Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה, lit. "receiving") is a discipline and school of thought discussing the mystical aspect of Judaism. It is a set of esoteric teachings that are meant to explain the relationship between an infinite, eternal and essentially unknowable Creator with the finite and mortal universe of His creation. In solving this paradox, Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realization. Kabbalah originally developed entirely within the milieu of Jewish thought and constantly uses classical Jewish sources to explain, demonstrate, or prove its esoteric teachings. These teachings are thus held by kabbalists to define the inner meaning of both the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and traditional Rabbinic literature, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.
Sephirot (or "enumerations", Sephiroth, Sefiroth (סְפִירוֹת), singular: Sephirah, also Sefirah (סְפִירָה "enumeration" in Hebrew)), in the Kabbalah of Judaism, are the ten attributes that God (who is referred to as אור אין סוף Aur Ain Soph, "Limitless Light, Light Without End") created through which he can manifest not only the physical but the metaphysical universe.
This quote contains an interesting view on the interpretation that angels have to appear as us when descending onto our world; as does everything else:
Woe unto the man, says Shimon ben Yochai, who asserts that this Torah intends to relate only commonplace things and secular narratives; for if this were so, then in the present times likewise a Torah might be written with more attractive narratives. In truth, however, the matter is thus: The upper world and the lower are established upon one and the same principle; in the lower world is Israel, in the upper world are the angels. When the angels wish to descend to the lower world, they have to don earthly garments. If this be true of the angels, how much more so of the Torah, for whose sake, indeed, the world and the angels were alike created and exist. The world could simply not have endured to look upon it. Now the narratives of the Torah are its garments. He who thinks that these garments are the Torah itself deserves to perish and have no share in the world to come. Woe unto the fools who look no further when they see an elegant robe! More valuable than the garment is the body which carries it, and more valuable even than that is the soul which animates the body. Fools see only the garment of the Torah, the more intelligent see the body, the wise see the soul, its proper being; and in the Messianic time the 'upper soul' of the Torah will stand revealed.
From the mystical cabalist text, known as the Zohar
The Zohar (Hebrew: זהר "Splendor, radiance")
is widely considered the most important work of Kabbalah
, Jewish mysticism. It is a mystical commentary on the Torah
(the five books of Moses
), written in medieval Aramaic
. It contains a mystical discussion of the nature of God
, the origin and structure of the universe, the nature of souls
, redemption, good and evil, and related topics.
Portrait of Rabbi Naphtali Cohen
, from 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia.
Naphtali Cohen (1649-1718) was a Russo-German rabbi and kabalist born in Ostrowo in Ukraine. He belonged to a family of rabbis in Ostrowo, with his father, Isaac Cohen, they had fled during the Cossack war.
In 1663 Cohen fell into the hands of the Tatars, who kept him in servitude for several years. Escaping, he returned to Ostrowo, and was chosen to succeed his father as rabbi. In 1690 he was called to Posen, where he officiated as chief rabbi until 1704. There he devoted himself to the Kabbalah, and collected a large library of cabalistic literature.
- ...that Da'at is mistakenly described as the eleventh Sephirot, but is actually a quasi-sephirot?
- ...that kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, is known as "the lion", or "the holy lion"?
- ...that the character Isaac Mendez from the NBC TV series Heroes may have been named after Isaac the Blind (a kabbalist), with Isaac Mendez' eyes whiting out when he paints the future?
- ...that Rabbi Baba Sali was the scion of a family of great Talmudical scholars and Ba’alei Mofet (individuals who have the ability through prayer of performing miracles)?
- ...that the holy text, the Bahir, was first published in the 12th century; in the south of France?
- ...that the mystical holy book the Heichalot is based upon earlier sources, including traditions about Enoch?
- ...that Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag is considered one of the foremost Kabbalists of the 20th century?