Yesterday I got a call from someone who found me online – the person as usual was trying to seek what is indeed authentic Kabbalah vs. various groups that claim to have great Kabbalists as teachers – flying in some upper worlds, and of course the only ones on earth… I’m not going to get into this discussion again as enough was covered already on this site, so feel free to browse if you indeed are looking to understand. The person also pointed out what I sopped writing, and unfortunately it is indeed true, but having Yehudith with her amazing posts, and my busy schedule gives me an excuse…. I’ll try Bli Neder though to participate more if time permits
So what is Kabbalah? I would divide it into three main categories:
- Theoretical portion that deals with the creation of the world
- Semi-practical portion that explains what happens in Upper Worlds when one performs a certain commandment out of 613 e.g. Shabbath, Tefilin, Kosher, etc
- Practical section that deals with mystical names of G-d and Angels that allows person to adjust laws of nature
So let’s start from the end. Practical Kabbalah – while this type of teaching existed for centuries, ARIZAL points out that in our time we do not have exact rituals and Divine Names to achieve the desired effect, and therefore one must not under any circumstances attempt doing it. ARI points out that G-d in His infinite wisdom created Angels to serve people, and therefore once the name of an Angel is pronounced the Angel immediately “appears” in front of the person. Having no proper keys in place to issue the right commands we now have one “frustrated Angel” – this is exact quote btw of ARIZAL – that will inflict spiritual / physical damage. I saw several antique books on this topic that span from simple changes to major ones but if ARIZAL himself was afraid to touch it, I assume we’re way not better than he is. ARI also points out that since we’re all in the state of impurity this teaching can not be used.
Commandments – A.K.A Mitzvot. Each of the 613 mitzvot – 248/365 – has major impact on what will happen in the Upper Worlds based on what person is doing here. Imagine standing in front of a mirror – anything you do the “other person” does as well. This is the same situation; for example – you put a tefilin on your hand – you bound yourself to the world of Asiya, you recite the Blessing, you bind yourself to the world of Yitzira, you put the tefilin on your head – you bound yourself to the world of Atzilut. No Kavanot, no, deep meditations, just pure physical actions. If you can do Kavanot on top of it – event better! But if you don’t, you still achieve the result. ARIZAL goes on this topic in depth in Shaar Mitzvot where he describes what happens in the Upper Worlds when one performs a certain commandment – ARI goes into very detailed description – once you read it, you will understand why we’re so keen to be very careful with every mitzva – to its tiniest detail, which is exactly how all Kabbalists including Baal HaSulam and RABASH lived.
Creation of the World – this portion comes from the book called Etz Chaim – Tree of Life that was written by ARIZAL – every time I say by ARIZAL I refer to his student of course; This book goes into extremely detailed description of how everything came to being – the creation of the worlds, partzufim, sefirot, etc. Baal HaSulm wrote comprehensive commentary to it just like he did on Zohar. His commentaries help understand and unlock difficulties that arise when one attempts to learn directly from ARIZAL writings.
Now as for learning. ARIZAL in Shaar HaGilgulim writes in very explicit language that one must learn five disciplines a day, each day – Torah, Mishna, Talmud, Tanach, Kabbalah. Each one of them connects to part of human soul – NARANCHAY. He specifically focuses his attention that if one dismissed or was not careful with one of the topics he will come back to this world until his soul fully completes them. He also describes what portions of Talmud/Mishna/Tanach connect to what sefirot. Same goes for Mitzvot – for any unfulfilled mitzva the soul will be brought back to complete it. This is more complicated topic, so we will leave it as is.
Hope this helps a bit. Now I would like to share an interesting insight. Our sages instituted a law “the tradition of our forefathers is law for their children”. This law is clear when one understands that unfortunately our spiritual level only declines and many things that our parents do/did don’t make sense to us anymore. Yet, there is nothing that doesn’t have its source, so here is one that I found lately.
There is a Mikveh here that has two pools – one is warm and one is so hot it’s painful to get in – it was always running before Sabbath. I was always trying to understand the reasoning beyond the second pool. I myself preferred it, though it took five minutes just to get in – you step by step descend down as almost boiling water envelops you. And of course – every tradition indeed has it’s roots and here they are:
Sabbath is an extremely special day – it is so holy that Torah keeps repeating it over and over again. Unfortunately most don’t understand it as nothing around visibly changes – no fireworks, no flying angels… Shabbath is special in the essence that all Upper Worlds unite – the ascend one by one from Asiya to Yetzira, from Yetzira to Beriya, from Beriya to Atzilut. This is the most auspicious time, when we get the second soul, when we’re so high we can’t even imagine in our wildest dreams! And when these worlds go up, fire consumes klipot, and none of them survive. And this is the meaning of boiling Mikveh – just as one walks down and boiling water licks his body from down up, the process of Shabbos starts by eliminating the klipot and uniting all worlds into one. May we merit to feel and to appreciate the great gift that was bestowed on us.