What is the Meaning of Kabbalah?

The word Kabbalah in Hebrew, literally means "reception" or "to receive". Therefore, in a sense, Kabbalah teaches us how to receive higher knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight. Being a highly mystical spiritual tradition, the knowledge of Kabbalah is related to our understanding of the higher worlds. In the past, Kabbalah was passed down orally from one generation to another, that is, from the master or spiritual teacher to their students. For a long time, there were no written Kabbalah texts, so the only way to learn it was a direct contact with the teacher. Even today, the best way to receive the wisdom of Kabbalah is to find a qualified, enlightened teacher.

In a way, Kabbalah deals with our understanding of the inner and outer worlds. It means that this Hebrew tradition tackles with our perception of time and space, and how we see the subjective and objective reality.

People often do not understand the true significance and symbolism of Kabbalah and consider it a sort of cult because in their everyday life, they find themselves removed from the real sense of what spiritual and Divine life means.

Despite how Kabbalah is presented today to the Western people, and especially given the media hype generated by some of the well-known Hollywood superstars, one should know that it is an ancient system of rather complicated metaphysical thought. Kabbalah takes a lot of determination, commitment and focus even to be able to learn the basics. This effort is well worth it, as the Kabbalistic Scholars are really in a position to interpret the true meaning and the symbolic language of the Scriptures, which they often do. The important part of Kabbalah is related to the commentary on the hidden meanings of the Torah as opposed to the direct meaning.

On the other hand, Kabbalah is all about practical, personal self-growth and in this respect, it is no different from any other mystical spiritual schools of spiritual development. It can also take a form of adapted, shallow and instant knowledge, but this is nothing new. Starting from the Renaissance, the Jewish Kabbalah texts have entered the non-Jewish culture, so many forms of Kabbalistic thought exist today, including a Hermetic and Christian version.

One of the earliest sources of Kabbalah is Sefer Yetzirah, which is a manuscript believed to originate directly from Abraham. Sefer Yetzirah was passed down orally. The other equally important source is the book of Zohar. It is a set of lessons by Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai from the 1st century, finally written down around in the 17th century.

For the majority of Orthodox Jews, the predominant authority when it comes to religious studies is the Torah, although they consider Kabbalah a valuable source of knowledge. As Judaism is mainly focused on action and practical implementation the laws contained in the Torah, the study of Kabbalah usually comes second.

It is believed that the written Kabbalistic texts that we can find today do not contain the entire wisdom. The essential and most important truths are left out of those manuscripts and are only taught in person. The students are supposed to have a good understanding of the Torah, although this is not a crucial requirement.


Forozee says:

I like to look at Kabbalah from the point of view of Gnosticism, because a lot of gnostic ideas appear in Kabbalah. In particular, they are related to new and at times completely different interpretations of the ancient Jewish sources. Some scholars even go that far as to postulate that there was an original Jewish gnosticism that influenced the origins of gnosticism. Kabbalah uses the language of Torah when speaking of gnostic concepts, so it is not straightforward to decipher the meaning.

True Gnosis has for its aim to reveal the structure and meaning of existence. It tries to discover the laws of the Universe and the interplay between matter and energy on one side and spirit on the other. Kabbalah can also be classified as a system that teaches how the reality functions on the multitude of different levels, from the seven levels of the human microcosm to the levels of the macrocosm. It teaches us how we fit in the universal order of things, and how to use that knowledge to grow spiritually. In that sense the teachings of Kabbalah are universal, and can be seen in all religions and even in all sciences.

Kebede Mamo Dessis says:

After study kabbalah, reading materials my life completely progress in a good stage. But the true thing that i study personally in home and some thing i felt to understand some of explanation.

sunnyray says:

Hi, thanks for your input. Studying Kabbalah is indeed a life-long task and I wish you great progress and a lot of success.

Keto says:

This is a good info. I just want to add that if you want to study Kabala you have to deal with the 10 Sephirot. They are God's emanation through which the entire universe was created. Today Kabbalah has turned into a composite teaching. It has incorporated teachings from the East, like chakras and invisible bodies, and from the West, like numerology and astrology.

stwa says:

Very nice post. According to Kabbalah, you are not able to know God. Because of that, you must go through that veil of unknowing, and accept and surrender to what lies beyond. Books and teachings can refer to that great unknown, but never define it or encompass it. Books and teachings are useful until you transcend them with your own practice. Thus any discussion about Kabbalah is meaningless without practice. If you are among those lucky ones who discover the narrow path and surrender to the teacher within, you will also see that all mystics from all traditions and religions are essentially becoming aware of the same reality.

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