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Kaballah, Intro and daily coursework.

Discussion in 'Kabbalah DIR' started by michel, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    What is Kabbalah ?


    The kabbalah is the oldest, most influential wisdom in all of human history. Kabbalah reveals all the spiritual and physical laws that govern the cosmos and the human Soul. It answers questions, and provides solutions. It unravels puzzles, and deciphers codes. It gives you practical tools to change.

    It creates order out of chaos, and it answers the ultimate question of human existance : who are we ? where did we come from ? Why are we on this earth ?

    Where did the Kabbalah come from ?
    The ultimate source of the kabbalah is the ancient book of the Zohar. The Zohar is a twenty-three-volume treasury od wisdom that is also the gratest force of divine energy known to man.
    Historians are now realizing that the Zohar is the authentic Holy Grail. The Zohar is the actual Tree of life spoken of by all religions. It is the ultimate instrument for generating endless miracles. And it promises nothing less than a world free of chaos, destruction and Death.

    The secret of the Zohar's unparalleled power is remarkably simple : The Zohar radiates light. In the same wat that a light bulb eradicates darkness from a room, the spiritual light from
    the Zohar banishes all forms of darkness from our world, including disease, depression, discontent, and even death itself.Holding the book, meditation upon the book, or learning the wisdom contained in the book is how one gains enlightenment.


    People often ask, "Is the Kabbalah a religion ?"
    The answer is "No".

    Kabbalahs's spiritual power is universal. It's light is intended for Christians, Muslims, Hindus Jews and all humanity!
    Throughout the ages, Kabbalah has brought forth miracles and profound spiritual change influencing the greatest minds of history, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Plato, Pythagoras, Newton, Shakespeare, Freud and the greatest mids of science, religion and politics.

    The following are a series of essays dealing with the origins of Kabbalah from the beginning

    of creation to the modern world.

    1. Adam
    G-d said, ?Let us make man with our image and likeness?G-d created man with His image. In the

    image of G-d, He created him, male and female He created them.?

    Genesis 1:26-7

    Maimonides in his third principle of faith states the G-d does not have a body and physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing whatsoever that resembles Him at all. What therefore is the meaning of the words, ?Let us make man with our image?? Of which image does the scripture speak?

    The classical commentaries explain that man alone is endowed ? like his Creator ? with morality, reason and free will. It is in this sense that man is described as having been created in G-d?s image. The Kabbalistic interpretation is different and deep.

    The image of G-d referred to here is not to G-d Himself who is beyond comprehension, but rather to the creative process. Man in body and soul reflects the spiritual infrastructure of the worlds and the chain order of creation. in the words of Job (??); ?From my flesh I perceive G-d.? This means that an inspection of human psychology and physiology leads one to understand their parallel spiritual source in the higher realms. In order to understand the different stages of creation, the Kabbalists refer to the human model and extrapolate to the Divine. This process requires great caution for as previously stated, no human qualities may be ascribed to the essence of G-d.

    Adam harishon ? the first man was acutely aware of this process of creation. To use the computer analogy, his hard drive was programmed with this knowledge. His operating system spoke the Holy Tongue ? the Hebrew language - the language of creation.

    And G-d said: Let there be light? ? Genesis 1:3.

    G-d has no physical mouth or vocal cords. What is the meaning of the words, ?And G-d said?? Kabbalah explains that contraction of Infinite light and its channelling into finite vessels is comparable to the speech process. In the spoken word, thousands of thoughts are distilled into a few words. In the ten utterances of Genesis, G-d contracted massive energies into creative packets, and configured them in the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

    Every letter of the Aleph Bet represents a Divine power. Combinations of letters represent combinations of Divine powers that result in the diversity of creation. To draw an analogy from the periodic table; mix sodium hydroxide with hydrochloric acid and you get salt and water. Sodium is a volatile metal and chlorine a poisonous gas, yet when combined create salt which lasts forever. Chemistry studies the formation of different materials though the combination of various elements. In the analogue, each letter of the aleph bet contains a certain configuration of Divine creative energy. When combined letters can create.

    In the words of the Sefer Yetzirah an early Kabbalistic text, ?one brick can build one house, two bricks two houses, three bricks, six houses, four bricks 24 houses, five bricks 120 houses etc.? There are twenty two letters of the Aleph Bet with five final letters, to which the sefer Yetzirah compares to building blocks. Combinations of these bricks can build an enormous number of houses. We shall discuss this in detail in a further chapter.

    Adam was well aware of this knowledge which we shall henceforth call the mystical tradition. G-d had formed every wild beast and every bird of heaven out of the ground. He brought them to man to see what he would name each one. Whatever the man called each living thing would remain its name.? Genesis 2:19.

    Why did G-d ask Adam to name the animals? Surely their names would be decided by consensus? The answer is that Adam perceived their spiritual creative source and named each animal commensurate with its spiritual configuration. Thus, all created things are directly affected by their Hebrew names, as well as by the component letters of their names.

    The Shechinah ? Divine presence, was totally manifest in the Garden of Eden. To Adam, every facet of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdom?s were superb manifestations of Divine creativity, and as the maestro of this cosmic orchestra, Adam directed the creation to prostrate itself to His majesty.
     
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  2. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    G-d formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life. Man thus became a living creature.? Genesis 2:7

    Adam stood at the crossroads of creation. His body was formed from the earth ? min ha?adamah and hence the name Adam. Yet his soul originated from the ?innermost? aspect of G-dliness when G-d ?blew? into his nostrils, as the Zohar quotes ?it is of his inward and innermost vitality that a man emits through blowing with force.? Man?s soul is described by Job (31:2) as ?a part of G-d above?. This Divine spark is enclothed within an earthly shell. Hence man may oscillate between crass hedonism and spiritual ecstasy. Before his sin, Adam?s soul radiated his body and all his bodily functions. All his organs fulfilled their Divine purpose. ?G-d gave the man a commandment, saying, ?You may definitely eat from every tree of the Garden. But from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, do not eat, for on the day you eat from it, you will definitely die.? (Genesis?..)

    Before eating the forbidden fruit, evil was external, and within the Tree of knowledge and the snake. Upon eating the forbidden fruit, man internalised the struggle to determine between good and evil and started an age old war to refine the human condition and re-sensitise the world to its Creator. Adam?s sin effectively caused a departure of the Shechinah from the world. He was cast out of the Garden of Eden and it was decreed that his descendents would have to seek G-d through the travails of making a living.

    Nonetheless, the mystical tradition programmed into Adam was transmitted to his children. Adam begat Seth and Seth begat Enosh. It was in the days of Enosh that idolatry appeared in the world. The philosophers of his day agreed that G-d was a Superpower, but thought that He must have delegated the various cosmic departments to underlings such as the constellations, sun, moon and stars. They variously worshipped the underlings, until such a point that the general ignorant populace became so engaged with star gazing and worship that they forgot the Principal. Again the presence of the Shechinah was removed from the world.

    The Midrash in the book Song of Songs (?..) quantifies this removal in the following way; ?Through the sin of Adam, the Shechinah moved from the earth to the first firmament. Upon the sin of Cain and Abel, the Shechinah moved from the first to the second firmament. Through the sin of Enosh from the second to the third etc. Eventually through the sins of successive generations, the Shechinah was removed until the seventh firmament. It was Abraham who started

    the process of return, by bringing the Shechinah from the seventh firmament back to the sixth, and thereafter Isaac from the sixth to the fifth etc., until Moses the seventh generation returned the Shechinah to this earth when the Shechinah presided in the Tabernacle.?

    It must be noted that the concept of ?removal of the Shechinah? does not suggest that G-d actually removed Himself from the world, for the world is totally dependent on ongoing Divine creative energy for existence (as shall be explained in a later chapter). Rather, the removal of the Shechinah refers to the insensitivity of the world population to the Divine Presence.

    The pattern is clear. Sin creates insensitivity. The righteous re-sensitise the world to its true reality. In the Kabbalistic lexicon, this is generally referred to as Tikun Olam ? the rectification of the world ? to return the world to its perfect state as before the primordial sin.

    All but a handful of righteous people were aware of the truth in the ten generations between Adam and Noah. Finally, after the world was filled with violence, G-d flooded the world to purify it of its evil rather like the immersion of an impure vessel in a Mikvah. One righteous man, Noah with his three sons Shem, Cham and Yafet remained, saved by the Ark. Noah transmitted the mystical tradition to his son Shem, who subsequently transmitted it to his great grandson Eber.
     
  3. EnhancedSpirit

    EnhancedSpirit High Priestess

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    Wow, what a lesson it is. I was just pondering the fact that Jesus is the word. And I have been teaching people the importance of their own words. How, when they say something, it sends an energy out into the universe. Now, in the beginning God's words were more like ideas (there was no mouth to speak), but the idea became actual words, (religious texts) but then the words manifested into being. Jesus is the word, the message of God laws manifested before us. All throughout the OT, God is giving rules, explaining the laws of spirituality, Jesus was the manifestations of these explainations. He kept telling us and telling us, and finally he said, 'HERE I WILL SHOW YOU'.

    Jesus was also the spirit of Adam, who promised to come back to earth and harvest what he had sown. The tests of Jesus by the devil, are similar to the tests of Adam. The first test is about eating, the second test is about questioning God, and the third test is about being humble under the strength that God gives us. I will save the comparing of Jesus to Adam for another thread. But these oddball beliefs I had that do not fit in Christianity keep popping up where I thought I was the only one who thought this way.

    Thanks Michel.
     
  4. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    2. Abraham

    Ten generations after Noah, Abraham was born to his father Terach in Mesopotamia. Terach was an idolater who lived in a kingdom ruled by King Nimrod. As a child of three, Abraham instinctively felt that it was illogical to worship statues of wood and stone. His mind and heart became filled with the notion of monotheism, One G-d, a super-being that was omnipotent.



    From the very beginning, Abraham struggled against the prevalent current – an attribute inherited by his descendents. He was dubbed the Ivri (lit. the other side), for the whole world was on one side and he was on the other. Nimrod cast him into a fiery furnace for his heretical beliefs, yet he emerged unscathed, and started proclaiming his beliefs in public. Abraham was a great philosopher and astrologer. The Talmud teaches that, “Abraham had a great astrology in his heart, and all the kings of the east and west arose early at his door.” He moved to Haran where at the age of seventy five, G-d spoke to him and instructed him to enter the Holy Land. When G-d revealed Himself to Abraham, one of the first things that He taught him was not to be overdependent on astrological predictions.



    It is in the Holy Land where he met Malki Tzedek, King of Shalem who was a priest to G-d, the Most High (Genesis 14:18). Our Sages identify Malki Tzedek with Shem the son of Noah. There is evidence that the mystical tradition was taught to Abraham by Shem. Many authorities attribute the authorship of Sefer Yetzirah, the book of Formation to Abraham.



    The Talmud states that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all studied in the academies of Shem and Eber. The Talmud further states that the Patriarchs kept the entire Torah before it was given. How was this possible? The Kabbalists explain that they kept the Torah in its spiritual form, for it was only subsequently through Moses that the Torah instruction was enclothed in physical observance of mitzvot. The Patriarchs however were well aware of the spiritual flow effected by mitzvah performance. In fact the Zohar parallels the episode of Jacob and the sticks and troughs with the mitzvah of putting on Tefillin. Both had the same spiritual flow, however post Sinai, the Divine Will was that this particular flow should come through laying Tefillin.



    Abraham was also fully aware of the magical and idolatrous uses that could be developed from these mysteries. The Talmud states that Abraham had a tract dealing with idolatry that consisted of 400 chapters. There is also a Talmudic teaching that Abraham taught the mysteries involving “unclean names” to the children of his concubines. This is based on the verse, “to the sons of the concubines that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and he sent them away…to the lands of the east” (Genesis 25:6). These gifts consisted of occult mysteries, which then spread in eastern Asia. No wonder that in many of the eastern religions we find parallels to Kabbalistic teachings. One of the most simple and striking examples of this, is in the words that every child knows a magician uses “Abracadabra”. This magical expression is none the less than an Aramaic extension of the Hebrew abra – I will create, k’adabra – as I will speak – the knowledge of creation using letters and names as documented in Sefer Yetzirah.



    Abraham nomadically wandered the length and breadth of the land proclaiming his belief, and he was so successful that he converted half of civilisation to monotheism. The old Jewish joke, that the best way to the Jewish heart is through the stomach was fully utilised by Abraham. He set up a motel through which after feeding and watering wayfarers, they were introduced to the true belief and blessed G-d the Provider. Abraham converted the men, and Sarah the women, and together they successfully brought many souls under the wings of the Shechinah, hence re-sensitising the world to the Divine Presence.



    This holy work was continued by Isaac. He was born miraculously after Abraham’s circumcision, implying that his future progeny who would be circumcised would survive miraculously. Isaac displayed amazing restraint and self-sacrifice at the Akeidah – the binding of Isaac, again an attribute that is engraved into the Jewish soul. Jacob studied in the academy of Shem and Eber for fourteen years before setting out on his perilous journey back to Mesopotamia to his uncle Laban. On his way he sleeps on the Temple Mount and has the dream of the ladder – a dream full of Kabbalistic mysteries as shall be explained in a future chapter. Specifically in exile he raises the twelve tribes and subsequently returns, only further to be embroiled with problems which eventually see him descend to Egypt where he dies after seeing Joseph. In Egypt he establishes a house of study where he specifically instructs his son Levi in the tradition, and the tribe of Levi become the Israelite priests. The stage is set for Levi’s great grandson Moses to redeem the Israelites from the Egyptian bondage.

    3. Moses

    "Moses received the Torah at Sinai"
    Ethics of the Fathers 1:1




    Torah means instruction or teaching. Torah is G-d’s instruction to mankind. Incorporated in the Torah are 613 mitzvot for Jews and 7 mitzvot for gentiles. A mitzvah means a commandment, but in a deeper sense means a connection. A Jew may connect with G-d in 613 ways, which embrace the entire spectrum of human activity. By giving the Jew 613 commandments/connections, the Jew in his daily life would constantly reflect the Divine Presence, emulate the Divine example, and permeate the material with the spiritual.



    This is the meaning of the title – the chosen people. Chosen for what? G-d chose the Jewish people to be a “Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation.” (……) The word priest here does not mean a priest – kohen in the literal sense, for all Jews are not descendents of the tribe of Levi. Rather it refers to a “priestly function”. The function of a priest is to bring people closer to G-d and to bring G-d to the people. On a national level, the Jewish people would serve as the priest among the nations, or as Isaiah put it a light to the nations.



    This responsibility is fully discharged when the Jewish people are a “holy nation”, i.e. when they conduct themselves with holiness. The word holy means separate. The mitzvot distinguish a Jew and separate him from the general public in every sphere of activity. When a Jew keeps the mitzvot he distinguishes himself and becomes connected to the Divine hence creating an abode for the G-d in this world thus fulfilling the purpose of creation.



    When Moses received the Torah at Sinai he received the Torah body and soul. The body of the Torah are its codes of law and the soul of the Torah is the mystical dimension. Moses was the perfect receptacle for this wisdom for he was the most humble man who ever lived. Moses had totally sublimated his ego and was simply a conduit for the Divine will. The great grandson of Levi, he and his brother Aaron and sister Miriam were well aware of the mystical tradition and prophetic experience. Moses was the greatest of all the prophets. All other prophets received their prophecy whilst asleep in the form of a riddle or vision whilst Moses received his prophecy whilst awake and with clarity.



    This is the meaning of the words, “Moses received the Torah at Sinai” In Hebrew the word for “received” is “Kibel” which is also the root of the word Kabbalah. The word Kabbalah means received for the mystical tradition is not a product of any human mind however sophisticated, rather, it is a received tradition – received through revelation. G-d revealed to Moses with utmost clarity Divine wisdom on its most esoteric and most practical levels. G-d reached out to man and not vice-versa. The finite mind cannot grasp the infinite, however the omnipotent G-d can create a bridge to finite man and state this is the way to connect with Me.
     
  5. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    The stand at Sinai

    Close examination of the Biblical text will reveal that there were a number of commandments given prior to Sinai. Jacob was commanded not to eat the sciatic nerve and some of the laws of Shabbat were given at Marah. The Passover ritual was proscribed before the Exodus. So what happened at Sinai? What made it such a momentous event?



    Firstly, it was the moment that authenticated the communication to Moses. Until that point the Jewish people had witnessed great miracles wrought through G-d’s servant Moses yet they had never heard anything directly from G-d. Hearing the Ten Commandments directly from G-d in the same way that Moses had his communication, concreted their belief in Moses, and all his subsequent revelation.



    Secondly, it formally constituted the Jewish people as a nation, and was the transformation from being a group of the descendents of Jacob – the Bnai Yisrael – into a halachically constituted entity bound eternally by the mitzvot, a people covenanted.



    But Kabbalistically, the stand at Sinai was the breakage of a barrier. In the words of the Midrash; prior to Sinai it was decreed that the upper realms could not descend below and the lower realms could not ascend above. At Sinai the upper realms descended below and the lower realms ascended above. The meaning of this cryptic Midrash is the following: prior to Sinai there was a divide between the body and the soul, between the physical and the spiritual, between earth and heaven. It was not possible to endow material objects with innate spirituality. The mitzvot performed by the patriarchs prior to the giving of the Torah were primarily in their spiritual dimension. The spiritual elite were endowed with powerful souls and minds which were fully aware of the mystical dimension, and yet had not integrated that system in a down to earth practice for all men. Sinai changed things. G-d came down to the mountain and Moses went up the mountain. There was a meeting at the half way house.



    On the mountain Moses received the Torah instruction. He was handed the blueprint of creation, the instruction manual. G-d revealed to Moses his plan for the fusion of heaven and earth, body and soul the material and spiritual. From then on, they were not to be two separate entities but fused into one. The Torah instructed the entire Jewish community, men, women and children how to live within the world and yet stay above it. It directed the Jew not to wallow hedonistically in matters of the body nor to escape ascetically to the spirit. Rather it enjoins him to embrace the body and elevate all its functions for the Divine purpose.



    The Jew is to live within the world guided by the principles of the body of the Torah. The Torah acts as a guide through the myriads of day to day mundane activities, from how to tie one’s shoelaces to business ethics in the workplace. Simultaneously, Torah elevates man and focuses him on deeper reality, illuminating material darkness with Divine light.



    Torah addresses both body and the soul. Through studying the body code of Jewish law, a Jew will know how to act in any situation. By studying the soul of the Torah, a Jew will be constantly aware of the Divine presence and purpose of creation.



    A Dwelling for G-d

    After Sinai, G-d instructed Moses to construct the Tabernacle – a house for G-d. The tablets of stone engraved with the Ten Commandments were placed inside the Ark which was in the innermost sanctuary – the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle. The whole concept of a specific house for G-d is somewhat strange – for does not His glory fill the entire world? G-d instructs Moses, “Make a sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell in them”. Within the wording of this verse lies the profound secret of the Tabernacle. The text does not read “so that I may dwell in it” rather “in them”, meaning in each one of them. The whole purpose of a house of G-d is that it should inspire a person and sensitise them with the Divine presence.



    In fact, the Holy Ark which was housed in the Holy of Holies reflected the purpose of creation. It was a golden box which contained the Tablets of stone and the sefer Torah which Moses wrote. On the lid were the Cherubim, angelic like figures with wings spread towards each other. The Shechinah rested between the Cherubim and it was from there that G-d spoke to Moses.



    The Talmud records that the face of the Cherubim were male and female. This whole imagery represents the family unit – father and mother who live a life based on Torah values. Such a marriage will merit the Shechinah to rest between them. The Holy of Holies of the Jewish people is the family, the nucleus of the community. It is within marriage, procreation and homemaking that an abode is created for the Divine. Shalom Bayit – peace in the home, in the microcosm is the recipe for Shalom Bayit in the macrocosm and the ultimate Tikkun Olam.
     
  6. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    4. The Oral Tradition



    In delivering the Torah, Moses was instructed to package its content in two distinct presentations.

    1. The written law – Torah Shebichtav

    2. The oral tradition – Torah Shebaal Peh



    The written law is the five books of Moses, a parchment scroll containing over 300,000 letters of which if even a single letter is missing is invalid. Moses was the best secretary that ever lived and took a perfect dictation from G-d, even describing himself in the third person. Moses instituted that the scroll be read regularly in places of worship, and today we read from the Torah four times a week; Shabbat morning, Shabbat afternoon, Monday and Thursday morning.



    However, the written law is somewhat cryptic and requires explanation. Together with the written law G-d transmitted to Moses an entire Oral tradition which explains every aspect of the written law. For example; it says in Deuteronomy that one should affix a mezuzah on the door of a dwelling. The words of the text of the Shema are well known – “write them on the doors of your house” – the mitzvah of mezuzah. What is unclear and not detailed in the text is what exactly is to be written, by whom and where it is to be placed on the door. All this is explained in the Oral tradition. G-d instructed that the Written law was not to be said verbatim, rather read from a scroll and the Oral law was not to be written down, rather taught from teacher to student from one generation to the next.



    Included in the Oral tradition is the Kabbalah the mystical tradition, the very same tradition programmed into Adam, received by Abraham and now incorporated into the Torah system. In fact Moses received 4 levels of interpretation on every word of the Torah. These four levels are called pardes – meaning an orchard. The Hebrew letters of the word pardes form an acronym standing for the four words;



    Pshat – simple meaning

    Remez – allusion – what is hinted to in the text

    Drush – the homiletic interpretation

    Sod – the mystical dimension.



    This means that the written text is actually layered with explanation. To put it slightly differently. One may say that when Moses taught the Torah, he taught everybody the Pshat – the simple meaning of the text. To the more advanced he taught Remez and Drush and to the inner circle he taught Sod. This received tradition he transmitted to Joshua who in turn passed it on to the Elders and Prophets right throughout the generations. There was always an inner circle that possessed knowledge of the mystical tradition. In a further chapter we shall see how these four levels of interpretation are linked to the four worlds and the four letters of G-d’s name.



    Let us digress for a moment into Jewish history. The Torah was given in the Hebrew year 2448. The Jews entered the land in 2488. For 14 years the Tabernacle was housed in Gilgal and then for 369 years in Shiloh. The Ark was subsequently moved to Nov and Gibeon and then to Jerusalem where Solomon built the first Temple which stood for 410 years, until it was destroyed by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Before the impending destruction the ark was hidden in catacombs beneath the Temple Mount, where in the Jewish tradition it remains until today.



    Of great significance in the Kabbalistic tradition was the vision received and recorded by the prophet Ezekiel just before the destruction of the first Temple. This vision is of a chariot drawn by animals with the appearance of a man on top, and is known as Maaseh Merkavah, the discipline or workings of the Chariot. In essence, Ezekiel is describing the higher worlds and providing the keys for prophetic experience.



    The people were exiled to Babylon for a seventy year period and returned to the Land of Israel under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemia to build the second Temple. It was in this period that there was a great assembly of rabbis called the Men of the Great Assembly – 120 rabbis and prophets in all – who convened and canonised the Bible, and also instituted a formal Hebrew text of our daily prayers. The members of this assembly were well versed in the mystical tradition and the stucture, wording and content of the prayers was all Kabbalistically correct.



    The second Temple stood for 420 years and destroyed by the Romans in 70CE. Subsequently the Romans ravished the Land of Israel and systematically tried to destroy Torah teachers and their students. Until that point there had been an unbroken chain of tradition, transmitting the Written and Oral laws in tandem, however due to Roman persecution it was in danger of being broken. A great rabbi called Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi – Judah the Prince – also known simply as Rebbi, made at that juncture a monumental decision. For the first time in history, he decided out of necessity to commit the Oral tradition to writing, and did so in his concise book, the Mishnah.



    The rabbis of the period of the Mishnah were called Tannaim, and Rebbi collected their teachings and incorporated them in the Mishnah. The Mishnah was universally accepted in the Jewish world and in the few hundred years after the passing of Rebbi, a tremendous amount of discussion around the Mishnah was collated edited and finally published in a work called the Talmud. In fact two Talmud’s were made, the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. If one studies the Babylonian Talmud at the rate of a page a day it takes seven years to finish!



    There are a few references in the Mishnah to the mystical tradition. For example, the Mishnah states that Maaseh Berei**** – the mysteries of creation may not be expounded in the presence of two disciples, and the mysteries of the Merkavah may not be expounded even in the presence of one, unless he is wise, and understanding with his knowledge. The term Maaseh Merkavah refers to the meditative methods used to ascend to higher spiritual realms, and according to many authorities, Maaseh Berei**** refers to the mysteries of sefer Yetzirah.



    Although the Talmud focuses primarily on the body of the law, there is much record of the mystical tradition in the Talmud. For example, the Talmud relates that Rabbi Chaninah and Rabbi Hoshia would learn sefer Yetzirah every Friday before Shabbat, and using the sefer Yetzirah would create for themselves a calf which they would then eat on Shabbat!



    Although the Mishnah constitutes the body of Jewish law, other Sages of the period also committed to writing the soul of the law – the mystical tradition. Of special mention was Rabbi Akiva (50-135CE) who was a master of both the revealed and concealed parts of the Torah. Rabbi Akiva possessed the Merkavah tradition, and many sources attribute the authorship of sefer Yetzirah to him. Rabbi Nehunia ben Hakanah and his disciple the High Priest Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha wrote the sefer Bahir (Book of Illumination) and the Pirkei Heichalot Rabati (The Greater Book of the Divine Chambers), which was one of the main texts for the study of Maaseh Merkavah, containing meditative exercises, disciplines, and directions for entering the prophetic state.



    However the most famous of all Kabbalistic texts composed in that era was the Zohar.
     
  7. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    5. The Zohar



    It was in the Tannaic period that the most famous text of Kabbalah was committed to writing by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (also known as the Rashbi - the first letters of his name Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) who wrote the famous Zohar. Rabbi Shimon lived in tumultuous times when the Roman were killing all the great Torah teachers, including his master Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Shimon himself had to flee Roman persecution and hid in a cave with his son Rabbi Elazar for thirteen years. During this time, he received Divine Inspiration (Ruach Hakodesh) and merited the revelation of Elijah the prophet.



    Based on the Five books of Moses and written in Hebrew Aramaic, the text of the Zohar explores and expounds in a most cryptic way the mystical tradition. Its pre-eminent place in Jewish mysticism does not derive solely from its antiquity or its authorship. Other works of the Kabbalah like sefer Yetzirah and sefer Habahir are of earlier origin. The Zohar’s importance must rather be attributed to its comprehensiveness, becoming the source for practically all the later authoritative Kabbalistic teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria and others. Other disciples of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai –also contributed to the work. In fact all of the previously mentioned Kabbalistic texts were not given final form for several generations after their teachers.



    The Zohar was concealed for many centuries, as the study of the Kabbalah was restricted to a select few qualified individuals. It became revealed only in the thirteenth century and was published by one of the leading Kabbalists living in Spain, Rabbi Moshe de Leon. Some believed that the Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman c.1194-1270 CE) himself a renowned Kabbalist had sent the Zohar from Israel by ship to his son in Catalonia, but the ship had been diverted and the texts ended up in the hands of Rabbi Moshe de Leon. Others explained that these manuscripts had been hidden in a vault for a thousand years and had been discovered by an Arabian king who sent them to Toledo to be deciphered. Some maintained that Spanish conquistadors had discovered the manuscripts of the Zohar among many others in an academy in Heidelberg. Whichever theory is accepted, the text was accepted as authentic by all pre-eminent Jewish scholars.



    The mystics ascribe special potency to the study of Zohar: it effects a nullification of evil decrees, ease the travails of exile, hastens the redemption, and draws forth Divine effluence and blessings. There is great merit even in the mere recitation of the sacred texts of the Zohar, even though one does not understand them. However ideally, an effort is to be made to understand and comprehend the texts. The text has been translated into Hebrew and English.



    In summary, at this stage of history the major texts of sefer Yetzirah, the Bahir, the Heichalot Rabati and the Zohar contained the basic teachings which had been passed down through the prophets and sages from Moses. And yet, although committing the mystical tradition to writing had saved it from extinction, it was still a closed book to all but one who would be familiar with the tradition. The outline had been written but the keys to the tradition remained oral and within a small circle. This remained the case until the next great explosion of Kabbalah to take place in the town of Safed in the sixteenth century.
     
  8. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    6. The Ari



    In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. Some went west to discover the Americas, yet the bulk went east to Turkey, and it was in the beginning of the sixteenth century that a number of Jews settled in the Holy Land in the Holy city of Safed. For an eighty year period there was a renaissance of Jewish life and activity in this holy and mystical city that was to change and shape the Jewish world.



    The rabbi of the city was none less than Rabbi Joseph Karo, the author of the Code of Jewish Law. After writing his monumental work called the Bet Yosef, in which he traces the source and origin of contemporary Halachah, he summarised all practical Halachah in his book the Shulchan Aruch –the code of Jewish Law, called a “laid table” because everything is in its correct place.



    The cities mystics were no less famous. Rabbi Moses Cordevero, known as the Ramak, wrote a monumental Kabbalistic work known as the Pardes. However the most famous Kabbalist of the day, was Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), universally known as the Ari, an acronym for “Elo-hi Rabbi Yitzchak”, “The G-dly Rabbi Isaac.”



    The Ari possessed a phenomenal soul, and all secrets of the creation were open to him. He only lived for 38 years, and it was only in the last two years of his life that he met his principle disciple Rabbi Chaim Vital. The Ari himself never wrote any books, however all his words were faithfully recorded by Rabbi Chaim Vittal, and written voluminously in what we call Kitvei Ari, the wirtings of the Ari.

    The Zohar is opaque. The main relationship between the writings of the Ari (Kitvei Ari) and the Zohar is that without the Ari's teachings the Zohar does not make any sense at all. You could study the Zohar, which is a very poetic text, but you cannot detect any system or structure. Once you know the Kitvei Ari, the entire Zohar becomes an open book.

    The main work of the Kitvei Ari is the Etz Chaim ("Tree of Life"). This work expounds the theoretical foundation of the Kabbalah. For one who has mastered the contents of this work, the rest is essentially revealed. Then, the Pri Etz Chaim (Fruit of the Tree of Life) and Sha'ar HaKavanot show you how to apply the various teachings of the Etz Chaim to all kinds of daily situations; meditations when you put on tzitzit or tefillin, when you pray or when you eat matzah. They also show how to develop meditative techniques based on the Ari's teachings.

    Then come the works known as the Shemona Shearim (Eight Gates). The first gate, Shaar HaHakdamot, (Gate of Introductions), covers the same theoretical ground as the Etz Chaim. The second is Shaar Maamarei Rashbi, the Gate of Zoharic Teachings; the third is Shaar Maamarei Chazal, the Gate of Talmudic Teachings, the fourth is Shaar HaPesukim, the Gate of Biblical Verses; the fifth is Shaar HaMitzvot, the Gate of the Commandments; the sixth is Shaar HaKavanot, the Gate of Meditations; the seventh is Shaar Ruach HaKodesh, the Gate of Divine Inspiration, which is a general recapitulation and describes how to use the Ari's system as a meditative discipline. In many ways, the Shaar Ruach HaKodesh is the key to the entire Kitvei Ari, because all the previous gates deal with theory, while the Shaar Ruach HaKodesh teaches how to put this into practice. The eighth gate is Shaar HaGilgulim, the Gate of Reincarnations.

    It was the Ari who formulated the Kabbalah into a comprehensive system – which today we refer to as Lurianic Kabbalah. Of great significance is that Rabbi Chaim Vital writes in the name of the Ari that, “It is a mitzvah to reveal this wisdom” This means that although until the period of the Ari, the Kabbalah was held only within a close circle, the time had come for the teachings of the Kabbalah to be taught widely, and the advent of the Ari and the Lurianic school of Kabbalah and its disciples revolutionised the Jewish world. The study of Kabbalah had been popularized.
     
  9. michel

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    7. The Baal Shem Tov



    The city of Safed was devastated by an earthquake, and thus came to an end, the brief renaissance of Jewish life there. However the literary works produced in that short time spread across the Jewish world. Universally accepted was the Shulchan Aruch by Rabbi Joseph Karo, and it was further enhanced when Rabbi Moses Isserles the Chief Rabbi of Cracow, Poland annotated it with the Ashkenazic customs. Most fascinating is that in the Jewish cemetery in Safed, Rabbi Karo and the Ari are buried side by side, indicating the total synthesis between the revealed part of the Torah as embodied in the Shulchan Aruch and the mystical tradition as expounded by the Ari. The Kabbalist keeps the Shulchan Aruch and the halachist is inspired and spiritualised by the Kabbalah.



    The works of Kabbalah also spread across Europe where the bulk of Jewry was now concentrated, and many of the leading Jews were well versed in its discipline. However, although the Ari had given the green light for these teachings to be publicised, due to their complexity, and due to the general ignorance of the masses, the mystical tradition was still held within elitist small circles.



    The Kabbalah also gained opponents during that period, for some maverics were professing powers of the occult which was distanced, and in some cases ostracised by the establishment. Perhaps the most infamous case was that of the false messiah Shabbetai Zvi who self proclaimed himself the messiah, possessing Kabbalistic powers. His ultimate apostasy to Islam resulted in a debacle which only further convinced the establishment that Kabbalah was to be limited to true scholars who had first mastered the sea of Talmudic study.



    The whole Jewish scene was further aggravated by the devastating pogroms of Chelmenitzky and others which resulted in vast displacement and movement of Jewish refugees and general spiritual depression. A great schism grew dividing the Jewish community between renowned Talmudic scholars and the mainly ignorant masses who were termed Am Haaretz – literally people of the land. Although they were sincere and devout Jews, they were mainly illiterate and were farmers or tradesmen, struggling daily to make a living and survive the hostile threats of the non-Jewish populace.



    In medical terminology, it would be correct to say that in that period, the Jewish people were in a state of feint – the Jewish soul submerged under the burden of mere survival. The wandering Jew became a byeword and the hardships of galut a daily reality. In order to revive someone from feint it is necessary to give them a pungent smelling salt that will deeply arouse their soul. To explain by way of parable:



    There was once a king who had an only son. This son was the apple of the king’s eye and was raised in the finest tradition. One day the son fell deathly ill, and all the physicians of the land were summoned to cure him, alas without success. Finally one doctor suggested a strange remedy. He said that if one would take a certain precious gem, crush the gem and mix it with water, and then apply drops to the prince’s lips, then perhaps that would cure him. “Where can such a gem be found?” enquired the king. “The crown Jewel of your majesty’s crown is such a gem, are you prepared to have it removed and crushed to save your child?” replied the doctor. “Of course, this is my child!” said the king and the medicine was successfully administered. In the analogue, the child was the Jewish people, which was in a state of feint. The crown jewel, are the deepest teachings of the Torah which can touch the soul like none other. In order to save the Jewish people, the green light was given from Above, to remove the crown Jewel from its place, crush it, i.e. to package it in small drops that the weak and feint child could absorb, and thus revive the child.



    It was therefore in this setting that the A-mighty sent into the world the holy soul of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, also known as the Besht (an acronym for Baal Shem Tov) the founder of the Chassidic movement. Orphaned at the age of five, the little boy was fostered by a group called the nistarim, clandestine Kabbalists who worked incognito to better the lot of their brethren. At the age of thirty six, the Baal Shem Tov became the recognised leader of the nistarim and his fame started to spread.



    He settled in the town of Mezibuz, however he frequently travelled around the Jewish communities, arousing Jewish souls with the elixir of Chassidut. Being a giant scholar in the revealed parts of the Torah, he gathered round him a circle of brilliant Torah scholars to whom he taught the deepest esoteric parts of the Torah. He literally set their souls on fire, and they served G-d with boundless joy and fervour. At the same time he had the common touch, and lifted the spirit of common folk, entertaining them at his table and building their self-esteem.



    He was widely acclaimed as a miracle worker, and thousands flocked to him for advice and blessings. Today there are volumes of Baal Shem Tov stories which tell how miraculously he saved a town from a heavenly decree, or blessed a childless couple etc. He would arrive incognito in a town and go the town square, gathering around him the common folk, and preaching in simple but eloquent terms how much G-d loved them. He spoke about Ahavat Yisrael, the importance of loving a fellow Jew, no matter what his background, religious observance or knowledge, and how each Jew is a precious soul, precious to G-d like a child born to parents in their old age. He spoke about the cosmic importance of a single deed done with heart and sincerity. He encouraged everyone to say Thank G-d.



    In his students he instilled the Beshtian principles – such as the knowledge of ongoing creation ex nihilo, Divine providence on even inanimate objects and others which will be explored in a further chapter. Although he himself never wrote any books, his teachings were preserved by his students, principally by Rabbi Dovber, the Maggid of Mezritch who succeeded the Baal Shem Tov as leader of the Chassidic movement. The Baal Shem Tov succeeded in creating a movement that filled ritual and observance with soul, joy and sincerity.



    Of greatest significance however, was that on one Rosh Hashanah, the Baal Shem Tov by Kabbalistic means had a soul elevation, and entered into the palace of the Moshiach in the heavenly realms. He asked the Moshiach, “When will you arrive?”, and Moshiach replied, “When your teachings will be widely dispersed.” This indicated to the Baal Shem Tov that as a prelude for the coming of Moshiach, in whose time, the knowledge of the mystical tradition will fill the world, the time had arrived for the widest possible dissemination of the teachings of the inner dimension of the Torah - pnimiyut haTorah.



    One could therefore summarise by saying that at this juncture in history, the go ahead for the revelation of pnimiyut HaTorah on the widest possible scale was given for two reasons: Firstly, to revive the feint Jewish masses, and secondly, the prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach. These points answer the question as to why these teachings were not previously revealed. Many people claim that chassidut is a new entity and the Jewish people had survived for millennia without it so why now was it necessary? The answer: due to the darkness of the exile, an extra strong antidote was needed to combat the forces of darkness, and due to the proximity of the future redemption of Moshiach, it was time for the Jewish people to prepare for his coming and draw closer his coming by tasting from his teachings.



    The Baal Shem Tov and his successor the Maggid started this process, however it took on an entirely new momentum with the advent of Rabbi Shneor Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad movement.
     
  10. michel

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    8. Chabad



    Rabbi Shneor Zalman of Liadi, or the Alter Rebbe as he is affectionately know by Chassidim, succeeded Rabbi Dovber the Magid of Mezritch as the leader of the Chassidic movement founded by the Baal Shem Tov.



    A child prodigy, the Alter Rebbe astounded all by his phenomenal memory and deep grasp of all aspects of Torah study. As a young man he was attracted to Mezritch where he became one of the foremost students of the Magid and absorbed the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. The Magid instructed him to write a Shulchan Aruch which would incorporate the code of law of Karo and yet also give the reasons for the law in brief. The work was universally accepted as a masterpiece, and the Alter Rebbe’s genius in Torah scholarship was undisputed.



    After the demise of the Magid the vast majority of Russian Chassidim chose the Alter Rebbe as their leader. Thousands flocked to him or guidance and blessing and the Alter Rebbe started to write essays which answered their spiritual questions and dilemmas. These essays became the base for the book Tanya, which was Rabbi Shneor Zalman’s masterpiece. Tanya is regarded as the written law of Chassidic teachings. The first section of Tanya, Likutei Amarim deals with the human condition and the struggle to improve one’s character, thereby fulfilling the purpose of creation. The second section Shaar HaYichud Ve’haemuna deals with creation ex nihilo, and the third section Igeret HaTeshuvah with the dynamic of Teshuvah return/repentance. The fourth section Igeret HaKodesh is a collection of letters sent to his followers, many soliciting funds for the impoverished Chassidic community in Israel at that time. The fifth section Kuntres Acharon is an in-depth explanation of many intricate Kabbalistic statements.



    The Alter Rebbe revolutionised Chassidic teaching in blazing a new path called Chabad. Chabad is an acronym for Chochmah – wisdom, Binah – understanding and Daat – knowledge. It is a rational approach that intellectualises mystical concepts using parallels and parables drawn from the human psyche and experience. The esoteric teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and Magid were delivered in fiery cryptic capsules, whereas the Torah of the Alter Rebbe was cool, calculated and easily digested by the average mind.



    The Alter Rebbe emphasised the avodat Hatefillah, the importance of prayer as a meditative process, and encouraged his followers to learn and then meditate before prayer. Unlike the previous Kabbalists whose meditations were upon Divine names or Yichudim (as shall later be explained), the Alter Rebbe encouraged meditation upon concepts such as Sovev Kol Almin, Memale Kol Almin ( concepts we shall explain in a later chapter), purpose of creation, soul descent etc.



    What he managed to achieve was to create a movement that a) was totally committed to halachah, b) that had intellectualised the most profound esoteric concepts, and c) that served G-d with joy and love of a fellow Jew.



    His teachings took on new momentum after his famous arrest and release from Soviet jail in St.Petersburg on the day of the 19th of Kislev – Yud-Tes Kislev. Superficially, he had been arrested on the charge of sending monies to Israel which then was under Turkish rule, and who were arch enemies of the Russians. However, the Alter Rebbe himself explained that the spiritual reason for his arrest was that there was a heavenly accusation that he had been revealing too much of the inner dimension of the Torah. In fact the Alter Rebbe records that the Baal Shem Tov and the Magid mysteriously appeared to the Alter Rebbe in his cell, and they informed him of this accusation. He inquired whether he should cease disseminating his teachings. They replied that not only should he should not cease but he should increase.



    Upon his release, there was a definite change in his style of teaching. His discourses – maamarim were much more in-depth with much more explanation, and finally, the deepest Kabbalistic ideas were being presented in such a way that the average mind and soul could appreciate. The chassidut of the Alter Rebbe was a totally new revelation - in Kabbalistic terms - a revelation of the Infinite Light distilled into human intellect.



    He wrote copiously, and the most famous of his works beside the Shulchan Aruch and the Tanya are Torah Or and Likutei Torah, discourses on the weekly parshah, explaining the weekly sidra in its inner dimension.



    The Alter Rebbe also initiated a chain of seven leaders of the Chabad movement, each of which developed and expanded his teachings. His son Rabbi Dovber of Lubavitch took every one of his father’s discourses and extended them with much more explanation. Rabbi Dovber also took up residence in a small town called Lubavitch – meaning city of love – which became synonymous with Chabad teaching and the love of one’s fellow Jew.



    The third Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, also known as the Tzemach Tzedek after his voluminous responsa, took Chassidic teachings and showed how they are totally incorporated and at one with the revealed parts of the Torah. He showed that Nigleh (revealed Torah) and Nistar (concealed Torah) is one giant integrated system, a body and a soul.



    The fourth Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch started a system called hemsheichim, which meant that he would say a discourse on one particular occasion explaining a certain theme and he would continue to develop that theme in further public addresses. His son, Rabbi Sholom Ber Schneerson, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad developed that system even further, and produced the most sophisticated, systematic and profound Chassidic tracts that explain all the most profound concepts in Kabbalah.



    His son, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneerson, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe followed in the footsteps of his father and started to translate chassidut into other languages. Living in Communist Russia under great oppression he also managed to spiritually fuel his followers to be able to withstand the great obstacles that blocked the path of observance and spiritual survival.



    However it was his son-in-law, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who took all the previous generations teachings and applied them superbly to the modern condition. The Rebbe’s sichot – talks and maamorim – discourses, over which 200 volumes are published are a treasure house of Chassidic and Kabbalistic thought made totally relevant to modern life. The Rebbe would farbreng – conduct Chassidic gatherings at his headquarters in 770 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn and would talk for hours on a whole host of subjects spanning the entire spectrum of Jewish life, philosophy and thought. He also inspired his followers to reach out to fellow Jews through mitzvah campaigns, which today are world famous. Much of the material in this book has been culled from the Rebbe’s voluminous teachings. Most of all, he encouraged every Jew to prepare for the coming of Moshiach, in whose days we shall all here profound new teachings of Torah. Chassidut is a mere taste of teachings to come.
     
  11. michel

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    9. Moshiach



    “And the earth with be filled with the knowledge of G-d as water covers the sea bed.”



    Isaiah (….)



    In the previous chapters we have looked back into the annals of history – in this chapter we shall look forward into the future guided by prophecies and words of our Sages.



    What does the future hold? Apocalypse? Armaggedon? Utpopia?



    There is a Talmudic statement that the world will exists for 6000 years and then enter a new state. The current Hebrew year is 5765 – which leaves us 235 years before the seventh millennium. The Kabbalah explains that each millennium is a Divine day, and as we approach the seventh millennium we are actually approaching the Divine Sabbath – a millennium which will be like one long Sabbath.



    In the most simple sense, the difference between weekday and Sabbath is the cessation of work, to create space for spiritual development. In historical terms, the 6000 long year history of mankind represents human creativity and the seventh millennium represents a step out of the world into the Creator.



    This era is classically called the days of Moshiach. The word “Moshiach” actually means “anointed”, and was a term reserved for any “anointed one of G-d” in the Bible. In this context it specifically refers to a dynamic human leader, a true Jewish King who will appear and rebuild the third Temple in Jerusalem and ingather the exiles. He will spiritualise the world and “out of Zion shall go forth Torah and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem” (….) There will be world peace and the “Wolf shall lie with the lamb.”



    Actually, the coming of Moshiach can happen at any time during the 6000 years if we merit his coming, however he will most definitely have come by the year 6000. In fact we eagerly anticipate the coming of Moshiach, and requests for his urgent arrival are replete throughout our prayers.



    What will life be like in those days? Maimonides summarises by saying that although there will be a very high standard of living for all, and delicacies will abound, however the main pursuit of man will be to “Know G-d”.



    In Kabbalistic terms, this means that mankind will become aware of the mystical tradition, and even small children will be able to enter the prophetic state. Torah on all its levels will be fully revealed and mitzvot fully practised. The world will revert to its state in the Garden of Eden, materially abundant and spiritually focused.



    The revelation of Kabbalah and Chassidic teachings in the years running up to the seventh millennium, are a foretaste of the messianic revelation. Moreover the Baal Shem Tov revealed that the greatest catalyst for the coming of Moshiach is the widest possible dissemination of these teachings. Based on this premise, the leaders of Chabad have promoted the study of Chassidut in the widest possible circles and in the greatest number of locations.



    The phenomenal acceleration of IT – information technology, is also indicative of this period. To explain: there is an amazing prophecy in the Zohar. On the verse, “In the six hundredth year of the life of Noah the windows of heaven were opened.” (….) the Zohar comments that the six hundredth year, is a reference to the six hundredth year of the sixth millennium, when the gateway of knowledge above and below will be opened.



    In the common era, the year 5600 (the six hundredth year of the sixth millennium) corresponds to the year 1840. A cursory inspection of that period reveals that it was in the late eighteen hundreds, that started the industrial revolution, continuing with revolutions in transportation, communication and finally to information. To put it into context – when cell phones first came out, they were heavy and clumsy. Today they are super light and tiny. Who would have thought a hundred years ago that one could be standing in the street in London and talking to a person in Sydney on a cell phone!



    The point here is that technological explosion and rapid advance is leading somewhere. It was prophesied in the Zohar that scientific revelation – the knowledge from below, will converge with the “knowledge from Above”, which refers to the rapidly exploding revelation of mystical and chassidic teachings, which also took on new momentum in the late eighteen hundreds. In a sentence, one may summarise the Zohar by saying that science and religion will converge. Science will reveal that “Ein Od Milvado” (….)– there is nothing else beside G-d. As time goes on, science will reveal the profound secrets of creation as already described in the mystical tradition, and it will provide the means for all to access that information.



    Our Sages say that Moshiach will teach Torah simultaneously to all Israel. A hundred years ago that was not possible. Today, media, internet, etc., which will all advance unbelievably in the next few years, will provide the physical means to do so. In fact the Lubavitcher Rebbe was all for using technology to teach Torah. Chabad were the pioneers in creating Torah in cyberspace.
     
  12. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    The Need to Learn Kabbalah



    Zohar
    The Arizal
    Rabbi Avraham Azulai
    Ramchal
    Vilna Gaon
    The Baal Shem Tov
    The Ben Ish Chai
    Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeira
    Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ashlag
    The Leshem (Rabbi Shlomo Eliyashiv)
    Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook



    Zohar

    In the merit of the study of this book - the book of the Zohar - the Jewish People will leave the Exile in a merciful manner. - Zohar, Parashat Naso, 124b

    At this time [the Messianic Era]...a spirit will go out and will not return - this is the spirit of Moshiach. Woe to those who cause him to depart and leave the world, never to return! These are those who make the Torah as a dry [barren] place and do not desire to involve themselves in the wisdom of the Kabbalah. Woe to those, who bring about poverty and war and disgrace and murder and destruction in the world. - Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 30

    The letters of the word “Berei****" ("In the Beginning...” Gen. 1:1) can be rearranged to read "atar yavesh", which means "a river [i.e., Torah] destroyed and dry". At that time when it is dry, the children below scream out in unison and say "Shema Yisrael!” - yet there is no sound and no answer. This is regarding he who causes Kabbalah and wisdom to depart from the Oral Torah and the Written Torah and causes others to not attempt [to understand] them, saying that there is nothing but the simple meaning [peshat] in the Torah and Talmud.

    Certainly [they are] as if they cause the [divine] flow to depart from this garden and river [above]. Woe to him - it would have been better that he had not been created in the world and not learned any Oral Torah, for it is considered as if he has returned the world to formlessness and chaos and causes poverty in the world and a lengthening of the period of exile. - Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 43


    The Arizal

    A person does not completely fulfill his obligation [to study Torah] by involving himself with Tanach, Mishnah, Aggada, and the Babylonian Talmud. Rather, one is obligated to involve himself to the best of his ability in the secrets of the Torah and the Work of the Chariot, for there is no greater pleasure for G-d in all the creation than when His children below involve themselves in the secrets of Torah - to know His greatness, His beauty, and His supremacy. - Introduction to Etz Chaim

    My master, of blessed memory, used to say that regarding a person who is very sharp and quick-witted in in-depth study [of Talmud]; it is good for him to study one or two hours a day and not more - in order to smash the husks [kelipot]. However, regarding a person who has difficulty with in-depth [Talmud] learning, it is better to probe the inner aspect of the thing, i.e. the fruit, rather than the husk. [This means] in-depth study and involvement in Midrash, Aggada, and, in particular, the Zohar and [other] books of Kabbalah. - Pri Etz Chaim, Shaar Hanhagat Halimud


    Rabbi Avraham Azulai

    Behold, without knowing the wisdom of the Kabbalah, one is like a beast...because he performs the mitzvot without the reason/taste of the mitzvot, only performing the mitzvot like "scholarly" people. Moreover, they resemble beasts that eat hay, which does not have the flavor of food meant for humans. In addition, even if one is very involved in business matters and very preoccupied, he should not exempt himself from occupying himself in this wisdom [Kabbalah]. You should try to carve out some time from your daily activities each day in order that time will remain for immersing in this wisdom, because it is the foundations of the Torah. You are not exempt from the Inner Torah [i.e. Kabbalah], because, without it, a person is an ox who eats straw.

    I have found it written that all that has been decreed Above forbidding open involvement in the Wisdom of Truth [Kabbalah] was [only meant for] the limited time period until the year 5,250 (1490 A.D.). From then on after is called the "Last Generation and what was forbidden is [now] allowed. In addition, permission is granted to occupy [ourselves] in the [study of] Zohar. And from the year 5,300 (1540 A.D.) it is most desirable that the masses, both those great and small [in Torah], should occupy themselves [in the study of Kabbalah], as it says in the Raya M'hemna [a section of the Zohar]. And because in this merit King Moshiach will come in the future - and not in any other merit - it is not proper to be discouraged [in the study of Kabbalah].


    Ramchal

    Regarding he that cries out all day in prayers and in the Shema Prayer and yet doesn't know the secret of unification - to unite Your Name properly, it is said: "Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they will seek me early but will not find me, for they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.” (Proverbs 1:28-29) Therefore, "why do you cry to Me?" (Ex. 14:15)

    But those masters [students] of Kabbalah ascend above and connect [to You] with a bond of faith in order to draw forth divine good will from before You, and immediately the ocean [of blessing] splits open before them...and all your mysteries are revealed before them....And this is the Wisdom of Truth [Kabbalah] which reveals Your Truth in the world. - 516 Tefillot, #198


     
  13. michel

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    Vilna Gaon

    He that is able to understand secrets of the Torah and does not try to understand them will be judged harshly, may G-d have mercy. -Even Shlema 8:24

    The Redemption will only come about through learning Torah, and the essence of the Redemption depends upon learning Kabbalah. -Even Shlema 11:3

    All those who do not understand the secret meaning [behind something], do not grasp even the simple meaning. - commentary on Proverbs 5:18

    The Evil Urge is unable to overcome all who occupy themselves in the hinting and secret [levels of Torah]. - Ibid.


    Baal Shem Tov

    In this generation, that of "the Heels of Moshiach,” the Arizal and the Baal Shem Tov have said that it is a mitzvah to reveal hidden aspects of the Torah and supernal secrets in order to burn the "thorns from vineyard". - Notzar Chesed 84:6

    The redemption of Israel and all the worth of Israel is dependent on the learning of the Zohar...

    The Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, used to encourage those serious about serving G-d to learn every day from the Tikunei Zohar (a primary source text of Kabbalah). - Derech Emunah in the introduction to the commentary on Psalms


    Ben Ish Chai

    Listen, those that can hear, and understand, those with intelligence, to that which the sages have told us and that which they have cautioned and informed every Jew: to come close to the Holy by involvement in the secrets of Torah and her hidden aspects. "[For] it is a Tree of Life to those that grasp it.” - Introduction to Daat U'tvunah


    Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeira

    There is no joy like that of rejoicing in the knowledge of the Torah's secret wisdom, for this is the main reason that the soul comes into This World. - Shaarei Arucha, 47

    As long as a man does not know the Torah's secret wisdom, he walks in darkness, like a blind man in a chimney. When one knows this wisdom, he emerges from darkness into light. - Maaglei Tzedek, 121

    A man's knowledge is not settled nor widened except through knowing the secrets of the Torah. - Ibid.


    Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ashlag

    The redemption of Israel and all the worth of Israel is dependent on the learning of the Zohar and the innermost aspect of the Torah.

    The opposite is true also. All the afflictions and degradations that have come upon the Children of Israel are on account of their neglecting the most intimate part of Torah, and not having valued it but having related to it as something superfluous, G-d forbid. - Introduction to the Zohar, paragraphs 65-70


    The Leshem (Rabbi Shlomo Eliyashiv)

    They say in the beginning of Mesechet Atzilut (a kabbalistic text): Eliyahu Yosef opened, "It is written, 'The secret of G-d is for those who fear Him'. (Psalms 25:14) This verse refers to the idea that even if a Jew learns Mishnah, Gemara and yet has no awe [of G-d] - for naught does he splash in the great waters [of Kabbalah], all in which he toils is for nothing. And every one who is G-d-fearing [should] actively pursue the hidden aspects [of Torah], which are the essence of wisdom and knowledge, i.e. 'G-d's glory is a hidden thing'. (Proverbs 25:2) When will you make glory for G-d? When you are occupied in the hidden aspects of Torah.” See there.

    I am very astounded regarding those [Torah] scholars of the generation that do not know anything [because they do not involve themselves in Kabbalah]. How can they stand not being involved in the Wisdom of Truth [referring to Kabbalah], which is the inner aspect of the Torah? It is foreign to them [to the extent that] they completely do not know what it is.

    And all of their excuses and reasons [for not studying Kabbalah] are totally inadequate, as it says, "[For the Torah] is not in the Heavens [alone]" (Eruvin 55). For if it was in the Heavens, one must go up after her. And it is simple that [the meaning of this phrase] refers to all parts [levels] of Torah, and the hidden aspect "is superior to them all.” (Proverbs 30:10) - From the introduction to "Leshem Shevo V'Achlama."


    Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook

    Due to alienation from the "secret of G-d" [i.e. Kabbalah], the higher qualities of the depths of G-dly life are reduced to trivia that do not penetrate the depth of the soul. When this happens, the mightiest 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. (Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, Orot 2)

    Now, when the final salvation is imminent, "the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land, and the buds are seen in the land" (Songs 2:12), and the demand of seeking the light of G-d, of seeking exalted spiritual redemption, of streaming to G-d and His goodness, increases and burgeons. Now, the times require acquiring the Inner Torah [i.e. Kabbalah], with holy visions that cannot begin to be heard but by the ascent of the soul and the exaltation of its strength in the light of its highest, purest life. A mass whose hearts have been touched by G-d, of this divine camp, will be the power that establishes the foundation of the salvation, the power that gives grace, the light of life and the pride of greatness to the entire elan vital of the national renascence in the Land of Israel. The Zohar, which breaks new ways, making a way in the desert, a road in the wilderness - it and all its crop are ready to open doors of Redemption. (Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, Orot 57)
     
  14. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Rabbi Avraham AzulaiBehold, without knowing the wisdom of the Kabbalah, one is like a beast...because he performs the mitzvot without the reason/taste of the mitzvot, only performing the mitzvot like "scholarly" people. Moreover, they resemble beasts that eat hay, which does not have the flavor of food meant for humans. In addition, even if one is very involved in business matters and very preoccupied, he should not exempt himself from occupying himself in this wisdom [Kabbalah]. You should try to carve out some time from your daily activities each day in order that time will remain for immersing in this wisdom, because it is the foundations of the Torah. You are not exempt from the Inner Torah [i.e. Kabbalah], because, without it, a person is an ox who eats straw.

    I have found it written that all that has been decreed Above forbidding open involvement in the Wisdom of Truth [Kabbalah] was [only meant for] the limited time period until the year 5,250 (1490 A.D.). From then on after is called the "Last Generation and what was forbidden is [now] allowed. In addition, permission is granted to occupy [ourselves] in the [study of] Zohar. And from the year 5,300 (1540 A.D.) it is most desirable that the masses, both those great and small [in Torah], should occupy themselves [in the study of Kabbalah], as it says in the Raya M'hemna [a section of the Zohar]. And because in this merit King Moshiach will come in the future - and not in any other merit - it is not proper to be discouraged [in the study of Kabbalah].


    Ramchal


    Regarding he that cries out all day in prayers and in the Shema Prayer and yet doesn't know the secret of unification - to unite Your Name properly, it is said: "Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they will seek me early but will not find me, for they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.” (Proverbs 1:28-29) Therefore, "why do you cry to Me?" (Ex. 14:15)

    But those masters [students] of Kabbalah ascend above and connect [to You] with a bond of faith in order to draw forth divine good will from before You, and immediately the ocean [of blessing] splits open before them...and all your mysteries are revealed before them....And this is the Wisdom of Truth [Kabbalah] which reveals Your Truth in the world. - 516 Tefillot, #198


    Vilna Gaon


    He that is able to understand secrets of the Torah and does not try to understand them will be judged harshly, may G-d have mercy. -Even Shlema 8:24

    The Redemption will only come about through learning Torah, and the essence of the Redemption depends upon learning Kabbalah. -Even Shlema 11:3

    All those who do not understand the secret meaning [behind something], do not grasp even the simple meaning. - commentary on Proverbs 5:18

    The Evil Urge is unable to overcome all who occupy themselves in the hinting and secret [levels of Torah]. - Ibid.


    Baal Shem Tov


    In this generation, that of "the Heels of Moshiach,” the Arizal and the Baal Shem Tov have said that it is a mitzvah to reveal hidden aspects of the Torah and supernal secrets in order to burn the "thorns from vineyard". - Notzar Chesed 84:6

    The redemption of Israel and all the worth of Israel is dependent on the learning of the Zohar...

    The Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, used to encourage those serious about serving G-d to learn every day from the Tikunei Zohar (a primary source text of Kabbalah). - Derech Emunah in the introduction to the commentary on Psalms


    Ben Ish Chai


    Listen, those that can hear, and understand, those with intelligence, to that which the sages have told us and that which they have cautioned and informed every Jew: to come close to the Holy by involvement in the secrets of Torah and her hidden aspects. "[For] it is a Tree of Life to those that grasp it.” - Introduction to Daat U'tvunah


    Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeira


    There is no joy like that of rejoicing in the knowledge of the Torah's secret wisdom, for this is the main reason that the soul comes into This World. - Shaarei Arucha, 47

    As long as a man does not know the Torah's secret wisdom, he walks in darkness, like a blind man in a chimney. When one knows this wisdom, he emerges from darkness into light. - Maaglei Tzedek, 121

    A man's knowledge is not settled nor widened except through knowing the secrets of the Torah. - Ibid.


    Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ashlag


    The redemption of Israel and all the worth of Israel is dependent on the learning of the Zohar and the innermost aspect of the Torah.

    The opposite is true also. All the afflictions and degradations that have come upon the Children of Israel are on account of their neglecting the most intimate part of Torah, and not having valued it but having related to it as something superfluous, G-d forbid. - Introduction to the Zohar, paragraphs 65-70


    The Leshem (Rabbi Shlomo Eliyashiv)


    They say in the beginning of Mesechet Atzilut (a kabbalistic text): Eliyahu Yosef opened, "It is written, 'The secret of G-d is for those who fear Him'. (Psalms 25:14) This verse refers to the idea that even if a Jew learns Mishnah, Gemara and yet has no awe [of G-d] - for naught does he splash in the great waters [of Kabbalah], all in which he toils is for nothing. And every one who is G-d-fearing [should] actively pursue the hidden aspects [of Torah], which are the essence of wisdom and knowledge, i.e. 'G-d's glory is a hidden thing'. (Proverbs 25:2) When will you make glory for G-d? When you are occupied in the hidden aspects of Torah.” See there.

    I am very astounded regarding those [Torah] scholars of the generation that do not know anything [because they do not involve themselves in Kabbalah]. How can they stand not being involved in the Wisdom of Truth [referring to Kabbalah], which is the inner aspect of the Torah? It is foreign to them [to the extent that] they completely do not know what it is.

    And all of their excuses and reasons [for not studying Kabbalah] are totally inadequate, as it says, "[For the Torah] is not in the Heavens [alone]" (Eruvin 55). For if it was in the Heavens, one must go up after her. And it is simple that [the meaning of this phrase] refers to all parts [levels] of Torah, and the hidden aspect "is superior to them all.” (Proverbs 30:10) - From the introduction to "Leshem Shevo V'Achlama."


    Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook


    Due to alienation from the "secret of G-d" [i.e. Kabbalah], the higher qualities of the depths of G-dly life are reduced to trivia that do not penetrate the depth of the soul. When this happens, the mightiest 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. (Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, Orot 2)

    Now, when the final salvation is imminent, "the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land, and the buds are seen in the land" (Songs 2:12), and the demand of seeking the light of G-d, of seeking exalted spiritual redemption, of streaming to G-d and His goodness, increases and burgeons. Now, the times require acquiring the Inner Torah [i.e. Kabbalah], with holy visions that cannot begin to be heard but by the ascent of the soul and the exaltation of its strength in the light of its highest, purest life. A mass whose hearts have been touched by G-d, of this divine camp, will be the power that establishes the foundation of the salvation, the power that gives grace, the light of life and the pride of greatness to the entire elan vital of the national renascence in the Land of Israel. The Zohar, which breaks new ways, making a way in the desert, a road in the wilderness - it and all its crop are ready to open doors of Redemption. (Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, Orot 57
     
  15. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Parshah:[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Shlach [/font][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Verses: [/font][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Bamidbar 13:1-15:41[/font] Chapter 13

    1. The Lord spoke to Moses saying, 2. "Send out for yourself men who will scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. You shall send one man each for his father's tribe; each one shall be a chieftain in their midst." 3. So Moses sent them from the desert of Paran by the word of the Lord. All of them were men of distinction; they were the heads of the children of Israel. 4. These are their names: For the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zakkur. 5. For the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori. 6. For the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jepphunneh. 7. For the tribe of Issachar, Yigal the son of Joseph. 8. For the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun. 9. For the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu. 10. For the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi. 11. For the tribe of Joseph, the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi. 12. For the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli. 13. For the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael. 14. For the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi. 15. For the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. 16. These are the names of the men Moses sent to scout the Land, and Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua. 17. Moses sent them to scout the Land of Canaan, and he said to them, "Go up this way in the south and climb up the mountain. 18. You shall see what [kind of] land it is, and the people who inhabit it; are they strong or weak? Are there few or many? 19. And what of the land they inhabit? Is it good or bad? And what of the cities in which they reside are they in camps or in fortresses? 20. What is the soil like is it fat or lean? Are there any trees in it or not? You shall be courageous and take from the fruit of the land." It was the season when the first grapes begin to ripen.
    21. So they went up and explored the land, from the desert of Zin until Rehov, at the entrance to Hamath. 22. They went up in, the south, and he came to Hebron, and there were Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of the giant. Now Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan of Egypt. 23. They came to the Valley of Eshkol and they cut a branch with a cluster of grapes. They carried it on a pole between two [people] and [they also took] some pomegranates and figs. 24. They called that place the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster [eshkol] the children of Israel cut from there. 25. They returned from scouting the Land at the end of forty days. 26. They went, and they came to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the desert of Paran, to Kadesh. They brought them back a report, as well as to the entire congregation, and they showed them the fruit of the land. 27. They told him and said, "We came to the land to which you sent us, and it is flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28. However, the people who inhabit the land are mighty, and the cities are extremely huge and fortified, and there we saw even the offspring of the giant. 29. The Amalekites dwell in the south land, while the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountainous region. The Canaanites dwell on the coast and alongside the Jordan." 30. Caleb silenced the people to [hear about] Moses, and he said, "We can surely go up and take possession of it, for we can indeed overcome it." 31. But the men who went up with him said, "We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. 32. They spread an [evil] report about the land which they had scouted, telling the children of Israel, "The land we passed through to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of stature. 33. There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, descended from the giants. In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.

    Chapter 14

    1. The entire community raised their voices and shouted, and the people wept on that night. 2. All the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the entire congregation said, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this desert. 3. Why does the Lord bring us to this land to fall by the sword; our wives and children will be as spoils. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?" 4. They said to each other, "Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt!" 5. Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the entire congregation of the children of Israel. 6. Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had scouted the land, tore their clothes. 7. They spoke to the entire congregation of the children of Israel, saying, "The land we passed through to scout is an exceedingly good land.8. If the Lord desires us, He will bring us to this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 9. But you shall not rebel against the Lord, and you will not fear the people of that land for they are [as] our bread. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not be fear them."
     
  16. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    10. The entire congregation threatened to pelt them with stones, but the glory of the Lord appeared in the Tent of Meeting to all the children of Israel. 11. The Lord said to Moses, "How long will this people provoke Me? How much longer will they not believe in Me after all the signs I have performed in their midst? 12. I will strike them with a plague and annihilate them; then I will make you into a nation, greater and stronger than they." 13. Moses said to the Lord, "But the Egyptians will hear that You have brought this nation out from its midst with great power. 14. They will say about the inhabitants of this land, who have heard that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people; that You, the Lord, appear to them eye to eye and that Your cloud rests over them. And You go before them with a pillar of cloud by day and with a pillar of cloud by night, 15. and if You kill this nation like one man, the nations who have heard of Your reputation will say as follows: 16. 'Since the Lord lacked the ability to bring this nation to the Land which He swore to them, He slaughtered them in the desert.' 17. Now, please, let the strength of the Lord be increased, as You spoke, saying. 18. 'The Lord is slow to anger and abundantly kind, forgiving iniquity and transgression, Who cleanses [some] and does not cleanse [others], Who visits the iniquities of parents on children, even to the third and fourth generations.' 19. Please forgive the iniquity of this nation in accordance with your abounding kindness, as You have borne this people from Egypt until now." 20. And the Lord said, "I have forgiven them in accordance with your word. 21. However, as surely as I live, and as the glory of the Lord fills the earth... 22. that all the people who perceived My glory, and the signs that I performed in Egypt and in the desert, yet they have tested me these ten times and not listened to My voice, 23. if they will see the Land that I swore to their fathers, and all who provoked Me will not see it. 24. But as for My servant Caleb, since he was possessed by another spirit, and he followed Me, I will bring him to the land to which he came, and his descendants will drive it[s inhabitants] out. 25. The Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valley. Tomorrow, turn back and journey into the desert toward the Red Sea." 26. The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 27. "How much longer will this evil congregation who are causing to complain against Me [exist]? The complaints of the children of Israel which they caused them to complain against Me, I have heard. 28. Say to them, 'As I live,' says the Lord, 'if not as you have spoken in My ears, so will I do to you. 29. In this desert, your corpses shall fall; your entire number, all those from the age of twenty and up, who were counted, because you complained against Me. 30. You shall [not] come into the Land concerning which I raised My hand that you would settle in it, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 31. As for your infants, of whom you said that they will be as spoils, I will bring them [there], and they will come to know the Land which You despised. 32. But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this desert. 33. Your children shall wander in the desert for forty years and bear your defection until the last of your corpses has fallen in the desert. 34. According to the number of days which you toured the Land forty days, a day for each year, you will [thus] bear your iniquities for forty years; thus you will come to know My alienation. 35. I, the Lord, have spoken if I will not do this to the entire evil congregation who have assembled against me; in this desert they will end, and there they will die. 36. As for the men whom Moses had sent to scout the Land, who returned and caused the entire congregation to complain against him by spreading [a slanderous] report about the Land" 37. the men who spread an evil report about the Land died in the plague, before the Lord. 38. But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive of the men who went to tour the Land. 39. Moses related all these words to the children of Israel, and the people mourned greatly. 40. They arose early in the morning and ascended to the mountain top, saying, "We are ready to go up to the place of which the Lord spoke, for we have sinned. " 41. Moses said, "Why do you transgress the word of the Lord? It will not succeed. 42. Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, [so that] you will not be beaten by your enemies. 43. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword. For you have turned away from the Lord, and the Lord will not be with you. 44. They defiantly ascended to the mountain top, but the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and Moses did not move from the camp. 45. The Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived on the mountain came down and smote them and crushed them [pursuing them] until Hormah.
     
  17. capthowdy

    capthowdy Astarot

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    Wow, you are very knowledgable. I have been interested in Qabala (that's how I spell it) for about 6 years now. The first time I had ever heard it mentioned was in a book I read "The Golden Bough" I became interested in it. I started researching for online sources and quickly ran into the Golden Dawn. I've read some of the Zohar, most of the other books I have read are not traditional, mostly others adaptation of Qabala. The more I read about it the more I'm intrigued. Since researching it I have a very different outlook on life and beliefs. I was wondering if I could ask you something, you clearly know a lot about the subject. Do know anything about pathwork, the meditations and what not pertaining to the sephiroth on the tree of life? I would appreciate it if you could shed a little light on it for me.
     
  18. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Hey, I am not knowledgable; I am only learning myself. There are so many things I want to learn, I thought I might as well mix business with pleasure here on the forum!:D
     
  19. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Two Systems of Ten Sefirot

    By J. Immanuel Schochet
    [​IMG]The sefirot are ten spheres or classes, as it is stated in Sefer Yetzira, "Ten and not nine; ten and not eleven." This is their order: keter (crown); chochma (wisdom); bina (understanding); chesed (kindness); gevura (might); tiferet (beauty); netzach (endurance); hod (splendor); yesod (foundation); malchut (kingship).

    In some schemes keter is omitted from the order of the ten sefirot, as will be explained further on. These schemes understand chochma to be the first of the ten and insert daat (knowledge) as a sefira after bina.

    Keter is the highest level or sphere of the sefirot. The term itself denotes its significance: as a crown is on top of the head and encompasses it, so keter is on top of all the sefirot and encompasses them all.

    The analogy is carried further: just as the crown is not a part of the head or the body but distinct from it, so keter is essentially distinct from the other sefirot. It is the first emanation, and as such the "lowest level" as it were, of the Emanator Himself. That is why keter is called "the most hidden of all hidden" ("temira dechol temirin"), and is referred to as "naught" (" Ayin"). These terms signify the total concealment of the rank of keter due to its supreme sublimity.

    Keter is so sublime and concealed that nothing can be said or postulated of it. While the other sefirot are sometimes represented by various letters of the alphabet, no letter can describe or represent keter. (In the paradigm where the four letters of G-d's name Havayah represent the ten sefirot, i.e. yud - chochma, hei - bina, vav - the unit of the six middot from chesed to yesod, hei - malchut, keter is represented by the "thorn" of the yud, thus not by any letter but by a mere dot.)

    That is why keter is sometimes excluded from the scheme of the sefirot. It is too sublime to be included. It is a category and class all in itself. In fact it is called the "intermediary" between the Ein Sof and the sefirot, bridging the gap, as it were: it is the "lowest level" of the Light of the Ein Sof and from it, and through it, issue forth the successive divine emanations (thus being the very root or soul of the sefirot). Keter represents the "lever" of divine manifestations and, as such, is called "the Supreme Will" (" Ratzon Ha'elyon") of G-d: not a particular will focused on some specific goal but the original Divine Willingness (Ratzon) underlying the creative will. It is the "Will of all wills", which precedes all powers or attributes (i.e., the sefirot).

    In the metaphorical terminology of the Kabbala and Chasidut, chochma is called Abba and bina is called Imma. Metaphorically speaking, the seed of Abba is implanted in the womb of Imma, and there the rudimentary plant of the seed is developed, expanded, externalized and informed. Daat is called "Ben" ("son"), i.e. the offspring of this union of chochma and bina.

    In daat the original idea and concept has matured into corresponding dispositions. Therefore daat is the all-inclusive essence of the middot, the emotive powers or attributes of the lower sefirot. This is because the lower sefirot (from chesed to malchut) express and reveal these dispositions originating in the "intellect".

    Thus the middot are called the children of chochma and bina, or, alternatively, the six middot from chesed to yesod as a unit is called "son" and malchut is called "daughter".

    It is in this context as "soul (essence) of the middot" that daat is not counted as a separate sefira to replace keter. For as a mere soul without its own independent vessel or body it cannot be included as one of the ten principles of the sefirot (see Etz Chaim 23:5, 8, 40:6).

    R. Moses Cordovero always counts keter as part of the ten sefirot and excludes daat as a separate sefira (see Pardes Rimonim 3:1 ff.n and Or Ne'erav 6:1, par. 5). In the system of R. Isaac Luria, daat is usually counted as one of the sefirot while keter is excluded (see Etz Chaim 23:1, 2, 5, 8; 25:6; 42:1).

    Their difference in perspective evolves around the interpretation of Zohar I: 31b, where the plain meaning appears to support the opinion of R. Isaac Luria, though R. Moses Cordovero (see ibid., 2:3 ff.) interprets according to his opinion.

    In fact this has long been a matter of dispute among the earlier kabbalists. While all are agreed that keter exceedingly excels the sefirot (chochma to malchut), some say that keter is identical with the Ein Sof (rather with the Or Ein Sof) and therefore to be excluded from the scheme of sefirot, while others have it that keter, too, is an emanation and effect having a cause just like the other sefirot and, hence, is to be counted among them (see the discussion of these issues in Pardes Rimonim 3:1 ff., and Etz Chaim 42:1.)

    The view of the Ari is a third opinion to the effect that keter is somewhere in between Or Ein Sof and the sefirot, part of both, and bridging or linking them. In his view, keter is the "lowest" level of the Ein Sof as well as the very root or source of the sefirot. This issue relates to the disputed issue whether the term Ein Sof itself has reference to the actual Essence and Being of G-d as He is in Himself or to G-d qua First Cause.

    In the context of the aforesaid, R. Isaac Luria adds that when speaking of the essential sefirot, keter is included, but when speaking of their general aspects (the "external aspects" of the sefirot) keter is omitted and daat is inserted instead (see Etz Chaim 23:5,8; and the Baal HaTanya's Likutei Torah III: 49c; cf. ibid. II: 46c and V:8a).

    [Ed. note: the perspective in which keter is omitted and daat is included can be understood as being from the viewpoint after Shevirat haKelim.]

    Adapted from "Mystical Concepts In Chassidism: An Introduction to Kabbalistic Concepts and Doctrines" by Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet, available as a separate book (Kehot) or together with Likutei Amarim - Tanya, Book IV.]

    http://www.kabbalahuk.com/library/article.asp?AID=137112:)

    as for your question on pathwork, the meditations,
    I have had a quick look and have found:- http://www.newthoughtkabbalah.com/classes_avail.htm:)
     
  20. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Chapter 15

    1. The Lord spoke to Moses saying: 2. Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you arrive in the Land of your dwelling place, which I am giving you, 3. and you make a fire offering to the Lord, a burnt offering or a sacrifice [namely a peace offering], for an expressed vow or for a voluntary offering or on your festivals, to provide a pleasing fragrance for the Lord, from the cattle or from the sheep. 4. The one who brings his offering to the Lord shall present a meal offering containing one tenth fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil. 5. And a quarter of a hin of wine for a libation, you shall prepare with the burnt offering or for the sacrifice, for each lamb. 6. Or for a ram, you shall present a meal offering containing two tenths fine flour mixed with a third of a hin of oil. 7. And a third of a hin of wine for a libation; you shall offer up, a pleasing fragrance to the Lord. 8. If you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice by expressing a vow, or for a peace offering for the Lord, 9. with the young bull he shall offer up a meal offering consisting of three tenths fine flour mixed with half a hin of oil. 10. And you shall offer half a hin of wine for a libation, a fire offering of pleasing fragrance to the Lord. 11. So shall it be done for each ox or ram, or for a young sheep or young goat. 12. In accordance with the number you offer up, so shall you present for each one, according to their numbers. 13. Every native born shall do it in this manner, to offer up a fire offering of pleasing fragrance to the Lord. 14. If a proselyte resides with you, or those among you in future generations, and he offers up a fire offering of pleasing fragrance to the Lord, as you make it, so shall he make it. 15. One rule applies to the assembly, for yourselves and for the proselyte who resides [with you]; one rule applies throughout your generations just as [it is] for you, so [it is] for the proselyte, before the Lord. 16. There shall be one law and one ordinance for you and the proselyte who resides [with you].17. The Lord spoke to Moses saying: 18. Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them, When you arrive in the Land to which I am bringing you, 19. and you eat from the bread of the Land, you shall set aside a gift for the Lord. 20. The first portion of your dough, you shall separate a loaf for a gift; as in the case of the gift of the threshing floor, so shall you separate it. 21. From the first portion of your dough you shall give a gift to the Lord in [all] your generations. 22. And if you should err and not fulfill all these commandments, which the Lord spoke to Moses. 23. All that the Lord commanded you through Moses, from the day on which the Lord commanded and from then on, for all generations. 24. If because of the eyes of the congregation it was committed inadvertently, the entire congregation shall prepare a young bull as a burnt offering for a pleasing fragrance for the Lord, with its prescribed meal offering and libation, and one young he goat for a sin offering. 25. The kohen shall atone on behalf of the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them, for it was an error, and they have brought their offering as a fire offering to the Lord and their sin offering before the Lord because of their error. 26. The entire congregation of the children of Israel and the proselyte who resides with them shall be forgiven, for all the people were in error. 27. But if an individual sins inadvertently, he shall offer up a she goat in its first year as a sin offering. 28. And the kohen shall atone for the erring soul which sinned inadvertently before the Lord, so as to atone on his behalf, and it shall be forgiven him. 29. One law shall apply to anyone who sins inadvertently from the native born of the children of Israel and the proselyte who resides among them. 30. But if a person should act highhandedly, whether he is a native born or a proselyte, he is blaspheming the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off from among its people. 31. For he has scorned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment; that soul shall be utterly cut off for its iniquity is upon it. 32. When the children of Israel were in the desert, they found a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33. Those who found him gathering wood presented him before Moses and Aaron and before the entire congregation. 34. They put him under guard, since it was not specified what was to be done to him. 35. The Lord said to Moses, The man shall be put to death; the entire congregation shall pelt him with stones outside the camp. 36. So the entire congregation took him outside the camp, and they pelted him to death with stones, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 37. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 38. Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them that they shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and they shall affix a thread of sky blue [wool] on the fringe of each corner. 39. This shall be fringes for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord to perform them, and you shall not wander after your hearts and after your eyes after which you are going astray. 40. So that you shall remember and perform all My commandments and you shall be holy to your God. 41. I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord, your God.
     
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