42 Facts About Kabbalah


Kabbalah is an esoteric method, discipline and school of thought in Jewish mysticism.

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The definition of Kabbalah varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it, from its origin in medieval Judaism to its later adaptations in Western esotericism.

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Jewish Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between the unchanging, eternal God—the mysterious Ein Sof—and the mortal, finite universe (God's creation).

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The syncretic traditions of Christian Cabala and Hermetic Qabalah developed independently of Judaic Kabbalah, reading the Jewish texts as universalist ancient wisdom preserved from the Gnostic traditions of antiquity.

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Today, many publications on Kabbalah belong to the non-Jewish New Age and occult traditions of Cabala, rather than giving an accurate picture of Judaic Kabbalah.

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Many Orthodox Jews reject the idea that Kabbalah underwent significant historical development or change such as has been proposed above.

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Kabbalah saw this meditation using Divine Names as a superior form of Kabbalistic ancient tradition.

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Messianism of the Safed mystics culminated in Kabbalah receiving its biggest transformation in the Jewish world with the explication of its new interpretation from Isaac Luria, by his disciples Hayim Vital and Israel Sarug.

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Lurianic Kabbalah gave Theosophical Kabbalah its second, complete of two systemisations, reading the Zohar in light of its most esoteric sections (the Idrot), replacing the broken Sephirot attributes of God with rectified Partzufim (Divine Personas), embracing reincarnation, repair, and the urgency of cosmic Jewish messianism dependent on each person's soul tasks.

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Kabbalah received the interest of Christian Hebraist scholars and occultists, who freely syncretised and adapted it to diverse non-Jewish spiritual traditions and belief systems of Western esotericism.

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Kabbalah established a yeshiva for Kabbalah study and actively recruited students.

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Kabbalah staunchly opposed the new Hasidic movement and warned against their public displays of religious fervour inspired by the mystical teachings of their rabbis.

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Yisrael ben Eliezer Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism in the area of the Ukraine, spread teachings based on Lurianic Kabbalah, but adapted to a different aim of immediate psychological perception of Divine Omnipresence amidst the mundane.

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Kabbalah's teachings differed from the way other Hasidic groups were developing, as he rejected the idea of hereditary Hasidic dynasties and taught that each Hasid must "search for the tzaddik" for himself and within himself.

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Kabbalah's influence contributed to the flourishing of Jewish mysticism academia today, its impact on wider intellectual currents, and the contribution of mystical spirituality in modernist Jewish denominations today.

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Kabbalah's writings are concerned with fusing the false divisions between sacred and secular, rational and mystical, legal and imaginative.

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Neo-Hasidism, rather than Kabbalah, shaped Martin Buber's philosophy of dialogue and Abraham Joshua Heschel's Conservative Judaism.

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Kabbalah describes Man as the inner dimension of all Spiritual and Physical Realms, from the verses "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

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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.

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Kabbalah posits that the human soul has three elements, the nefesh, ru'ach, and neshamah.

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The mythological symbols Kabbalah uses to answer philosophical questions, themselves invite mystical contemplation, intuitive apprehension and psychological engagement.

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Alternative listings of the Sephirot start with either Keter, or Chokhmah (Wisdom), a philosophical duality between a Rational or Supra-Rational Creation, between whether the Mitzvot Judaic observances have reasons or transcend reasons in Divine Will, between whether study or good deeds is superior, and whether the symbols of Kabbalah should be read as primarily metaphysical intellectual cognition or Axiology values.

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Subsequent interpretation of Lurianic Kabbalah was made in the writings of Shalom Sharabi, in Nefesh HaChaim and the 20th-century Sulam.

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David Halperin 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.

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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.

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Kabbalah believed that Kabbalah can reconcile the differences between the world religions, which represent different facets and stages of the universal human spirituality.

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Kabbalah 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.

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Kabbalah's Panentheism expressed by Moses Cordovero and Hasidic thought, agrees that God'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.

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Kabbalah particularly singled out the Sefer Bahir, rejecting the attribution of its authorship to the tanna R Nehunya ben ha-Kanah and describing some of its content as truly heretical.

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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.

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Yaakov Emden, himself an Orthodox Kabbalist who venerated the Zohar, concerned to battle Sabbatean misuse of Kabbalah, wrote the Mitpahath Sfarim (Veil of the Books), an astute critique of the Zohar in which he concludes that certain parts of the Zohar contain heretical teaching and therefore could not have been written by Shimon bar Yochai.

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Kabbalah 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.

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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.

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From its inception, the Theosophical Kabbalah became permeated by terminology adapted from philosophy and given new mystical meanings, such as its early integration with the Neoplatonism of Ibn Gabirol and use of Aristotelian terms of Form over Matter.

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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.

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Giller notes that the former Zoharic-Cordoverian classic Kabbalah represented a common exoteric popular view of Kabbalah, as depicted in early modern Musar literature.

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Kabbalah sees a deficiency of spirituality in Modern Orthodoxy, as well as the dangers in a fundamentalist adoption of Kabbalah.

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Kabbalah 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.

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Kabbalah authored critiques of mysticism in general and Lurianic Kabbalah in particular; his magnum opus was Milhamoth ha-Shem against what he perceived as neo-platonic and gnostic influences on Judaism with the publication and distribution of the Zohar since the 13th Century.

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Kabbalah tended to be rejected by most Jews in the Conservative and Reform movements, though its influences were not completely eliminated.

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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.

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Kabbalah's influence is in the Religious Zionist community, who follow his aim that the legal and imaginative aspects of Judaism should interfuse:.

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