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Kabbalah and Mysticism

As a preface to this one must understand "mysticism."  Mysticism is the pursuit of identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight. Mysticism usually centers on a practice or practices intended to nurture those experiences or awareness.

These Jews are in a futile situation where their earlier way to reach God through the temple worship is gone and the present way to reach God through His Messiah is rejected.  So they are on a quest to reach God who is the center of their religion on their own terms.  But God will only be reached by asking Him to reach out to us -- without conditions or pre-conceptions.

Kabbalah and Mysticism

The Jewish mystical tradition is diverse, and Jewish mysticism has taken many forms. Its underlying world view is Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist which leaves no room for Satan and his demons.  Any healings are dismissed by faith in the power of suggestion, closing the door on God making Himself known through miracles.   Scholar Moshe Idel groups the different expressions of Jewish mysticism into two fundamental types: moderate and intensive. Moderate mysticism is intellectual in nature. It is an attempt to understand God and God's world, and to ultimately affect and change the divine realm. This type of mysticism incorporates many aspects of traditional Judaism, including Torah study and the performance of the commandments, infusing these activities with mystical significance. Intensive mysticism, on the other hand, is experiential in nature. Intensive mystics use nontraditional religious activities, including chanting, visions, trances, raptures and meditation, in an attempt to commune with God.  This leaves their souls vulnerable to demonic influence.

Origins: The first forms of Jewish mysticism emerged in the early centuries of the first millenium. Merkavah mysticism was the most common early form. Merkavah mystics aimed at understanding and imagining the vision of the divine throne discussed in the first chapter of the biblical book of Ezekiel. Another form of early mysticism focused on speculating about methods that God used to create the world. Sefer Yetzirah, the most important work of creation mysticism, describes the creation of the world through the arrangements of letters and numbers instead of God.

Kabbalah and Hasidism: Kabbalah is the most famous form of Jewish mysticism. It grew in 13th century Spain with the writing of the Zohar, which was originally attributed to the 2nd century sage Shimon bar Yohai. The Zohar is a commentary on the Torah, concerned primarily with understanding the divine world and its relation to our world. According to kabbalah, God as God-also known as Ein Sof or "the Infinite"-cannot be comprehended by humans. However, they define God the unknown -- and the entire world and heavens --  in ten mystical attributes, or sefirot.  A second definition of sefirot is given the status of spiritual energies of which the universe -- and we -- are made.

Much of all future kabbalah, including the important 16th century kabbalah of Isaac Luria-whose intricate and fanciful theology of creation describes how God contracted to make room for the world -- concerns itself with the sefirot. Abraham Abulafia was the most famous of the medieval intensive mystics. He tried to achieve a state of prophecy on his own terms through methods of experiential kabbalah. Hasidism, a religious movement that emerged in the 18th century, spread mystical thinking and living to the masses of European Jewry by teaching that all people could have an experiential connection with "God."

The New Age: Traditional mystical concepts permeate mainstream Jewish thought to this day.  Examples are the notions of tikkun ha-olam, or repair of the world, and of tzimtzum, God's self-limiting.  Texts of mystical origin have penetrated Jewish liturgy (including Lecha Dodi, the Friday night hymn welcoming the Sabbath,and other liturgical poetry). In addition, the academic study of Jewish mysticism has flourished in recent decades, due primarily to the work of a single scholar, Gershom Scholem.  Scholem discovered and interpreted a wide range of mystical manuscripts and shed light on the origins and development of Jewish mysticism. With the emergence of New Age spirituality, Jewish mysticism has also experienced a popular renaissance. Jewish groups like the Renewal movement teach mysticism to spiritually inclined, nontraditional Jews, while controversial institutions such as the Kabbalah Centre offer a more universal and magical mysticism to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Through the millenia, Satan has imitated God to distract all people from what truth they had.  Thus the religions are corrupted or turned to evil to keep people in bondage to Satan.  The only exception is people who entirely follow God's Messiah and are given the Holy Spirit of God.  But they are given special attention by Satan who wants to entirely put out the light.

Much of this information came from http://jewish.com/ and Practical Kabbalah by Rabbi Laibl Wolf.