Thursday, February 10, 2005

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Some thoughts on Kabbalah

(From some answers I posted on another blog which I think makes some good general points about Kabbalah...)

Through the course of history, there have been nine major famines; immediately before the Messianic Age, there will be a tenth. But the hunger pangs will be of a different sort, as the prophet (Amos 8:11) said, "Behold, days are coming, said G-d, the Lord, when I will send hunger to the world; not a hunger for bread, and not a thirst for water - but to hear the words of G-d." (Bereishit Rabba on Gen. 25:3, Gen. 40:3, and Gen. 64:2)

Eliyahu (Elijah) the Prophet said to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (author of the Zohar): Many people down below will derive nourishment from this book of yours [the Zohar], when it will be revealed [finally] in the last generation, before the End of Days. But it has been already been revealed for hundreds of years!? Close to the Messianic Age, however, even the deepest passages will be explained. (Tikunei Zohar, end of Tikun 6, Kisei Melech, ibid.)

(Quotes from KabbalaOnline.Org, here in this article.)

In discussions of End of Days prophecies according to Jewish tradition, Rabbi Yess (his somewhat confusing site here) brings this well known idea...

Whenever a great influx of Holiness occurs it is opposed by spiritual impurity...

It should be apparent to anyone that if you are given the wrong directions you will never get to your proper destination...

Religion is a real good business. Convince enough people that you know all about Him (Upstairs) and that you speak with knowledgeable authority about G-d’s Wishes and you have made yourself a power to be reckoned with in any society. Lotsa money in it too.

We live in a confusing time. More information that we could possibly absorb in a lifetime available at our fingertips. War. Cultural conflicts. Mass facts and news from around the world.

Kabbalah is an exceedingly complex philosophical - religious - mystical - theological system, the deepest, most complex, most hidden part of Judaism. It's sufficiently complex that it has historically recommended that people not become involved in it until age 40 and having a firm and complete foundation in Jewish religious texts [specifically the tanach (old testament and prophets), talmud (jewish legal-philosphical-oral tradition), and shulchan aruch (jewish law)].

Given the complexity however, it's cool stuff. In today's world, science presents itself as knowing all (except when it doesn't, see this). All that G-d, religion and soul stuff seems a bit old fashioned.

Along comes Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical system, that has a thorough, complete and complex spiritual system that rivals the awe inspiring complexity of science. You got quarks and super-strings, we've got sephirot and divine energy channels. You've got the big bang, universal expansion and curved space, we've got tzimtzum (divine energy contractions), the Or En Sof (the infinite light), and the Kav (the light-channel from the creator and the infinite to the finite).

Finally, G-d can stand on his own against science. And that's a good thing. Suddenly, the majority of people who have successfully been convinced that G-d is passe', that faith and belief was no longer enough in our complex scientific well defined over-stimulated world, have an option to hold their own and bolster faith and belief.

But, "Whenever a great influx of Holiness occurs it is opposed by spiritual impurity". Free will requires an option, reward requires difficulty in achievement.

It's Complex

It's pretty difficult to understand DNA. Try explaining it to a 10 year old (I have, it's not easy, don't think I've succeeded yet). There's a series of foundational concepts that are absolutely required to get even the most simplistic understanding.

Kabbalah is no different. This doesn't stop some salespeople from trying to sell advanced stuff without noting the foundation necessary for understanding or use.

It's Mixed Up

Kabbalah is different things, depending on who you buy it from. Are there people now making a living off selling this stuff? Definately. Any businessman wants to increase his sales. Package the material for maximum sales potential. Are there unscrupulous people doing their best to line their pockets? Yep.

It's difficult to sort the quality material, the true material, from the well packaged fluff. Even worse, the fluff is not hollow, since the origin is solid, but it's not solid on it's own.

This is perhaps the best way to destroy the 'hope' of Kabbalah in improving the world or improving the self, and sowing maximum confusion. Suddenly, Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical tradition of purity and holiness is selling Sexual Energy Kabbalah Candles??? [Hashem Yazo! G-d should Help & Protect Us from such stuff!]

Kabbalah can help in the current moral and directional challenges the world presents us with. But, both the current sales ploys going on and the complexity can also confuse you or obscure the truth.

Unfortunately, much of what's being sold is designed for sales, not for effect or for truth.

Each person is created B'Tzelem Elokim, in the image of G-d. Not of course physically, but in the ability to make decisions, do things, and communicate.

Someone might ask, what have you done that you deserve being listened to? G-d does constantly, creates and maintains the world. To be the image of G-d, one must also make a point of doing. Of course, we don't have unlimited resources, we have to work with what we have. Give a hand. Give a smile. Give a kind word. Help a friend. Help a neighbor. Help a stranger. Give some charity. Help a charity.

Do you have to do all those? No. Plus, we all have lives, work, families, children, parents. But one doesn't preclude the other, it may even facilitate it. Put those actions in the context of your work, home, family, neighborhood.

Then, having given, having helped, then pray. You have made yourself a partner in the goodness of creation, you've earned the right to speak with the main partner. In Kabbalistic terminology, you've created a vessel to receive and initiated an arousal from below, which should draw an arousal from above.

Don't think one can just open a book on Kabbalah and receive a mystical telephone line to the heavenly throne, or can find the mystical energey socket into which one can connect. Don't buy it! And I mean that both mentally and pocket-book wise.


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