• Kabbalah


    The Tree of Life, the depiction of the Sephiroth of the Kabbalah, is
    the primary symbolic pattern of modern Western occultism. It is
    greatly used even by organizations not of the Kabalistic traditions
    Each of the ten emanations within the Sephiroth is called a
    Sephirah, and together they form what is called the Tree of Life.
    This Tree is the central image of Kabalistic meditation; for again,
    each Sephiroth describes a certain aspect of God, and taken together
    as the Sephiroth they form the sacred name of God. The Tree also
    describes the path by which the divine spirit descended into the
    material world, and the path by which humankind must take to
    ascend to God.
    Kabbalah and Its History
    The Kabbalah, Hebrew for "that which is received" or "oral
    tradition," is the Latin transliteration of the Hebrew QBLH,
    "tradition," which means the message or lore was for centuries taught
    and passed on by mouth. This will be evident in the narration of its
    history.However, in order to avoid confusion and show the current
    importance of the Kabbalah one must look at its different spellings:
    Kabbalah, Cabala, and Qabalah. Some scholars and writers have
    made a distinction between the terms. Generally, Kabbalah, or
    Kabala, signifies the original, or pertaining to, Hebrew version;
    Cabala signifies the Christian version; and Kabbalah is used for the
    Hermetic version. Many because of the various differences found
    within have ignored such signification. In this article, Kabbalah will
    be used for all. Although the Kabbalah is founded on the Torah, the
    Jewish scriptures and other sacred writings, it is no intellectual
    discipline; and the mystic is not to practice it in solitude, but is to
    employ it to enlighten humanity. The Kabbalist seeks two things: a
    union with God while maintaining a social, family, and communal
    life within the framework of traditional Judaism. Those who have
    adopted the Kabalistic teachings have modified these latter aims.
    There are various legends concerning the origin of the Kabbalah, most
    maintain it came from God. Some say God gave it directly to Adam,
    while others claim God taught it to a select angelic group, sort of a
    theosophical school in Paradise. Afterwards the fallen angels taught
    it to Adam, the disobedient child on earth in order to furnish
    humankind with the means to return to their nobility and felicity. It
    then passed to Noah, to Abraham and Moses. Moses included the
    first four books of the Pentateuch, leaving out Deuteronomy, in the
    Kabbalah before he initiated seventy Elders into it. The Elders
    initiated others into it. It is thought that David and Solomon were
    Kabalistic adapts. Eventually the oral tradition ended and the
    knowledge was written down.
    It might be noted that from Abraham, who immigrated to Egypt and
    leaked some of the sacred teaching, the Egyptian s learned a portion
    of the knowledge. It was from Egypt that other Eastern acquired the
    knowledge and adopted it into their philosophical systems. Surely
    there is uncertainty of the adequacy of this lore, but it offers a
    plausible explanation as to the similarity between Eastern beliefs.
    Moses being privy to all Egyptian wisdom was first initiated into the
    Kabbalah in the land of his birth and later became more proficient in
    it during his wondering in the desert wilderness.
    As can be seen the Kabbalah is very much akin to Gnosticism. In
    both, sacred knowledge which God withheld from man was given to
    him by his adversary; the serpent in the Garden who tempted Eve,
    and the fallen angels who gave humankind the Kabbalah. In both
    cases knowledge, gnosis, knowledge of God, is regarded as the most
    important thing. Not possessing gnosis, not sin, is considered wrong
    because without such knowledge man cannot know God. Such
    knowledge is acquired through revelation, not learning. To know God
    is the purpose of the Kabbalah. Both Gnosticism and the teachings of
    the Kabbalah were popular in the countries of the eastern
    Mediterranean around and after Christ's time. Those holding to
    either teaching believed they were the "elect" because they were
    enlightened by possessing the knowledge of the divine; those possessing
    such knowledge were transformed-to know God is to be God. The first
    Kabalistic text having a known Author was written near the turn of
    the thirteenth century in Provence. This was a short treatise on the
    Safer Exira by Rabbi Isaac Ben Abraham the Blind. His father
    Rabbi Abraham of Posquierre wrote the initial critique of the
    Maimonides' Codes of Law. Rabbi Isaac became the central figure
    at the Kabalistic School in Provence as he was quoted for the next
    generation. Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) tells that God created
    the world by the means of thirty-two secret paths of knowledge, which
    are the ten Sephirah and the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew
    alphabet. It is believed the ten Sephirah forming the Sephiroth were
    originally thought as referring to numbers but later representing
    emanations from which the cosmos was formed. This worldview
    presented is presently found in the current interpretation of the
    Kabbalah. The next step in the Kabalistic development occurred in
    northern Spain through Rabbi Moses Ben Nachman, known as
    Nachmanides. His main concern was the confrontation of
    Christianity, and commented exclusively upon the Pentateuch. Others
    of this school, Gerona, wrote commentaries on both the Biblical and
    Talmudic texts thus joining teachings of the Book Bahir and the
    Provence Kabbalist into cohesion. In these writings, even though the
    authors knew the Kabalistic secrets, they presented Talmudic
    teachings without revealing the Kabalistic worldview. In the second
    half of the thirteenth century, the "ecstatic" or "prophetic" Kabbalah
    appeared which emphasized a visionary and experiential aspect relying
    on novel approaches to the Hebrew alphabet and numbers as sources of
    the divine truth. These conceptions were mainly those of Rabbi
    Abraham Abulafia, a lonely mystic wanderer, and represent the
    mystic tendencies among the Kabbalist instead of theosophical and
    traditional speculations. Among his disciples was Rabbi Joseph
    Gikatilla, who later joined Rabbi Moses de Leon the author of the
    Zohar. Gikatilla wrote a major presentation of the Kabalistic
    worldview, The Gates of Great Light, summarizing the Kabalistic
    teachings according to the Sephiroth. This about ended the creativity
    and influence of the medieval Kabbalah before it migrated Italy,
    Germany, and the east, and became a meaningful, but still esoteric
    and marginal, component of Jewish religious culture. An important
    development in Kabbalah teaching also occurred, in pre-Laurianic
    Kabbalah there was thought to be an unbroken connection from en sof
    and the physical universe. However, Lauria conceived tzimtzum that
    is EN SOF performed contraction in order to make room for
    Creation. In other words, God or his "supreme will" contracted his
    "light" or "thought" in order to make "empty space" in the physical
    universe for his creation. Light and thought are in parenthesis because
    they are view as attributes; different writers performed each by which
    creation. Some hold tzimtzum never occurred; it is impossible, but
    used as a metaphor for human comprehension. The spreading of the
    Kabbalah was hastened by the Spanish expulsion of the Jews in
    1492.Throughout Europe the Kabbalah was read more publicly.
    Given much credit for its European influence is Isaac Luria
    Ashkenzia (1534-1572), called Ari, who as a student of the great
    Kabbalist Moses Cordovero (1522-1570) conceived bold new
    terminology and complex symbolism. To this, he introduced letter
    combinations as a medium for meditation and prayer. From this
    emerged the Hasidic movement making the Kabbalah accessible to the
    masses. The Hasidim are the only branch of modern Judaism still
    maintaining mystical practices. The principle figure of this emergence
    is Israel Ben Eleazar (1698-1760), called Baal Shem Tov "Master
    of the Holy Name," whose teaching centered on devekuth, or cleaving
    to God, but in a more personal way than before. The Hasidic
    movement of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries stressed a
    Kabalistic panentheistic system, a belief that God is in everything, as
    opposed to pantheism, God is everything. This had good and bad
    effects. Initially a priest led each unit in the movement, a spiritual
    one with possibly messianic intentions who became a charismatic
    preacher, a holy one. He was called a zaddik. Most of the founders
    of Hasidism were in Madrid were such a system functioned well, but
    when expanding throughout Europe difficulties arose. A major one
    was the idea that the only processor to a holy one could be a son of a
    holy one. Eventually this became absurd, realizing there were other
    righteous or charitable men who could lead besides a son of a zaddik,
    so the term took on new meaning.
    Composition of the Sephiroth
    The Sephiroth may be viewed as God reaching out to humankind.
    Each Sephirah with the Sephiroth is an emanation of an attribute of
    God. Many have described the Sephiroth in various ways, two are
    prominent: the four worlds and the higher man, or Adam Kadmon.
    With the description of the worlds is the more specific description of
    the four levels of worlds. Included within this latter description are
    the highest world which is the world of emanation (atzilut), next is the
    world of Creation (beniah), then the world of formation (yetsod), and
    culminating with the world of action (asiyah).It is claimed the
    Isaiah 43:7 establishes the foundational proof for the existence of the
    four worlds: "All that is called by My Name, for my Kavod (Glory)
    I created it, I formed it, yes I made it." The word asiyah shares
    the meanings of "making" and "acting." The structure of the
    Sephiroth can be from top, the first Sephirah Kether, to bottom,
    Malkuth, and the last Sephirah or vice versa. The direction in which
    the structure is viewed tells what action is taking place between God
    and man. When viewed from top to bottom one sees that God is
    reaching out or letting himself be known to man. Viewed in reverse
    order, bottom to top, one sees man's attempted ascension to God.
    Either way, the purpose is the same, the union of God and man,
    which is the ultimate purpose of the Kabbalah. Each Sephirah within
    the Sephiroth is an emanation of an attribute of God, the
    manifestation of the divine attribute. The first or top Sephirah is
    Kether. Kether is called the "crown" or "supreme crown." Kether is
    the essence of God. The naming of describing of the essences of each
    Sephirah, an attribute of God, is just metaphorical since God has no
    attributes or in the case of Kether, no essence. God is spiritual; he is
    nothing while being everything. This is why in Kether God is
    described as ain, nothingness, and ENSOF, absolute. God is
    nothingness but absolute and without end. God is the uncreated entity,
    nothing exists without him, and he is existence itself. However, this
    nothingness and inclusive existence is not all that compose Kether.
    Within this nothingness and absolute are every attribute of God that
    will be manifested in the lower Sephirahs. The non-essence and
    essence of Kether is Biblically verified: "I AM THAT I AM," a
    necessary ontological principle (Exodus 3:14); "I am the first and I
    am the last and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, can
    proclaim-let him declares it, and set it in order for me…Is there a
    God beside me? Yea, there is no rock (necessary being beside me)."
    (Isaiah 44:6-8) "Before me there was no God formed (manifested),
    neither shall any be after me…I am God." (Ibid. 43:10, 13).
    From Kether comes Chokmah, the Second Sephirah. Chokmah
    signifies divine thought, meditation, and/also art. Like Kether,
    Chokmah contains contradictions or opposites without any division or
    friction; since God is ain, nothingness, as well as en sof, absolute,
    there in him can be no division, an absolute is an absolute, which is
    why in numerology the number one signifies God. So too, in
    Chokmah, representing, metaphorically divine thought and
    meditation, there is no difference between God knowing himself and
    having knowledge of his being, his essence, because God is knowledge,
    the essence of knowledge. God, the essence of divine knowledge in
    Kether, is the emanation of divine knowledge in Chokmah without
    leaving Kether. This seems impossible to human understanding but it
    must be true; since God is an absolute, an absolute is by nature
    indivisible, then one part of him cannot be in Chokmah and not in
    Kether; that divine part or attribute must equally be in both. This
    statement holds true for every divine attribute and Sephirah; they are
    God equally and in the same way. Therefore, all divine attributes are
    equally present in every Sephirah; it is only metaphorically that each
    Sephirah manifests a different attribute Chokmah is chiefly the
    manifestation of divine thought, contemplation. A better description of
    divine thought is stating what it is not; it is not a process, in this
    way it is unlike human thought. Human thought is a process of
    collecting, sorting, and forming knowledge, which usually accepts,
    rejects, and/or transforms it into new or different knowledge. Divine
    thought has no process such as is embodied in human thought; no, one
    might say it is instantaneous. God thought and it was. This is why
    according to Kabalistic teaching Creation occurred at once. This is
    the mystery of Creation; there was nothing, and there was everything.
    Within this mystery of Creation is the mystery of man; God thought
    and man was fashioned. Essentially this all is in the mystery of
    Chokmah: Chokmah is the One; it knows only, or is the thought of,
    the One and all in the One. For this reason, the perfect archetypes of
    each and everything reside with Chokmah. The third Sephirah is
    Binah. Binah is described as the reflection of Chokmah.
    Metaphorically speaking, Binah may be described as a mirror, which
    prior to receiving Chokmah's reflection, was empty and dark like a
    covered mirror; but when receiving Chokmah's reflection it becomes a
    supreme plane of luminous light, a light issuing from more than
    luminous darkness of essence. In this brilliance are the intelligence of
    Kether and the wisdom of Chokmah, both are reflected in Binah. God
    has entered the void of his boundless receptivity, his face into his
    supreme mirror of Binah. This is God revealing himself to himself.
    By receiving this reflection, Binah has a feminine nature, the
    reception of the intelligence of Kether and the wisdom of Chokmah,
    and it becomes masculine when passing this knowledge onto the
    succeeding Sephirah. This statement is true of each Sephirah except
    for Malkuth; it is feminine when receiving and masculine when
    passing divine attributes. Since Binah is the first recognized receptive
    Sephirah, she is frequently called the "big mother." When viewing the
    Sephiroth as the depiction of human anatomy, the first three
    Sephirahs, Kether, Chokmah, and Binah, form the head, all
    concerning knowledge. Kether represents knowledge or knowing, the
    divine consciousness itself; Chokmah represents that which knows,
    wisdom, the active or dominant principle of knowledge; and Binah,
    that which is known, the receptive and reflective aspect of knowledge.
    This can be simply expressed as the thought, that which thinks, and
    that which is thought, metaphorically. However, with God there are
    no three actions; there is one, he produces the thought and knows it
    simultaneously. Again, divine thinking has no process; it is.
    The reflection of Binah now begins the descent, metaphorically
    speaking, through the succeeding seven Sephirahs. The attributes up
    to this point are declared to be in what is termed the "great face" of
    God and inaccessible. Now the attributes enter what is called the
    "small face" of God and become accessible. The first divine attribute
    to become accessible is his grace in the Sephirah of Chesed. Grace in
    Chesed is the first beatitude cosmologically exposed and is sacred
    happiness given to others according to the need of the other. This
    means that the Creator God in so far as he realizes, and with
    boundless kindness, adapts to the limits of every created being, which
    enables the giving of the form of life to everything that exists, and
    delivers all things from existential limitations. There is cooperation
    between Chesed and Geburah. While Chesed gives life to everything,
    Geburah the next Sephirah manifesting the strength and rigor of God,
    gives shape, form, or limitations to everything. God could not give life
    without limits; such would be injustice because all things would
    consolidate; there would be no distinguishing them. In his rigor, not
    out of anger but in accordance with judgment, God established limits
    for everything so each received what it is due and requires. Once their
    limits are fixed by God's rigor all things participate intimately, in
    their positive reality, in his immanent grace.
    It is believed that God created the universe to affirm by his grace and
    rigor all that is in him and deny all that is outside of him. Rigor is
    first manifested as cosmic darkness, the One (God) without a second;
    then grace fills all created things and beings with luminous light of
    divine immanence. Again, divine rigor is not anger but the negation of
    all that is not God. It is here that evil seems to appear through the
    appearance in God's contraction ability, to contract to make room for
    creation. Binah seems to present this evil in its reflection; however,
    the void created by contraction is of God's making. Therefore, Binah
    appears to promote good through Chesed and negates evil through
    Geburah because the result is very good. The next Sephirah Tiphareth
    mainly manifests God's beauty. God's beauty is derived from his
    identity, which is embodied in Kether. Within this identity lay all of
    God's infinite possibilities which are displayed in Tiphareth. This
    Sephirah above all other is the mediatory one of God's heart and
    compassion, which embraces and fuses everything which is "above" and
    "below," "on the right" or "on the left" in the world of emanation. In
    God's beauty all of his aspects are what they are, identified, in all of
    their relationships and in all of their reciprocity; each Sephirah opens
    to its fullness and magnificence, penetrating and being penetrated by
    other Sephirah. Tiphareth, the beauty of God, is simply a confined
    description of the entire Sephiroth. All the divine attributes are
    presence in their true prospective, their limitations and relationships,
    to each other forming unlimited expressions of the "small face" while
    revealing the mysteries and lights of the "great face" enclosed within.
    The essential principle of divine beauty, Tiphareth, is the identity of
    the absolute, ain, which excludes all that is not of itself, and the
    infinite, en sof, which includes all that is real. This is the unity of
    the more than the luminous darkness of non-being with the dazzling
    plenitude of pure being, the supreme and most mysterious of unities,
    which is revealed in the saying (Song of Songs 1:5): "I am black,
    but comely…" This is the essential principle of divine beauty, the
    expressing of the nature of God and nothing else. Accompanying the
    emanation of divine grace is the manifestation of divine victory, which
    is the masculine, active and positive power of the Creator, manifested
    in the Sephirah Netzach. Netzach comes forth from Tiphareth as an
    infinite flow of pure life, composed of life and bliss, with which it
    fills everything born with the cosmic multiplication of God, the One.
    This illusory multiplication, however, does not solitarily occur. This
    multiplication can only occur in the accompaniment of Hod. Hod takes
    on a feminine role of receiving the life, which Netzach pours forth; as
    it pours forth the life it, clear away the divine to make room for the
    Creation, which Hod receives, the act of divine contraction.
    Therefore, both Netzach and Hod must simultaneously come forth from
    Tiphareth. Hod in its feminine role displays the negative power of the
    Creator in making room for the new Creation, signifying victory.
    The Sephirah Yesod, rightly called the "foundation" is the direct
    result of the actions of Netzach, the expansive pouring forth of life,
    and Hod, the emptying of the divine to make room for new Creation.
    Yesod is the unique act, which simultaneously reveals and reintegrates
    all this is emanated and manifested; thus, it is also called the kol,
    the "all." Yesod is the final emanation of all the attributes manifested
    by the succeeding Sephirahs; and it is the coming together of them
    again. That is why, for example, the perfect archetypes of everything
    are presence in Yesod just as they are in Chokmah. However, again,
    it must be emphasized that these emanations and manifestations are
    illusory because the entire Sephiroth always existed. The terms
    emanations and manifestations are metaphorically employed to aid
    human understanding but in reality, they never occurred because the
    Sephiroth was always there. The Malkuth, the tenth and last
    Sephirah in God's descent to man, houses the physical manifestations
    of all proceeding Sephirahs. Malkuth seated at the very bottom of the
    Middle Pillar receives everything from "above," and is rightly called
    the "kingdom" of god. From the right side of the Sephiroth, it
    receives the luminous and intelligible emanations, from the left side the
    dark and unintelligible ones, and from the central pillar of which
    Kether is the highest situated the super-intelligible attributes. In this
    sense, Malkuth is identical with the Who, God; it possesses
    intelligible, super-intelligible, and unintelligible divine aspects. Even
    though Malkuth possesses these aspects, it is still a passive and
    receptive principle, the final destination for all of the emanations.
    Malkuth is purely feminine, having no Sephirah unto which to pass
    her received emanations. She is called the woman, the wife, or the
    queen of the divine king. In comparison to Binah, the "big mother,"
    Malkuth is called the "little mother." In other words, all of the
    innumerable possibilities of the One, God, are conferred on Malkuth
    where they are actualized. They are actualized through the universal
    "ether," the quintessence of four subtle or celestial elements and of the
    four corporeal terrestrial elements; which makes ether the infinite
    receptivity of the divine intelligence: Binah. In this way, the God
    "above" reveals himself "below." This is why the lower seven
    Sephirahs, the "small face" of God are said to reflect in detail the
    first three Sephirahs, the "greater face" of God.
    Daath appears within the Sephiroth but it is not a Sephirah or the
    eleventh Sephirah as it is frequently mistakenly referred to. Daath
    includes the first conscious knowledge in Kether and when reflected
    from Binah becomes onto cosmological intelligence. Simply, Daath is
    divine intelligence that is inaccessible until it is reflected from Binah
    and spread throughout the entire Sephiroth. This intelligence presents
    God and his attributes as well as the perfect archetypes of all things.
    Daath is God's knowledge infusing everything. Previously mentioned,
    the Sephiroth is prominently described in two ways, the four Worlds
    and the higher man. The four worlds have been described. When
    describing the higher man, the specific focus is on the relationship of
    the Sephiroth to man. This entails a threefold description; a
    description of Adam Kadmon, also called Adam Ilah, the principle
    man, who is God in his essence and ontological possibilities; the
    immanent man, metraton, who is God's entire spiritual
    manifestation,; and the earthly, finite, man, Adam Harishon, first
    man, manifested in the forms or spirit, soul and body. Each
    Sephirah represents a spiritual and/or physical characteristic of man;
    Kether, his pure and divine essence or the hidden and superintelligible
    brain; Chokmah, his knowledge of God or the right brain;
    Binah, his ability to discriminate between the real and unreal, the left
    brain; Chesed, his luminous nature which is always aspiring to the
    divine, or the right and merciful arm; Geburah, his true judgment of
    all things, or the left and rigorous arm; Tiphareth, his inner and
    outer beauty or the heart or trunk symbolizing beautiful and love;
    Netzach, his spiritual power, or the right thigh or cosmic force; Hod,
    his natural force, or the left thigh or cosmic negative force; Yesod, his
    activity, or the generative organ or creative act; and Malkuth, his
    receptivity, the feet, the female body, or the end-place, substantial
    recipient of the emanations of the Sephiroth.
    References
    Dan, Joseph. Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction. New York. Oxford University Press. 2006
    Elber, Mark. The Everything Kabbalah Book. Avon, MS. Adams Media. 2006
    Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Harper's Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience. New York.
    HarperCollins. 1991. [ISBN 0-06-250366-9]
    Schaya, Leo. The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah. Secaucus, University Books. NJ. 1971 [ISBN


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