A Brief History of Kabbalah
Beginning kabbalah from here!

Beginning kabbalah with kabbalah products
World Wide Free Shipping !
Beginning kabbalah > A Brief History Of Kabbalah

A Brief History of Beginning Kabbalah
By Rabbi Sinai Julian

Three and a half thousand years ago an event occurred in an empire at the edge of Afrika that would have a major impact on the lives of every single human being that has lived since and will yet live on Earth.

The Creator of the Universe gave three million newly freed slaves from the corrupt Egyptian civilization of the time a glimpse of His infinite reality.

The three million terrified former slaves, known as the Hebrews, begged their leader Moshe to intercede on their behalf since it was inconceivable to them that they could possibly survive the slavery. The Creator consented and Moshe proceeded up Mount Sinai, where he received the Torah straight from The Holy One, Blessed Be He.

The Torah thus became Hashem's direct communication with the People of Israel and through them to the rest of the world.

What Moshe brought down in physical form was a written text divided into Five Books. He also brought with him two other vitally precious treasures.

The first was an oral explanation of how to perform and integrate into our lives the Commandments (mitzvoth) enumerated in the written Torah. This was passed down through the generations as The Oral Tradition and survives to the present day as The Talmud.

The second treasure was the key that unlocks the deepest mysteries of underlying metaphysical truths about the nature of Creation and The Infinite Creator, hidden in the words and the very letters of the Written Torah.

This key was also passed down through the generations, but only to a restricted chosen few in each generation. These spiritual giants, who exist in every generation, preserved that which gradually over the centuries they refined and revealed through the written word. Their efforts brought forth more than three thousand texts in print alone, which today comprise that which is collectively known as "Kabbalah." (Hundreds more exist in manuscript form in private collections and libraries scattered throughout the world).

The Kabbalah has been compared by many to the modern science of physics. What physics attempts to do is to explain the substance of the universe (i.e. Creation) and how it works. It is both a theoretical science and a practical science.

The science of Kabbalah also explains the basic nature of Creation and has two aspects as well - one theoretical and the other practical. Not surprisingly, most of the discoveries being made in Physics today coincide with what we already know from Kabbalah.

The word "Kabbalah" itself comes from the Hebrew root word "kabal" which means "receive". The implication is that the knowledge of the Kabbalah is "received" by the scholars of each generation from those of the previous generation, reaching all the way back to the original "receiving" by Moshe at Mt. Sinai from G-d Himself. The Mishna says that "… Moshe transmitted it (the Torah) to Joshua, Joshua passed it on to the Elders of Israel, the Elders transmitted it to the Prophets, the Prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly, etc."

Moshe, being the master of all prophets that he was, understood the Torah completely. He was the perfect vessel to receive the complete knowledge contained within the Torah, including its deepest mysteries. Thus, the Mishna in Tractate Avot (Fathers) says that "Moshe Kibel (received) Torah" because he was the original mold from which all future prophets were to be formed. His was a complete and perfect kabbalah of the prophetic message from The Creator.

In the Book of Numbers (27:20) it says that when Moshe handed over the reins of leadership to Joshua, G-d told Moshe to "Invest him (Joshua) with your spirit…." Therefore when it says that he "…transmitted it to Joshua, etc.", the Sages of the Talmud explain that Moshe gave Joshua the necessary methods and disciplines for entering into a prophetic state; the "keys" for acquiring -- "receiving" -- prophecy. This is the tradition of Kabbalah.

During the ensuing period of the Prophets, the secrets of Kabbalah were guarded by the Master Prophets of each generation and taught to a select few disciples. With the closing of the period of the Prophets about to come to an end as the destruction of the First Holy Temple drew near, the prophet Ezekiel was shown a fantastic vision called "Ma'aseh Merkava" (the Workings of the Chariot). In this powerfully intense vision, Ezekiel is shown (and thereby we as well) the secrets of The Creation or, in other words, the Kabbalah.

Although the words are words of mystery and hardly understandable to the uninitiated, it is the first time that these secrets were committed to ink and parchment. In Tractate Chagiga in the Talmud, the Sages of Blessed Memory instruct that, "The Ma'aseh Merkava may be taught only to individual students one at a time and they must be wise, understanding with their own knowledge."

With the Roman Conquest and the ensuing destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Holy Temple, continued the long exile and dispersion until this day.

Realizing that there was a great danger that the Oral Tradition (including Kabbalah) could be lost with the scattering of the Jewish People, it became apparent to the Sages that it would have to eventually be committed to writing.

Under the leadership of Rabban Yochanon ben Zakai, the Sages began to gather and consolidate all the accumulated Oral Torah knowledge.

In the year 130 C.E. the Jews of Eretz Yisrael could no longer tolerate the outrages perpetrated by the Roman oppressor and rebelled. With Rabbi Akiva as the spiritual inspiration and Simon Bar Kochba as the military leader, the Jews actually succeeded in expelling the Romans. For three years the Land was free. But it was not to last.

The Romans returned and ruthlessly re-conquered the Jewish Homeland, this time setting out to completely eradicate all trace of this bothersome stubborn people. The land of the Jews, Judea, was renamed Palestine after the ancient Philistines.

As the Romans re-conquered every town and village they rounded up all the Jewish residents brought them to the coast and put them on any boat to come along to be sent to wherever in Empire the boat happened to be going. In addition, the study of Torah and the performance of its mitzvos became forbidden in the Land of Israel but not elsewhere in the Roman Empire. Living life as a Jew was easier elsewhere than in the Land of Israel itself. Thus was the scattering of the Jewish People complete.

As a result of these persecutions the Oral Tradition brought down to the Jewish nation from Mt. Sinai, in particular the Kabbalah tradition, was in danger of being forgotten or, even worse, changed and twisted to accommodate the perceived needs of every local community of Jews.

To preserve Jewish identity and survival as a people at all the Oral Tradition would have to be consolidated, organized and written down. Rabbi Akiva started the process of consolidation and organizing. He wrote down his "received" tradition and gave it the name "Sefer Yetzira" (Book of Formation).

Three other main pillars of the Kabbalah were also committed to writing during this period of persecution, violence and upheaval; Sefer Bahir (Book of Illumination) by Rabbi Nehunia ben Hakanah, Pirkei Hekhalot Rabatai (The Greater Book of Divine Chambers) by Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha and The Zohar (The Book of Splendor) by Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi).

The Zohar, in particular, became the primary source for the study of theoretical Kabbalah. It was said to have been revealed to Rashbi by the Prophet Elijah while Rashbi and his son were hiding from Roman persecution in a cave for thirteen years.

When it became clear that it was safe to emerge, Rashbi and his son established a school of Torah with the main emphasis on the closely guarded Secrets the of Torah (i.e. Kabbalah). This school survived for many years after the death of Rashbi and seventy years later, his disciples and students wrote down his most important teachings which then became the main body of what eventually was called The Zohar.

For more than a thousand years, what we today call The Zohar consisted of volumes of notes and writings handed down from the Rashbi and his disciples and kept from the general public by a small secret society of Talmudic scholars which through the years had grown from the original school of the Rashbi.

Finally in the mid-Thirteenth Century CE, one of the greatest Kabbalists of all time, Rabbi Moshe de Leon had the privilege and task of editing and finally publishing The Zohar as we know it today. Enough was already known of Zoharic literature by the great scholars of the time that it gained acceptance as a valid understanding of Torah with few objections.

Since the publication of the Zohar, two other periods of Jewish history have produced major developments in our understanding of Kabbalah.

In the sixteenth century CE, the city of Zefat in northern Israel became a magnet for great rabbis and scholars of Kabbalah. The greatest among them was a young and brilliant scholar born in to Ashkenazi parents in Jerusalem and sent to live with his uncle in Egypt where he was taught by the famous Torah scholar, R. Bezalel Ashkenazi, author of the Shita Mekubetzet.
The young genius' name was R. Yitzhchak Luria, also known as the "Ari" (acronym for Adoneinu Rabbi Yitzchak). After years of study and seclusion in Egypt, he was told in a dream by Elijah the Prophet that his time was limited and he needed to go to the Land of Israel to give over what he had learned. In 1569 CE he arrived in the holy city of Tzfat and within a short time gathered around himself an illustrious circle of disciples who included R. Yosef Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch, and R. Chaim Vital.

At the time of the Ari's arrival in Zefat. Chaim Vital was already well known and respected as a great scholar of Torah and its secrets. Upon meeting the Ari for the first time, the Ari said that his whole purpose in learning and teaching was so that Chaim Vital would learn from him and become his disciple. And so it was. Over the next two years the Ari spoke volumes and Chaim Vital took copious notes. In those two short years the Ari managed to transfer to his devoted disciple the entire wealth of his knowledge, creating a revolution in Jewish thought that has reverberated throughout the Jewish world to this very day.

Upon his sudden passing in 1572 CE, the Ari confered onto his beloved disciple, R. Chaim Vital, the momentous task of organizing and codifying all he had been taught.

The Ari's brilliant understanding of the Zohar and all the rest of the Kabbalah, set forth by R. Chaim Vital, made it more accessible than ever before. Through his genius he had been able to systematize and create a context for the esoteric knowledge found in the Zohar and all the other metaphysical works of Torah.

Ever since, the Lurianic system of Kabbalah is by and large the accepted way of understanding the secrets of Torah.

One more major development in Kabbalah is worthy of mention in such a short essay such as this; the advent of the Chassidic movement in the early 18th century. Founded by the charismatic and spiritual giant Israel ben Eliezer, known as the Ba'al Shem Tov, Chassidism took the Lurianic knowledge of Torah and applied it to the way a Jew needs to live his/her life.

Chassidism takes the esoteric knowledge unleashed by the Ari and applies it to the way one must view life and serve HaShem through the observance of the mitzvos (commandments) given to us in the Torah.

The most profound expression of this is to be found in the Chassidic masterpiece and foundational work popularly known as the Tanya, authored by the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi.

The writing and publication of the Tanya was a monumental spiritual and intellectual accomplishment that has had worldwide impact on the Jewish world. It remains to this day one of the most influential spiritual guides ever produced, translating the unfathomable mysteries of Kabbalah into a practical guide for the average Jew for living every day.

Today more than ever before, the sacred world of Kabbalah is of central importance in our day-to-day lives. Through the works of the Chassidic Masters, Kabbalah provides a practical guide for living. As a description of G-d's physical creation, with modern discoveries in physical sciences corroborating with increasing frequency accepted ancient truths revealed to us in Kabbalah, it has become the ultimate tool for understanding G-d's world and the true meaning of Torah as G-d's revelation to His world. Combined with the learning and doing of the Torah's Mitzvot, The Way of Kabbalah will bring the final redemption and the coming of the Holy Messiah, may it happen speedily in our days.


Find us on Facebook

FREE GIFT - Kabbalah Red String

Kabbalah & Jewish Jewlery on Sales


Ask the Rabbi

Receive updates of
sales & articles.