Kabbalah-What It Is and Isn’t
We must be clear about this from jump: No rabbi of any standing and education regards the so-called new-age ‘Kabbalah Centers’ that have cropped up online and throughout the world as anything but bunk.
That’s not a matter of opinion; it’s about the nature of actual Kabbalah and the prerequisites for its study. As most Jews know, no rabbi worth his or her degree and training will (if steeped in kabbalistic study) will welcome a student to study Jewish Mysticism until the potential student will have studied Talmud — the medieval-in-origin Oral Law — not simply Torah (the Five Books of Moses), and for twenty years or more. That’s the kind of preparation and knowledge necessary.
Imagine a graduate school physics professor were to offer quantum theory seminars to students whose top preparation has been a high school general physics class. The overwhelming majority of (even Orthodox rabbis) are not Kabbalists and are not remotely prepared to teach Kabbalah.
I want to make two ideas clear.
Kabbalah is not a branch of Judaism, nor is it a sect within Orthodox Judaism. The standard and traditional branches of Judaism are Orthodox (with its many sects), Conservative, Reform, and, beginning in the early part of the last century, Reconstructionism.
Kabbalah is a complex content-area, a discipline, a highly-layered mystical set of teachings and understandings whose purpose is to bring a person to a deeply intimate knowledge of the ways of God. It cannot be usefully cherry-picked for nifty sayings and turned usefully into Enlightenment. I cannot successfully compare it to any other discipline or study that you may know, such as, say, Zen, or Christian Mysticism.
Kabbalah is sui-generis.
For a more complete explanation of Kabbalah try the topic at www.judaism101.com.
The classic book on the subject is by the gifted writer, Gershom Scholem, KABBALAH.
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