Monday, Aug 08th 2022

Kabbalah Basics

KABBALAH BASICS

 

The word Kabbalah literally means "to receive." What to receive, how to receive, when to receive, and from whom to receive, is called and elaborated on as "tradition.

This tradition has been passed on as an oral teaching (Torah SheBeal Pe) since ancient times. It was transmitted initially from Abraham and Moses, the source of all our learnings.  It has been passed through the generations, from teacher to student, and father to child, until this very day.

 These teachings first appeared in writing in the following important works:

  • Sefer Yetzirah (The Book of Creation) (c. C.E. 3rd-6th centuries)
  • Sefer HaBahir (The Book of Illumination)(c.1180)
  • Sefer HaZohar (The Book of Splendor) (c. 1280)

One of the great visionary Kabbalists who lived in Spain and traveled extensively was Rabbi Abraham Abulafia (1240 - 1292). He wrote many books and developed great meditation techniques using the Hebrew letters. In his book, Otzar Gan-Eden (The Treasures of the Garden of Eden), he brought his unique approach to the Hebrew Letter computations and concepts of the Sefirot, as originally presented in Sefer Yetzirah.

Abulafia developed a way to breathe and utter the Hebrew letters to invoke their deeper meaning and cause inspiration, realization, divine revelation and a significant inner experience of "that which cannot be talked about," or "that which cannot be described."

Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, or as he was called, The Ramak (1522 -1570), was a profound theoretician of the Sefirot, the ten divine emanations of the creator. He lived in the city of Safed, or Tsfat, in Israel.

Rabbi Cordovero was a contemporary of the great Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as The Ari (1534 -1572). The Ari developed, amplified and transformed some of the teachings of Kabbalah into a comprehensible system of practice that has become the main stream of Kabbalah studies. Most of Rabbi Luria’s teachings were transmitted orally and were recorded in the many books written by his devoted student, Rabbi Hayim Vital, who was born in Tzfat, Israel, in 1543 and died in Damascus, Syria, in 1620.

Over many generations and across the history of the world, many people from various cultures have studied this sacred knowledge and wisdom. They have written thousands of books and interpretations that they derived from a variety of sources, many of them hoping that the generations to come will better be able to recognize and discern the authentic from the false.

This is not the place to go into detail, but it is recommended that one studying Kabbalah be as informed as possible, distinguishing very clearly between information and knowledgeThese days, it is common for some who learn about the "finger" to pretend to know the "whole body."  It is wise to find an authentic teacher who can transmit this great teaching and its practical application in everyday life.

Some of the BASIC meanings of the Hebrew Letters

Twenty-two letters: He ordained them, He hewed them, He combined them, He weighed them, and created with them the whole creation and everything to be created in the future."

The tradition of Kabbalah transmitted this knowledge of the letters in sacred Hebrew (Lashon Hakodesh). In order to present some of the basics, this brief introduction is provided in English. Sincere effort has been made to be as close as possible in meaning to the original writings.

א

ALEPH. The original representation of the Divine Emanations from which all else follows. Especially: The creation of SPIRIT, then AIR, ABUNDANCE, and the trunk of the human body.

ב

BEITH. The foundation of LIFE. Corresponds to the direction ABOVE.

ג

GIMEL. The foundation of life is well being. Corresponds to the direction BELOW.

ד

DALETH. The foundation of life is WISDOM. Corresponds to the direction EAST.

ה

HE. The foundation of life is SIGHT. Corresponds to the direction NORTHEAST. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING.

ו

VAV. The foundation of life is HEARING. Corresponds to the direction SOUTHEAST. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING. 

ז

ZAYIN. The foundation of life is SMELL. Corresponds to the direction HIGH EAST. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING. 

ח

HETH. The foundation of life is SPEACH. Corresponds to the direction LOW EAST. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING. 

ט

TETH. The foundation of life is TASTE. Corresponds to the direction HIGH NORTH. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING.

י

YOD. The foundation of life is SEXUAL LOVE. Corresponds to the direction LOW NORTH. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING. 

כ

KAPH. The foundation of life is WEALTH. Corresponds to the direction WEST.

ל

LAMED. The foundation of life is WORK. Corresponds to the direction SOUTHWEST. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING. 

מ

MEM. The essential foundation of life is WATER. Corresponds to the direction WEST.

נ

NOON. The essential foundation of life is MOVEMENT. Corresponds to the direction NORTHWEST. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING.

ס

SAMEKH. The essential foundation of life is ANGER. Corresponds to the direction HIGH EAST. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING. 

ע

AYIN. The essential foundation of life is HAPPINESS. Corresponds to the direction LOW EAST. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING. 

פ

PE. The essential foundation of life is BEAUTY. Corresponds to the direction NORTH.

צ

TZADE. The essential foundation of life is THOUGHT. *Imagination, Mrditation. Corresponds to the direction HIGH SOUTH. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING. 

ק

KOF. The essential foundation of life is SLEEP. Corresponds to the direction LOW SOUTH. Extending to the infinity of the Universe, continuing and embracing the ETERNITY of BEING. 

ר

REISH The essential foundation of life is FRUITFULNESS. Corresponds to the direction SOUTH.

ש

SHEEN. The essential foundation of life is FIRE, then HEAVEN. The human head.

ת

TAV. The essential foundation of life is DOMINION. Corresponds to the sustaining "SACRED PLACES"in the Center of all DIRECTIONS.

 

EIN SOF and the TEN SEFIROT

ספירות - Sefiroth (plural)
ספירה - Sefirah (singular)

One of the better-known fundamental concepts of kabbalistic thought is the unconceivable nature of the Creator, called EIN SOF.  The TEN SEFIROT are emanations of Ein Sof, and they make up the Kabbalistic TREE OF LIFE.  They are the means by which the Creator interacts with the Creation. This poor explanation is, of course, a gross oversimplification.  One cannot dare or pretend to fully understand such great things.    


According to Kabbalah, the true essence of the Creator is so transcendent, it cannot be described except with reference to what it is not. This true essence of the Creator is known as Ein Sof – which literally means "without end" or "with no end," and encompasses the idea of the lack of boundaries in both time and space. In its truest form, the Ein Sof is so transcendent that it cannot have any direct interaction with the universe, and so, the Ein Sof interacts with the universe through the ten emanations from this essence, known as the Ten Sefirot.

The ten Sefirot correspond to the various attributes of the Creator. In descending order, they consist of:

KETER (the Crown)

HOCHMAH (Wisdom)

BINAH (Intuition, Understanding)

HESED (Mercy) or GEDULAH (Greatness)

GEVURAH (Strength)

TIF’ERET (Glory)

NETZAH (Victory)

HOD (Majesty)

YESOD (Foundation), and

MALKHUT (Sovereignty or Kingdom).

The middle five qualities (four to eight) are mentioned clearly and in order in the Hebrew Bible in Chronicles 1 29:11:  “Yours, O L-rd, is the greatness (Gedulah), the strength (Gevurah), the glory (Tif’eret), the power (Netzach), and the splendor (Hod).”

לְךָ יְהֹוָה הַגְּדֻלָּה וְהַגְּבוּרָה וְהַתִּפְאֶרֶת וְהַנֵּצַח וְהַהוֹד... דברי הימים א. יא

This passage has been translated in varying ways, but the Hebrew corresponds to the names of the Sefirot in order.

The Sefirot include both masculine and feminine qualities. Kabbalah gives great importance to the feminine aspects of the Creator.  The Sefirot are commonly represented as in the diagram at left. This diagram is commonly known as the Tree of the Sefirot or, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. There is great significance to the position of these various attributes and their interconnectedness.

The Sefirot are not separate deities, as some might be confused into thinking, by taking this information too literally. They are intimately a part of The Sacred One (HaKadosh Barukh Hu) and yet they are in contact with the universe in a way that the Ein Sof is not.

The Sefirot connect constantly and eternally with everything in the universe, including this world of humanity. The good and evil that we do resonates through the Sefirot and affects the entire universe, up to and including, the Being of the Creator.

אין סוף - EIN SOF AUR - Infinity, unlimited beyond human definition.
אור הגּנוּז - AUR HAGANUZ - The Concealed Light
כתר - KETER
חכמה - HOCHMAH
בינה - BINAH
חסד - HESED
גבורה - GEVURAH
תפארת - TIF’ERETH
נצח - NETZAH
הוד - HOD
יסוד - YESOD
מלכות - MALKHUTH
א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ ך ל מ ם נ ן ע פ ף צ ץ ק ר ש ת

Notes:

* For more information, please see the article "Finding Your True Living Master Teacher" by Samuel Ben Or Avital, Creator of BodySpeak™ – Moving Body and Mind , and the addendum called "The "Presence" of the "Living Teacher".

Also helpful, is book "THE INVISIBLE STAIRWAY: Kabbalistic Meditations on The Hebrew Letters," by Samuel Ben Or Avital.  For details on this book, click on the link.  It can be purchased on Amazon.

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About Kabbalah Now

Kabbalah is both a concealed and revealed vast body of knowledge, a practical science of wisdom that one can learn easily, intuitively and logically, and available today to those who are honestly ready and seeking the authentic knowledge in "this world and beyond."