An Introduction to the Kabbalah

Kabbalah is known as “The Hidden Wisdom”. A system of Hebrew mysticism, the Kabbalah promises the answers to some of the great mysteries and questions that men have: why am I here? Where am I going? Why is there so much suffering in the world? These questions have concerned man for thousands of years. The Kabbalah, said to the Oral Tradition handed down to Moses along with the Written

Tradition of the Bible, is a method of study that leads its student to discover the answers for themselves.

The Kabbalah, sometimes spelled Qabala or Cabala, offers both an explanation of the structure of the universe and a guide to the particulars of our lives. Those who study the Kabbalah learn about both the individual and the collective process of rectification and how to take an active part in it. Throughout the ages, the greatest Jewish thinkers have encouraged the study of the Kabbalah:

There is no joy like that of rejoicing in the knowledge of the Torah's secret wisdom, for this is the main reason that the soul comes into This World. (Shaarei Arucha)

The Kabbalah is not something that exists on its own outside the study of the Torah – the holy books of Judaism. It is the soul of the Torah, just as the exoteric books are its body. As such, it is impossible to study Kabbalah without also studying the Torah. The Kabbalah itself is divided into two parts: the Kabbalah Iyunit and the Kabbalah Maasit. The first deals with the relation of the world to the Divine, with the mechanics of creation and with the inability of the human mind to fully grasp the nature of G-d. It offers specific meditative techniques through which its students can rectify imperfections in their souls through the study of the sefirot (the divine forces) and the planes of reality, and how the two intersect.

The second, Kabbalah Maasit, concerns the practical aspects of the mystical secrets. It involves ritual techniques that are believed to accomplish actual physical change in the world. The techniques include incantation and inscription of sacred names, and are aimed at actually altering physical states and events. This practice of Kabbalah is meant to be practiced only by the most responsible of men and only for the benefit of all mankind, or to further G-d’s plan of creation.

The Transmission of Kabbalah

According to tradition – on which the Kabbalah itself is based – Moses received the Kabbalah directly at the same time that he received the Torah. It is thus regarded as the inner soul of the Torah. It is telling that Moses “received” the Kabbalah. One might reason that Moses was the most open to receiving the prophetic message, and that his “transmission” of that message to Joshua was not in telling him the secrets, but rather in teaching him the techniques by which he himself received them. In turn, Joshua transmitted the message to the Elders, who transmitted it to the Prophets. The secrets of the Kabbalah are the keys to entering a meditative state where one is receptive to the wonders and the mystic secrets of the world, the very structures and building blocks on which and of which the world is constructed.

The study of the Kabbalah is more than an acquisition of knowledge. It is meant to be an undertaking in transformation. In that, it has a great deal in common with the mystic traditions of many other of the world’s religions. If you would learn Kabbalah, you should be prepared to devote your life to it, because it is the only way in which you will truly be open to all that it has to teach.


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