Annette Poizner
This Way Up: Psychological Means to Spiritual Ends

The Kabbalah on Jordan Peterson: Why Him? Why Now?

The Jordan Peterson phenomenon raises many questions. Over the decades, we’ve certainly seen self-help books achieve best-selling status. Do you recall, though, any other best-selling author whose work inspired stalwart fans and, simultaneously, unrelenting, vigourous, angry resistance? For that matter, when W. Scott Peck, M.D., author of the bestseller The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth, experienced failing health and ultimately died, there were no parties. In contrast, Peterson’s recent health challenges have been publicly celebrated by an unusually vocal group of some of his more virulent critics. These are troubling times, indeed.
To entertain a broader perspective, I believe we can look beyond the normal frame and peek into teachings from the ancient Kabbalah. According to this tradition, Genesis not only recounts the creation process, but represents the complete trajectory of creation as it plays out in world history. In other words, the ‘six days’ of creation are understood as a metaphorical description of all of history as we know it, which, according to our tradition, plays out over 6000 years, starting from the moment Adam is created in the Garden of Eden.
The premise of the Kabbalists: those initial ‘days’ of creation were of undeterminable length and may have each lasted many Millenia. For the Kabbalists, time, as we more normatively experience it, clicked in when Adam was created. According to the Jewish calendar, we find ourselves in the year 5780, the number of years, they claim, which have passed since the creation of Adam. Mysticism presumes, then, that within the next 220 years, the world will transition to a different state, one that would equate with the Sabbath as per the creation narrative.
If change is relatively near at hand, the tumultuous nature of these current times would make sense. In fact, the chaos we are experiencing was predicted centuries earlier, and given a name: “the birth pangs of the Messiah.” Yes. It feels like something is coming down the pike.
In his book, Rabbi Pinchas Winston describes the methodology for using the Kabbalistic frame to plot world history onto the events that unfolded in the Garden of Eden. For the purposes of computation, the 6000 year span of creation is divided by a factor of 12. Why 12?¬† Because there are sources which indicate that at the outset of creation the night time hours were ‘absorbed’ into the daytime hours. One hour of creation, then, corresponds to 83.33 years in the span of world history.
The next question: which period of history corresponds to the hour during which Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Number-crunching, Rabbi Winston concludes that the 83 year period starts in 1991 which would mean we are now smack in the middle of that time period, facing the modern-day equivalent of Adam’s test, a test we each must pass to properly move creation forward. What is that test?
That Rabbi suggests that the modern version of the Tree of Knowledge is the Internet which, in 1991, burst forth as a new conduit of knowledge, a modality that can be used for the transmission of good . . . or bad. And our test is the way we use this tool which connects us to the most sublime pursuits or the most deranged, depending on how we proceed.
Thinking about his hypothesis, a lot of interesting associations come to mind: Apple computer’s logo of an apple missing a bite. What about the fact that upon inception, Google proclaimed their mantra: “Do No Evil.” What about curious resonances with big brand names? Yahoo, in Hebrew, would be spelled with the first three of the four Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton, the most holy of the names of G-d. Amazon, in Hebrew, would be a hybrid of two concepts: the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the letter Aleph, which represents that which is spiritual or above this world and the word mazon, which translates as ‘sustenance’. Amazon, indeed, is a purveyor of all matters of sustenance, pretty well everything that we can access in G-d’s creation.
Thanks for coming with me on this flight of fancy. Clearly I like to think in ways that are off the beaten path. Humour me just a little bit further . . .
If Kabbalah proves right, yet to be determined, we may be looking at a pervasive consciousness, a sense that we have to get our respective acts in order. Now! Time is of the essence. In which case, the matter of Jordan Peterson’s rise may have more to do with us than with him. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Perhaps we are awakening to an urgent need for change that emanates from within. And he happened to be the guy who came along with the message that we knew we¬†needed to hear. All the while, the snake, the nachash, fights us tooth-and-nail. Not everybody on the world stage is rooting for progress.
No matter. In the face of the corona virus, stock market upheaval and every other point of turbulence, your day-to-day function can stay on course:
1) Clean your room.
2) Take responsibility.
3) Tell the truth.


4) Keep your eye on progress.

Remember what poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in the Sonnets of Orpheus, a most impressive download impelled in a frenzy of inspiration that overtook him:
He who pours himself out like a stream is acknowledged at last by Knowledge;
and she leads him enchanted through the harmonious country
that finishes often with starting, and with ending, begins.
About the Author
Annette Poizner is a Columbia-trained clinical social worker who graduated with a Doctorate of Education. She is an Israeli-trained graphologist and specializes in projective personality assessment. Her work has been featured extensively in the media and in academic venues. She has founded Lobster University Press, an imprint which explores the work of Jordan Peterson. Her books summarize Peterson's ideas and explore the intersection between his insights and Jewish wisdom.
Related Topics
Related Posts