What is God

To begin our study of Kabbalah, let’s start at the beginning….. with G-d.

(NOTE: I use the spelling G-d instead of God as a way of respecting and honoring Him. I also use “Him” or “It” out of my own personal preferance but you are free to use “it”, “her”, “they”, etc. according you your own personal preferances and beliefs.)

To understand the concept of G-d within Kabbalah, the right question to ask is WHAT is G-od, and not WHO is G-d. In the beginning, before creation there was The All. The Great Nothingness. Pitch black darkness with no limit and no end.

The All was a consciousness.

Let’s define the term “consciousness”.

Consciousness – Webster’s Dictionary – the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings. Awareness of one’s own existence.

So in the beginning, there was a consciousness that was aware of It’s existence. The All has no beginning or no end, and no limit to It’s existence. In Kabbalah, this is called Ein Sof (depending on the Kabbalah tradition you are following, the spelling may be different. Example: Ain Sof), “The Nameless Being”.

At some point, for a reason we still are not aware of, Ein Solf, which was pure Darkness, decided that creation must begin. But in order for creation to exist, it must have Light. Using the language of consciousness, The Hebrew Language and alphabet, Ein Sof used the sound of the letter Bet to begin creating.

Bet is the creative letter in Hebrew. It creates. Hence being the first letter of Torah (the bible).

With the booming sound of Bet, Ein Sof contracted just a small potion of Itself to allow the birth of Light (Ohr). This contraction is Tzimzum (contraction, constriction). The Light (Orh) begin to flow (shefa) outward at the sound of Bet into what we now call The Universe, causing space to be created for creation. This was the beginning of Orh Ein Sof, The Inifinite Light.

The Orh, Light, is a vessel (Kli). Kli directs Orh to descend, but Orh’s natural inclination is to ascend. To return to Ein Sof. It it Orh (the Light) that encourage creation to seek Unity with G-d. The Orh inbues all aspects of creation with an innate desire to return to Source.

This can become a challenge for beginning Kabbalists. We discover Orh (The Light) and think “AH! We got it! We found Unity with G-d. We reached the target.” But becoming aware of The Light (Orh) is just the awakening of awareness within it. It is recognition of the ascent to Ein Sof. This can often be a stumbling block for beginners.
(even me LOL)

(NOTE: In some Kabbalah traditions it is spelled as Aur instead of Orh)

When Ein Sof created Light, It became Orh Ein Sof, The manifested or unfolding consciousness.

The Light was actually the Hebrew Letters. Creation was engraved/created with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. With the continual use of the Letters, Light continues it course of creation. They are often reflects for the Divine Emanations known as The Sefirot. They are living letters filled with consciousness of G-d.

The Sefirot are the building blocks of The Universe.
This is a very simplified explanation of these concepts, and what G-d is.

I encourage you to do the research and learn more into these fascinating concepts within Kabbalah.

As always, if you have any questions, just ask. 🙂

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The Way

Kabbalah is not just a spiritual practice, or way of life, but a path of discovering who you truly are.

Kabbalah found me at a time when I wasn’t looking for it. It came just as I was moving into a new apartment with no hint of what was to come.

I had tried to learn Kabbalah prior to this. I had read many books, or tried to, that are found in many bookstores. The problem with those books was the feeling that something was being left out. Only I didn’t know exactly what was being left out.

Out of frustration I gave up.

I’m not the only one who goes through this frustration. There are many people that I have come across over the years who have a desire to learn but end up frustrated, and not knowing why.

So now back to moving into a new apartment. A little over a month after moving into the new apartment one of my two cats passed away. And then in December of the same year, my beloved Grandmother passed away.

Talk about Dark Night of the Soul. I experienced that moment in ways that I never expected. Not only did I have to deal with the financial aspect of things, I also had to deal with the emotional impact of the loss then I was facing. To say that I was in a state of depression is putting it very mildly.

So I ended up disconnecting from the internet, and no distractions. No television, no radio, no DVDs, no nothing. No distractions whatsoever. Alone with my emotions and my thoughts and my grief and my suffering and missing my grandmother more than words could ever express.

I was lost.

Then as fate would have it, I discovered a file folder on my computer hard drive. I had downloaded a bunch of PDFs on various topics before I disconnected from the internet. Lo and behold one of those files that I downloaded was a bunch of PDF books and articles on Kabbalah.

And not just any Kabbalah. Kabbalah from the traditional Jewish perspective. It was like finding a gold mine. A treasure that I didn’t know I had just waiting for me to discover.

I immediately dug in, and realized that I had found something that I had been looking for. I knew I had been searching for something for many many years. I just didn’t know what. I could never put a name on it. It was just a feeling. It was a knowing that something was missing. A feeling of being lost but not knowing that I’m lost.

I’m not exactly sure how to describe what I was feeling, and had been feeling for many years.

From the moment I opened the first PDF file, I knew that I had found what I had lost. Or maybe it found me.. Or maybe we found each other at just the right moment. Whatever the case may be the feeling of being lost was over. I had found what I was looking for even though I didn’t understand even the basics of Kabbalah. It was just an inner knowing. A recognition.

I’m still a baby in regards to Kabbalah, and then in writing these posts, and sharing what I’m learning, or maybe asking questions, maybe it will not only help others but it will help me in learning.

The one thing I do know about Kabbalah is that it is about light, love, and peace. Kabbalah is about peace and being The Peacemaker. It is about sowing light into not only yourself but into the environment around you. That is a very difficult thing to do.

To be The Peacemaker you have to also be love because without love nothing is going to work… and love is often something extremely difficult that we can give to ourself. But in Kabbalah you have to express love, true unconditional love, to yourself first.

In today’s world, The Peacemaker is a rare individual. The Peacemaker is not the one who screams the loudest or demands whatever they believe they’re entitled to. The Peacemaker is the one who observes and listens. Then based on the observation and what is heard, The Peacemaker looks for ways to bring the light of Peace into the situation. The Peacemaker always looks for the best solution for everyone involved. There is no I, or me, or self. There is we and us. Together.

Recognizing the Divinity within each and every one of us. Recognizing Divinity within us as a unifying whole. Recognizing Unity because we are truly one entity. And when we recognize that we are one entity, we will seek the way of peace and the way that is good for everyone in the situation.

This is Kabbalah.

The Return

The interesting thing about life is the unseen, or the ignored. In my case, the ignored is the choice.

Whrn my Grandmother passef away, I had no idea of the chaos and beauty that was ahead of me. Being “low income” and dealing with the financial aspect of things brought me to a new low.

I chose to disconnect from the internet for a “few months” to help with the expenses, but time went on and more was added. Thus prolonging what I call The Hermitage.

In the midst of this, literal miracles happened that resulted in some past wounds being healed, and showed me that this time in my life was meant to be…. for however long it took.

I am online unexpectedly in a round about way. My phone decided it didn’t the network upgrades, and that meant I had to get a new phone.

Woahhhh it had the intetwebs, facebook and all those goodies! Yes I graduated from a java based phone to an el-cheapo smartphone. Hence my unexpected return.

I have much to share.

So get ready for the posting fest to come! 😄

Kabbalah – Before We Begin

Kabbalah – Before We Begin

For many years, I had a desire to learn Kabbalah. Like many of you, I headed toward the New Age/Occult/Magick sections of bookstores only to end up frustrated and throwing the book across the room while yelling random curses! Very little was explained and something always seemed as though it was missing. The books seemed for those “in the know” but left out anything and everything for beginners… even while claiming to be a book for beginners! GRRRR!

Then my Grandmother died. I chose to disconnect from the internet to deal with paying her expenses with my limited small income. Before I disconnected, I downloaded many pdf’s… and unknowingly, downloaded quite a few on Kabbalah.

So there I am.

Internetless and browsing thru the pdf’s.

There I see it.

A folder full of stuff on Kabbalah…

BUT WAIT!

Not just Kabbalah, but very very very Traditional Jewish Kabbalah!

I dug in and went OH MY STARS!

Everything that had been missing was right there.

Everything that had been left out of the New Age/Occult/Magick books on Kabbalah was right there.

Everything!

And that is when I learned something very important. To understand Kabbalah fully one must know the history of Kabbalah. That is your starting place. This will lay the building blocks of your foundation to understanding Kabbalah.

Here comes MY PERSONAL definition.

There are two branches within Kabbalah.

The logical/rational/intellectual

and

The esoteric/occult/mystical/magickal

To understand Kabbalah, one must know BOTH since they BOTH work hand-in-hand TOGETHER with a good overview of the HISTORY of Kabbalah!

The logical/rational/intellectual approach tends to LEAVES OUT the esoteric/occult/mystical/magickal.

The esoteric/occult/mystical/magickal approach tends to LEAVES OUT the logical/rational/intellectual.

BOTH APPROACHES ARE NEEDED!

Both sides tends to throw the baby out with the bath water, as the old saying goes. So through out this study, we will attempt to approach learning Kabbalah from BOTH sides to find the middle ground where understanding can grow, and to help us along in our journey.

To begin, let’s start with step #1:

THROW OUT (OR AT LEAST LOCK THEM IN A CHEST FAR, FAR, FAR AWAY FROM YOU) ALL BOOKS ON KABBALAH FROM THE NEWAGE/OCCULT/MAGICKAL WESTERN KABBALISTIC PERSCPECTIVE TEMPORARILY!!!

Step #2:

Let’s learn a little history! Yayyy!

How did Kabbalah begin?

  1. Ask modern day Western Kabbalists and they will declare that Kabbalah began with Moshe de Leon in Spain and the writing of Zohar.
  2. Ask a Rabbi and they will say it began with Abraham.
  3. Ask a historian and they will say, “we don’t know”.

Answer #3 is the most likely answer. The problem revolves around Moshe de Leon. Did he create Kabbalah or did he discover Kabbalah like he claimed? After his death, Rabbi Yitzchak of Acco, went to see the original manuscripts only to be told by de Leon’s widow that it was all a creation of de Leon and he never discovered any old manuscripts.

Rabbi Yitzchak of Acco was a disciple of Ramban, and wanted to confirm what de Leon had sworn under oath…. that the manuscripts were real, and to know if de Leon was pulling a big con job to get money. The story of his visit was written in Sefer HaYuchasin.

Most Rabbi’s AND historians agree that Mrs. de Leon was most likely lying due to her own personal illiteracy.

In that time period (late 1200s to early 1300s), paper was valuable.

Old manuscripts, written on pieces of parchment, etc. could all be sold to be reused or made into kindling for fire. A widow who needed money could have very well sold any paperwork left behind by deceased spouse. Not realizing the paper had real value, it would have been easy for it to have been sold. It was a typical behavior of the time period.

That is what Rabbi’s and historians believe happened in this case, and poor Mrs. de Leon was too embarrassed by the situation to admit what she had done. So she decided to claim it was all a lie.

Everyone BUT Western-based Kabbalists believe this to be the real story behind Moshe de Leon and Kabbalah. AND it is very plausible that this is the real story because there were students of Kabbalah BEFORE, and DURING, the time de Leon allegedly to have created it. Those students had seen the original manuscripts and CONFIRMED that the publication by de Leon WAS those manuscripts! Many Rabbi’s of de Loen’s time was overjoyed to see this book published but also fearful because of the Inquisition and the persecution of the Jews in Spain.

So if de Leon didn’t create the Zohar, who did?

Kabbalah began as an Oral Law within Judaism. Part of the Zohar was written by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi) and called “The First Mishna”. It was written during the 13 year hiding period of Rabbi Shimon and his son from the Roman occupation in a cave.

The remainder of the Zohar was written by various disciples of Rashbi over many, many generations except for one portion written by Rabbi Abba.

Some think that Ramban sent them by his son to de Leon. Others think the manuscripts were hidden in a vault and discovered by an Arabian King who sent to the de Leon to be translated. Others think that they were discovered in Heidelberg by Spanish conquistadors.

The Zohar has had quite a dramatic history!

But why should we care?

Because it gives a basis to understanding the branches. It is through the two branches I mentioned earlier that you will find yourself leaning toward, and becoming a part of one of the many smaller branches within Kabbalah. It also gives a basis for understanding how the branches work, and why they work. Which in turn determines the path you take in Kabbalah. And the added bonus is that you will be able to explain to others about Kabbalah with confidence.

But why should we care!?

Let’s talk two branches.

The logical/rational/intellectual branch says all that stuff prior to de Leon is old school. We’re new school and the new school is theoretical and philosophical. It is about teaching us to become better people and be a better person toward others. It is about the mind, our thinking caps and how to use our thinking caps in much better ways. And since we have NO WAY of knowing God, we can use the tool God gave us – our brain/intellect – to make better choices in life, in the here and now. (Rav. Michael Laitman is a good example for this branch)

The esoteric/occult/mystical/magickal branch says all that stuff prior to de Leon is a gold mine of Oral Law, the Key to unlocking the mysteries of Unity of God as well as how to be a better person, and how to be a better person toward others. It is a treasury of how to get answer to prayer and spiritual grow. It is the bread and butter of Law of Attraction that makes modern day Law of Attraction seem like a jackass! (All the prophets in the Bible, The Golden Dawn, A.E. Waite, Madonna, etc. are good examples of this branch)

Understanding each branch gives us an overview of the whole which allows us to make the best decision possible for the path that we wish to take in Kabbalah.

NOTE:

Westernized Kabbalah IS NOT a bad thing BUT to understand it one must put it away temporarily.

I would highly encourage you to research the history of Kabbalah on your own.

If you have any questions, just ask! 🙂