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FAQ: Kabbala Basics - 2

FAQ: Kabbala Basics - 2

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FAQ: Kabbala Basics - 2

QUESTION: "I read that the kabbala is the tree of life. I believe everything in the holy bible - my question is if the kabbala is a biblical fact or is it another man's ideology?"

ANSWER: The main themes of Kabbalah were part of the revelation to Moses at Mt. Sinai. Also, some of them were taught by Abraham our patriarch and even by Adam the first human. However the original teachings were in concentrated hard-to-penetrate forms, so there have been a lot of attached explanations down through the generations.

QUESTION: "Can you define Ein Sof a bit and share with me how one approaches Ein Sof in Kabbalah as practiced in your tradition?"

ANSWER: Ein Sof, "The Infinite", is by definition indefinable. (!) We can access and manifest the light of Ein Sof only through total dedication and self-sacrifice in the performance of those DEEDS that the Holy One desires of us.

QUESTION: "Is Kabbala a religion? I've been told that it is in fact NOT a religion, more like possessing an "inner light". I was wondering if you could clarify that for me: is Kabbala's teachings open to people of all faiths?"

ANSWER: Kabbala is not a religion. Authentic Kabbala is the core of the mystical teachings --an "inner light", as you so eloquently expressed it-- of the Jewish religion. At a basic level, the published teachings of Kabbala are available to all, especially when rendered in the languages of the world, and even more so when posted on the World Wide Web. Past that, there are natural limitations relevant to knowledge of Hebrew, of Scripture, of Talmud, of Jewish Law, and the innate connection of the Jewish teachings to the Jewish soul.

QUESTION: "I want to know about myself from your kabbala system. How is it possible?"

ANSWER: In order to study Torah and Kabbalah, first you have to forget about yourself. After you forget about yourself and study Torah and Kabbalah intensively for a long time, you will find that you know a lot more about yourself.

QUESTION: "I am trying to understand the difference between, or the relationship between, Chasidut and Kabbalah. I tried searching the site, but couldn't narrow it down to less than 600 articles. Can you provide a succinct definition? Thank you."

ANSWER: Kabbalah dates to a few thousand years ago; Chasidic is less than 300 years old. The teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chasidic movement, were based on the teachings of the Holy Ari of Safed.

Nevertheless, there is a difference. Kabbala can be much more theoretical and abstract; Chasidut is firmly rooted in having a direct effect in the world. Perhaps we can describe it as a sort of applied Kabbalah.

QUESTION: "I’m 17. I've read a little about Kabbalah, and understand that the point is for people to learn. I'm interested but I don't want to know too much since even the little I know now scares me. I understand the connection between people, that there's a universal law for all people, and that we must seek the good and spiritual of all. Selfishness only brings us to hate ourselves in the future, for we will only have ourselves to trust and that world is scary. Even though money helps both in the negative and the positive, I see it as a creation of difference between people.

To be 17, and say that I've gone through a lot might sound childish, or even selfish, but it's true. I want to learn Kabbalah, but do not know if it is the right time and which steps to take."

ANSWER: I think you should take your own advice and study a little bit more - not a lot and not nothing. You might try sampling different parts of our site till you find a topic or an author that you wish to pursue further.

QUESTION: "I am very interested in learning more about Kabbala and was hoping you can explain to me the differences between Judaism and Kabbala. What are the differences in beliefs or is it just a difference in how it is practiced?"

ANSWER: Kabbala is an integral part of authentic Torah Judaism. For example, nearly the entire Kabbalat Shabbat service comes from the Kabbalists of Safed. The Kabbalists do the same mitzvahs as all other Orthodox Jews and are not separate from them, although they tend to have a lot of "extra" strictnesses and emphases in many of them.

QUESTION: "How can Kabbala help me to change my life?"

ANSWER: Kabbalah can help you to re-examine and improve your relationship with and understanding of G‑d Almighty."

QUESTION: "How or where can I get a kabbalistic astrological birth chart done?"

ANSWER: Kabbalah does not do birth charts. The closest thing, if you are Jewish, is on our home page: click on the button on the left side, Personal Torah Codes.

QUESTION: "Rabbi - Could you please give your honest opinion regarding the "Kabbalah Center" organization (made famous by Madonna) run by Rav Berg, his wife and sons, its courses, instructors and their "translation" into English (from a Hebrew translation) of the Zohar. Is it a legitimate/authentic way of pursuing the study of Kabbalah, or are their problems with it, and, if so, what are they?"

ANSWER: I have no first-hand experience. What do I think based on what I have heard?
Not endorsed, not legitimate. Possibly dangerous. There are plenty of exposes available. You don't need us to pass around others' words.

QUESTION: "I have to admit from the get-go that I have a great interest in learning more about Kabbala and its tools to deal with life. I do however have a few questions in regards to understanding Kabbala.

When some Kabbala leaders go on the record and say for example that Madonna does not speak of the ancient kabbala, but a more "modern pop-culturalistic" version of kabbala, how do these two theories differ? And what does "ancient kabbala" consist of?

A final, somewhat silly, question. I am a bit confused, because as I have seen kabbalah, it is NOT a religion, but rather tools for understanding life. But does kabbalah not stem from the Jewish faith?"

ANSWER: The original Kabbalah is the Jewish system of secret mystical teachings, an integral part of the Jewish religion. Down through the ages their have been Christian and Occult attempts to develop their own schools of Caballa/Qabalah, and today there is the contemporary "Hollywood-style" attempt to popularize it. If you want to know what Madonna thinks, go read a magazine. If you want to know about the original Kabbalah, peruse our website.

QUESTION: "Could you please tell me what the kabbala says about the hand symbol, if I can have it in my house, and, is it some type of idol?"

ANSWER: The authentic Jewish Kabbalah is an integral part of Torah. Occult and Christian kabala is not. The hand is supposedly for protection. Whether the one you have can help for this or not I can't tell you but for sure no harm will come to you from possessing it as long as long as you do not treat it as an object of worship.

QUESTION: "I am doing my best to improve myself ....perform good deeds and to negate the negative. I have always been drawn to the Spiritual and I have had dreams that have come true....aware of presences when something is around...and generally intuitive.

I feel that a yearning for developing the spiritual side has been ignored for too long...which is why I have found this web site.

I feel a bit lost because I don't really know what my purpose is...I feel like an outsider ...which is ok...but I need to fill the vacuum and put what I feel I have to good develop it in a kosher way with the permission of G‑d.

When I ask for a direction from Rabbis, mostly they don't take me seriously...I don't blame them....after all how can you know if someone is crazy or not? So, any advice? It's a stab in the dark (or should I say, a stab in the light?)?"

ANSWER: I have a suggestion. Among those rabbis you have been asking for advice, the ones that you respect as being also spiritual as well as learned, instead of asking for advice, ask if they will study with you a spiritual text. If they refuse for whatever reason, ask them to help arrange it with someone they recommend.

My feeling from this letter is that you are too much on your own, but of course I could easily be wrong.

QUESTION: "What is Kabbala's view on homosexuality, living together and having children without marriage, multiple sexual partners, fornication, adultery, abortion, and masturbation? What are their spiritual consequences and how they be corrected?"

ANSWER: All are forbidden, all have dire spiritual consequences including the creation of impure and sometimes dangerous impure spiritual beings, and the key to rectification is to gain control over one's desires, to realize that the mind can rule over the emotions, that "want to" does not have to mean "have to".

If by "corrected" you were not referring to future actions, but how to fix the negative consequences from the past, know that his can be difficult but is doable. The starting place is prayer and good deeds, including the sincere recognition and regret of one's wrong deeds and the honest resolve to not repeat them.

QUESTION: "I was born in 1956 at 7 p.m., but am not sure if my birthday falls on the 23rd or the 24th of Elul. Does it change every year, depending on the candle lighting times? I was told the Torah reading on my birthday would be connected to my life mission. I would like to study my Torah parasha."

ANSWER: You have to ascertain the time of sunset at the location where you were born in order to know which date is your birthday. That Hebrew date is your birthday every year. In any case, that year they both fell before Shabbat, so your reading is Netzavim-Vayelech, since that year it was a double reading. Netzavim is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, so you should concentrate there.

QUESTION: "I have been going to weekly Kabbalah classes for about two months and studying Hebrew for about one year. I have been contemplating quitting the classes, to give myself more of a solid foundation in Talmud, Hebrew and Torah study (Halacha), before continuing my studies."

ANSWER: It is wise to concentrate on basic Jewish studies till you get established. But you don't have to cut your connection with the mystical levels of Judaism, through genuine Kabbalah or Chasidut. It can be one class out of several.

QUESTION: "I felt uncomfortable learning about how to use a pendulum to assess our "health". Somehow, I prefer....Rabbi Nachman's teachings on outpouring of our souls in prayer and meditation. I would think I would prefer to close my eyes and pray directly to Ado-nai to "move" my spirit rather than using quartz. How essential and what is the function of pendulums in Kabbalah study and practice?"

ANSWER: Your instincts are excellent. Pendulums in Kabbalah class means it is occult Kabbalah, almost nothing to do with the authentic Jewish Kabbalah. If you are Jewish, get out of there.

QUESTION: "What year did kabbala first start to get popular?"

ANSWER: At the time of the revelation at Sinai, 3318 years ago.

QUESTION: "I am a Jewish woman but never really practiced religion. This year I am home-schooling my children and would like to introduce the teaching of the Kabbalah to them. Is there a book you can recommend or a certain way to introduce/teach the study to them?"

ANSWER: I'd rather recommend books on basic Judaism. They have a right to know about their heritage. Take a look on or If you tell me what area you live in and the ages of your kids, I might be able to find a volunteer to come and help.

QUESTION: "Can Kabbalah help a life that seems hopeless?"

ANSWER: YES, Kabbalah can help a life that seems hopeless. So can a positive change of attitude, even without Kabbalah. Especially if you have faith in G‑d the Creator, the source of the secrets of Kabbalah

QUESTION: "I have some questions regarding Kabbalah sources...

About the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles…(I have not visited there)…I have read all of the books available from the center. I was wondering what you thought of the center and the books. Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with the teachings? I also have read almost all the online articles available on the web site. They definitely have a different feel to them than the Center, not just that one is a "slicker" presentation than the other. What is the difference spiritually between the two sources? Thank you for your kind help with these questions. I look forward to hearing from you soon."

ANSWER: Your questions are difficult to deal with in an email format, where I don't know whom I am discussing with or what your relationship to Judaism and Torah is.

To simplify: to answer the question of who, and what, is kosher we have to rely on contemporary rabbinic authorities. Nearly all of them seem to agree that it is important to avoid the Bergs and their Kabbalah Center. The chief rabbi of England recently ruled that it is forbidden to purchase anything from them.

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, whose teachings constitute the basis of has his own slant on Kabbalah. He is a brilliant Torah and Kabbala scholar as well as a mathematician, a pious Chasid, and 100% kosher according to all opinions. He is perhaps the most significant native English-speaking teacher of Kabbalah today.

I appreciated your sensitivity as to the difference between the sites, and I'd be curious to know your reaction to ours.

QUESTION: "I studied Kabbalah with a Kabbalist (a man) who is gay. Can you explain to me what is going on there?"

ANSWER: Not really, since I don't know if he is Jewish, nor if you are Jewish, nor what it is that he taught you. If it is a form of non-Jewish Kabbalah he is teaching, so that in itself is an answer to the question you are asking.

But in Jewish tradition, someone who knows he enough to teach an aspect of Torah, which authentic Kabbalah is, yet flaunts his non-compliance with one of the commandments (as all the students seem to know his sexual preferences), is making big spiritual problems for himself and his students have to step extremely warily not to be affected as well.

QUESTION: "Could you explain to me how Kabbala, Zohar, and the Talmud are connected?"

ANSWER: Talmud, the expansion of the Mishna, is the basic compendium of the Jewish Oral Law.

Zohar is the basic text of Kabbala study. It was compiled before the Talmud, during the period of the Mishna.

Kabbala is a collective name for the mystical teachings and traditions of the Jewish people, of which the Zohar is an important part.

QUESTION: "Is the teachings of Kabbala different from Moses' teaching in Judaism?"

ANSWER: It is part of it.

QUESTION 1: "What is the meaning of the name ‘Kabbala’?"
ANSWER 1: Kabbala means "received teaching" in Hebrew.

QUESTION 2: "How long has it existed?"

ANSWER 2: Some say since Moses, some say since Abraham, some say since Adam.

QUESTION 3: "Are there still Kabbalists in our time?"

ANSWER 3: Yes.

QUESTION 4: "Who are the Kabbalists?"

ANSWER 4: You have to come to Israel to find them.

QUESTION 5: "Can I become a Kabbalist too?"
ANSWER 5: It takes many years of hard study, purification, commitment and character refinement. It would be up to you to answer the question depending on how much you want it.

QUESTION: "Do you have to believe in God to believe in Kabbala? If you believe in Kabbala are you a Kabbalist?"

ANSWER: Authentic Kabbala is an integral, and inseparable, part of the Jewish religion. G‑d is its main subject! Belief in its teachings does not make one a Kabbalist. Knowledge and purity are the main requirements.

QUESTION: "Do people recognize, when another soul "visits" them (ibur)?"

ANSWER: They may feel something, but unless they are quite spiritually sensitive and knowledgeable they probably won't know what it is.

QUESTION: "Is Kabbala magic? What can be gained by learning it?"

ANSWER: Kabbala is not magic. However, studying it has a purifying effect.

QUESTION: "Why is the journey directly to God within the kabbala dangerous?"

ANSWER: It is dangerous when one is not pure enough, knowledgeable enough, and balanced enough for the wisdom received. This is not an issue until the more advanced stages.

QUESTION: "What's the evil hidden in the woman?"

ANSWER: There is no evil inherent in women. That is a Christian belief, not a Jewish one. There are problems however, in some of the desires that some men have towards women.

QUESTION: "Could you explain to me, please, the meaning of "cheshbon Ha-nefesh"? Does it mean something like an "accounting of the soul?"

ANSWER: It doesn't mean "something like"; it means exactly that. It refers to doing an honest spiritual reckoning of where you are at. It also means asking yourself on a nightly (preferred), weekly, monthly, and annual basis: "What did I do? What should I have done? What could I have done?"

QUESTION: "Who is it that you worship in Kabbalah? Who is your god?"

ANSWER: The One G‑d, the Creator of heavens and earth, Who gave to the Jewish people the commandments at Mt. Sinai. Kabbala is an aspect of Judaism.

Yerachmiel Tilles is the co-founder of Ascent-of-Safed, and was its educational director for 18 years. He is the creator of and and currently the director of both sites. He is also a well-known storyteller, a columnist for numerous chassidic publications, and a staff rabbi on, as well as and the author of "Saturday Night, Full Moon": Intriguing Stories of Kabbalah Sages, Chasidic Masters and other Jewish Heroes.
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Discussion (4)
November 17, 2015
Re: astral projection (Joinny)
In terms of your desire to seek Truth and a relationship with the Creator, astral projection is irrelevant...or perhaps a trap in that it will divert you from your search.
The Jewish path is through devoted Torah study and the fulfillment of the commandments.
Tzefat, Israel
October 31, 2015
I see this may have been asked but I'm really searching for an answer. I have discovered a connection with my soul and a deep feeling that I need to empower it to seek God in earnest. I have studied a lot but can't seem to figure out if astral projection is good or bad. I only find texts that hint at it. I feel like I could learn so much from the creator through it but I don't wish to anger him. Please let me know your thoughts.
March 3, 2011
FAQ: Kabbala Basics (part 2)
From my experience, people from all walks of life are desperately wanting a supernatural Holy connection & are hoping that a hidden mystical secret of Kabbala will be revealed. They want to experience events that our ancestors at Mt Sinai did. People must study, read, absorb themselves Torah & HaShem will provide them with wisdom & miracles suitable to their needs & understanding.

People who fall in love with Torah will be blessed. Kabbala in a sense is the knowledge & understanding of the spiritual dimension of the universe.
Penticton, Canada
February 27, 2011
Astral Projection/Travel and astrology
I have a question about out-of-body experiences. ... Does Kabbalah teach Astral projection and if so where do I find information on it? Also, correct me if I am wrong but doesn't the Torah forbid astrology? Then why is there teachings in the Kabbalah concerning astrology?
Gainesville, Fl
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