I’m not a Kabbalist, but I write about Kabbalah. I also have a coaching process based upon Kabbalah. I know enough about Kabbalah to interpret and understand some of it, to “repackage it” in an understandable way, and to make it practical for myself and for others to use.
If you can’t use such a phenomenal body of spiritual knowledge, like Kabbalah, what good is it? Not much good. That’s why I try to chunk it down into little useable pieces for myself and for others.
How I Discovered Kabbalah
When I was in my early 30s, I discovered Kabbalah. I had been involved in the New Age Movement for years and somewhere along the line I learned a bit about Kabbalah. What I learned was this: Jewish mysticism contained many of the same beliefs and teachings as those I’d found, and that I believed to be true, outside of Judaism. I became interested, therefore, in Kabbalah.
After my first child was born, my husband and I chose to raise our children as Jews. We began following a Jewish path, but it was heavily spiritual and mystical. We began studying Kabbalah.
How I Began Teaching and Writing about Kabbalah
I began teaching Kabbalah when my rabbi stopped teaching a class on the subject at our synagogue in the Chicago area. (I had asked him to teach classes, but he wasn’t really that interested; he did it for a while then asked me to step in.) He had chosen to use The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet’s Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India as his text. I would read books, like God Is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism and The Seventh Telling: The Kabbalah of Moeshe Katan, and regurgitate with my own understanding added in.
Later, I began looking for some of what I believed within the mystical teachings—things less obvious or easy to find, like deliberate or conscious creation. When I found them, I began to play around with these ideas and teachings to figure out how they could be disseminated in ways that others—Jews and non-Jews—could understand and use.
This spurred within me a desire to do more than teach these principles. I wanted to work with people and to write books on these topics. I wanted to share and serve on a larger scale.
That’s how I got where I am now. I’m not a Kabbalist, but I write, speak, teach, and coach using some Kabbalistic principles.
Kabbalah is for Everyone
Kabbalah is a wonderfully rich and meaningful mystical tradition. Someone once told me you can’t practice Judaism without also “practicing” Kabbalah. It’s part and parcel of the religion. That means all Jews who practice their religion know something about and use Kabbalah.
Yet, many Jews who find Judaism empty and meaningless don’t realize that the meaning-full and spirit-full aspect of Judaism they seek can be found in its mystical tradition. And those who leave Judaism for other traditions don’t realize that what they seek might be in their religion of birth.
Not only that, it is a rich tradition of its own that many non-Jews find fascinating and meaningful. That’s why so many celebrities study Kabbalah. They aren’t practicing Kabbalah; they are practicing a form of Judaism seeped in Kabbalistic teachings and traditions. They do so because they find it spirit-full and meaning-full. They also find Kabbalah a path to transformation both personally and spiritually. In fact, its principles can be used for personal growth or as a human potential “course.”
I’ve found it all in Kabbalah: joyous practice, introspective practice, angels, guides, reincarnation, creative thought, meditation, blessings, prayers, sacred space, and more—and, of course, ways to connect to the Divine. I’ve also found important lessons in how to improve myself, be a better person and achieve personal, spiritual and professional goals.
Who Can Teach Kabbalah?
When I was under 40, I was criticized for teaching Kabbalah. The most observant or religious say you must be over 40, a male and a Torah scholar. I didn’t care. I taught anyway. I’m now 53, and I’m still not a Torah scholar. In fact, I’ve forgotten some of what I used to know.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, however, taught that we all have an obligation to teach what we know—no matter how small the bit of knowledge. By so doing we elevate ourselves to the next spiritual level, or the next level of consciousness. This makes room for someone else to move up a level, too. For this reason, I feel I must continue to teach what I know.
Plus, teaching is giving. I believe the way to connect with God is to be more like God, and God is a Giver. This opens us up to receive, and the Kabbalists say our Divine purpose is actually to receive gifts from God. Indeed, each time I teach, either by speaking or writing what I know, I find myself receiving more knowledge and understanding. That is a gift.
Kabbalah is a Flow
Kabbalah is a flow. It’s a circle of giving and receiving. Yes, the word “kabbalah” means “to receive.” What do we receive? Actually, teachings and understanding.
Try it. Teach something. Anything. Give something. Anything. See what happens. Tell me about your experience in a comment.