Famous Kabbalists and Their Teachings

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A controversial figure in his lifetime, Rabbi Luzzatto, a young Italian sage also known as the Ramchal, has since been accepted as one of the greatest kabbalists. At a young age his intellect gave him a status of prodigy. He delved into many subjects, even worked as a gem cutter, wrote on language and logic, and had a gift of organizing ideas. Although he passed away at a young age and many of his works were buried, he left behind many works on Kabbalah, and some of his works have became classics. Here is an excerpt from a short piece called “An Essay on Fundamentals” entitled: Spiritual Beings

“ The Al-mighty, may His name be blessed, in His infiniteness created physical things, and similarly it was His desire to create other things above the physical realm, that couldn’t’t be felt or sensed by our senses. And just as He gave limitations and rules to His physical creations, He gave other rules to spiritual beings, according to what His wisdom deemed best for them. That which He created with natural boundaries that we can sense is called physical, that which doesn’t’t follow these rules is called spiritual, and has rules designed specifically for it.

It’s important to know that just like there are different types of physical beings and according to the differences among them will be the physical laws that govern their behavior, similarly among spiritual beings you will find different“ species” and their differences will determine the spiritual laws that govern them. A general rule among all of them is that we, as physical beings, can’t truly grasp what these spiritual beings really are or what their laws really mean. We do, however, know that they exist and we do know some things about them that we were taught by our prophets and sages, of blessed memory.

There are three main categories of spiritual beings: supernal forces, angels, and souls. The supernal forces do not have a connection to physicality. They are pure and very lofty and the closest things in existence to the Presence of God which rests on them constantly. They have names associated with their level in the spiritual realm: the Wheels of the Throne, “Ofanim” etc. Angels are created to perform a function of God’s will whatever that may be at any given time, and so they are appointed over some aspect of His will. There is a hierarchy amongst angels and each level has laws that govern it that God’s wisdom saw fit. Souls are spiritual beings designed to be connected to bodies and bound to them strongly. And they have specific laws that govern them based on their situation. That is, souls find themselves in a variety of situations. They exist outside of a body and also inside a body. There are two ways to be outside the body; before it enters the body, and after it leaves the body. In each situation there will be different laws that govern the behavior of the soul according with different limitations that are appropriate for each situation. Angels are all servants of God and do only what He wants. They determine the events that happen in the physical realm whether good or bad. Therefore two distinct groups of angels exist, the ones overseeing good events that happen to bodies or souls, and the ones overseeing bad events that happen to bodies or souls. The damaging angels are called Angels of Destruction or Damagers.

There is another type of being that is in between being physical and being spiritual, that is it has some limitations of the physical world and is unbound by some of the laws of physicality. These beings are called Shedim and are partially physical. They have some of the qualities of the spiritual beings but aren’t quite of that world either. Within this type of being are different levels of beings that follow different laws and properties according to their levels.

There does not exist an entity in the lower world that doesn’t have a spiritual counterpart in the supernal forces. There also does not exist an entity that doesn’t have angels governing it causing one thing or another to happen to it that the Al-mighty decrees. A spiritual Influence, “Hashpah”, is the name for this arrangement.

All of the Influences that come from the upper realms for the sake of the lower
realms come via the celestial bodies in a way that these bodies are the closest things to the lower beings but their influence only comes from above.

God gave permission, so to speak, to all these spiritual beings to effect events in the lower world that contradict the laws of nature, when they will be activated by people in the lower realm by specific means designed for this. However, no person has the right to do whatever he wants, rather each is limited by natural limitations inherent in this process, and also there are permissible acts and things forbidden to us. Permissable acts are found in Sefer Yetzira, the Book of Creation, and forbidden acts are sorcery.”

Rabbi Luzzatto has described in short and succinctly the chain of command in the spiritual realm and how the physical realm is intertwined in the spiritual realm. This relationship between physicality and spirituality is an essential aspect of kabbalistic philosophy and colors all discussions of either realm.

For more info on Kabbalah and Astrology, order the book Cycle of Influence:
Kabbalah and Astrology from the home page or email him at Mweiman@aish.com. Available in ebook format or spiral bound hard copy.