What is Kabbalah?

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This is a series of ten essays on the basic ideas that lay the groundwork for all advanced concepts in Kabbalah. They are the fundamentals. Before someone can truly understand things like angels, magic, and spiritual forces, he/she needs some background.

A more thorough version of this course is published as “A Map of the Universe: An Introduction to the Study of Kabbalah” and can be ordered through Xlibris.com at a discount or for the regular price from Amazon.com, or BarnesandNoble.com

Certainly the kabbalists who are considered masters of this information know and understand clearly the five books of Moses, the eight major and twelve minor books of the prophets, the eleven books called Writings, as well as the sixty tractates of the Talmud. To become a master kabbalist takes many years of study with proper teachers. What this series is designed to do is to take someone who doesn’t have the background knowledge through the essential ideas that allow that person to grasp many of the more sophisticated concepts.

We’ve seen books written by people that don’t seem to grasp the basics, yet discuss very high-level concepts. I don’t think the writers or readers are getting the points clear. Unfortunately, the books that are written by masters are mostly in Hebrew, and also assume the reader knows the background. There are so many people that are thirsting for this knowledge that can’t enter into the “orchard”.

May it be God’s will that these essays serve as a way for them to taste the essence of their traditions, and makes them hungry for more.

 

The word “Kabbalah” is a feminine noun.

These ten essays are written for beginners. Kabbalah is a field of study that is elusive and requires the neophyte to gather bits of information and piece them together by himself. I will assume no prior knowledge and explain each new idea on its own. However, one of the principles of Kabbalah is that many things are left to the student to comprehend on his own and cannot be explained. A true teacher of Kabbalah, which I do not claim to be, is not permitted to teach every concept he knows. Some concepts he is only permitted to hint to. Therefore, whenever delving into Kabbalah you need to be willing to think a bit more deeply into what’s being stated in order to get closer to the truth.

God is one, and infinite.

Kabbalah is traditionally a secret or hidden doctrine. Even though the Bible uses the masculine pronoun “He” when referring to God, obviously God has neither gender nor any physical form whatsoever and can’t possibly be male or female. The side of God that is revealed we call masculine. That’s why God in the Bible, His revealed word, is masculine. The side that is hidden is His feminine side. There are many references to feminine traits of God in the Prophetic writings and the Hebrew prayer book. That which conceptually relates to male is more external. Women have been known to be more in touch with spirituality, intuition, and other hidden things. Women, historically, have often been able to accomplish more behind the scenes than men have being in the limelight. In this way Kabbalah, which is considered more special, more powerful and more spiritual than the more revealed wisdom of the Bible can be looked at as the “feminine” side of Judaism.

Kabbalah is part of Judaism.

Although some of the kabbalistic tradition predates Moses, it is part of the Jewish belief that God gave Moses a written law and an oral law. Kabbalah is part of that oral law.

Kabbalah is defined in different ways. It is most basically the mystical aspect of Judaism. There are meditative aspects of Kabbalah. There are dimensions of Kabbalah that could be called White Magic. There are philosophical aspects. Kabbalah is not a separate study that can be divorced from its roots. In order to understand it fully, we must keep a perspective on traditional Judaism.

Kabbalah is the Hebrew word which means to receive. There is wisdom that is learned through hard study. There is wisdom that is understood through experience. But most mystical or spiritual understandings of our reality can only be “received’. This implies that the recipient must be ready for, and be a fitting vessel for receiving such special and holy ideas.

Kabbalah’s basic ideas can be studied and understood by anyone.

A clear understanding of Kabbalah is dependent on an understanding of basic Judaism, the foundational sources, which are the Bible, (the five books that God dictated to Moses), the books of the Prophets, and the Talmud, (the compendium of Jewish oral law which was handed down from God to Moses and from teacher to student in every generation until its codification in about 400 C.E.) Even without this knowledge, however, many insights into life’s ultimate purpose can be understood through the concepts of Kabbalah. You can also learn invaluable things about yourself from studying these mystical concepts. It is for these reasons and others that I have chosen to write these ten essays called “Introductory Kabbalah”.