There is a famous dictum: 'lo ba'shomayim he', meaning that after the torah was given at Sinai its rules, mandates and precepts are determined by man and not dictated by heaven. An example is when there was an argument about the halachic status of an oven the ruling followed the majority in spite of a clear proclamation from heaven which supported the minority view (Bava Metzia 86b).

I would like to know if this applies to mystical or kabbalistic matters as well. For example if a majority of kabbalists view a phenomenon in a certain way, and Rabbi Yitzchak Luria disagrees. Would we follow the majority or would we say that since Rabbi Luria was divinely inspired (perhaps by Eliyahu or through some other divine assistance) we would follow his minority interpretation instead.

In short, do we apply the principle of 'lo ba'shomayim he' to kabbalah?

Note: Please answer in general, and not just for the above example.

  • 1
    Isn't it more related to the commandments in the Torah of Moses, rather than to other ideas?
    – Annelise
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 2:11
  • There is plenty of Torah about this question. Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 3:12
  • 3
    "Would we follow the majority or would [...] we would follow his minority interpretation instead". What do you mean by "follow"?
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 4:35
  • Related judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/709/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 6:17
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    I sill don't understand: In the Halakhic process, even the rejected views are correct( 'Elu ve-'Elu Divrei 'Elohim Chayim), to the extent that some say that at a future date( sometime after the Mashi'ach comes) Halakhah will be decided according to Beit Shamai. The only problem is, that with many correct views, what do we do in practice, and the solution is to follow the majority view, even against a divinely supported one. In kabbalah, what does choosing a "normative position" say about the rejected ones? With more than one [correct?] view, why do we need to choose one as "normative"?
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 7:13

2 Answers 2


We find in Sanhedrin 104b how the Chachamim were about to count someone in to the list of those not set to have a part in Olam Habbah. Then his father's figure appeared and begged for his sake, but was ignored. A fire sprung up on the edges of their benches and they ignored it. They likewise ignored heavenly voices calling out his merits. However, what stopped them was when the heavenly voice said, 'Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, 'or whether thou choose; and not I etc.'

This is the attitude Mekubalim have when faced with the words of the Arizal. He knew and you assume, so you'll put aside your ideas and accept his. Actually, even in Halacha we put off our own judgement in favor of earlier traditions.

Although in Kabbalah, and non-Halachah in general, there is no Psak and Rov in the conventional sense (since it doesn't reach a Beis Din), there always exists the universal concept of consensus. When something is roundly rejected or accepted, that is taken as the true view. We find mentions of 'Daas Yachid' in topics not directly Halachah related.

  • I would argue that, while not technically halacha, the declaration of someone as not having Olam Habbah is most definitely not metaphysics/kabbalah. Essentially, the question is whether the Earthly Beis Din has the capacity to adjudge someone as violating a Bein Adam LaMakom whose punishment is the loss of Olam Habah. Thus, their voting on the question does seem legitimate (since if the defendant were alive they could decree him liable for bringing sin offerings). Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 13:46
  • @IsaacKotlicky Beis Din has the capacity to judge anything, including whether the hairs on a pomegranate are part of the peel or not, as long as it is a question of what to do. If there is no question of action Beis Din won't be deciding it, no matter how essential. They won't be discussing theistic evolution (unless it's for the practical purpose of considering someone a heretic).
    – HaLeiVi
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 13:57
  • Considering that this is included in the Mishnah, there does seem to be a relevant halachic outcome - perhaps, as you note, in determining when someone has "crossed the threshold" into heresy? So it is important for B"D to decide whether a historical person has indeed trespassed for determining future issues. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 15:04
  • @IsaacKotlicky This is a discussion of the Chachamim not a ruling in Beis Din.
    – HaLeiVi
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 15:26
  • R'Yehuda HaNasi codified Mishnayot to convey legal dialectic, not stories. Since Chelek specifically addresses "mi she'ayn lo chelek le'olam habah," this is a halachic discussion BY the chachamim that has PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS for future batei dinim. That is why it's included in Sanhedrin. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 18:18

The Maharal explains that the halachah is always the central point of all opinions that can be brought to bear on a subject.

Therefore Torah lo bashamayim hi because the reasoning of shamayim is not relevant to determining the centrality of halachic opinion.

Kaballah is the way things work, not the ratzon Hashem that acts upon those things. Things can work concurrently in contradictory ways, so there is no reason to look for the centrality of approach regarding kaballah.

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    "Things can work concurrently in contradictory ways" What does that mean? TTBOMK contradictions imply that I am an 7'5" astronaut and that Harry Truman is Zarathustra.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 2:52
  • @DoubleAA Are you conflating lies with contradictions?
    – HaLeiVi
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 12:56
  • @HaLeiVi No, I am not. Given as true two arbitrary claims, P and ~P, as well as the unknown claim Q = "I am an 7'5" astronaut and that Harry Truman is Zarathustra", we can first derive as true the claim P v Q via disjunction introduction. Then we derive as true the claim Q via disjunctive syllogism. QED.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 14:41

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