In memory of Rabbi Gavriel & Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg HYD - Shluchim to Mumbai, India
At the end of your letter you write that the Rambam did not learn Kabbala; this is based on the opinions of kabbalists. The Arizal in Sha’ar HaGilgulim introduction 36, Rabbi Shlomo Elkavitz in his explanation to “Song of Songs,” and the Chida in Shem HaGedolim, the section on the Rambam.
I was always puzzled by a statement I heard from my holy father-in-law, who said he heard this from his ancestors, going back to the Baal Shem Tov. The statement being that the Rambam was a great kabbalist, and the reason he never showed it, even just in alluding to it, was because of fear not to reveal Kabbalah ideas to the public, even if just in a hint full way. How do we reconcile this statement with the previous mentioned references that the Rambam was not a kabbalist at all?
Possibly, the answer is that the Rambam came to the study of Kabbalah only towards the end of his life. See Migdal Oz, Laws of Torah study, chapters 1 and 2; Maharm Elshakar, Responsa #117; Avodas HaKodesh volume 2 chapter 13, etc.
Igros Kodesh volume 22, p. 129
Compiled by Rabbi Chaim Dalfin