The Kaballah

Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 9/28/2013

A mystical practice born from Judaism which used to be rooted in magic until the 16th century when it became just symbolic.


Kabbalists believe Ein Sof created the world in order to understand itself better. Because it was infinite, Ein Sof was also formless and without purpose—it existed as pure energy. Ein Sof therefore resolved to create something with both form and purpose—human beings. The power of God’s energy was so vast that it prevented anything else from existing in the universe. To make room for the human race and everything else in the universe, Ein Sof’s first action had to be tsimtsum, which means “withdrawal.” In order to make room for creation, Ein Sof had to first create a void inside itself, a space in which to make yesh (something) from ayin (nothing). God created the world with thirty-two secret paths of wisdom. These paths of wisdom are composed of the ten sefirot and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Kabbalists believe that God’s creation of the universe was an act of divine self-sacrifice: God gave up its own life to create enough space for every thing and being that would occupy the universe. In withdrawing into itself, God left behind empty vessels to receive its energy in the form of light—Kabbalah comes from the Hebrew word that means “receiving.” But God’s boundless energy shattered the vessels. The breaking of the vessel destroyed the ordered universe that Ein Sof had begun to create. Tiny pieces of the vessel, like shards of glass, scattered and brought chaos to the universe. The masculine and feminine aspects of Ein Sof divided. Even Adam Kadmon split into parts.When the shards of the vessel began to fall, they brought with them sparks of Ein Sof’s light, called netzutzot. Together, the shards and the sparks fell into what would become material reality, or the human world. In place of a harmonious world made from the perfectly balanced ten sefirot, human beings entered a broken world filled with scattered sparks of divine light, which came to be called klippot, meaning “husks.”

Tree of Life

In the Sefer ha-Bahir the sefirot are described as “emanations” or attributes of God representing a particular part of God. The Tree of Life, a visual representation of the ten sefirot. The Tree is intended to symbolize the body of “Adam Kadmon,” also known as “primordial Adam.” Adam Kadmon is not the Adam of “Adam and Eve” that we read about in Genesis, but a kind of mystical template for human beings that God made before creating everything else. Though he never existed in the human world. Listed in order of their appearance and with a literal translation of their Hebrew meaning in parentheses, they are Keter (crown,the most hidden of all hidden things), Binah (understanding), Chochmah (wisdom), Gevurah (strength), Chesed (love), Tiferet (beauty), Hod (splendor), Netzach (endurance), Yesod (foundation), and Shekhinah (kingdom, God's creation). Each sefirah represents many things, including one of God’s qualities, a stage in the creation of the world, a biblical character, and a part of God’s body. Kabbalists portray the ten sefirot on a Tree of Life that serves as a visual map. The location of each sefirah on the Tree of Life represents a variety of qualities, including the sefirah’s gender and position on God’s body.

The first sefirah that emerged from God lies at the top of the Tree. Then, beginning with Keter, each sefirah arose out of and slightly modified thesefirah (or sefirot) that preceded it. Binah came from Keter. Gevurah came from Keter and Binah, altering both of them. The sefirot on the left side of the Tree (Binah, Gevurah, and Hod) are associated with feminine traits, whereas those on the right side (Chochmah, Chesed, and Netzach) are thought to be more masculine. Those in the center column (Keter, Tiferet, Yesod, and Shekhinah) are neutral. All of the feminine aspects are thought to be the daughters of Binah, who is known as the mother of the ten sefirot.

Kabbalists believe in reincarnation, the rebirth of a soul into a new human body, and transmigration, the movement from one form of life to another.

The Zohar

Moses de Leon (1250–1305) -  A Spanish writer of books on mysticism, Moses De Leon began handing out pamphlets in 1280 that he claimed had been written by Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai in the  second-century. These small books were the beginning of what would later become Sefer ha-Zohar, or the Zohar, the central text of Kabbalah. The Zohar is written in a very unconventional style, which some associate with the technique of “automatic writing.” Automatic writing requires the writer to enter a mystical trance and then immediately transcribe whatever thoughts first come to mind, no matter how scattered or unrelated. Automatic writing could supposedly unveil ideas buried deep in one’s consciousness, and perhaps bring a writer closer to understanding God. Others contend that the Zohar’s bizarre style results not from the automatic writing of one person, but from the contributions of various authors over hundreds of years. The Zohar describes the journey of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and ten companions through Galilee, the northern region of Palestine and, formerly, the kingdom of Israel. Along their journey, the travelers discuss their interpretations of the Torah, and specifically the Torah’s main characters. The characters become a part of the narrative of the Zohar, their lives weaving in and out of those of Yohai and his group. The companions come and go fluidly within their own group—they often turn from one character into another.

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