Is Kabbalah real?

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  • #7423

    K.M.
    Member

    Is Kabbalah a religion, a cult, or the new fad for celebrities? Is there any truth to the teachings of Kabbalah, or is it just an interpretation of the Torah from an insurance salesman?

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    Name : K.M., City : Long Island, State : NY Country : United States, 
    #36446

    Jake
    Member

    In my humble opinion, it’s a fad for celebrities who are looking for something to fill that empty void in their lives.

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    Name : Jake, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Catholic, Age : 17, City : Duluth, State : MN Country : United States, Occupation : Work at family store, Education level : Less than High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, 
    #47668

    Alex J.
    Member

    Kabbalah is a real Jewish belief but not a core one. Nearly all Jews believe that the Hebrew language was given by God to humanity. Because of its holy origins, the language has power. Hence almost all prayers are in Hebrew, the Torah and other parts of the bible are read in Hebrew during ceremonies, and all religious documents are in Hebrew. Here’s where Kabbalah diverges. Every letter has a numerical equivalent, but Kabbahlists believe that by understanding the numerological significance of certain words and letters, they can work ‘magic’ (for lack of a better word). For example, the Hebrew word ‘Chai,’ made of the letters chet (8) and yud (10) has a value of 18, so 18 is considered a lucky number. Multiples of 18 are considered very fortuitous. Despite this, Kabbalah is not conisdered to be a central tenet of Judaism.

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    Name : Alex J., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 17, City : Elkins Park, State : PA Country : United States, Occupation : High School student, Education level : Less than High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, 
    #39214

    Erik25244
    Participant

    I am a serious student of Kabbalah, and have met people who use Kabbalah for all of those things: something to believe (religion), something to follow (cult), and something just to occupy them for a time (fad). As to whether there is any truth to it, I fervently think so or I wouldn’t waste my time studying it. I’ve seen all the ‘kabbalaistic’ new age bs–magic, numerology, astrology, meditation–and I would recommend that you not go down that path, or any one that even tries to sell you something. But as I understand it, Kabbalah is a *practical* method to attain the purpose for which all things were created: to return to our Creator by benefitting Him, the way that He desires to benefit us. Here is where I study, in case you’re interested: http://www.kabbalah.info

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    Name : Erik25244, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 27, City : Miami, State : FL Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #29075

    L Freeman
    Member

    Kabbalah is certainly not related to anything commercial. The Torah itself is the transcription of the five ‘books of Moses.’ Great care has been taken down through the ages that today’s Torah scroll is exactly like the original. Study and interpretation of the Torah has been continuing through the ages. This is sensible and logical. However,there is a mystic and superstitious side of Judaism. These writings are the Kabbalah. It is not part of historic mainstream Judaism. If an insurance salesman quotes Kabbalah, sit him down and take his temperature.

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    Name : L Freeman, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Can't recall, Disability : vision, hearing gait, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 70+, City : Chicago, State : IL Country : United States, Occupation : retired teacher, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #14562

    Robert
    Member

    Kaballah in its original form is way different then the Kaballah that you may be asking about (the one taught in LA, the one Madonna practicexs). Original Kaballah has a lot of depth, but this new version is a bastardization of the original: the new one is about getting what you want from God instead of about serving God.

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    Name : Robert, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 45, City : Alameda, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : Web Architect, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #46053

    David25927
    Participant

    Kabbalah was the occult (hidden or secret) inner teachings of Judiasm. It was the secret teachings of the temple priests, and was passed down only to the eldest son. It is a system of understanding how to decode the Bible and of things like the Tree of Life, which is supposedly the pattern of not only the creation of the universe, but, through the principle of ‘as above, so below’, a pattern which reappears in human beings and throughout the created world. Certainly one of the parts of it is gemetria, which is the numerological stuff that an earlier poster wrote about. Kabbalists believe that the actual 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet predate the creation of the universe, and that God created the universe through these letters, in the pattern known as the Tree of Life. Using a more modern metaphor, one of the things that Kabbalah, or any magical system is about is ‘hacking’ into the underlying code of the universe. The belief is that by understanding these teachings, we can affect the universe around us. The story is told that the first teachings that God gave Moses on the Mountain was the Kabbalah, but after the incident with the Golden Calf, he was so convinced the people were unworthy of it, he went back up and got the list of ‘Thou shalt nots’ that are the 10 commandments, and kept the ‘Thou shalt’ teachings of the Kabbalah hidden and secret, only for the initiated to know. It is really only in the second half of the Twenthieth Century that these teachings have become popularized. They have been around for a long time, but other than Jewish mystics, or Alchemists or Magicians who sampled several magical systems (Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Alchemy, Yoga, etc.), it was only an inner Jewish teaching. So, it’s not a religion, a cult or a fad (although I suspect that it may be a fad for some), it is magic. Which is to say, a way of interacting with the spiritual realm actually and with results.

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    Name : David25927, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 33, City : Los Angeles, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : Film Maker, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, 
    #46204

    Ben S.
    Participant

    Kabbalah has been around since the 12th century when early writings were produced by Moses of Leon in Spain. It is a continuation of an esoteric tradition that is probably much older than that – most ‘exoteric’ outer religious manifestations have an ‘esoteric’ or hidden teaching, which tends to be speculative, contradictory and difficult – hence it is often kept quiet for fear of alienating believers or attracting ostracism from powerful religious figures. It has a very long history, and the appropriation or ‘bastardisation’ of a version of it by a particular American sect has predictably little to do with the older versions – I’ve studied Kabbalah for a couple of years and never once read anything about wearing a red cord around my wrist or changing my name !

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    Name : Ben S., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : New Age/Metaphysical, Age : 35, City : Melbourne, State : NA Country : Australia, Occupation : corrections officer, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #38371

    Matt22014
    Participant

    Kabbalah is a Jewish mystic interpretation of scripture. It attempts to fill in the many holes that are present- have you ever read the bible, or more specifically the first 5 books? They don’t make a lot of sense and there’s really not much there. Kabbalah does things like try to explain why you see anthropomorphized descriptions of god, when god probably does not really have eyes, a face, etc. Kabbalists believe that god exists outside all time and space, and cannot be interacted with directly because we as humans would never be able to comprehend the indescribable god. This is not taught to all Jews and is in fact usually only taught to people who are very advanced in religious knowledge and practice, for fear of people misunderstanding it and doing crazy things, like the new fad (unfortunately) followed by Madonna.

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    Name : Matt22014, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 20, City : Bloomington, State : IN Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #42934

    Rachel30184
    Participant

    Kabbalah is a mystical branch of Judaism, not at all mainstream, but certainly thought provoking as a philosophy. The version practiced by celebrities is basically Kabbalah ‘light’ and warps the most basic of Jewish tenents. While celebrity-style Kabalah is very focused on improvement of the internal ‘self’ for personal benefit, classical Kabbalah’s goal is to effect change for the benefit of the world.

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    Name : Rachel30184, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 38, City : Los Angeles, State : CA Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #34566

    Benjamin
    Member

    ‘Is Kabbalah a religion, a cult, or the new fad for celebrities?’ No, yes, and yes. In the middle ages, Judaism, along with Christianity and Islam, all developed complex mystical traditions, based on preexisting ideas in each religion. These mystical formulations of religion sought to answer basic theological and cosmological questions: How did God create the world? Is the world part of God or separate? How can humans relate to God and see God in the world? What is our role in the world? Kabbalah, which is Hebrew for ‘received [tradition]’ is one such mystical tradition. In actuality, Kabbalah has many different variations. In the 1600s, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria developed a Kabbalistic theology/philosophy which became the dominant form. In essence, Lurianic Kabbalah describes the world as developing from a perfect unity with God. The universe ‘shattered,’ and various emanations of God (qualities) appeared in this imperfect world in different ways. It gets really confusing really fast. In essence, though, Luria proposed that traditional Jewish practice (kosher, keeping the Sabbath, honest business practice, and so forth) could redeem the world and move it closer to the unity with God it once had. In that sense, it is a part of mainstream Judaism as we know it today, though one which is considered too complex to be addressed to non-scholars. (In the same way that the average person has little interest or capacity to study Western philosophy in depth.) Zoom forward to the 1960s. The Age of Aquarius. Mystic crystal revelations. All that new age-y stuff. Americans and others sought quick-fix, feel-good spirituality, and many were obliged to offer it. The Kabbalah Center–that organization in the news with all the celebs–repackaged some of the Kabbalistic ideas with new age standards. The result is a new age cult/fad which has some of the trappings (and hence, some of the gravitas) of mainstream Judaism. By and large, though, it has no real connections to Judaism and its real mystical traditions.

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    Name : Benjamin, Gender : M, Religion : Jewish, Age : 29, City : St. Louis, State : MO Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, 
    #42312

    ATB
    Member

    Kabbalah is a deep and rich mystical tradition that has been around for some time. The earliest written evidence of the tradition comes from Spain in the 14th century; however, many Kabbalists believe the history of their beliefs goes back much farther, and that they were transmitted orally for many centuries. There is some evidence to suggest that this may be at least patially true. For example, though it is not specifically mentioned in any ancient Jewish texts, there are many similarities between the beliefs of the Kabbalah and some of the mystical writings found in the library of the Qumran community (the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’). Also, there are many parallels between the Kabbalah and the various bodies of mystical teachings that originated from Ptolemaic Egypt during the time of the cosmopolitan Helenistic middle east. Compare, for example, the Kabbalistic ‘Zohar’ (written in 14th century spain) with the Hermetic ‘Discourse on the Ogdoad and Ennead’ (a Coptic text discovered with the Nag Hammadi cache, from Egypt early in the 1st millenium). It is likely that Jewish mysticism both contributed to and was affected by this period of religious and cultural synthesis; which is interesting, as the two threads of thought were to meet again in 15th century Italy and, combined, have a considerable impact on the Renaissance mindset. There are many facets to the Kabbalah – it consists of a great deal more than the Hebrew letter numerology alluded to by the previous responder (this particulat branch is known as Gematria). Some of these are closely tied to Hebrew language and Jewish culture, and others have been popular amongst Christian mystics and other non-Jewish parties long before the advent of the current holywood obsession.

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    Name : ATB, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Hermeticist, Age : 30, City : Houston, State : TX Country : United States, Occupation : Engineer, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #47607

    Is Kabbalah a religion, a cult, or the new fad for celebrities? The answer is all of the above. Kabbalah is classical Hebrew for something which is received (in modern Hebrew it means a receipt). Traditionally, it refers to very deep/mystical interpretations of the bible, transmitted orally through the greatest scholars of each generation. The main ‘textbook’ of Kabbalah, Zohar, was published towards the end of the middle ages. Initially, many Rabbis considered it to be a forgery, but it is now unanimously accepted as genuine. This was followed by the publication of other Kabbalah works. The general availability of these texts spawned many mystical cults (some within Judaism, some splitting off, often something in between). Recently, The Kabbalah Centre (http://www.kabbalah.com/) made the mystique of Kabbalah texts and traditions into a new-age fad for celebrities and anyone else willing to buy their courses or visit their store. See http://www.somethingjewish.co.uk/articles/459_madonna_the_mystic_.htm

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    Name : Shlomo Taub, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 25, City : Manchester, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Occupation : Software Developer, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #13793

    Jeremy30939
    Participant

    The fad and the real Kabbalah are two different things. Far from being a fad, Kabbalah has been around for several centuries, and was a closely held secret for most of that time. A real devotion to Kabbalah requires a devotion to Judaism and a lot of intense study and meditation. It’s not impossible for celebrities to have such a devotion, but people are right to wonder about it. Having said that, some of Kabbalah’s methods are interesting and unique, and have become attractive to all sorts of people. There’s no harm in a little interest in Judaism, but people need to make sure the Kabbalah craze doesn’t cheapen the study or the religion, and they need to be aware of the danger of cults and wrongheaded ideas cherry-picking from Kabbalah to justify their existence. These concerns are why Kabbalah, thought to contain incredible power, was kept secret until the 20th century.

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    Name : Jeremy30939, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 27, City : Seattle, State : WA Country : United States, Occupation : Political Technology, Education level : 4 Years of College, 
    #15668

    Joseph29113
    Participant

    Kabbalah (pronounced, in modern Hebrew, as KabbaLAH) is an ancient discipline of Jewish mysticism. As others have noted, there is a large amount of it devoted to the Hebrew language and numerical values of letters, but that is by no means the breadth of it. Many medieval Torah commentators were Kabbalists (Nachmanides, for example, 13th cent Spain) and their works are highly respected – the educated student can discern what segments of a gloss is influenced by Kabbalah. The important thing about Kabbalah is that it should not be an end in and of itself – Kabbalah is only ‘real’ and useful (whatever that means) to one who is an accomplished Torah scholar, with years of learning of the more traditional material under his belt.

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    Name : Joseph29113, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 27, City : Philadelphia, State : PA Country : United States, Occupation : professional, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
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