First of all, it must be pointed out that the purpose of the Kabbalah is often misunderstood, and sometimes even deliberately misrepresented. A popular misconception is that the study of Kabbalah will turn you into a psychic (or at least a clairvoyant!) capable of otherworldly abilities. Frankly, this is hogwash, along with the other numerous false notions.
The ultimate purpose in the study of Kabbalah is the perfection of the self. Making one's self into a better person -- more G-dly, more attuned to one's essence and roots. That's what Kabbalah comes to offer those who truly wish to receive it.
The Written Torah and its accompanying interpretation is the "body" of Judaism, while Kabbalah is the "soul." "Kabbalah," which means "reception," implies two things: 1) The Kabbalah is a tradition that was received by one master and transmitted to his students, from generation to generation, and 2) in order to understand and appreciate Kabbalah, one must become a "receiver" and empty one's self of all preconceived notions.
The soul of Judaism is not an entity separate from the Torah. Rather, it has always been an intrinsic part of the Torah as a whole. It is the mystical dimension of the Torah, which glorifies the exterior.
The early Kabbalists were known as "men of toil." Their exertions were not of the physical sort, though they labored throughout their lifetimes to improve themselves and elevate their consciousness to the point of being able to physically perceive the spiritual within the physical.
With the arrival of the Baal Shem Tov this notion took on fresh meaning. The founder of Chassidism made the path of personal improvement a practical, hands-on possibility to all Jews, not just the intellectual elite.
Face of Justice (paraša Jitro)
Zohar II:70a, Razin d'Razin, translation and commentary by Moshe Miller
Before Moses returned to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of their slavery, he sent his wife and children back to the house of his father-in-law Jethro. Now, after the redemption Jethro and Moses' wife and children come to meet him in the desert. There, Jethro sees Moses single-handedly judging the people and teaching them G-d's laws and decrees for the entire day. Jethro advises Moses to delegate some of the responsibility by choosing men of stature to be judges and leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, etc...
Now see to it to select from among all the people men of stature who fear G-d, men of truth, who hate corruption.... (Ex. 18:21)
" This verse reveals matters that are top secret...."
It is written, "This is the book of the descendants of man [literally 'of Adam'] on the day G-d created him in the image of G-d." (Gen. 5:1). "This is the book" from among those deeply cryptic books [that were given to Adam]. Rabbi Shimon [bar Yochai] said: I have raised my hands in prayer to He Who created the universe. Even though this verse reveals matters that are top secret, one should examine and analyze the secrets found in the Book of Adam, from which the concealed work of King Solomon were drawn.
" King Solomon...concealed this wisdom within the books that he wrote...."
There are two possible interpretations of this: 1) that King Solomon wrote a work that was subsequently concealed; 2) that he concealed this wisdom within the books that he wrote.... The latter seems to be the intention of the next paragraph.
This is the book that was given to Adam, [enabling him] to know the deep hidden wisdom of the human visage. This wisdom was also transmitted to King Solomon. He inherited [the tradition] and encoded it in his written works.
We learned that Moses was puzzled by this [see Menachot 29a] until the Divine Presence taught him by examining [together with him] the visages of all those men and selecting them [to be judges and leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties etc.]. It was then that Moses learned with wisdom and delved into it. This is the meaning of [the verse] "...Now see to it to select from among all the people...." You, and no other, should see to it - know how to look at 600,000 men [and select those worthy of leadership].
These were the 600,000 male adults who comprised the Israelite army at that time. They are the soul-roots of the entire Jewish people.
" There are six aspects of a person's countenance that need to be examined...."
There are six aspects of a person's countenance that need to be examined (and know this wisdom clearly). They are: the hair, the eyes, the nose, the lips, the face itself, and the hands - that is, the lines of the hands.
The Zohar now analyzes the verse in greater detail and includes details that were not mentioned previously:
"Now see to it" - look at the hair [which includes] the lines on the forehead and the eyebrows.sup "From among all the people" - the eyessup [which includes] the layers of the eyes [i.e. the pupil, iris, and the white of the eye] and the lines under the eye. "Men of stature" - those who have the ability to stand in the halls of the King [this alludes to] the glow of the face,sup at the face itself, [and] the lines and folds of the face, and the beard. "Who hate corruption..." - the hands, the lines and marks of the hands.sup
All of these six aspects alluded to here [in the verse] were given to Moses to see - to get to know this hidden wisdom. This wisdom is inherited by the truly righteous tzaddikim. Happy is their lot!
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai "the Rashbi" (2nd Century CE). Rabbi Shimon was one of the main students of Rabbi Akiva. Author of the Zohar, buried in Meron, Israel, west of Safed.
Rabbi Moshe Miller a guest teacher at Ascent when he lived in Israel, was born in South Africa and received his yeshiva education in Israel and America. He is a prolific author and translator, with some twenty books to his name on a wide variety of topics, including a new, authoritative, annotated translation of the Zohar. He currently lives in Chicago.
by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
Kabalistički Tu Bišvat proslavljen u nedjelju navečer
Jerusalem Post., Feb. 13, 2006
U nedjelju, u predvečerje Tu Bišvata, tisuće su obitelji, nadahnute kabalom, održale ceremonijal jedenja voća. Tah običaj koji su razvili kabalisti iz Safeda tijekom 16. i 17. stoljeća, uključuje 30 vrsta voća koje se jede uz čitanje odlomaka klasičnog mističnog teksta, Zohara, ili "Knjige sjaja"
Prema rabi Yitzhak Batzriju, postoje tri grupe od po 10 plodova voćki. Svaka grupa od deset plodova odnosi se na drugi od svjetova. Svijet postupanja (asija) predstavljaju plodovi s korom ili ljuskom, kao što su orasi ili limuni. U tom svijetu, povezanost s B-gom je nemoguća. To se prikazuje vanjskom ljuskom ili korom.
Svijet formiranja (jecira) predstavljen je plodovima s košticom, što simbolizira svijet u kojem je B-žja unutarnja bit skrivena.
Svijet stvaranja (brija) predstavljen je plodovima poput grožđa ili smokava, koji nemaju velikih koštica. U tom svijetu postoji samo dobrota.
Batzri je rekao da je običaj ispijanja četiri čaše vina - jedne bijelog vina, jedne bijelog vina s kapljicom crnog vina, jedne crnog vina s kapljicom bijelog vina i jedne crnog vina - uveden kasnije od strane sekularnih Židova i da nije dio izvorne ceremonije.
Tradicionalne ortodoksne obitelji, uglavnom sefardske, slave taj običaj generacijama. U hasidskim krugovima, običaj je održati ceremoniju na velikim skupovima s rebeom.
U Tel Avivu, u Awareness Centeru, kabalističku su ceremoniju održali učenici rabi Mordechaija Sheinbergera za više od 100 ljudi, od kojih su mnogi bili sekularni. Sheinberger je bio učenik rabi Yehuda Ashlaga, koji je napisao tumačenje Zohara nazvanog Hasulam, "Ljestve," i on koristi kabalu kako bi privukao sekularne Židove judaizmu.
Prema Davidu Agmonu, koji je organizirao ceremoniju u Tela Avivu, točni detalji gozbe za Tu Bišvat su nejasni.
"Arizal, rabi Yitzhak Luria Ashkenazi (1534-1572), neka je blagosloveno sjećanje na njega, nikada nije održao takvu gozbu. Tek dvije generacije kasnije njegovi su učenici počeli tako slaviti. Tijekom godina nadodavani su još razni običaji.
"Mi koristimo vino jer ono čini ljude sretnima. Uz B-žju pomoć nećemo griješiti."
Što je kabala?
"Kabbalah" - Jewish Mysticism; basic book is the "Zohar," written by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in the Second Century, CE, while in hiding from the Romans. He was recording an ancient tradition, much less known because of its esoteric nature. Despite this aspect, it is understandable, and meaningful, apparently, for average Jews who delve into it, as its popularity in Chassidut demonstrates. On the other hand, on its deepest levels, it is somewhat dangerous, as we see from the account of the four great scholars who "entered the PARDES," from which only one; namely, Rabbi Akiva, emerged whole in mind and soul. "PARDES" is an acronym, representing the four basic branches of Torah knowledge, the "S" corresponding to "Sod," Secret, as "Torat HaSod," the Secret Torah, is another name for Kabbalah.
Rabbi Yaacov Haber's Torah Insights
In Kabbalah there is a concept called "awakening from above" and there is another concept called "awakening from below". "Awakening from below" means that sometimes we, down here, can take an action that prompts G-d above to react.
What triggered the Exodus from Egypt? I heard an astonishing Medrash from Rabbi Yissachar Frand. The Medrash says that when Moshe was young, living in the palace of Pharaoh, he removed his princely garments and went out into the field to try to help his fellow-Jews make bricks and mortar. Moshe was unable to stand idly by in the palace while his brothers were suffering. He felt the urge and the need to join them. He wanted to be a part of their pain. G-d, according to the Medrash, said to him: "You left your comforts to participate in the pain of Israel, I will do the same!"
Moshe's personal, emotional participation in the pain of Israel was an act of "awakening from below" which caused G-d to respond from Heaven. The ultimate result was redemption.
When one Jew worries about another - when he cannot sleep well because another Jew is not sleeping well - then that prompts G-d to take action.
We are living through a historical time for Eretz Yisroel. Jews are in danger and Yerushalayim is in danger. Perhaps we need some isarusa d'lsato or awakening from below. All those concerned about Eretz Yisroel need to think together about what we can do to spiritually trigger a response from Heaven.
The rise and fall of Yerushalayim has always been directly tied in to our unity. Being that Yerushalayim belongs to all the tribes of Israel, if the tribes are split, then so is Yerushalayim.
Unity today is a very tricky business. The various branches of Judaism have become very sophisticated. They have become very independent and feel that they can go it alone. Tolerance is at an all-time low. The disparities between different types of Jews have become so pronounced that it is difficult for one Jew to relate to another. So how is this Mitzvah of unity done?
Last June the famous television show "60 minutes" aired a report called "Whose Country Is It?" Following is an exact quote from that show. "The fact of life in the Middle East today is that Israel is less threatened by its Arab neighbors than at any time in its history. It has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, its war with Lebanon is over and its border with Syria is quiet and has been for a few decades. Has peace really come to the Middle East? Not really. Israelis are still at war with themselves. The issue: whose country is it?" They show a picture of a war between a shtreimal and a baseball cap while Zev Chefetz says "We are not really connected to one another, we are not really part of the same people." Politically, so much has changed since last June. Yet nothing has changed.
How do we do the mitzvah of achdus? We keep in mind that a Jew is a Jew - period.
Hear are a few practical sestions.
When hearing of a casualty in Israel, G-d forbid, resist the urge to ask what kind of Jew it was.
When asked what kind of Jew you are, define yourself in the positive. Most people are identified by what they are against. This is destructive and probably Lashon Hara.
Think of some positive aspect of every group of Jews. This was the custom of the holiest Tzadikkim. Even if a particular lifestyle does not suit you, the group is contributing something positive to the general cause. This exercise is difficult but it can refine and purify our entire thinking process.
Family is family and all Jews are brothers and sisters, whether we like them or not. Let's do our part to keep the family together.
Kabala borbe, napisao Lazer Gurkow
Ovotjedna paraša otpočinje B-žjom zapovijedi Mošeu da dođe Faraonu i naloži mu da oslobodi Židovski narod od ropstva. Zašto je B-g rekao Mošeu da dođe k Faraonu a ne da otiđe Faraonu? Zohar odgovara da su Faraonova aura i moć nadvladale Mošea, te se on bojao ući u Faraonove odaje. B-g je tada uzeo Mošea za ruku i pozvao ga da dođe (zajedno samnom) k Faraonu.
Zohar također uči da sila da se suprotstavi B-gu dolazi upravo od samoga B-ga. Mi ljudi izabiremo da li ćemo upotrijebiti silu koju nam je darovao B-g da služimo njemu ili ćemo silu koju nam on daje iskoristiti da mu se suprotstavimo. Faraonovo suprotstavljanje B-gu bilo je žestoko. Da bi u tome uspio on je nesvjesno uposlio intenzivna područja B-žanske sile.
U tom smislu hebrejska riječ Faraon prevodi se kao "otkriven", odnosno neobrađena B-žja moć da otkrije svoj sjaj. Upravo ista ona moć koja omogućava B-gu da otkrije svoj sjaj, omogućuje B-gu da sakrije (povuče natrag) svoj sjaj, dajući na taj način čovjeku moć da ospori njegovo postojanje. I to je upravo ono što je Faraon izabrao učiniti.
Kada je Moše ušao u Faraonove odaje, preplavila ga je moćna božanstvena aura, iako nitko drugi u prostoriji, uključujući i Faraona, nije to bio u stanju osjetiti. B-g ga je tada uzeo za ruku i pozvao da ponovno uđe. Ovaj poziv je osnažio Mošea da se suoči s Faraonom i na kraju doveo do posljednje tri pošasti, koje su djelovale poput nagovještaja Židovskog izbavljenja.
U služenju B-gu često snažne prepreke ometaju naš put. Naprimjer, šef se zaprijeti da će nas otpustiti ukoliko ne pristanemo raditi na Šabat. Reprezentativna tvrtka odbija nas zaposliti dok ne prihvatimo da ćemo jesti na njihovim ne-košer domjencima. Bliska prijateljica spremna nas je odbaciti ako otkrije da se držimo zakona o obiteljskoj čistoći. Možemo li se i mi, također, suočiti s našim preprekama i odvažno živjeti prema našim načelima i vrijednostima? Tko zna, možda je baš to nagovještaj našeg vlastitog izbavljenja!
S kabalom oprezno!
Literaturu o kabali treba koristiti s krajnjim oprezom. Postoji puno previše literature pod imenom "kabala" koji nemaju ništa zajedničko s istinskim Židovskim učenjem o tom predmetu.
Za one koji se kabalom žele baviti na akademskom nivou preporučujem djela profesora Gershom Scholema, čija su djela prihvaćena kako od strane Židova tako i od nežidova.
Za osobni i iskustveni pristup židovskom misticizmu i kabali tu su radovi Aryeh Kaplana.