QUESTION: "I wanted to register my son in a Karate Class for teaching him self-defense, but when I went to register him, I saw a picture of dragon on the wall of the class. Also, in their advertisement there's a picture of dragon and around it is written: body, mind, and spirit. Since I just want to register him to become a stronger boy and learn the self-defense techniques, I'm not sure since the Karate (martial arts) comes from oriental cultures, so, is it right for Jewish children to learn martial art techniques or not?"

ANSWER: It is a good question. You have to ascertain whether the teachers present it as purely a martial art, or if he connects it into oriental religions
(you don't have to worry about oriental customs such a bowing your head to the teacher).

QUESTION: "What is the ultimate goal of Kabbalah? Is there an equivalent to 'enlightenment', such as in Buddhism?"

ANSWER: The ultimate goal of Kabbalah is oneness with G‑d. This is not the same as Buddhist enlightenment as I understand it, because this oneness is only available after extraordinary self-nullification. Enlightenment may or may not happen along that path, but if it does, it is a nice byproduct, not a goal.

QUESTION: "Do you think Jesus was a Kabbalist? Is it known if he was or not, or would it just be a guess, or speculation if he was or not?"

ANSWER: This is not my expertise, but from what I have heard and read, it seems he was involved in non-Jewish forms
(mainly Egyptian) of esoteric wisdom.

QUESTION: "I am a believing member of a Benei Noach (Noahide) congregation in Tennessee. Is it allowed for me to study the Torah on your website?"

ANSWER: Yes. It is my opinion (not a rabbinical decision) that anything published in English is understood to be available to the whole world. And the same applies to Worldwide Web.

QUESTION: "Do you have any information on how Tarot and Kabbalah are related, if they are related at all?"

ANSWER: Tarot has no connection to authentic Jewish Kabbalah. However, certain Christian sects and individuals have used Kabbalah terminology and symbolism in the development of their own version of mystical theology, and it is from this, I believe, that it crept into occult usage, including Tarot. Today we encounter Jewish Kabbalah, Christian Cabala and occult Qabalah. The original Jewish Kabbalah is inseparable from the Jewish religion (which prohibits any form of fortune-telling).

QUESTION: "My research says that at one time Muhammad came to visit the Jewish villages in Syria; he was questioned and examined by the priests. The claim is that he was called a prophet by signs on his body and signs in the natural world of a coming prophet.
1. Is there any truth to this?
2. What were the signs on his body?
3. What were the signs in the natural world?

If this is not true, then why are there more than just Islamic references to these things? Why would anyone need to make up this?

I have also come across a document that says it is true, but the prophet that the priests were referring to was from Satan and not G‑d. Will you assist me?"

ANSWER: I doubt if any of the sources for this story are Jewish. So from my point of view it is not worth considering.

1) By the time of Muhammad, it had been many centuries since the priests held any position of spiritual leadership, after the Temple was destroyed. So the language indicates non-Jewish composition.

2) We Jews have a strong detailed tradition about how to recognize a genuine prophet for the Jewish people. It does not include any body signs or any worldly phenomena.

3) Why falsify such a thing? Because both Christians and Muslims seem to feel threatened by the continued survival and flourishing of the Jewish religion and the Jewish people. Since each claims to have "replaced" Judaism, that survival and flourishing is a threat to their theology.

4) As to whether he was a true or a false prophet for the non-Jews that follow(ed) him, I am not qualified to say. But the whole non-Islam world today wonders if the insanity manifested today in his name is based on a distortion or a true interpretation of his teachings.

5) Judaism and Kabbalah are clear that we have complete free will to choose between right and wrong. This is unaffected by what other religions teach or believe.

P.S. If you are a Jew, worrying about other theologies instead of studying your own is a classic Jewish example of an inappropriate exercise of your power of free choice.

QUESTION: "In one of your articles you say that angels have no free will but surely Satan is a fallen angel who rebelled against G‑d. Can you please explain this?"

ANSWER: That is Christian theology, not Jewish. The name "Satan" in Hebrew means "the Accuser". We believe that he is doing his assigned job; unfortunately for us, he does it with a lot of enthusiasm. If only we were so enthusiastic about living in accordance with G‑d's word!

QUESTION: "I am a newcomer in matters of Kabbalah, yet I want to take the path seriously even if not having a Master to help me on my way.

Are there physical centers in the human body as they are in tantrism, Sufism, even in Christian mysticism to concentrate one's mind on?

I think the 10 sefirot have a correspondence in man's body since the human incarnation seems to be supposed to be a temple of G‑d.

How can I grasp the divine light, Ohr Ain Soph, by meditating, and which holy names should be chosen for this aim?

Can spirituality lead us to a more peaceful and loving life within this physical existence?"

ANSWER: If you wish to engage the mysteries of Kabbalah seriously, I am afraid you will have to rid yourself of all of these questions. They indicate the preconceptions you are bringing, and the tendency to try to fit what you will learn into what you already think. Authentic Jewish Kabbalah is a part of the study of G‑d's truth; you must adjust to it, not mold it to be compatible with your current mindset. "An empty vessel can be filled" (therefore, you need to empty yourself from these previous alien ways of thinking).

QUESTION:" What is Kabbalah'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 this 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: "Is it possible to receive the correspondences for all 22 letters to the tarot cards? I found the spiritual meaning for the letter alef very interesting in your article Alef Meditation."

ANSWER: Thank you for your letter. We hope to do articles on the other letters. We have no intention of getting involved in Taro, as that is irrelevant to authentic Kabbalah.


QUESTION: "Do Jews believe in free will? The third paragraph of the Shema says we are not free to go after thine own heart and thine own reference to remembering the Commandments when we look upon the tzitzit. Yet, we have a teaching which opens with the statement that G‑d has given Man free will. If the latter is correct, then is there some thought on why G‑d put some checks and balances into place? To me, I never heard of the concept of free will until college, and I am Modern Orthodox. I thought Man must always answer to a higher authority, first and foremost. It is this freewill which Man has abused, but I feel it is pushed more by the Christians as an excuse to do whatever they like in this world."

ANSWER: The whole point of the statement, "do not go after thine own heart and thine own eyes" is that because we do have free will we have to try our best to not abuse that privilege and to make the right choices, in accordance with the Torah's rules and guidelines. The same with G‑d's checks and balances, and our having answer to a higher authority: there would be no need for the former and no justification to the latter if it were not that we do have free choice and so can be considered responsible for our actions.

I always understood that Christians hold "Faith; not acts", meaning that one's deeds aren't so important as long as he believes "correctly". We Jews believe that G‑d judges us based on how we act, and for that judgment to be "fair", our acts have to be the result of having chosen between reasonably balanced alternatives.

QUESTION: "Does Kabbalah allow the living to try and contact family members that are deceased? Specifically, a friend of mine is seeking out a psychic (self-proclaimed), who states that the dead communicate with him. The psychic never calls on the dead, nor does he ask the family who they wish to contact. This contact is done with a large group of people. The psychic then reports messages to a family member that may be present and relays messages to them. My belief tells me that this is still conjuring up the dead, which is forbidden by Torah. I'm afraid that my friend may open herself up to areas that may not lead to Light, but rather to Darkness. I hope I have made my question understood. Thank you for your time and response to my question."

ANSWER: Your question is clear, your beliefs are accurate, and your fears are justified. May the Al-mighty help you to illuminate your friend's eyes.

QUESTION: "Oracles and astrology certainly have a debatable value for spiritual seekers today. As the Kabbalah offers deeper insight of G‑d's law, how are the laws concerning methods of divination and astrology further addressed?"

ANSWER: Divination is an absolute prohibition of the Torah. Kabbalah is an integral part of Judaism, so there is nothing further to discuss. We find some room in Kabbalah thought for astrology and palm-reading for character analysis, but not in an oracular or divination sense.