"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
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
Bahir ("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.
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
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
makes something kosher and what is the spiritual meaning