Michael Laitman
Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute

Kabbalah’s Influence on Greek Philosophy

There is a historical account that in 414 BCE, the prophet Jeremiah lived in northern Egypt during the time of the First Temple, and that during this period, a young Greek philosopher, who later became known as Plato, studied with him. It is written that Plato recalled:

“I was with Jeremiah in Egypt, and initially I was mocking him and his words, and in the end, once I became accustomed to speaking with him and to watch his actions carefully, I saw that his words were words of the living God. Then, I said in my heart, and I established that he was a sage and a prophet.” – Rabbi Moshe Isserles (Rama), Torat HaOlah (1:11).

At that time, the wisdom of the prophet, the Kabbalist, i.e., one who received the knowledge of the higher laws of nature, was open at that time to other nations because they were at an appropriate spiritual level. It means that Plato practically understood who he was dealing with, and that wisdom could be revealed to him.

Later, spiritual wisdom became closed off from the world. There are periods in humanity’s development when people are closer and further from spirituality. In those ancient times, there were closer ties between nations, without significant differences. Afterward, however, they underwent a process of increasing alienation, and eventually, a major gap of separation accumulated, which continues to this day.

After the ruin of the Second Temple, which means after a fall from the spiritual level that the people of Israel held during the time of the Temple, there ensued a prohibition to spread the wisdom of Kabbalah. Kabbalists themselves forbade its expansion to humanity because the world was unprepared to receive the knowledge, and would thus have used it incorrectly.

The wisdom that Plato received from Jeremiah later turned into Greek philosophy. He absorbed whatever he could according to his level of understanding, and it continued to expand into human society and its systems. Philosophy became a watered-down version of the wisdom of attaining the laws of nature. It did not happen at once, but it was a gradual dissolution over some time.

Plato himself, however, attributed part of the knowledge he received as coming from the teachings of Jeremiah, which suggests that Greek philosophy was a consequence of this learning from Kabbalists.

In addition to this account of Plato, Johannes Reuchlin, a German humanist, political counselor to the Chancellor, a classics scholar and an expert in the ancient languages and traditions (Latin, Greek and Hebrew), and who was affiliated with the heads of the Platonic Academia (della Mirandola and others), wrote in his text, DeArte Cabbalistica, about Kabbalah’s influence on Pythagoras:

“My teacher Pythagoras, who is the father of philosophy, did nevertheless not receive those teachings from the Greeks, but rather he received them from the Jews. Therefore he must be called Kabbalist, [… ] and he himself was the first to convert the name Kabbala, unknown to the Greeks, in the Greek name philosophy. Pythagoras’ philosophy emanated from the infinite sea of the Kabbalah. This is the Kabbalah, which does not let us spend our lives on the ground, but rather raises our intellect to the highest goal of understanding.”

Unlike the period when there was a prohibition on the spreading of Kabbalah, today those prohibitions have been lifted. Kabbalah had always been spread in waves. There were times when it could be taught, discussed and written, and also times when it shrank and became increasingly concealed.

Today’s opening of all the doorways to this wisdom is due to us living in an overblown egoistic world. Egoism, the desire to enjoy at the expense of others, grows throughout the generations, and today is it bigger than ever before. Therefore, Kabbalists, seeing how they had no other method, means or weapons against modern society’s enormous egoism, decided to take Kabbalah out of its hiding places and present it to the world.

In the 20th century, Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) and his son and disciple, Kabbalist Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (the Rabash), both wrote and taught extensively in order to spread the wisdom of Kabbalah. The widespread dissemination of Kabbalah is thus only natural for those who follow in their footsteps, and not only them but also Kabbalists such as Rambam, Ramchal and Baal Shem Tov. Since the biggest egoism dwells within humanity today, more excessive than in any other historical period, the time is ripe for Kabbalah to emerge as a method for guiding its correction: to navigate its further development and transformation to a much broader perception of reality.

Kabbalah can strengthen us in our quest to find out who we are, what our purpose is, and what we can do to bring about a harmonious and peaceful world. It becomes a necessity for every person to discover life’s meaning and purpose, and it answers all such existential questions. I trust that only its revelation can provide people with the keys to spirituality, the upper world.

About the Author
Michael Laitman is a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah. MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute. Author of over 40 books on spiritual, social and global transformation. His new book, The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, is available on Amazon: