the fact that he still har#ored the #asic ideas of ancient #i#lical Judaism as well, all testify to a continuation of the Jewish heritage. Kafka"s God is still the %udgmental and punitive God of the =ld )estament* ,31?-. @ownright du#ious is the most recent attack &. 5inder made refuting a JewishAka##alistic element #ehind Kafka"s thinking. @espite the e9tensive commonalties he has acknowledged as e9isting #etween Kafka and this #ackground, he now speaks of a *contemptuous tendency* on the part of the Ka##alah vis'a' vis mankind; according to this trend, the world is supposedly a *creation of the devil.* 5inder also speaks of the *occultism* of the Ka##alah, which could not possi#ly have influenced Kafka. )he Ka##alah is neither contemptuous of mankind nor is it a conspiratorial *occultism* in the vein, let"s say, of the ;rotocols of the Blders of Cion. It is, rather, a widespread and widely read, generally accepted mystical theology, accessi#le to everyone, especially among Bastern Buropean Jewry and &asidism. =#servations like these not only e9ude the pre%udicial <hristian Image of Judaism; they also persist in the a#solutely erroneous idea that Judaism has remained unchanged in its two'thousand'year post'#i#lical history'as if there weren"t a rich and multifaceted, philosophically diverse post'#i#lical #ody of Jewish literature and thought; as if the philosophy and ideology of Judaism were a static monolithic #lock in terms of rational thought. )o talk a#out the Jewish religion and way of life within a philosophical'theological conte9t is one of the fundamental errors that grew out of an Image of Judaism #ased on dogmatic or self'conceived Ignorance. !lready closer to the truth are the no longer rare references to the Influences the >iddish theater had on Kafka. )he work of Bvelyn )orton 5eck did much to su#stantiate this fact ,*@urch#ruch,* 1DE'1?-. In light of the entries in Kafka"s diaries on the su#%ect, this influence can hardly #e contested. )he very e9istence of these distinct and divergent views within Judaism forced (cholem, the

:estor of modem research on the Ka##alah, to repeatedly emphasize Kafka"s particular relation to the Ka##alah and to Bastern Buropean &asidism. It also occasioned his provocative *dissident thoughts* *that admittedly do not deal with Kafka"s place in the continuum of German literature'in which he has a#solutely no placeF#ut in that of Jewish literature* ,Friendship, 131-. Gespect for the tremendous stature of Gershom (cholem re6uires %ust a#out every modem critic to acknowledge his view. ;arado9ically, however, recognition of this influence fre6uently remains rather dry and sterile #ecause many critics are una#le to read the &e#rew and >iddish sources and thus have no choice #ut to resort e9clusively to secondhand information. )his is all the more regretta#le since it is precisely this aspect of the Jewish tradition that has so much to tell a#out Kafka, a fact one cannot fail to appreciate in light of the diary entry serving as the introductory motto for the present work. )his study proceeds from the #asic assumption that Kafka could have #een influenced #y the Jewish, or #etter said, #y a certain Jewish tradition. Is this approach %ustified in spite of the fact that he himself deplored his inade6uate Jewish up#ringing &e did so not only in his Hetter to $y Father ,*5ut what kind of Judaism did I get from youI* /4edding, 3EE0-, #ut also In the much 6uoted statement. *I was not introduced to life, like Kierkegaard, #y the heavily over#earing hand of <hristianity, nor have I clutched the tip of the disappearing Jewish prayer shawl like the Cionists. I am end or #eginning* ,4edding, 8J-.(uch laments on Kafka"s part are #est measured against the claims a writer of his sensi#ility with an interest in philosophic 6uestions might make of any religious education and religious tradition. &owever, we should not let this fact lead us to assume that Kafka had no knowledge or no Jewish e9periences that might have colored his thinking and his writing. !ll of Kafka"s te9ts including his novels and short stories, #ut primarily his diary entries and aphorismsFreveal an e9traordinarily detailed and sophisticated knowledge of things Jewish. &e ac6uired this knowledge through his own studies, through conversations with friends, and through family life as well as through o#servations of Jewish life in ;rague, especially in the synagogue. Granted, this was not a formal knowledge of ra##inical'halakhic rules of orthodo9y and of philosophical'theological speculation; what Kafka knew might #etter #e descri#ed as a popularized Ka##alah and the Jewish traditions influenced #y it. Kafka was a careful o#server and evidently a very attentive listener. &is diaries reproduce what he saw and heard with an accuracy that lends his notes the authority of religious'historical source material. ! comparison of these diary entries with the Bastern Buropean &e#rew and >iddish original works leaves no dou#t a#out their relia#ility. =ne thing is clear. Kafka knew more a#out Judaism than his remarks on the su#%ect would lead one to #elieve. 4hat he gleaned from direct instruction and personal readings was su#stantial, #ut the e9perience of customs, gestures and everyday #ehavior rooted in various traditions cannot #e overestimated. Kisi#le o#%ects like the mezuzah ,the scroll on doorposts of Jewish homes-, the tefilltn ,phylacteries or prayer #o9es attached #y leather straps to the forehead and arm of the worshipper-, the prayer shawl, the thoughts accompanying acts of charity, the te9ts of holiday rituals practiced privately at home and pu#licly in the synagogue and so easily transmitted via conversations with friendsFall of these things provided a knowledge'hungry person like Kafka with the fundamentals of popular Jewish religion and Jewish lore, and characterize Jewish #ehavior and thought much more profoundly than does a formal knowledge of ethical and philosophical works. &owever, such Jewish lore also creates a culture gap for the reader who is unfamiliar with this everyday way of life and who therefore overlooks it. )his reference to the Jewish traditions and attitudes intrinsic to Kafka must #e accompanied #y a warning against falling prey to the un%ustified e9treme of relegating him e9clusively to this tradition. )he whole of Jewish intellectual history, spanning as it does thousands of years, is itself distinguished #y the fact that the great Jewish thinkers took a creative approach to their tradition and constantly renewed it. 4hat"s more, they did so under theFat times profoundFinfluence of non' Jewish cultural elements, which they a#sor#ed, interpreted, processed and *Judaized* to the e9tent that they were ultimately perceived as a

genuine part of Jewish tradition. )his fact alone lends considera#le support to (cholem"s e9treme position. Kafka did what many Jewish thinkers and writers #efore him did. he merged his Judaism with modem thinking and thus created a new form of Judaism, his own Judaism. If a large num#er of Kafka readers with ties to modem <hristian or non' Jewish Buropean cultural #ackgrounds feel directly addressed #y Kafka and have a sense of #eing *at home* in his works, their response is #y no means novel in Jewish intellectual history. $edieval Jewish philosophy with the Ka##alah in its wake, as well as Bastern Buropean &asidism have #een as deeply influenced as has non'Jewish mysticism #y the philosophical systems of medieval ;latonism and !ristotelianism. In many respects these sources gave rise to a num#er of similarities vis'fi' vis the corresponding <hristian movements'one need only think of the neoplatonism of such <hristian mystics as @ionysius !reopagita on up to $eister Bckhardt and the early (panish Ka##alists of Gerona in the thirteenth century, the I%%un Ka##alah, the Cohar, $oses <ordovero and Bastern Buropean &asidim. )he <hristian Ka##alah of the fifteenth to the eighteenth century actually #elieved it could #est e9press its own <hristian religiosity with the help of the Jewish Ka##alah. )o this day, ;rincess !ntonia"s ka##alistic altar'painting in the modest church of 5ad )einach in the 5lack Forest remains a most impressive demonstration of this. In many respects, medieval Jewish philosophy is a component of the #road ru#ric of Buropean philosophy, and $aimonides ,33?7'31D7as well as (olomon I#n Ga#irol ,3D1D'3D72- may #e named here as having e9erted a direct influence on <hristian scholasticism and mysticism, as well as Heone B#reo alias Judah !#ravanel ,3ELD'371?with his @ialoghi d" amore. $ention should also #e made of the lasting effect $artin 5u#er had on the <hristian churches, particularly his interpretation of Jewish history as an attempt to modernize Judaism. !ll of this is sufficient admonition against a pan'%udaistic understanding of Kafka. !t the same time, however, it underscores the conviction that inattention to the Jewish side of KafkaMs work, non'appreciation of its Jewish mots, runs the risk of misunderstanding his work. )he scores of contradictory Kafka interpretations should serve as a warning as well as food for thought in this regard. Gegardless of the way they present their material, one can no more truly understand )homas $ann"s Joseph and &is 5rothers or Joseph Goth"s 0o# without a knowledge of their #i#lical counterparts than one can understand Kafka without a knowledge of the literary and narrative world that provided him with the motifs, thoughts, and overarching concepts he freely and creatively reshaped and reproduced in the western Buropean mantle of modem German. In each of these instances, every critical reader is faced with the task of recognizing the :ew as the new and the altered against the #ackground of the =ld. Kafka is not a Ka##alist simply #ecause he appropriates ka##alistic traditions and transforms them. B9actly what he is, though, can only #e defined #y the person who accurately locates his points of departure. )he interpretation of Kafka"s works will remain primarily the task of future Germanists; my main purpose as a Judaist is merely to present the Jewish #ackground for such interpretations. $y presentation, therefore, will concentrate on those aspects of Kafka"s works most reminiscent of the Bastern Jewish &e#rew and >iddish traditions, and thus most evocative for anyone familiar with them. 5eyond that, any locating of Kafka"s position in the literary tradition is a task I gladly leave to the readers of this #ook themselves. $y main o#%ective is to help them see the Jewish elements that lie hidden #eneath the surface of Kafka"s te9ts. )his pro#lem applies less to the diaries, whose every page #ears a Jewish stamp, and much more to the fictional te9ts. !nd yet, as far as the latter are concerned, one should not #e misled #y statements such as the one made at the 3JJD Kafka <ollo6uium in $ar#ach, where one participant found great significance in the fact that the pivotal conversation in Kafka"s novel )he )rial did not take place in a synagogue, #ut rather in a <hristian cathedral. !fter all, KafkaMs diary entry, dated >om Kippur, 3J33, noted. *!ltneu (ynagogue yesterday. Kol :idre... churchlike interior. )hree pious, evidently Bastern Jews. Kafka managed to divert his interpreters" attention away from the true #ackground of his thinking and his storytelling #y means of transpositions such as this into a <hristian Buropean setting. )o what e9tent he did this will #e shown in the following discussion of the ka##alistic parallels in )he )rial. )he Jewish element is o#vious in the

diaries, #ut it remains esoterically concealed in the stories and novels. It is this dissem#ling strategy, the avoidance of any concrete references, that has #een o#served so many times in Kafka"s work and which is ultimately responsi#le for its am#iguity. )here are many echoes of ka##alistic elements and traditions in Kafka"s works, #ut the Ka##alah itself, as might #e e9pected, is not a homogeneous whole. 5y Kafka"s time, this mystical'religious phenomenon already had a history of at least seven hundred years #ehind it. If one adds to that the ancient talmudic &ekhalot mysticism ,the mysticism of the heavenly halls or palaces- which contri#uted essential presuppositions for what came to #e known as medieval Ka##alah, we are talking a#out a history of eighteen hundred years. Bach phase of the long history of Jewish mysticism left its own traces in the writings of later generationsFtraces that evolved in completely different cultural and intellectual worlds. )hus, in the course of the centuries, an in part totally heterogeneous conglomerate of conceptions and thoughts came into #eing, and not all authors attempted to reduce this #ody of thought to a more or less unified whole. $any of the later authors evaluated the traditions they received only eclectically, completely eliminating one aspect or another and fre6uently looking upon what they preserved from a completely novel point of view. !ll of this must #e kept in mind when speaking of Kafka and the Ka##alah. It also e9plains why Kafka will always #etray affinities to one or another strand of the ka##alistic tradition, and in many instances to fundamentally different or even contradictory strands. Kafka himself was una#le to study the often e9tremely difficult classical ka##alistic te9ts in the original &e#rew or !ramaic languages, #ut he had to have #een familiar with certain popularized #asic patterns. 4e know this #ecause they played a role in the daily ha#its and in the popular teachings of the community. !n enormous num#er of folkloric morality #ooks and collections of homilies popularized the highly mystical theosophical, historiosophical and anthroposophical teachings of the Ka##alah. )hese works were certainly availa#le to the simple Jew, #ut they were studied primarily #y the preachers in the synagogues and houses of study ,#et midrash- in preparation of their sermons. (uch moral writings and folk tales actually defined the general Jewish consciousness in middle and eastern Burope; they were the medium through which each individual living in this milieu received a #ody of specifically Jewish knowledge, as well as attitudes and world views. )hat #eing the case, we should not #e surprised to discover parallels #etween this popular literature and a large num#er of motifs in Kafka"s te9ts. )he following pages will present a #rief discussion of the #asic and distinctive features of ka##alistic thought that can #e shown to have left unmistaka#le traces in Kafka"s own thinking and writing. =ne central, #asic principle of the Ka##alah is the #elief in the unity of all #eing. )he visi#le world is linked to the invisi#le worlds of the divine and the celestial in the neoplatonic sense of a single chain of #eing, all tied together #y means of the outflow of the emanation of divine light and life that produced and maintains all these worlds. &owever, whereas the neoplatonic and even the !ristotelian systems of the $iddle !ges always represent the ideal world in some less tangi#le intelligi#le su#stances like the intellect, the world soul ,sometimes represented #y a trinity- and nature ,as with the neoplatonists-, or in the ten separate intelligences which are occasionally identified with the ten classes of angels in the ancient ra##inic literature ,as with the !ristotelians-, the intelligi#le world of the ka##alists is pictured as consisting of a vast num#er of mythologically conceived divine and celestial 6uintessences. !t the ape9 stand the ten spiritual forces, lights, words or seflrot, fre6uently depicted in the shape of a tree #ut which are ine9trica#ly intertwined through the reflection of the ten in each individual one. Hike the neoplatonic world of ideals, these ten spiritual forces form the #asic pattern of all #eing, while at the same time they are depicted anthropomorphically, as it were, as a celestial family consisting of a father, a mother, a son and a daughterFwith male and female components and loving and chastising aspects. )he structure of the ten seflrot is repeated through the four stages of cosmic construction. the seflrotic world itself ,this is the revealed God-, the world of the @ivine )hrone,the world of the celestial angels and finally the terrestial, material world called earth. 4ith reference to the #i#lical passage in Isaiah E?.2, these four are called the worlds of !tsiluth ,emanation-,

5etAah ,creation-, >etsirah ,formation- and !siyah ,the world of making, or concretizing action-. In their articulation they accord with the medieval philosophical interconnectedness of all #eing. the world of a#solute intelligences, the world of the celestial spheres and the su#' lunar terrestrial world among the !ristotelians, or intellect, psyche, nature, and the su#'lunar world among the neoplatonists. )he Ka##alah took these #asic rudiments of the medieval philosophical world picture and synthesized them in various ways with the ancient Jewish cosmological tradition as well as with gnostic elements. )he result was often an opalescent, encyclopedic composite e9pressed on differing linguistic levels. )he same idea might #e depicted at one time in the traditional language and Imagery of the 5i#le, at another with the imagery of ancient talmudic homiletics and mystical tractates, yet again in an anthropomorphic style 6uite gnostic in outlook, or else in ver#al' onomatological, or linguistic, e9pressions. )he most common descriptions relied upon a com#ination of all these approaches. !t its #ase remains the one fundamental idea that every single phenomenon of this world'nature, heaven, the human form, language and #il#ical literature'of everything that e9ists in this world, in other words, derives from the one divine pattern. )hat this pattern, in turn, can #e recognized in everything means that it can #e descri#ed #y everything. !nother essential aspect of the Ka##alah is the fact that knowledge of the world and of God as well as the description of all the phenomena of #eing is not an academic ac6uisition; it has Its own practical side and practical application. Knowledge of the essence of #eing ena#les humans to orient themselves and to intervene on their own #ehalf. (uch intervention is considered at once as #eing of use to the Godhead as well as to the whole world. )he entire ka##alistic system thus ultimately serves to assign man"s place in this composite, to show him the potentials as well as the responsi#ilities of his actions and #ehavior in this universe and to place at his disposal the means to affect it. )his is theurgy, the a#ility to affect the roots of all #eing in order to release a flood of #lessings over the earth. 5y means of his contemplative practices and the actions that grow out of them, man is in the position to e9ercise a direct influence. on the divine world. )he ontological #asis =f this a#ility is the structural and fundamental unity of #eing, which directly and dynamically connects man to the divine worlds. ;raying, studying the )orah, o#eying the commandments and a person"s every earthly activity are seen in this all'encompassing connection of reciprocal influence; a person"s total #ehavior is an action su# specie aeternitatis. In this network, man Is #oth actor and actum. &is actions always have conse6uences in the world a#ove and, sooner or later, they will elicit specific reactions from that realm. =nce we accept the assumption that Kafka was influenced #y the ka##alistic ideas outlined a#ove, we can look upon Josef K. and the surveyor in Kafka"s <astle as men who know of the interconnected nature of the hidden and the revealed worlds and who try their hands at theurgy in order to intervene in the divine direction of things. )he %ustification of a statement such as this will #ecome evident only at the end of this #ook, after the reader has recognized the e9tent of the correspondence #etween Kafka"s works and this aspect of Jewish thought. !ll the same, these theurgical attempts on the part of Kafka"s heroes turn out to #e failures. )hey run amok or #ecome entangled in vicious circles on a low level, with the result that they are una#le to attain their intended higher goal. )he Ka##alah also knows this pro#lem of futile theurgy and descri#es it in terms of prayers whose ascent is cut off. (uch prayers remain hanging somewhere in the Iow levels of the ontological hierarchy and may even #ecome imprisoned in celestial *attics* provided for this very purpose. )hese prayers share the fate of the man from the country in Kafka"s para#le of the same name. &e had already failed to pass the test at one of the lower gates and thus could not continue his %ourney. Hike medieval neoplatonism, the Ka##alah understands the different levels of the world as a 6ualitative hierarchy. )he celestial levels closest to the human world are that much closer to the 6uality of the terrestrial world than are the higher levels situated a#ove them, and woe to the prayer and woe to the soul that do not penetrate to higher levels, for what happens to them Is what happened to Kafka"s two heroes, Josef K.

and the surveyor K. )hey #oth have responsi#ilities, of course, the one with the court and the other with the castle, #ut what they see there is hardly different from their own misera#le world. From a ka##alistic viewpoint, what Kafka depicts in these two great novels, )he )riaI and )he <astle, is the crisis of the Ka##alah, the failure of theurgy, the ina#ility of the individual to employ his actions to gain access to the ultimate authority. ! very similar #ut #y no means so pessimistic a turn in the Ka##alah occurred in the mysticism of &asidism; its formulation goes #ack to one of this movement"s most prominent figures, @ry 5et, the $aggid ,;reacher- of $ezhirich ,323D'3221-. !s the chapter on Kafka"s aphorisms will show, @ov #er turned away from the activism of the theurgists and #elieved that a solution to the suffering in this world is to #e sought in the e9act opposite of activism. in the individual"s renunciation of the desire to effect a change on his own. For @ry 5er, the highest form of humanity is the complete renunciation of human independence and human ego'consciousness. &is is an understanding of the self that sees itself only as a vessel of the Godhead which, in a#solute 6uietism, surrenders itself via self'annihilation in the nothingness of the =neness of GodFan attitude, #y the way, that increasingly comes to characterize Josef K. ! variation of this hasidic renunciation of theurgy is its transference to the re##e, the tzaddik. !ccording to this, no longer is each individual called to theurgy; instead, the hasidic re##e takes on the role of intercessor for his community. For Kafka, these are the advocates and the various other stand#ys in the court or the village. Josephine the (inger plays this role in Kafka"s story of the same name ,(tories, 38L-. =nce again Kafka demonstrates the crisis, the ina#ility of the helper to really #e of any help; even though, on the lower level, the illusion of help is already helpful. A further similarity between Kafka and the mythological cosmology of the Kabbalah is the idea that the invisible hierarchies not only extend into the already less attractive lower levels, but that this hierarchy reaches down into everyday life, into its most banal and even its dirtiest aspects. Every one of the different strands of the Kabbalah view the evil in the world as part of the one world that emanates from God and stands in is service. !he only difference is that Kafka, more so than the mythlogical descriptions presented below, depicts the hierarchy of the worlds primarily on its lowest level. "ne could also say that Kafka relegates the kabbalistic descriptions of the hierarchy, be they of the courts or of the castle, completely to the human sphere. Even so, as a type of sociomorphic and anthropomorphic myth of world hierarchy#a myth, moreover, that never completely loses sight of the transcendent#they maintain a mythological language. An additional distinctive feature common to both Kafka and the Kabbalah is the idea that the court and the authorities before which human life in its totality must answer are part of the hierarchies of being that permeate the world. !hey do not represent a single court of $ustice before the !hrone of God. istory is also understood against this background. %ithin this structural frame, history exists only as a cyclical oscillation between the divine poles of mercy and $udgment. !hese two poles determine the whole of being from its highest level right on down to life on earth. Everything that happens on earth is a direct conse&uence of this cycle of $ustice and grace or of the suspension of $udgment in mercy 'the divine union( and of the reign of the court 'separation(. uman life and history, therefore, are nothing more than a pendulum swing between ac&uittal and $udgment, between arrest and its postponement. %here theurgy succeeds, it exerts an influence upon the union and thus upon the well)being of this world. *n this case the world escapes $udgment via grace or arches over $ustice via love and an abundance of blessings. *n the hasidic variant mentioned above, the hallowed state can only be attained through renunication of the self, for the continued existence of individuality is separation, is $udgment. ere history is viewed as a pendulum swinging between separation and union, between ego and its sublimation in the "neness of God. Another branch of the Kabbalah that is important for Kafka but which contradicts much of the

hasidic version is the one promulgated by *saac +uria in the sixteenth century. Kafka took from it the inclusion of inanimate nature, of plants and animals, into the scope of human life. *n this late form of Kabbalah, theurgy is understood primarily as a process of the purification of the soul. !he soul of the ,irst -an, Adam, was shattered during the ,all into untold thousands of divine sparks. .ow, after its break, it must bring about collectively that which was actually the task of the ,irst -an with his macro)soul#namely, to reunite these sparks with their divine source and repair the cosmic break. !his task can only be accomplished within the frame of an all)encompassing purification of souls, which every divine spark of the initial soul has to attain for itself via the route of transmigration, or reincarnation, in humans, animals, plants, and minerals. "nly after this has succeeded will the individual souls return to Adam, who will then be able to complete the task he was once assigned. !hanks to this theory, non)human nature, too, becomes part of the course of human redemption, with the result that animals and /dead/ things are looked upon in a totally different way. !his doctrine produced a great number of folk tales that articulated the new relation to the human environment and which, as we shall see, are closely related in many respects to Kafka0s animal figures and inanimate life. Animals and other things are now no longer ob$ects, but people dwelling in animals and in things. +urianic Kabbalah fully developed the ideas of animating nature and granting it a soul already well)known in earlier forms, and it culminated these ideas with the belief that the whole world is full of wandering souls and demons. !he cause of all this wandering about is sin1 to keep oneself away from sin becomes the dominant motif of this Kabbalah, and it has engendered a 2udaism that, in contrast to the otherwise predominant 2ewish attitude, was very pessimistic. ,ear of the power of evil forces and an ever)present awareness of sin produced forms of asceticism and renunciation that were unknown to 2udaism before and remain so afterward. Knowledge that the court of $ustice is permanently in session, knowledge that sin lurks everywhere and particularly in the form of sexuality, are themes that also characterize the sermons and the moral values *saac +uria helped determine. !his ascetic form of 2udaism, terrified by the world and by sin, was known in Kafka0s family, and his diaries attest to the fact that it was an occasional topic of conversation. Kafka0s aphorisms, on the other hand, express a completely different form of Kabbalah, namely the mysticism of the individual and the nothingness promulgated primarily by 3ov 4er. !his form seeks to avoid sin via the act of mystical union and the renunciation of all things of the world. Any doubt as to whether Kafka had direct knowledge of this mysticism is soon laid to rest by a study of his aphorisms. Even 2osef K. ultimately chose this path5 /* always wanted to charge into the world with twenty hands and, what0s more, for a purpose that could not be sanctioned. !hat was wrong/ '!rial, 678(. !his turn away from synergistic theurgy toward a passive acceptance of the world as it was seems to be the attitude that Kafka himself apparently achieved in his aphorisms. Kafka0s texts can thus be viewed within the context of a discussion already current in the Kabbalah in its own right. 9ommon to all the positions touched upon in this overview is a conscious awareness of how interwoven individual human life is with the life of the visible environment and the invisible upper regions1 an awareness that this earthly life in its most profound essence is dependent upon the invisible world, upon $ustification or condemnation before its limitations. +ife and death, in turn, are dependent upon these limitations. Also common to all these voices is the fact that man0s relation to the supernatural is decisively co)determined by his own behavior. !his is where the commonalities end, however, for differences of opinion arise as to whether this behavior can be a theurgy practiced directly by the individual or representatively by the hasidic rebbe on behalf of others, or whether desisting from human activity must necessarily take the form of total passivity. Kafka does not present a closed kabbalistic system1 what he does offer is a wealth of commonly held ideas and basic assumptions. As we shall see, these need not be relegated to pure coincidence1 rather,

they can be looked upon as having influenced him via the many various contacts and reference points in his immediate surroundings.