Monday, September 26, 2005


What IS Kabbalah?

by Rabbi Yonah

The Kabbalah is not a Mapquest.

Kabbalah is not one methodical way to a knowledge of God and the Universe. Kabbalah refers to many different traditions, wisdoms, beliefs, and practices that have informed Jewish life for thousands of years.

The word “Kabbalah” comes from the Hebrew root which means “to receive.” The many books, teachings, practices, and beliefs that together constitute the kabbalah was once a very secret ancient knowledge. It originated with the given of the Oral and Written traditions a Sinai.

Kabbalah is intrinsically part of a greater collective Jewish knowledge and wisdom, and cannot be separated from the Torah.

Learning of Kabbalah was generally preceded by expertise in Jewish knowledge, the Torah, Talmud, Midrash, Halacha, etc.

Kabbalah was a part of ALL streams of Jewish life, from Sephardic to Ashkenazi, from German to Lithuanian. From Turkey to Spain, from Iran to Egypt.

In the 18th century Chasidic Master, the Baal Shem Tov, opened the world of Kabbalah to unlearned, yet pious Jews.

One of the most studied texts of Kabbalah today is the Tanya, which has acceptance among all streams of Chasidic Jews. This is followed by the Zohar, the Sefer Yetzira, and others.

Today, in a world that is more fractured, and Jewish groups strive for relevance, many turn to Kabbalistic teachings.

The real Kabbalah can only be truly known within a pious life that is guided by the basic Jewish principles as set out in the Torah. Nonetheless, many lessons from Kabbalah are available to all of us.

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