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Kabbalists agreed with the divine transcendence described by Jewish philosophy , but as only referring to the Ein Sof unknowable Godhead. Hasidic thought extends the divine immanence of Kabbalah by holding that God is all that really exists, all else being completely undifferentiated from God's perspective. This view can be defined as acosmic monistic panentheism. According to this philosophy, God's existence is higher than anything that this world can express, yet he includes all things of this world within his divine reality in perfect unity, so that the creation effected no change in him at all.
This paradox as seen from dual human and divine perspectives is dealt with at length in Chabad texts. Among problems considered in the Hebrew Kabbalah is the theological issue of the nature and origin of evil. In the views of some Kabbalists this conceives "evil" as a "quality of God", asserting that negativity enters into the essence of the Absolute. In this view it is conceived that the Absolute needs evil to "be what it is", i. Scholem termed this element of the Spanish Kabbalah a "Jewish gnostic" motif, in the sense of dual powers in the divine realm of manifestation.
Gevurah is necessary for Creation to exist as it counterposes Chesed "loving-kindness" , restricting the unlimited divine bounty within suitable vessels, so forming the Worlds. However, if man sins actualising impure judgement within his soul , the supernal Judgement is reciprocally empowered over the Kindness, introducing disharmony among the Sephirot in the divine realm and exile from God throughout Creation.
The demonic realm, though illusory in its holy origin, becomes the real apparent realm of impurity in lower Creation. In the Zohar , the sin of Adam and Eve who embodied Adam Kadmon below took place in the spiritual realms. Their sin was that they separated the Tree of knowledge 10 sefirot within Malkuth , representing Divine immanence , from the Tree of life within it 10 sefirot within Tiferet , representing Divine transcendence. This introduced the false perception of duality into lower creation, an external Tree of Death nurtured from holiness, and an Adam Belial of impurity.
In the divine view from above within Kabbalah, emphasised in Hasidic Panentheism , the appearance of duality and pluralism below dissolves into the absolute Monism of God, psychologising evil. Kabbalistic doctrine gives man the central role in Creation, as his soul and body correspond to the supernal divine manifestations. In the Christian Kabbalah this scheme was universalised to describe harmonia mundi , the harmony of Creation within man. While the kabbalistic scheme gave a radically innovative, though conceptually continuous, development of mainstream Midrashic and Talmudic rabbinic notions, kabbalistic thought underscored and invigorated conservative Jewish observance.
The esoteric teachings of kabbalah gave the traditional mitzvot observances the central role in spiritual creation, whether the practitioner was learned in this knowledge or not. Accompanying normative Jewish observance and worship with elite mystical kavanot intentions gave them theurgic power, but sincere observance by common folk, especially in the Hasidic popularisation of kabbalah, could replace esoteric abilities.
Many kabbalists were also leading legal figures in Judaism, such as Nachmanides and Joseph Karo. Medieval kabbalah elaborates particular reasons for each Biblical mitzvah , and their role in harmonising the supernal divine flow, uniting masculine and feminine forces on High. With this, the feminine Divine presence in this world is drawn from exile to the Holy One Above. The mitzvot are embodied in the organs and soul of man.
Lurianic Kabbalah incorporates this in the more inclusive scheme of Jewish messianic rectification of exiled divinity. Jewish mysticism, in contrast to Divine transcendence rationalist human-centred reasons for Jewish observance, gave Divine-immanent providential cosmic significance to the daily events in the worldly life of man in general, and the spiritual role of Jewish observance in particular. The Kabbalah posits that the human soul has three elements, the nefesh , ru'ach , and neshamah.
The nefesh is found in all humans, and enters the physical body at birth. It is the source of one's physical and psychological nature. The next two parts of the soul are not implanted at birth, but can be developed over time; their development depends on the actions and beliefs of the individual.
They are said to only fully exist in people awakened spiritually. A common way of explaining the three parts of the soul is as follows: [ citation needed ]. The Raaya Meheimna , a section of related teachings spread throughout the Zohar, discusses fourth and fifth parts of the human soul, the chayyah and yehidah first mentioned in the Midrash Rabbah. Gershom Scholem writes that these "were considered to represent the sublimest levels of intuitive cognition, and to be within the grasp of only a few chosen individuals".
The Chayyah and the Yechidah do not enter into the body like the other three—thus they received less attention in other sections of the Zohar. Both rabbinic and kabbalistic works posit that there are a few additional, non-permanent states of the soul that people can develop on certain occasions. These extra souls, or extra states of the soul, play no part in any afterlife scheme, but are mentioned for completeness:.
Reincarnation , the transmigration of the soul after death, was introduced into Judaism as a central esoteric tenet of Kabbalah from the Medieval period onwards, called Gilgul neshamot "cycles of the soul". The concept does not appear overtly in the Hebrew Bible or classic rabbinic literature, and was rejected by various Medieval Jewish philosophers. However, the Kabbalists explained a number of scriptural passages in reference to Gilgulim. The concept became central to the later Kabbalah of Isaac Luria, who systemised it as the personal parallel to the cosmic process of rectification.
Through Lurianic Kabbalah and Hasidic Judaism, reincarnation entered popular Jewish culture as a literary motif. This allowed the emergence of independent existence that would not become nullified by the pristine Infinite Light, reconciling the unity of the Ein Sof with the plurality of creation.
In contrast, a new emanation after the Tzimtzum shone into the vacuum to begin creation, but led to an initial instability called Tohu Chaos , leading to a new crisis of Shevirah Shattering of the sephirot vessels. The shards of the broken vessels fell down into the lower realms, animated by remnants of their divine light, causing primordial exile within the Divine Persona before the creation of man.
Exile and enclothement of higher divinity within lower realms throughout existence requires man to complete the Tikkun olam Rectification process. Rectification Above corresponds to the reorganization of the independent sephirot into relating Partzufim Divine Personas , previously referred to obliquely in the Zohar. From the catastrophe stems the possibility of self-aware Creation, and also the Kelipot Impure Shells of previous Medieval kabbalah.
The metaphorical anthropomorphism of the partzufim accentuates the sexual unifications of the redemption process, while Gilgul reincarnation emerges from the scheme. Uniquely, Lurianism gave formerly private mysticism the urgency of Messianic social involvement.
According to interpretations of Luria, the catastrophe stemmed from the "unwillingness" of the residue imprint after the Tzimtzum to relate to the new vitality that began creation. The process was arranged to shed and harmonise the Divine Infinity with the latent potential of evil. Historical and individual history becomes the narrative of reclaiming exiled Divine sparks.
Kabbalistic thought extended Biblical and Midrashic notions that God enacted Creation through the Hebrew language and through the Torah into a full linguistic mysticism. In this, every Hebrew letter, word, number, even accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contain Jewish mystical meanings , describing the spiritual dimensions within exoteric ideas, and it teaches the hermeneutic methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings.
Names of God in Judaism have further prominence, though infinite meaning turns the whole Torah into a Divine name. As the Hebrew name of things is the channel of their lifeforce, parallel to the sephirot, so concepts such as "holiness" and " mitzvot " embody ontological Divine immanence, as God can be known in manifestation as well as transcendence.
The infinite potential of meaning in the Torah, as in the Ein Sof , is reflected in the symbol of the two trees of the Garden of Eden; the Torah of the Tree of Knowledge is the external, finite Halachic Torah, enclothed within which the mystics perceive the unlimited infinite plurality of meanings of the Torah of the Tree of Life.
In Lurianic terms, each of the , root souls of Israel find their own interpretation in Torah, as "God, the Torah and Israel are all One". The reapers of the Field are the Comrades, masters of this wisdom, because Malkhut is called the Apple Field, and She grows sprouts of secrets and new meanings of Torah. Those who constantly create new interpretations of Torah are the ones who reap Her.
As early as the 1st century BCE Jews believed that the Torah and other canonical texts contained encoded messages and hidden meanings. Gematria is one method for discovering its hidden meanings. In this system, each Hebrew letter also represents a number. By converting letters to numbers, Kabbalists were able to find a hidden meaning in each word.
This method of interpretation was used extensively by various schools. In contemporary interpretation of kabbalah, Sanford Drob makes cognitive sense of this linguistic mythos by relating it to postmodern philosophical concepts described by Jacques Derrida and others, where all reality embodies narrative texts with infinite plurality of meanings brought by the reader.
In this dialogue, kabbalah survives the nihilism of Deconstruction by incorporating its own Lurianic Shevirah , and by the dialectical paradox where man and God imply each other. The founder of the academic study of Jewish mysticism, Gershom Scholem , privileged an intellectual view of the nature of Kabbalistic symbols as dialectic Theosophical speculation.
In contrast, contemporary scholarship of Moshe Idel and Elliot R. Wolfson has opened a phenomenological understanding of the mystical nature of Kabbalistic experience, based on a close reading of the historical texts. Wolfson has shown that among the closed elite circles of mystical activity, medieval Theosophical Kabbalists held that an intellectual view of their symbols was secondary to the experiential. In the context of medieval Jewish philosophical debates on the role of imagination in Biblical prophecy, and essentialist versus instrumental kabbalistic debates about the relation of sephirot to God, they saw contemplation on the sephirot as a vehicle for prophecy.
Judaism's ban on physical iconography, along with anthropomorphic metaphors for Divinity in the Hebrew Bible and midrash , enabled their internal visualisation of the Divine sephirot Anthropos in imagination. Disclosure of the aniconic in iconic internal psychology, involved sublimatory revelation of Kabbalah's sexual unifications.
A tradition of parapsychology abilities, psychic knowledge, and theurgic intercessions in heaven for the community is recounted in the hagiographic works Praises of the Ari , Praises of the Besht , and in many other Kabbalistic and Hasidic tales. Kabbalistic and Hasidic texts are concerned to apply themselves from exegesis and theory to spiritual practice, including prophetic drawing of new mystical revelations in Torah.
The mythological symbols Kabbalah uses to answer philosophical questions, themselves invite mystical contemplation, intuitive apprehension and psychological engagement. In bringing Theosophical Kabbalah into contemporary intellectual understanding, using the tools of modern and postmodern philosophy and psychology , Sanford Drob shows philosophically how every symbol of the Kabbalah embodies the simultaneous dialectical paradox of mystical Coincidentia oppositorum , the conjoining of two opposite dualities.
By expressing itself using symbols and myth that transcend single interpretations, Theosophical Kabbalah incorporates aspects of philosophy , Jewish theology , psychology and unconscious depth psychology , mysticism and meditation , Jewish exegesis , theurgy , and ethics , as well as overlapping with theory from magical elements. Its symbols can be read as questions which are their own existentialist answers the Hebrew sephirah Chokhmah -Wisdom, the beginning of Existence, is read etymologically by Kabbalists as the question "Koach Mah?
Messianic redemption requires both ethical Tikkun olam and contemplative Kavanah. The infinite axiology of the Ein Sof One, expressed through the Plural Many, overcomes the dangers of nihilism, or the antinomian mystical breaking of Jewish observance alluded to throughout Kabbalistic and Hasidic mysticisms.
Like the rest of the rabbinic literature, the texts of kabbalah were once part of an ongoing oral tradition, though, over the centuries, much of the oral tradition has been written down. Jewish forms of esotericism existed over 2, years ago. Ben Sira born c. Throughout the centuries since, many texts have been produced, among them the ancient descriptions of Sefer Yetzirah , the Heichalot mystical ascent literature, the Bahir , Sefer Raziel HaMalakh and the Zohar , the main text of Kabbalistic exegesis.
Classic mystical Bible commentaries are included in fuller versions of the Mikraot Gedolot Main Commentators. Cordoveran systemisation is presented in Pardes Rimonim , philosophical articulation in the works of the Maharal , and Lurianic rectification in Etz Chayim. Hasidism interpreted kabbalistic structures to their correspondence in inward perception.
The first modern-academic historians of Judaism, the " Wissenschaft des Judentums " school of the 19th century, framed Judaism in solely rational terms in the emancipatory Haskalah spirit of their age. They opposed kabbalah and restricted its significance from Jewish historiography. In the midth century, it was left to Gershom Scholem to overturn their stance, establishing the flourishing present-day academic investigation of Jewish mysticism, and making Heichalot, Kabbalistic and Hasidic texts the objects of scholarly critical-historical study.
In Scholem's opinion, the mythical and mystical components of Judaism were at least as important as the rational ones, and he thought that they, rather than the exoteric Halakha or intellectualist Jewish philosophy , were the living subterranean stream in historical Jewish development that periodically broke out to renew the Jewish spirit and social life of the community.
Scholem's magisterial Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism among his seminal works, though representing scholarship and interpretations that have subsequently been challenged and revised within the field,  remains the only academic survey studying all main historical periods of Jewish mysticism . Moshe Idel has opened up research on the Ecstatic Kabbalah alongside the theosophical, and has called for new multi-disciplinary approaches, beyond the philological and historical that have dominated until now, to include phenomenology , psychology , anthropology and comparative studies.
Historians have noted that most claims for the authority of kabbalah involve an argument of the antiquity of authority see, e. As a result, virtually all early foundational works pseudepigraphically claim, or are ascribed, ancient authorship. For example, Sefer Raziel HaMalach , an astro-magical text partly based on a magical manual of late antiquity, Sefer ha-Razim , was, according to the kabbalists, transmitted by the angel Raziel to Adam after he was evicted from Eden.
Another famous work, the early Sefer Yetzirah , is dated back to the patriarch Abraham. As well as ascribing ancient origins to texts, and reception of Oral Torah transmission, the greatest and most innovative Kabbalists claimed mystical reception of direct personal divine revelations, by heavenly mentors such as Elijah the Prophet , the souls of Talmudic sages , prophetic revelation , soul ascents on high, etc.
On this basis Arthur Green speculates, that while the Zohar was written by a circle of Kabbalists in medieval Spain, they may have believed they were channeling the souls and direct revelations from the earlier mystic circle of Shimon bar Yochai in 2nd century Galilee depicted in the Zohar's narrative. Similarly, Isaac Luria gathered his disciples at the traditional Idra assembly location, placing each in the seat of their former reincarnations as students of Shimon bar Yochai.
Although Kabbalah propounds the Unity of God, one of the most serious and sustained criticisms is that it may lead away from monotheism, and instead promote dualism , the belief that there is a supernatural counterpart to God. The dualistic system holds that there is a good power versus an evil power. There are two primary models of Gnostic-dualistic cosmology: the first, which goes back to Zoroastrianism , believes creation is ontologically divided between good and evil forces; the second, found largely in Greco-Roman metaphysics like Neo-Platonism , argues that the universe knew a primordial harmony, but that a cosmic disruption yielded a second, evil dimension to reality.
This second model influenced the cosmology of the Kabbalah. According to Kabbalistic cosmology, the Ten Sephirot correspond to ten levels of creation. These levels of creation must not be understood as ten different "gods" but as ten different ways of revealing God, one per level. While God may seem to exhibit dual natures masculine-feminine, compassionate-judgmental, creator-creation , all adherents of Kabbalah have consistently stressed the ultimate unity of God.
For example, in all discussions of Male and Female, the hidden nature of God exists above it all without limit, being called the Infinite or the "No End" Ein Sof —neither one nor the other, transcending any definition. The ability of God to become hidden from perception is called "Restriction" Tzimtzum.
Hiddenness makes creation possible because God can become "revealed" in a diversity of limited ways, which then form the building blocks of creation. Kabbalistic texts, including the Zohar , appear to affirm dualism, as they ascribe all evil to the separation from holiness known as the Sitra Achra  "the other side" which is opposed to Sitra D'Kedushah , or the Side of Holiness.
While this evil aspect exists within the divine structure of the Sephirot, the Zohar indicates that the Sitra Ahra has no power over Ein Sof , and only exists as a necessary aspect of the creation of God to give man free choice, and that evil is the consequence of this choice. It is not a supernatural force opposed to God, but a reflection of the inner moral combat within mankind between the dictates of morality and the surrender to one's basic instincts.
David Gottlieb notes that many Kabbalists hold that the concepts of, e. They reject the notion that a satan or angels actually exist. Others hold that non-divine spiritual entities were indeed created by God as a means for exacting his will. According to Kabbalists, humans cannot yet understand the infinity of God. Rather, there is God as revealed to humans corresponding to Zeir Anpin , and the rest of the infinity of God as remaining hidden from human experience corresponding to Arich Anpin.
Gershom Scholem writes:. It is clear that with this postulate of an impersonal basic reality in God, which becomes a person—or appears as a person—only in the process of Creation and Revelation, Kabbalism abandons the personalistic basis of the Biblical conception of God It will not surprise us to find that speculation has run the whole gamut—from attempts to re-transform the impersonal En-Sof into the personal God of the Bible to the downright heretical doctrine of a genuine dualism between the hidden Ein Sof and the personal Demiurge of Scripture.
According to Isaac Luria —72 and other commentators on the Zohar, righteous Gentiles do not have this demonic aspect and are in many ways similar to Jewish souls. A number of prominent Kabbalists, e. On the other hand, the souls of Jewish heretics have much more satanic energy than the worst of idol worshippers; this view is popular in some Hasidic circles, especially Satmar Hasidim.
On the other hand, many prominent Kabbalists rejected this idea and believed in essential equality of all human souls. Menahem Azariah da Fano — , in his book Reincarnations of souls , provides many examples of non-Jewish Biblical figures being reincarnated into Jews and vice versa.
But one point of view is represented by the Hasidic work Tanya , in order to argue that Jews have a different character of soul: while a non-Jew, according to the author Shneur Zalman of Liadi born , can achieve a high level of spirituality, similar to an angel, his soul is still fundamentally different in character, from a Jewish one.
Another prominent Habad rabbi, Abraham Yehudah Khein born , believed that spiritually elevated Gentiles have essentially Jewish souls, "who just lack the formal conversion to Judaism", and that unspiritual Jews are "Jewish merely by their birth documents".
David Halperin  [ full citation needed ] argues that the collapse of Kabbalah's influence among Western European Jews over the course of the 17th and 18th century was a result of the cognitive dissonance they experienced between the negative perception of Gentiles found in some exponents of Kabbalah, and their own positive dealings with non-Jews, which were rapidly expanding and improving during this period due to the influence of the Enlightenment. However, a number of renowned Kabbalists claimed the exact opposite, stressing universality of all human souls and providing universal interpretations of the Kabbalistic tradition, including its Lurianic version.
In their view, Kabbalah transcends the borders of Judaism and can serve as a basis of inter-religious theosophy and a universal religion. The works of Abraham Cohen de Herrera — are full of references to Gentile mystical philosophers. Such approach was particularly common among the Renaissance and post-Renaissance Italian Jews. Late medieval and Renaissance Italian Kabbalists, such as Yohanan Alemanno , David Messer Leon and Abraham Yagel , adhered to humanistic ideals and incorporated teachings of various Christian and pagan mystics.
A prime representative of this humanist stream in Kabbalah was Elijah Benamozegh , who explicitly praised Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, as well as a whole range of ancient pagan mystical systems. He believed that Kabbalah can reconcile the differences between the world religions, which represent different facets and stages of the universal human spirituality.
In his writings, Benamozegh interprets the New Testament , Hadith , Vedas , Avesta and pagan mysteries according to the Kabbalistic theosophy. Wolfson  provides numerous examples from the 17th to the 20th centuries, which would challenge the view of Halperin as well as the notion that "modern Judaism" has rejected or dismissed this "outdated aspect" of the religion and, he argues, there are still Kabbalists today who harbor this view.
He argues that, while it is accurate to say that many Jews do and would find this distinction offensive, it is inaccurate to say that the idea has been totally rejected in all circles. As Wolfson has argued, it is an ethical demand on the part of scholars to continue to be vigilant with regard to this matter and in this way the tradition can be refined from within. The idea that there are ten divine sephirot could evolve over time into the idea that "God is One being, yet in that One being there are Ten" which opens up a debate about what the "correct beliefs" in God should be, according to Judaism.
The early Kabbalists debated the relationship of the Sephirot to God, adopting a range of essentialist versus instrumental views. Modern Kabbalah, based on the 16th century systemisations of Cordovero and Isaac Luria , takes an intermediate position: the instrumental vessels of the sephirot are created, but their inner light is from the undifferentiated Ohr Ein Sof essence.
The pre-Kabbalistic Saadia Gaon teaches in his book Emunot v'Deot that Jews who believe in reincarnation have adopted a non-Jewish belief. Maimonides 12th century , celebrated by followers for his Jewish rationalism , rejected many of the pre-Kabbalistic Hekalot texts, particularly Shi'ur Qomah whose starkly anthropomorphic vision of God he considered heretical. Modern scholarship views the systemisation and publication of their historic oral doctrine by Kabbalists, as a move to rebut the threat on Judaic observance by the populance misreading Maimonides' ideal of philosophical contemplation over ritual performance in his philosophical Guide of the Perplexed.
They objected to Maimonides equating the Talmudic Maaseh Breishit and Maaseh Merkavah secrets of the Torah with Aristotelean physics and metaphysics in that work and in his legal Mishneh Torah , teaching that their own Theosophy, centred on an esoteric metaphysics of traditional Jewish practice, is the Torah's true inner meaning. The Kabbalist medieval rabbinic sage Nachmanides 13th century , classic debater against Maimonidean rationalism, provides background to many kabbalistic ideas.
An entire book entitled Gevuras Aryeh was authored by Yaakov Yehuda Aryeh Leib Frenkel and originally published in , specifically to explain and elaborate on the kabbalistic concepts addressed by Nachmanides in his classic commentary to the Five books of Moses. Kabbalah's Panentheism expressed by Moses Cordovero and Hasidic thought , agrees that G-d's essence transcends all expression, but holds in contrast that existence is a manifestation of God's Being, descending immanently through spiritual and physical condensations of the divine light.
By incorporating the pluralist many within God, God's Oneness is deepened to exclude the true existence of anything but God. In Hasidic Panentheism , the world is acosmic from the Divine view, yet real from its own perspective. He particularly singled out the Sefer Bahir, rejecting the attribution of its authorship to the tanna R.
Leone di Modena , a 17th-century Venetian critic of Kabbalah, wrote that if we were to accept the Kabbalah, then the Christian trinity would be compatible with Judaism, as the Trinity seems to resemble the kabbalistic doctrine of the sephirot. This was in response to the belief that some European Jews of the period addressed individual sephirot in their prayers, although the practice was apparently uncommon.
Apologists explained that Jews may have been praying for and not necessarily to the aspects of Godliness represented by the sephirot. In contrast to Christianity, Kabbalists declare that one prays only "to Him God's Essence , male solely by metaphor in Hebrew's gendered grammar , not to his attributes sephirot or any other Divine manifestations or forms of incarnation ". Kabbalists directed their prayers to God's essence through the channels of particular sephirot using kavanot Divine names intentions.
To pray to a manifestation of God introduces false division among the sephirot, disrupting their absolute unity, dependence and dissolving into the transcendent Ein Sof ; the sephirot descend throughout Creation, only appearing from man's perception of God, where God manifests by any variety of numbers. He also expressed the extremely unconventional view, contrary to all evidence, that the pious Maimonides could not have written the Guide of the Perplexed , which must have been the work of an unknown heretic.
Emden's Kabbalist contemporary the Vilna Gaon — early modern Rabbinic sage, held the Zohar and Luria in deep reverence, critically emending classic Judaic texts from historically accumulated errors by his acute acumen and scholarly belief in the perfect unity of Kabbalah revelation and Rabbinic Judaism. Though a Lurianic Kabbalist, his commentaries sometimes chose Zoharic interpretation over Luria when he felt the matter lent itself to a more exoteric view.
Although proficient in mathematics and sciences and recommending their necessity for understanding Talmud , he had no use for canonical medieval Jewish philosophy , declaring that Maimonides had been "misled by the accursed philosophy" in denying belief in the external occult matters of demons, incantations and amulets. Views of Kabbalists regarding Jewish philosophy varied from those who appreciated Maimonidean and other classic medieval philosophical works, integrating them with Kabbalah and seeing profound human philosophical and Divine kabbalistic wisdoms as compatible, to those who polemicised against religious philosophy during times when it became overly rationalist and dogmatic.
A dictum commonly cited by Kabbalists, "Kabbalah begins where Philosophy ends", can be read as either appreciation or polemic. Moses of Burgos late 13th century declared, "these philosophers whose wisdom you are praising end where we begin". Pinchas Giller and Adin Steinsaltz write that Kabbalah is best described as the inner part of traditional Jewish religion , the official metaphysics of Judaism, that was essential to normative Judaism until fairly recently.
While Judaism always maintained a minority tradition of religious rationalist criticism of Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem writes that Lurianic Kabbalah was the last theology that was near predominant in Jewish life. While Lurianism represented the elite of esoteric Kabbalism, its mythic-messianic divine drama and personalisation of reincarnation captured the popular imagination in Jewish folklore and in the Sabbatean and Hasidic social movements.
While a portion of Modern Orthodox , followers of the Dor De'ah movement, and many students of the Rambam reject Arizal's Kabbalistic teachings, as well as deny that the Zohar is authoritative or from Shimon bar Yohai , all three of these groups accept the existence and validity of the Talmudic Maaseh Breishit and Maaseh Merkavah mysticism.
Their disagreement concerns whether the Kabbalistic teachings promulgated today are accurate representations of those esoteric teachings to which the Talmud refers. The mainstream Haredi Hasidic , Lithuanian , Oriental and Religious Zionist Jewish movements revere Luria and the Kabbalah, but one can find both rabbis who sympathize with such a view, while disagreeing with it,  as well as rabbis who consider such a view heresy. The Haredi Eliyahu Dessler and Gedaliah Nadel maintained that it is acceptable to believe that the Zohar was not written by Shimon bar Yochai and that it had a late authorship.
Modern Orthodox Judaism , representing an inclination to rationalism, embrace of academic scholarship, and the individual's autonomy to define Judaism, embodies a diversity of views regarding Kabbalah from a Neo-Hasidic spirituality to Maimonist anti-Kabbalism. In a book to help define central theological issues in Modern Orthodoxy, Michael J. Harris writes that the relationship between Modern Orthodoxy and mysticism has been under-discussed.
He sees a deficiency of spirituality in Modern Orthodoxy, as well as the dangers in a fundamentalist adoption of Kabbalah. He suggests the development of neo-Kabbalistic adaptions of Jewish mysticism compatible with rationalism, offering a variety of precedent models from past thinkers ranging from the mystical inclusivism of Abraham Isaac Kook to a compartmentalisation between Halakha and mysticism.
For example, Leibowitz called Kabbalah "a collection of "pagan superstitions" and "idol worship" in remarks given after receiving the Yakir Yerushalayim Award English: worthy citizen of Jerusalem in Kabbalah tended to be rejected by most Jews in the Conservative and Reform movements, though its influences were not completely eliminated. While it was generally not studied as a discipline, the Kabbalistic Kabbalat Shabbat service remained part of liberal liturgy, as did the Yedid Nefesh prayer.
Nevertheless, in the s, Saul Lieberman of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America is reputed to have introduced a lecture by Scholem on Kabbalah with a statement that Kabbalah itself was "nonsense", but the academic study of Kabbalah was "scholarship". This view became popular among many Jews, who viewed the subject as worthy of study, but who did not accept Kabbalah as teaching literal truths. Many western Jews insisted that their future and their freedom required shedding what they perceived as parochial orientalism.
They fashioned a Judaism that was decorous and strictly rational according to 19th-century European standards , denigrating Kabbalah as backward, superstitious, and marginal. However, in the late 20th century and early 21st century there has been a revival in interest in Kabbalah in all branches of liberal Judaism. The Kabbalistic 12th-century prayer Anim Zemirot was restored to the new Conservative Sim Shalom siddur , as was the B'rikh Shmeh passage from the Zohar, and the mystical Ushpizin service welcoming to the Sukkah the spirits of Jewish forbearers.
At the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College , the only accredited seminary that has curricular requirements in Kabbalah, Joel Hecker is the full-time instructor teaching courses in Kabbalah and Hasidut. According to Artson:. Ours is an age hungry for meaning, for a sense of belonging, for holiness.
In that search, we have returned to the very Kabbalah our predecessors scorned. The stone that the builders rejected has become the head cornerstone Psalm Kabbalah was the last universal theology adopted by the entire Jewish people, hence faithfulness to our commitment to positive-historical Judaism mandates a reverent receptivity to Kabbalah. The Reconstructionist movement, under the leadership of Arthur Green in the s and s, and with the influence of Zalman Schachter Shalomi, brought a strong openness to Kabbalah and hasidic elements that then came to play prominent roles in the Kol ha-Neshamah siddur series.
Teaching of classic esoteric kabbalah texts and practice remained traditional until recent times, passed on in Judaism from master to disciple, or studied by leading rabbinic scholars. This changed in the 20th century, through conscious reform and the secular openness of knowledge. In contemporary times kabbalah is studied in four very different, though sometimes overlapping, ways:.
The two, unrelated organisations that translate the midth-century teachings of Yehuda Ashlag into a contemporary universalist message, have given kabbalah a public cross-religious profile:. By being equipped with the nonlinear concepts of dialectical, psychoanalytic, and deconstructive thought we can begin to make sense of the kabbalistic symbols in our own time.
So equipped, we are today probably in a better position to understand the philosophical aspects of the kabbalah than were the kabbalists themselves. Since the 18th century, Jewish mystical development has continued in Hasidic Judaism, turning kabbalah into a social revival with texts that internalise mystical thought. Among different schools, Chabad-Lubavitch and Breslav with related organisations, give outward looking spiritual resources and textual learning for secular Jews.
The Intellectual Hasidism of Chabad most emphasises the spread and understanding of kabbalah through its explanation in Hasidic thought, articulating the Divine meaning within kabbalah through human rational analogies, uniting the spiritual and material, esoteric and exoteric in their Divine source:. Hasidic thought instructs in the predominance of spiritual form over physical matter, the advantage of matter when it is purified, and the advantage of form when integrated with matter.
The two are to be unified so one cannot detect where either begins or ends, for "the Divine beginning is implanted in the end and the end in the beginning" Sefer Yetzira The One God created both for one purpose — to reveal the holy light of His hidden power. Only both united complete the perfection desired by the Creator.
From the early 20th century, Neo-Hasidism expressed a modernist or non-Orthodox Jewish interest in Jewish mysticism, becoming influential among Modern Orthodox , Conservative , Reform and Reconstructionalist Jewish denominations from the s, and organised through the Jewish Renewal and Chavurah movements. The writings and teachings of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi , Arthur Green , Lawrence Kushner , Herbert Weiner and others, has sought a critically selective, non-fundamentalist neo- Kabbalistic and Hasidic study and mystical spirituality among modernist Jews.
The contemporary proliferation of scholarship by Jewish mysticism academia has contributed to critical adaptions of Jewish mysticism. Arthur Green's translations from the religious writings of Hillel Zeitlin conceive the latter to be a precursor of contemporary Neo-Hasidism. The writings of Abraham Isaac Kook — , first chief rabbi of Mandate Palestine and visionary, incorporate kabbalistic themes through his own poetic language and concern with human and divine unity.
His influence is in the Religious Zionist community, who follow his aim that the legal and imaginative aspects of Judaism should interfuse:. Due to the alienation from the "secret of God" [i. Kabbalah], the higher qualities of the depths of Godly life are reduced to trivia that do not penetrate the depth of the soul.
When this happens, the most mighty force is missing from the soul of nation and individual, and Exile finds favor essentially We should not negate any conception based on rectitude and awe of Heaven of any form—only the aspect of such an approach that desires to negate the mysteries and their great influence on the spirit of the nation.
This is a tragedy that we must combat with counsel and understanding, with holiness and courage. Initially, these interactions [between Mandaeans and Jewish mystics in Babylonia from Late Antiquity to the medieval period] resulted in shared magical and angelogical traditions. During this phase the parallels which exist between Mandaeism and Hekhalot mysticism would have developed.
At some point, both Mandaeans and Jews living in Babylonia began to develop similar cosmogonic and theosophic traditions involving an analogous set of terms, concepts, and images. At present it is impossible to say whether these parallels resulted primarily from Jewish influence on Mandaeans, Mandaean influence on Jews, or from cross fertilization.
Whatever their original source, these traditions eventually made their way into the priestly — that is, esoteric — Mandaean texts Zwi Werblowsky suggests Mandaeism has more commonality with Kabbalah than with Merkabah mysticism such as cosmogony and sexual imagery. Ptahil is found in Sefer HaRazim listed among other angels who stand on the ninth step of the second firmament.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Type of Jewish mysticism. For other uses, see Cabala. Mainstream displacement of rationalism with Kabbalah. Selective influence on Western thought. Mysticism after Spanish expulsion. Mystics of 16th-century Safed. Popular Kabbalistic Mussar. Mysticism in religious Zionism. Academic interest in Jewish mysticism. Non-Orthodox interest in Jewish mysticism. Kabbalistic reasons for the Mitzvot. Tanakh Torah Nevi'im Ketuvim.
Important figures. Religious roles. Culture and education. Ritual objects. Major holidays. Other religions. Related topics. See also: Ecstatic Kabbalah and Practical Kabbalah. See also: Christian Cabala and Hermetic Qabalah. Medieval Kabbalah Ecstatic Kabbalah. Hasidism Hasidic schools.
This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. September Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: Hasidic Judaism. See also: Kabbalistic approaches to the sciences and humanities. See also: Atzmus and Anthropomorphism in Kabbalah. Main article: Sefirot. Main article: Shekhinah. Main article: Partzufim.
Main articles: Four Worlds and Seder hishtalshelus. Main article: Gilgul. Main article: Lurianic Kabbalah. Main article: Primary texts of Kabbalah. Main article: List of Jewish mysticism scholars. By religion. By religious figure. By text. Religious violence.
Christianity Islam Judaism Mormonism Scientology. Main article: Mandaeism. Philosophy portal. Melingo Ltd. Retrieved 19 November What You Need to Know about Kabbalah. Gal Einai. ISBN Jewish Encyclopedia. Kopelman Foundation. Retrieved 23 October Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction. New York : Oxford University Press. Jewish Virtual Library. Since every name which was given to God referred to one of the characteristics or attributes by which He revealed Himself to His creatures, or which they ascribed to Him, there is no name or epithet for God from the point of view of His own being.
Consequently, when the kabbalists wanted to be precise in their language they abstained from using names like Elohim , the Tetragrammaton , "the Holy One, blessed be He," and others. The greatest example of this is the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the first coming of Jesus Christ.
The were hundreds of verses referring to His coming, and they were fulfilled literally Isaiah ; ; Micah ; Isaiah This is why the Bible should be interpreted literally or normally. Kabbalah even has a pantheistic characteristic. Pantheism is the idea that God and His creation are one.
This of course is not what God has told us in the Bible. God created all that exists from nothing the Hebrew word "bara". Kabbalah says that creation is one of God's emanations - this is the pantheistic quality that Kabbalah has. Of course I do not know why you have asked this question what is Kabbalah?
Jesus is God in the flesh, and He came to die for every person's sins. If an individual trusts in Christ -- that He is God John and paid for sin Romans -- then that person is forgiven and becomes a child of God John Recommended Resource : The Kingdom of the Cults, revised and updated edition. In , a former insurance salesman, Rabbi Philip Berg, established the Kabbalah Centre International and appointed himself its leader.
The centre markets Kabbalah as a "universal system for self-improvement" and attracts more than 3. Berg claims that Kabbalah answers the ultimate questions of human existence: who we are, where we come from and why we're here. Its followers claim that it can purify the soul and banish disease, depression and discontent using the spiritual light of the Zohar.
The Kabbalah Centre sells copies of its sacred texts and other "spiritual tools", such as Kabbalah Water. Among the best-selling items is the red string bracelet, said to protect the wearer from the evil eye. Question: "Where did the Kabbalah originate?
Name of group : Qabalah modern "cultic" spelling, also known as Hermetic Qabalah , Kabbalah traditional Jewish spelling , Cabala Christian spelling. All of these spellings are merely transliterations of the word in Hebrew. Therefore, one spelling is not necessarily right over another, but each group tends to spell it differently.
Founder : Isaac the Blind It is not known for sure that he was the original founder, but he is considered the Father of Kabbalah. Aspects of Kabbalah can be traced back to the first century A. Year of founding : Kabbalah can be traced as far back as the first century A. It was formed as a scholarly group sometime during Isaac the Blind's lifetime c.
Why and how it was founded : The first Kabalistic ideas emerged in ancient times as an attempt by the Merkabah mystics to reach what they called the "higher throne" of G-d. Isaac the Blind was the first to name Jewish mysticism Kabbalah, and he formed a scholarly group based on the tradition.
Question: "Which groups use the Kabbalah? Hermetic Kabbalah. Some Qabalists practice ritual magic -- "names of power, the magic circle, ritual implements, consecration, evocation of spirits, etc. The latest trend is "red Kabbalah string pictured to the left. Increasingly, Hollywood celebrities have been seen adorning these red strings promoting Kabbalah.
No Christian should ever get involved with these works of darkness. Though Kabbalah may seem fun-loving and peaceful on the surface, it is infested with occult demonology and Satanic lies. Please don't be deceived! The fact that a woman as wicked as Madonna could promote such a book with no sense of guilt or repentance for her wickedness speaks volumes.
Imagine you're Madonna. You're too smart for Scientology, but not calm enough for Taoism. You've pretty much burned your bridges with Catholicism. And Methodism was never really an option. So where do you go for your religious fulfillment? If you're thinking Hinduism, well, actually she was over that back in the '90s after it failed to catch on as the Next Big Thing.
Her current fixation, kabbalah, might have more potential. Technically, kabbalah is not a religion, and it never was. It originated around the 11th century as an outgrowth of earlier Jewish esoteric-occult traditions. Kabbalah is mainly based on two texts, the Sepher Yetzirah "the book of creation" and the Zohar "the book of enlightenment".
Sepher Yetzirah is a collection of secret traditions supposedly passed down from Abraham. It describes the structure of the universe and the method of its creation, including an extremely convoluted series of planes of existence, based on geometry and key numerical sequences derived from the Hebrew alphabet. While probably not dating back to the time of Abraham, whenever that actually was, it is the older of the two texts and probably runs at least as far back as the second century B.
The Zohar was first seen in public during the 13th century, offered up by Moses de Leon, a Spanish Jew who claimed it was the work of a second-century miracle-working rabbi. After de Leon's death, there were numerous charges that the work was a forgery. There is quite a bit of legitimate controversy around the book, but the scholarly consensus is that the Zohar legitimately conveys a tradition that predates the 13th century, including several elements found in Jewish and Christian Gnosticism.
The Zohar is a commentary on the Pentateuch, the first five books of both the Jewish and Christian bibles. OK, maybe "commentary" isn't the right word. The Zohar claims that the words of the Torah are simply a smokescreen behind which the real meaning of the Jewish scriptures lurks, like an ancient stereogram: you can't see it unless you're looking past it.
Together, the books outline a sweeping vision of the structure of reality, including guidelines on how to alter it in nontraditional ways, which more or less amount to magic. Based on the two key texts, medieval occultists and Jewish mystics created a massive body of writings about metaphysics, alchemy and magic. Because it covers material related to the Old Testament, kabbalah was adopted by both Jews and Christians. Kabbalism also led to the development of Hasidism among Eastern European Jews.
The most readily identifiable concept in Kabbalism is the Tree of Life, a diagram that is essentially a map of reality. The Tree of Life consists of three columns known as "pillars", and 10 sephiroth, or spheres, each of which represents an aspect of the process God used to create the world. At the top of the diagram is Kether, "The Crown", which represents the divine intelligence of God, from which all of creation emanates.
The three pillars emanate down from Kether all the way down to Malkuth at the bottom. The word means "Kingdom"; the bottom sephira is also sometimes called Shekhinah. Kether is the angle at which reality points toward the creator; Malkuth is the angle at which is points toward His creation -- the earthly world.
In traditional Kabbalism, there are 10 sephiroth, although some schools teach of a "hidden" 11th in the middle of the diagram. Each sephira has different characteristics and is represented by a different Hebrew letter, which also corresponds to a number. The 10 sephiroth are connected by 22 lines, known as "paths," each of which carries a specific meaning. Some occult traditions teach that the paths correspond to the major arcana in the Tarot. The chart comes to life as a result of emanations, a concept which covers the movement of will, force, divine spark, light, energy and reality from God to creation.
Emanations are the manifestation of divine intelligence as a material or metaphysical thing, such as an angel or a soul. Because the shape of emanations is outlined by the Tree of Life supplemented by information contained in numerous other kabalistic writings , the Tree and the Hebrew alphabet can be used to calculate the "true names" of things.
If you know the true name of something, you can control it, which quickly led medieval kabbalists to become ritual magicians as well as inspiring medieval ritual magicians to become kabbalists. With kabalistic secrets firmly in hand, the well-informed can construct magic words that presumably empower users to command the very forces of the universe. Angels and demons, in particular, are susceptible to this sort of control. Truly ambitious sorcerers also sought the true name of God, the most powerful magic word imaginable.
The search for God's true name took on epic proportions during the middle ages.