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
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
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
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.