Kabbalah

What do you guys know about this? A friend of mine gave me a book on this and suggested that I read it. The book is called "God is a verb". Seems as though its trying to give peopel a new understanding and way of connecting with God. I have talked with several of my friends who are orthodox jews and they have suggested that I stay away from this sort of thing and not even bother finishing the book as they say it opens you up to things you may not be ready to handle.

What kind of experiences if any have you had with this?

I know it's Jewish mysticism, but I don't know much beyond that.

I also know that mysticism in general is not a wise thing to meddle with. We are not well equipped on our own to be messing around with the spirit world, and if we have christ, we don't need any further spiritual guidance/assistance. The Holy Spirit is all the spirit I need.

Mysticism can be just the Holy Spirit Matt and is a beautiful more meditative and active communication with God. I am all for it. However I do not know much about Kabbalah, other than it has attracted Madonna and therefore must be bad :)

the rev

btw sorry to keep using your name but sinister minister is just so long, would it be okay if I shortened it to sin?

Kabbalah is one of the most influential components of my spiritual life. If you want to get some basic books that are very light reading, I would say read "Kabbalah: Tradition of Hidden Knowledge" : by Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi. The best intro I have ever seen. Lots of pics. "The Kabbalah Decoder" is even more basic. If you can find it "Kabbala: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism and Its Secret Doctrine " is old but still has alot of good info in q&a. Imo "God is a Verb" should only be read after you have studied about three or four more basic books. If I were to take a guess, I would say that the problem many orthodox have with Kabbalah is that the doctrine of the Seferot make Judaism seem polytheistic. Keep in mind alot of orthodox Hasidim are also Kabbalists.

Kabbalah strikes me like many other forms of mysticism and the occult, it's a system of abstraction that allows your mind to make connections that would otherwise seem unnatural.

For this reason, even serious Kabbalists will warn you to stay away from it unless you have some serious grounding both in theology and your regular life. Some schools will not even let someone practice unless he's married, an earthly attachment that can keep you from going too far out.

That said, to me, it's just abstraction, like numerology, astrology, and i ching. Anything abstract enough will bear out some strange insights.

I will respond more throughly when I have the time. Read G-d is a Verb. Do NOT read other books for quite a while. First, many of the above listed books are not endorsed by serious schools of real Kabbalists, second- when I BEGAN to read Sefer haZohar, things began happening to my mind that forced me to stop- I am still dealing with it to this day. It can help you or hurt you as much as you let it- but it is powerful.

MS- there are some good books out there, I'll post a few titles after.

For those of you who, like me, know nothing about the Zohar, but are interested in checking it out after hearing how it apparently broke martial_shadow's brain*:http://www.kabbalah.com/k/index.php/It has a text and translation of the Zohar. You need to register to read it, but registration is free.* Sorry, ms, just messing around. But a word of advice: That kind of warning only serves to plug the text in question.For those of us who are largely unfamiliar with ancient Hebrew literature, could you perhaps give a brief explanation of what this work is, where/when it's from, and why you consider it to be so dangerous?

The titles I recommended stand on their own and are very neutral books. They are basically watered down versions of Scholem, Kaplan, and Halamish.

luchador: the Hidden Tradition is an accepted text but the others are not. BTW: For a good intro, Scholem is among the best.

First: Please stay away from the Kabbalah Center. They are based in Toronto in Canada, and Boston in the US. I am unaware of other locations but plz have nothing to do with them. They sell crap, provide no explanation and are nothing more than charlatans (sp?). Many rabbis associated with them have been disbarred and black listed.

This will likely be a long post but well worth it.

Understand that concepts like G-d, the afterlife, the sources of good and evil, etc. are very open in Judaism. Guidelines exist, but concrete answers do not. Kab. is a mixture of mysticism and metaphysics. Kab. means "to receive" as in, to receive knowledge from G-d. This is considered the highest level of understanding of the Torah.

G-d: In Kab. G-d is refered to as Ein Sof- that which has no end- because that is what G-d is.

The Tree of Life: In Kab. the tree of life is used as imagery to represent the qualities of G-d. Keter (the crown), Chokhmah (wisdom), Binah (intuition, understanding), Chesed (mercy) or Gedulah (greatness), Gevurah (strength), Tiferet (glory), Netzach (victory), Hod (majesty), Yesod (foundation) and Malkut (sovereignty).

http://www.jewfaq.org/graphics/tree.gif if a blue namer would do the honors.

A good link http://www.aish.com/spirituality/kabbala101/

The Sefirot (branches) rep. male and female aspects of G-d.

An idea found in Kab. (that I will water-down not to right pages of background) is that when G-d created the universe, it broke and hundreds of divine sparks were launched. We can collect these sparks by studying the Torah and doing acts of kindness. When they are all collected- only Divine goodness will exist.

Cont.

G-d is a Verb is excellent. Books by Scholem and Kaplan are excllent sources for legit info. Godwin writes BS. Also, if it was written by a non-Jew (many times refered to as Hermetic Kab) it is BS. In fact, 90% of the stuff out there is BS. I visited a local pagan/wicca store to get some stuff for a freinds b-day and the Kab. books they had on numerology used the latin alphabet! If you can, find a Jewish book store, that increases the odds.

Kab. has various parts- meditation, numerology, prophecy, the golem, demonology, angelology, possesion, charms, the evil eye, transmigration/reincarnation, magic (crossing great distances in no time, causing rain, curing illness), etc. To REALLY understand Kab. you need A) a firm basis in Torah (in the original Hebrew). B) A working knowledge of Yiddish and Aramaic. C) A basic understanding of the rest of the Bible, Mishnah, Gehmara and Talmud.

Today, in Orthodox and Conservative Judaism- to learn most of Kab (as in more than just passing refs. in conversation) you have to A) Be a guy B) be married with children C) be over 40 D) Have a throurough understanding of Torah and Hebrew. This was instituted about 250 years ago because of charlatans and misuse of the knowledge by younger people who mislead the community (see Shabtai Tzvi).

The Golem (for those who don't know) is a man of earth/clay made a Kabbalist. The Kab. then channels some of G-d's power of divine creation into a stone and places the stone into the Golem. It can then defend the community, do chores, etc. However, after 28 days, it returns to the dust from which you created it.

In Hebrew, each letter has a corresponding number. This leads to the art of numerology. Those who have seen Pi know this. As an example, the ancient Hebrew for father is equal to 3, the ancient Hebrew for mother is equal to 41, ancient Hebrew for child is 44- makes you think. (For those who care, my Hebrew name comes out to 14 for the my first name, 217 for my last name). Links between various prophets and names of G-d have been found.

cont.

Jewish meditation has a long and varied practice. Meditating on letters, sounds, colors, candle meditation, prayer meditation, music meditation are all parts of Judasism (just not widely practiced).

Kab. was practiced by Abraham, Issac, Jacob and the prophets/judges. Then it was practiced by the Cohanim and later by the Rabbinical elite. At one point, nearly every Rabbi practiced it. With the "enlightened" era of science, it was caste out.

Some Rabbis are beginning to teach Kab. to young Jews and others to the general public. This has mixed implications.

The texts of Kab:

Sefer Yetzirah, Book of Creation, written in the 6th cent. A meditative text, it includes details of the sefirot, creation of creatures (including the Golem), the 231 gates in Heaven (one among many ideas), the alphabet, astrology (and the relation between names and astrology). Without an extensive knowledge of Torah and Midrash- it is supposed to read as gibberish. About 2500 words.

Sefer Bahir, Book of Illumination, the most important text in Kab. until Zohar was written. It is 12,000 words long (apparently has some importance). Written in the 12 cent, it is believed to have been written by
Rabbi Nehuniah ben haKana, which explains its second name the Midrash of Rabbi Nehuniah ben haKana. Its title is explained in the intro. "And now they do not see the light, it is brilliant [bahir] in the skies"- about G-d (Job 37:21). It discusses the Seifrot, Genesis and its true meaning, the alphabet, reincarnation, and the 32 paths to wisdom.

Sefer Zohar, Book of Radiance, was written in Aramaic in the 13th cent, though its ideas can be found in documents dating back to the 1 BCE. It is the best explanation of G-d, what It is, why we are here, what we are supposed to do, what Torah is, etc. to date. Yet without good grounding, it is giberish. It elaborates on all material in the previous two works.

Kab. uses other works, those written by the Ari, as well as Deeds of the Heart, Tanya, and other texts not neccessarily mystic in nature.

There is a stroy told early in Kab. training. G-d took four men into a cave to teach them the way. The first saw and died. The second saw and became a pagan priest. The third saw a went made. The fourth saw and was lowered. (Note: In Judaism, the higher you climb, the lower you go). Sephardic Jews allow boys of 13 who have background to begin study while Ashkenazi generally wait until the age of 30 to approach the subject (many wait until the traditional 40).

What happened to me. I have a background in Torah and a basic understanding of Heb. I have read several Kab. texts - Kaplan, Scholem, etc. And decided to pick up a translation endorsed by a legit. Kab. school of Sefer Zohar. I read the intro and felt warm and tingly. I flipped to the section on charms and protection from demons and the evil eye (what I was interested in at the time) and began to read. After half a page- I felt as though I was having a stroke. To use imagery- imagine your mind is full of rooms, each representing a different state of mind, this book opened all the doors at the same time, imagine G-d's divine light shinning down on you when you are not ready for it. I closed it, I put it back on the shelf and I walked to the nearest seat to piece my mind back together. Believe it or not, it was hard to remember my name for the next few minutes. I don't care if I induced this or G-d did- I am reading that stuff again until a Rabbi gives me the ok or I have as much background as a Kab. did in the 13th cent.

If you guys have questions, I'll try to answer.

MS

Thanks for the info, ms. Which translation of the Seher Zohar did you read, and is it widely available?The Golem (for those who don't know) is a man of earth/clay made a Kabbalist. The Kab. then channels some of G-d's power of divine creation into a stone and places the stone into the Golem. It can then defend the community, do chores, etc. However, after 28 days, it returns to the dust from which you created it.I once wrote a short story about a golem. It got rejected by the first place I sent it to, because they considered it to be "unsuitable for our largely Catholic readership". Apparently Catholics don't like to read stories which have Jewish protagonists...

MS

thanks for going the extra mile with all that info. I really appreciate it. Its quite intresting and does tie into some of my spiritual beliefs quite well.

Thanks again

Josh

MS

On a completely unrelated note. I have been thinking of learning hewbrew as I feel a need to connect to that portion of my heritage. I don't suppose there is a particular program you might recommend? I was raised a christian in america so other than my mothers insistance that we learn prayers and whatnot my heritage is somewhat lacking. Any info would be appreciated.

Josh

IBI- I'd have to go back to the library to check. I do remember that on the cover page it had the stamp from a Rabbinical Council and was published by a well-known Jewish Press, not a nobody. Lol @ "unsuitable for our largely Catholic readership".


Josh- No problem, its why I'm here. First, try to find a local Chabad House. Assuming your mother is Jewish, you are Jewish and they will be forced to accept you (this has been a problem in some places). Many Chabad houses offer free or very cheap classes in Judaism, Hebrew, etc. (the max I know is 7$/class- still very cheap). If you can't find one or one you like, consider the local synagogues, local Hillel and if their is a Yeshiva near-by, consider it as well. Your local uni may offer Heb. I and II courses. If their is a local Jewish bookstore get printed and audio books at the grade 3-6 level and try to learn to read them with the tapes.

MS

bombshelter - Bulls-eye!

I actually agree with you there bombshelter. The thought of standing before the creator, in true communion with Him, and in total lack of control, with nothing to justify ourselves with, (our adherance to ritual and law) frightens people horribly.

the rev

Rev,

I request that you archive this thread.

It is full of excellent information as well as some good references.

I think anyone who is interested in knowing at least some fundamental information about Kabbalah has a good source in this thread.

This is why I request that you archive it.

Thanks

done

Hmm... I can only see it in archive.

Yeah, it is frightening to be cleaved to G-d. Their is a story in Chasidism how many guys came in and put on their prayer shawls, prayed and left. One guy, would come super early and it would take him close to an hour of mental prep. before he'd put on his prayer shawl! That's preparing to know G-d.


MS