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Often referred to as the "soul" of the Torah, the Kabbalah is an ancient Jewish tradition which teaches the deepest insights into the essence of G-d, His interaction with the world, and the purpose of Creation. Kabbalah teaches the essential Jewish cosmology, integral to all other Torah disciplines. Sometimes called "the Inner Torah" or the "Wisdom of Truth", it offers a comprehensive overall structure and plan for the universe, as well as a detailed understanding of the particulars of our lives. The student of Kabbalah is made aware of the personal as well as the collective rectification process and is encouraged to play an active part in it. Judaism is based on the public Revelation at Sinai, when the Torah was given to Israel. The historical event of Sinai attests to the divine source and nature of the Torah, and the Torah in turn serves as the exclusive criterion for any subsequent claims and teachings. The general term for Jewish mysticism is "Kabbalah". "Kabbalah" means "tradition". Kabbalah is not a compound of personal insights. It is not a collection of reports of what various sages and saints had to say on the meaning of life and ultimate values - based on their mystical experiences or visions. It is not a system born in a vacuum.Authentic Jewish mysticism is an integral part of Torah, and Torah determines what is authentic Jewish mysticism. Kabbalah and its teachings - no less than Jewish Law - are an integral part of the Torah. They are traced back to the historical roots of Sinai, part and parcel of "Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it…." To be sure, in various works of Kabbalah one can find reports of mystical experiences, visions, the supernatural - all those things and more which we normally link to mysticism. They are there, but they are not the essence or even a major part of Kabbalah. At best they are effects, possibilities of potential effects that may accompany a mystic's life. The authentic mystic, however, will not seek to manipulate and will shun interference with the natural order instituted by the Creator. The authentic mystic seeks knowledge, understanding. He wants to "Know theG-d of your father", to fulfill the precept of "You shall know this day and consider in your heart that G-d He is G-d in Heaven above and upon the earth below - there is nothing else." He seeks to realize and understand this axiom not only as an intellectual affirmation of truth but as a living reality within the limits of his capacity - profoundly sensing the literal omnipresence of G-d, with a penetrating understanding and knowledge, as much as possible. Kabbalah is theology in the fullest sense - including ontology, cosmogony and cosmology. It is not speculative philosophy based on human insight nor theories derived from human reasoning. It is a study, as it were, of Divinity and of the relationship between G-d and His Creation, based on the premises of revealed truth. It is the very core and soul of Torah, the ultimate revelation of Divinity - exposing the inner meaning, effects and purpose of Torah and mitzvahs. The illumination emanating from Kabbalah ignites the soul of man, setting it on fire in the awareness of a deeper and higher reality. Its study and insights are themselves mystical experiences. Kabbalah is all this - but always and exclusively within the context of Torah. As a body cannot function without a soul, so the soul is ineffective without the body. The soul of the Torah, (_nistar_, the esoteric part of the Torah) can never be separated from the body of the Torah (_nigleh_, the exoteric parts; _halacha_, the commandments and practices prescribed by the Torah). Kabbalah reduced to spiritual or philosophical symbolism, stripped from the observance of the _mitzvahs_, is worthless mumbo-jumbo, an empty shell.

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1 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "The study of Kabbalah is divided into three basic areas: the theoretical, the meditative, and the practical.The theoretical deals with the form of the mysteries, teaching the structure of the angelic domains as well as of the sefirot, or divine emanations. With great success, it deals with problems posed by the many schools of philosophy, and it provides a conceptual framework into which all theological ideas can be fitted. It also provides a framework through which the mechanism of both the meditative and practical Kabbalah can be understood. The vast majority of Kabbalah texts and Kabbalah study today deals with the theoretical Kabbalah.The practical Kabbalah, on the other hand, was a kind of white magic, dealing with the use of techniques that could evoke supernatural powers. It involved the use of divine names and incantations, amulets and talismans, as well as chiromancy, physiognomy and astrology. Many theoretical kabbalists, led by the Ari, frowned on the use of such techniques, labeling them as dangerous and spiritually demeaning. As a result, only a very small number of texts have survived at all.The theoretical Kabbalah essentially gives us a description of the spiritual realm. Practical Kabbalah tells you how to get into this inner space. Very often, the theoretical Kabbalah is an important guide once you are in there. Otherwise, it is like taking off in a plane; you need maps and charts to make sure you will be able to land. The theoretical Kabbalah gives you these landmarks; in other words, which world you are in, whether on the side of good or of evil, etc.The meditative Kabbalah stands between these two extremes. Some of the earliest meditative methods border on the practical Kabbalah, and their use is discouraged by the latter masters, especially those of the Ari's school. Within this category are the few surviving texts from the Talmudic period. The same is true of the teachings of the Thirteenth Century master, Rabbi Abraham Abulafia, whose meditative works have never been printed and survive only in manuscript.An important point which is often lost is that Kabbalah cannot stand by itself without the entire corpus of the revealed Torah; it is an integral part of the Torah. There is not a single kabbalistic work which does not contain quotations from the Bible, the Talmud and the Midrash and require a profound knowledge of all of these. Bible, Talmud, Midrash and Kabbalah all work together."