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Kabbalah - What's All The Fuss About?

by Rabbi Laibl Wolf


Library » Torah » Kabbalah » About | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Today, we are living in an era of gross materialism. While the sixties and early seventies were marked by youthful aspirations to change the nature of society, the eighties were a period of greed and egotism. The nineties has seen the pendulum swing across again as a reaction to the unnatural stance of materialism, leading to a period of spiritual search.

The human being is, by nature, a creature of the spirit. Just as Einstein demonstrated that the “flip side” of mass is energy, and as the quantum physicists have shown that matter is both wave and particle at the same time, the future insight will be that everything is spirituality at its core. So, a spiritual creature by nature, the human being will inevitably seek his essence. This is happening today.

But is the Kabbalah accessible? The Zohar predicted that a time would come when the “fountains of wisdom would burst open.” This was made possible through the rise and teachings of Chassidism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most specifically, the Chabad Rebbes have made these spiritual depths of Torah open to all. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem M. Schneerson, was adamant that women should have an even more profound understanding of these teachings in view of their changed roles in modern society.

The Kabbalah teaches that the primary human motivation is to transform two into one. This means to bridge the chasm of difference and create unity. Love is the epitome of this process
Modern approaches to the nature of human motivation began with Freudian teachings concerning the sexual drive, only to be upstaged by the Jungian model of a collective consciousness that we manifest through archetypes, which then gave way to Adlerian notions of seeking power, and on to the humanist psychologists like Maslow, and gestalt therapists, etc. Today, we find ourselves speaking of a transpersonal psychology. The Kabbalah teaches that the primary human motivation is to transform two into one.

This means to bridge the chasm of difference and create unity. Love is the epitome of this process.

To attain a loving and caring disposition requires sensitivity plus work on our inner selves. The detailed spiritual template with which Kabbalah equips us through Chassidic psychology affords a wonderful opportunity for personal refinement and growth. For example, love is primarily the product of the spiritual flow of Hessed (kindness). At the same time, an over-indulgent flow of love can overpower and repel — the very opposite of its intent. Hence, a person needs to become fluent in the practice of Gevurah — the spiritual capacity for self-containment.

These are but two of ten features on the spiritual template — a system that yields forty nine distinct emotions for self-exploration and self-mastery. An appropriate, consistent, and deep expression of love can manifest when we have identified and mastered our Mind and Heart. This is what a behavioral approach to Kabbalah can provide.

The manual of Torah, and especially its deepest understanding through Kabbalah and Chassidism, is an indispensable tool and technology to allow the Jewish soul to reach its fulfillment.


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Great article on Kabbalah

Posted by: Ralph Michael Brekan, Tempe, AZ on Jun 12, 2006

Those who enjoy Rabbi Wolfe's narartive will love his book "Practical Kabbalah; A Guide to Jewish Wisdom for Everyday Life." I've immensely enjoyed this book. It introduces the ten sefirot in a way that anyone can understand, appreciate and infuse these "lenses" into their lives.

The only footnote to this article I'd add, for the benefit of fellow Jews, is that the 49 sefirot of the traditional "ladder of light" directly correspond to the counting of the Omer. So in my humble and novice opinion, if you already count the Omer from Pesach to Shavuot, you're basically engaged in the study of pratical Kabbalah (as well as fulfilling a very important postive mitzvah).

But that's the basics, Rabbi Wolfe puts it best in his introduction when he writes, "To truly understand the Kabbalah one must spend a lifetime commited to study and prayer." That's great advice, and that's on page one. The entire book is relevant to everyday life and will improve your outlook on your life.


Posted by: A Catholic, Los Angeles, CA on Nov 04, 2006

Nice explanation. Kabbalism/Kabbalah is really interesting to non-Jews. Thanks.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Plural form of Rebbe. A Rebbe is a Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.