History of Kabbalah
What is Kabbalah?
Kabbalah predates any religion or theology. It was given to mankind by the Creator, without any prerequisites or preconditions. According to kabbalistic teachings, the universe operates according to certain supremely powerful principles. By learning to understand and act in accordance with these precepts, we will vastly improve our lives today, and ultimately we will achieve true fulfillment for ourselves and for all humanity. Just as basic physical laws such as gravity and magnetism exist independently of our will and awareness, the spiritual laws of the universe influence our lives every day and every moment. Kabbalah empowers us to understand and live in harmony with these laws -- to use them for the benefit of ourselves and the world.
Kabbalah is much more than an intellectually compelling philosophical system. It is a precise description of the interwoven nature of spiritual and physical reality -- and it is a full complement of powerful, practical methods for attaining worthy goals within that reality. Simply put, Kabbalah gives you the tools you need to achieve happiness, fulfillment, and to bring the Light of the Creator into your life. It is the way to gain the peace and joy you want and deserve at the very core of your being.
The wisdom of Kabbalah has been passed down to us by Abraham, Moses, and the other patriarchs and matriarchs of the Bible, and by the great kabbalists of history, including Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabbi Isaac Luria. Indeed, one of the most important aspects of Kabbalah is the passing of its teachings from master to student over many generations -- and today it is Rav Berg who carries on the legacy of Kabbalah by bringing its wisdom to the world.
For millennia, Kabbalah was suppressed by those who did understand it, but even the ancient kabbalistic sages chose to keep their knowledge hidden. These great kabbalists realized that the time was not yet right to make this wisdom available to humanity in general. Meanwhile, intolerance and fear caused those in power to criminalize the study of Kabbalah and to persecute those who dared to undertake it. But throughout this long era of repression, kabbalists always understood that a very different time was coming -- a time in which the world would at last be prepared to receive Kabbalah, and free to do so as well. A crucial milestone in that new era was reached in 1922, when The Kabbalah Centre was established in Jerusalem by Rabbi Ashlag.
TIME OF CREATION
There was Adam.
Adam was not an ordinary man living in an earthly garden paradise, as a literal reading of the Bible might suggest. Rather, he is a being who lives in a dimension beyond our physical universe. His essence consists of all the souls who have walked this planet-past, present, and future.
The very first book of Kabbalah was given to Adam by the entity Raziel. This text is so profound, and its secrets hold such a high level of spiritual energy, that by today's standards one would not be allowed to pronounce its words; for speech has the power to ignite tremendous forces of energy.
Randomly uttering words from the Book of Adam would be equivalent to a small
child playing with high voltage wires. The book is a blueprint of creation.
Consider it the DNA code of the cosmos.
ABRAHAM THE PATRIARCH - 4000 YEARS AGO
Abraham was the first man to realize that there is only one God-that the entire universe is interconnected as one unified whole on a deeper level of reality.
The great patriarch was the first man since the dawn of human civilization to transcribe an actual book on Kabbalah.
It is called the Book of Formation, and it holds the exalted mysteries and sublime secrets of our universe. Remarkably, the entire compilation is only a few pages long, a mere few hundred words.
Consider Einstein's equation: E=mc2. Pages of mathematical equations are concealed inside this simple formula. The secrets of time, space, and motion are reduced to five simple characters.
There lies the secret behind the Book of Formation: Abraham's work contains all the spiritual equations concerning our world of time, space, and motion. The Book of Formation conceals all the secrets of existence - from the origins of life to the origins of the chaos that afflict mankind.
The same way that a child - and most adults, for that matter - has a difficult
time understanding Einstein's formula, the people of Abraham's generation failed
to perceive the infinite wisdom within his ancient manuscript. It took a few
thousand years before mankind would unravel the secrets of electrical energy. It
will take as many years for us to unravel the secrets of spiritual energy locked
inside Abraham's Book of Formation.
MOSES - 3400 YEARS AGO
He was the greatest prophet the world has ever seen...
A prince in the land of Egypt...
Later, a liberator of slaves from the land he once helped rule...
But ultimately, a humble servant of God, whose humility and loyalty knew no boundaries.
His name was Moses.
And he became a lawgiver to a new nation that he helped forge in the fiery furnace of the Sinai desert.
After leading the Israelites out of bondage from Egypt, Moses stood atop Mount Sinai.
Here he received both the knowledge of the Torah and the supernal wisdom of Kabbalah.
The Torah can be likened to the physical body of the Bible. Kabbalah is its unseen soul.
The Torah tells us how the world works, utilizing the poetic language of metaphor and story. The Kabbalah tells us why the world works as it does, by deciphering the Torah's coded messages. It reveals the universal laws of life.
Contrary to 3400 years of misunderstanding, what Moses did NOT receive on Mount Sinai was a religion. That was entirely man's invention.
RABBI SHIMON BAR YOKHAI - 70 C.E.
The first century.
A time of holocaust.
The Roman Empire occupied the Land of Israel, and the streets were bathed in blood.
The Romans launched a severe crackdown on the spiritual activities of the Israelites. The greatest sage of the era - a man who would be called the Father of the World - was sentenced to death.
His name, Rabbi Akiva.
His crime, the love of God.
Thousands gathered in the streets to witness the grim execution. Akiva's skin was brutally ripped from his body with razor-sharp iron combs. The shadow of death consumed him at a pace that was immorally unhurried.
But the mystic Akiva had mastered the physical world. He experienced excruciating pain for only an instant before the ecstasy of spiritual energy filled his entire being; he departed this world with untold joy in his heart.
He left behind his most cherished disciple, a man who would become the greatest Kabbalist in history, a giant among mystics: the revered sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yokhai.
The Roman Empire feared the mighty Yokhai even more than Akiva. Thus, another death sentence was handed down. The mystic sought refuge in a secluded cave in Piquin, Israel with his son. For 13 long years, they were forced to hide out from Caesar's army.
Seeking to attain the same control over the material realm as his great teacher, Rabbi Shimon buried himself into the ground, neck deep, each day of his seclusion. During these long years of painful isolation, he received instruction in the mystical arts of Kabbalah. His teachers were Moses and Elijah the prophet.
When leadership of the Roman Empire changed hands, Rabbi Shimon and his son were free to return to Jerusalem. The years of intense pressure from the earth had scarred and mangled the mystic's body. But the spiritual Light that radiated from his soul made it hard for ordinary men to stand in his presence.
To protect the secrets of the universe that were revealed to him, Rabbi Shimon called upon one student - Rabbi Abba - to commit his teachings to written word. Abba had an extraordinary gift for writing in the abstract language of metaphor and parable. Thus, the secrets would be safe, deftly concealed inside abstruse stories, making it difficult for the wicked and unworthy to grasp and misuse this ancient power.
Thus the Zohar, the ultimate spiritual work on Kabbalah, was born. To this day, the Zohar ("Book of Splendor") is acknowledged as the definitive and authoritative work on Kabbalistic wisdom.
The manuscript was considered a work of mysticism and magic by the people of the
The Zohar expounded upon ideas and concepts that were centuries ahead of their time. In an age where science determined the world was flat, the Zohar depicted our planet as spherical, with people experiencing day and night at the same time, in different time zones.
The Zohar describes the moment of creation as a Big Bang-like explosion. It speaks of a universe that exists in ten dimensions. It explores the notion of parallel universes.
These speculations were considered heretical and frightening. Yet, they were not the most fantastic to appear in the Zohar. That designation belongs to the next idea....
Rabbi Shimon said the Zohar is more than a book of secrets and spiritual wisdom.
This mystical treatise is a powerful energy-giving instrument, a life-saving tool imbued with the power to bring genuine peace, protection, healing, and fulfillment to those who possess it.
Like the monolith in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Zohar can spark the soul of a generation, igniting profound change and transformation within the consciousness of man and society.
In other words, just as a light bulb illumines a darkened room, revealing objects previously unseen, the spiritual Light of the Zohar can enlighten the minds of men to the hidden mysteries of the cosmos.
According to the Kabbalist, these unseen influences would eventually help shape the destiny of humankind, as the Zohar's presence gradually widened in our world.
The great sage Yokhai stated that there would come a day when even a six-year-old child will delve into the spiritual wisdom of Kabbalah. But until that time arrives, the original manuscripts of the Zohar must remain concealed.
They were then hidden away for centuries.
The dimming of the Zohar's spiritual Light coincided with the Dark Ages, a time where every aspect of civilization - including education, science, and communications - was in severe regression.
KABBALIST R. MOSES DELEON—13TH CENTURY
A great Spanish Kabbalist named Moses Deleon makes a startling discovery. The sage uncovers the Zohar manuscripts in a cave in Israel. In terms of spiritual significance, the recent discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls pales in comparison to the unearthing of the Zohar.
Remarkably, Rabbi Shimon wrote that the concealment of the Zohar would last 1200 years from the time of the destruction of the Holy Temple.
Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 CE. Moses Deleon revealed the Zohar in the year 1270.
1200 years elapsed before the Zohar finally saw the light of day, just as Rabbi Shimon anticipated.
1270 - (1200 years apart)
Moses Deleon's discovery generally went unnoticed by the world. But it was a
significant turning point for mankind, as the Light of the Zohar radiated into
the world for the first time in history. Its arcane verses rendered the work
inaccessible to the masses. However, the energy emanating from its mystical text
sparked the collective unconscious of a generation. The power of the Zohar
propelled the world out of the Dark Ages.
THE MASTER ABRAHAM AZULAI - 16th CENTURY
Famed Kabbalist Rabbi Abraham Azulai wrote a Kabbalistic treatise entitled The Mercy of Abraham. Two particular passages stand out:
Azulai wrote that a significant spiritual transformation will begin to take hold beginning with the Hebrew calendar year of 5760.
It will be an age where Kabbalah will spread to the four corners of the globe.
A period when time and space shrink.
A time when the secrets of immortality begin to unravel before the world's eyes.
The Hebrew Calendar year of 5760 corresponds to the year 2000.
The second passage reveals a historic decree issued by the sages of antiquity:
From the year 1540 and onward, the basic levels of Kabbalah must be taught publicly to everyone, young and old. Only through Kabbalah will we forever eliminate war, destruction, and man's inhumanity to his fellow man.
The Mercy of Abraham
And so, it came to pass that from the year 1540 onward, the prohibition against learning Kabbalah was over.
But there was a problem..
The world was at a crossroads. The lines among science, philosophy, and mysticism were blurred. Brilliant minds - both wise and wicked - dabbled freely among these three disciplines.
Unlike the view of contemporary scientists, a connection between science and mysticism was not frowned upon, but understood for what it truly was: two halves of one whole!
Mysticism correlated to the intangible aspect of a song - the melody. Science corresponded to the mathematics and tangibility of sheet music.
Both are correct.
Both are complementary.
But it is the melody that stirs the soul and sends it soaring. One cannot experience the rising emotions aroused by a symphony, merely by studying musical notes inscribed on paper.
Therein lay the crux of the problem, as we shall see next.…
Throughout history, there have been men well-versed in the philosophies, sciences and mystical traditions. Some of these men have mined Kabbalah for their own gain and honor, advancing their egos but delaying the arrival of a world that embodies peace and fulfillment for all mankind.
Hence, from this perspective, these were still dangerous times. Prejudice and bias towards spiritual wisdom - as it exists today - was practically non-existent during the Renaissance, even among the most material-minded men. Therefore, it was imperative that Ari's writings remain encoded and obscured.
Nonetheless, Abraham Azulai's historic action officially planted the seed for
disseminating Kabbalah to the people. The seed would just have to wait a little
bit longer before being allowed to germinate.
RAV YEHUDA ASHLAG - EARLY 20th CENTURY
The turn of the 20th Century.
He was the most profound Kabbalist of our generation. The one man, perhaps, who truly understood - and yet helped advance - the transformations of the 20th Century.
He was the eminent Kabbalist, the revered master, Rav Yehuda Ashlag.
Rav Ashlag broke with the 4,000-year-old tradition that had locked Kabbalah's great power inside the mystifying writings of the Ari. The time had come to act. The ancient vaults to Kabbalah were to be opened by the hands of this renowned sage.
Rav Ashlag explained that the Zohar foresaw the physicality of today's material world and its rule over the spiritual reality. During these times, men motivated by self-interest, intellectualism, and ego avoid spiritual wisdom like the plague. Only those who seek truth with a pure heart are able to find this wisdom. These views are expressed in his Kabbalistic treatise Entrance to the Tree of Life.
Moreover, Rav Ashlag stated that those who seek the truth of Kabbalah must undergo seven tests to ensure that they are worthy to acquire this knowledge.
Therefore, the time arrived to remove the veils:
In such a generation as ours there is nothing to be feared from disclosing the true wisdom openly.
- Entrance to the Tree of Life, Rav Yehuda Ashlag
The year was 1922. The mystic Ashlag established the very first Kabbalah Centre in the city of Jerusalem. Learning was made available to those who were steeped in religious studies, were Orthodox, and were over the age of 40.
Many leading rabbis of his generation applauded this historic opening. Others vehemently opposed it, fanning the flames of controversy that surrounded the dissemination of this spiritual wisdom.
Rav Ashlag was beaten outside of his synagogue. He was left lying in his own blood, on the steps of his temple, merely for offering wisdom to his fellow man.
Rav Ashlag delved into Lurianic Kabbalah with devout fervor. He unraveled some of the greatest secrets that mankind has ever known. But the vast majority of the world paid little attention to his historic action, nor could they perceive its influence.
Rav Ashlag's writings tackle topics that pertain to the ultimate removal of chaos - the chaos that has ravaged humankind since time immemorial.
Concepts such as relativity, space travel, healing, and other matters affecting the welfare of humankind were first concealed in the Zohar some 2000 years ago. Rav Ashlag's genius lay in his ability to extrapolate these secrets from the Ari's 500-year-old writings. As the mysteries were unveiled, they were injected into the collective unconscious of the people, including his counterparts toiling in the world of physics. Once again, the "monolith effect" was at work.
On the unseen spiritual level, his work ignited the technological explosion of the 20th century.
Rav Ashlag was blessed with immense powers of meditation and vision. In the 1920s, he penned a letter of warning: a great spiritual void and darkness was slowly swallowing up Central and Eastern Europe.
The ominous letter was sent to leading European Rabbis, pleading with them to circulate the spiritual light of the Zohar throughout the continent. Failure to do so, warned Rav Ashlag, would lead to a destruction and spiritual decline in Judaism, "the likes of which mankind has never seen before."
His warnings were ignored. The mere mention of the word Kabbalah continued to strike fear, and often cold hatred, into the hearts of many religious leaders.
Rav Ashlag wrote:
Redemption depends on the learning of Kabbalah. If people neglect the study of mysticism, then poverty, war, desolation, murder, and destruction will come to the world.
These are harsh statements. Difficult words. But spiritual truths, nonetheless.
The year was 1955. Kabbalist Ashlag left our world on the night of Yom Kippur, a time befitting a man of his spiritual stature.
Perhaps Rav Ashlag's greatest legacy is the first-ever Hebrew translation of the
Zohar from its original Aramaic. This monumental mystical tome includes a
profound and lucid commentary disclosing the long-hidden secrets of the Zohar
and their relevance to our lives. His other notable legacy is his beloved
student, the sainted Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Brandwein.
MILESTONES FOR KABBALAH
All these important steps have carefully paved the way for what was once considered to be the unthinkable - ordinary people around the world learning the world's oldest, most powerful spiritual knowledge - knowledge that has been a forbidden fruit since the dawn of civilization.
The Lightless Moon and Shadow
First, some Kabbalistic insights into our cosmos:
The moon, according to the Zohar, correlates to humanity and our physical world.
The moon has no light of its own.
The moon's light is derived from the sun.
Likewise, the physical world has no spiritual Light of its own. Man's spiritual Light is derived from an Upper World dimension called Zeir Anpin. In the Kabbalistic blueprint of reality, the lightless moon personifies the physical world, and the Light-filled Upper World is embodied by the sun.
Think of it this way: A person's shadow on the wall is a reflection of his true self. There's a connection and relationship between a person and his shadow.
Put simply, Kabbalah is not using the sun and moon as metaphors. The two heavenly bodies are actual reflections, shadows of these spiritual truths.
The moon and its characteristics is a shadow of humanity. The sun, a source of light, is a shadow of a higher dimension that is the source of our spiritual Light.
Let's move on....
Today, millions of people have been exposed to this long-hidden wisdom. Countless lives have been dramatically touched by the spiritual Light of the Zohar.
With the floodgate of Kabbalistic knowledge now open, humanity is beginning to witness - and participate in - a people's revolution of enlightenment on both a spiritual and scientific level. Thus, both science and spirituality have experienced more advancement in the 20th century than in all the previous centuries combined!
And still, this is only the beginning.
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