God’s existence is something very far removed from anything we can comprehend. He is immanent and part of everything we know; yet we cannot know Him. To ponder Him confounds the mind. As He said to Moses, “No man can see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20) Why can we not “see” God? Because we are not capable, while in the form of a human being, of grasping God. Our physicality, as a barrier, makes it impossible. When someone dies and the soul is detached from the body, then he can see God.
In between our existence and God’s essence are levels and layers of worlds, universes, and spiritual entities. God created and designed these things. The study and understanding of these forces and realities are a large part of kabbalistic thought. There are upper realms and lower realms all in an intricately entwined matrix type design linking our realm of reality to worlds above which ascend to a reality much closer to God’s essence. Since these realms are created as form without matter, they do not have spatial relationships. Hence, as soon as we try to picture these realms and levels we are distorting our understanding. This causes quite an obstacle for many to a true understanding of the spiritual world. To aid our ability to understand the spiritual side, God gave hints and clues in the physical realm, and in the written Torah. The Hebrew language is the foundation of the Torah, and the alphabet is the backbone of the language. Other languages may have evolved organically, or developed from one language mixing with another. Hebrew was something that was formed by an Infinite Being and has intrinsic meaning and holiness. Each letter is a symbol of a spiritual reality that God created. There are twenty-two letters, which are divided into three
groups by the kabbalists: A group of three that are symbolic of the primordial elements with which God created physicality: air, water, and fire. A group of seven that are symbolic of the seven main celestial bodies: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and Mars. These in turn have a connection with the seven days of the week. And a last group of twelve that are symbolic of the twelve signs of the zodiac, and the twelve months, which in turn are connected to the twelve tribes of Jacob.
Each of these groups fulfills a function in the world aside from its representation of a higher reality. The stars and planets are conduits for the spiritual influences from above. The first two groups combine to form a group of ten. This group is the precursor to the ten statements of creation, the ten plagues in Egypt, and the Ten Commandments. Ten is a unit. It represents completeness. God hid the knowledge of how the spiritual world is
structured; yet at the same time He revealed it to us through the stars, planets, and the alphabet. The Torah also hints to much of the mystical side of the universe. If you are sensitive to the words and looking for spiritual insights you will find them in the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and also the Siddur.
Understand that the group of ten is an essential theme in Kabbalah. The group expresses ten qualities of Godliness that we find in the world. These ten qualities are known as the Sefirot, and they exist as the backbone of the spiritual realm that exists somehow between God’s essence and our reality. What is the purpose of the knowledge of these sefirot or any of the other aspects of Kabbalah? All of existence is here for us to come closer to God. Every commandment is an opportunity for a connection to God, and every piece of Torah knowledge binds you to God. It’s His book, and His instructions. That’s what the Torah and the commandments are here for. The study of Kabbalah in particular describes how God runs the universe, which is a much more powerful and more revealing glimpse of God’s actual self, so to speak. We can never, as we’ve said, really know God while we are in the body. Kabbalah, however, gives us the greatest possibility of closeness. For this reason, Kabbalah in traditional sources is called Chachmas HaElohus” which means “The knowledge of Godliness”. One who studies Kabbalah without wanting to understand and get closer to the Al-mighty is like reading a book on advanced Geometry because you like the looks of the diagrams. You’re missing the point. If you separate Kabbalah from its source then you no longer have Kabbalah. You have something else. One must be involved in some way with Torah study and mitzvah observance in order to really ever know Kabbalah.