For a long time I struggled with how to define Kabbalah. I’d talk about the different major books, like the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), and the major teachers, such as Abraham Abulafia and Isaac Luria. I never failed, however, to mention the definition of the Hebrew word itself – kabbalah. And as my study took me farther and farther into what Kabbalah taught about conscious creation and giving and receiving, I found this word to represent the epitome of what has become known as Jewish mysticism.
The world “kabbalah” comes from the Hebrew rootl’kabel, which means “to receive.” More often than not, therefore, kabbalah is translated simple to mean “to receive.” Other people translate this word as “reception” or “received.” The assumption becomes that Kabbalah consists of received teachings, or a body of knowledge and customs passed down from one generation to another, passed on l’dor v’dor(from generation to generation). A student receives a teaching from a teacher. This is a receiving, a Kabbalah, if you will.
More exists to the receiving. The person studying or practicing Kabbalah receives (or tries to receive) knowledge of God and information about how to live. As author Arthur Kurzweil says, in Kabbalah for Dummies, “Kabbalah is a theological process central to Judaism. That is, Kabbalah is the way in which Jewish tradition tries to grasp the Infinite and tries to communicate to each generation the ways that the sages have understood that human life – in relation to the creator – should be lived.” It’s how we ask questions about life’s hard issues and open to receive the answers: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does suffering exist? Why did God create evil? Is there life after death? How do I know God? Why am I here? How was the world created? What is my purpose? And it’s how we open to receive God, to have an experience of God- to have a spiritual experience.
To me, Kabbalah teaches you how to receive. What are we to receive? All the goodness God wanted to give us when the Creator had the first thought, the first desire, to create the world and us in it. Kabbalah offers us ways to learn how to become containers for this goodness. It prepares us to receive, tells us what we should want to receive and what we will receive, explains from where the things we desire will come, and helps us figure out what we need to receive.
Kabbalah allows us to receive God into our lives, and with God comes all sorts of gifts. The question becomes, are we ready to receive? What do we need to do to become good receivers? How do we receive God? And how do we allow in all of God’s goodness?
That’s Kabbalah. And that’s why I think Kabbalah has so much to say about conscious and deliberate creation and the Law of Attraction. It’s also why I think Kabbalah goes so, so much farther, so much deeper than anything written to date on this subject.
Photo courtesy of Ambro