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Judaism --> Kabbalah and Mystism

Kabbalah (קבלה "Reception", Standard Hebrew Qabbala, Tiberian Hebrew Qabbālāh; also written variously as Cabala, Cabalah, Cabbala, Cabbalah, Kabala, Kabalah, Kabbala, Qabala, Qabalah) is a religious philosophical system claiming an insight into divine nature.

"Kabbalah" is a doctrine of esoteric knowledge concerning God and the universe, asserted to have come down as a revelation to the Sages from a remote past, and preserved only by a privileged few. Kabbalah is considered part of the Jewish Oral Law. It is the traditional mystical understanding of the Torah. Kabbalah stresses the reasons and understanding of the commandments, and the cause of events described in the Torah. Kabbalah includes the understanding of the spiritual spheres in creation, and the rules and ways by which God administers the existence of the universe.

Origin of Jewish mysticism

Early forms of Jewish mysticism at first consisted only of empirical lore. Much later, under the influence of Neoplatonic and Neopythagorean philosophy, it assumed a speculative character. In the medieval era it greatly developed with the appearance of the mystical text, the Sefer Yetzirah. Jewish sources attribute the book to Abraham. It became the object of the systematic study of the elect, called "baale ha-kabbalah" (בעלי הקבלה "possessors or masters of the Kabbalah"). From the thirteenth century onward Kabbalah branched out into an extensive literature, alongside of and often in opposition to the Talmud.

Most forms of Kabbalah teach that every letter, word, number, and accent of scripture contains a hidden sense; and it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these occult meanings.

Some historians of religion hold that we should limit the use of the term Kabbalah only to the mystical religious systems which appeared after the twelfth century; they use other terms to refer to esoteric Jewish mystical systems before the 12th century. Other historians of religion view this distinction as arbitrary. In this view, post 12th-century Kabbalah is seen as the next phase in a continuous line of development from the same mystical roots and elements. As such, these scholars feel that it is appropriate to use the term "Kabbalah" to refer to Jewish mysticism as early as the first century of the common era. Orthodox Jews typically disagree with both schools of thought, as they reject the idea that Kabbalah underwent significant historical development and change.

Since the late 19th century, with the emergence of the "Jewish Studies" approach, the Kabbalah has also been studied as a highly rational system of understanding the world, rather than a mystical one. A pioneer of this approach was Lazar Gulkowitsch.

Some groups have claimed authorship of the Kabbalah. For instance, Nasorean Essenes claim that Qabalta is the original Kaballah.

One of the first books on Kabbalah is the Sefer Yetzirah, Book of Creation. The first commentaries on this small book were written in the 10th century, and the text itself is quoted as early as the sixth century. Its historical origins are unclear. It exists today in a number of recensions, up to 2500 words long. Like many Jewish mystical texts, it was written in such a way as to be meaningless to those who read it without an extensive background in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and Midrash.


 

 

 

Another early book of Kabbalah is the ("illumination"), also known as The Midrash of Rabbi Nehuniah ben haKana. It is some 12,000 words long. First published in Provence in 1176, many Orthodox Jews believe that the author was Rabbi Nehuniah ben haKana, a Talmudic sage of the first century. Historians, however, believe that the book was likely written not long before it was published.

The most important work of Jewish mysticism is the Zohar (זהר "Splendor"). It is an esoteric mystical commentary on the Torah, written in Aramaic. In the 13th century, a Spanish Jew by the name of Moshe de Leon claimed to discover the text of the Zohar, attributing it to the 2nd century Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai. This book was subsequently published throughout the Jewish community. Though the book was widely accepted, over the subsequent centuries a small number of significant Rabbis published works espousing the view that it was a forgery, and that it contained concepts contrary to Judaism. Gershom Scholem (the most famous scholar and historian of Kabbalah in the twentieth century), echoing many of the arguments of these Rabbis, contends that de Leon himself was the author of the Zohar. The Zohar contains and elaborates upon much of the material found in Sefer Yetzirah and Bahir, and is considered the Kabbalistic work par excellence.


Kabbalistic works offer a theodicy, a philosophical reconciliation of how the existence of a good and powerful God is compatible with the existence of evil in the world. There are mainly two different ways to describe why there is evil in the world, according to the Kabbalah. Both makes use of the kabbalistic Tree of Life:

The kabbalistic tree, which consists of ten Sephiroth, the ten "emanations" of God, consists of three pillars. The left side of the tree, the female side, is considered to be more destructive than the right side, the male side. Geburah (גבורה), for example, stands for strength and discipline, while her male counterpart, Chesed (חסד), stands for love and mercy. The center pillar of the tree does not have any polarity, and no gender is given to them.
In the medieval era, old ideas from Babylon gained new strength. The Qliphoth, or Kelippot(קליפות the primeval "husks" of impurity), was blamed for all the evil in the world. Qliphoth are the evil twin of the Sephiroth. The tree of Qliphoth is usually called the kabbalistic Tree of Death, and sometimes the Qliphoth are called the Deathangels, or Angels of Death. The Qliphoth are found in the old Babylonian incantations, a fact used as evidence in favor of the antiquity of most of the cabalistic material

Without food we can't live. We all have heard the famous line, "Man does not live by bread....". What does it mean? The verse comes from Torah [Bible] and is a reference to the miraculous manna, which fell from heaven daily during the Jewish people's sojourn in the wilderness. The conclusion of the verse is that "rather, by the utterance of God's mouth does man live." Thus, it is reminding us about the true source of human sustenance. What makes something kosher and what is the spiritual meaning kabbalahistic.

 

also see:

Leshem Shevo VAchlamah

 

 

 

Judaism

Names -Jewish Months

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What is Chanukah?
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What is Shavuot?

 
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