What is Kabbalah?

People get confused about Kabbalah. Is it Kabbalah? Or Cabala or Qabalah? Is it a sect? Is it about the Kabbalah Centre (you know – “the Madonna place”)? Is it just for Jews? Are women allowed to study it? Is it only for Jewish men over the age of 40? Is it anti-Christian? Is it flat-out wrong?

This blog is the place to come to in order to ask any questions you might have about Kabbalah (and yes, that’s how I’m going to spell it, even though, truly it “should” be Qabalah because it comes from the Hebrew letters QBLH. However one of the things I’d like to dispel here is the idea that “should” has anything to do with it.

But then I would say that because I’m a woman and I’m not Jewish.

Kabbalah is Hebrew for “receive.” This Western Mystery Tradition is simply an oral tradition which works as scaffolding for understanding the relationship between Divinity, the Universe and Humanity. There are lots of different forms of this and lots of people may tell you that there is only one way to study it.

Why does it exist? Because as soon as any tradition of faith is written down it becomes crystallised — locked in the culture and social mores of its time. To remain relevant, it must be accompanied by a parallel Living Tradition which knows how to update the teaching within its basic scaffolding so that it makes perfect sense today. All faith traditions have an oral, living tradition. This is the one for Judaeo-Christian world.

I love this particular tradition which has helped me heal deep wounds from within both Judaism and Christianity. However, what I want to make clear here is that you are the one who gets to choose which system works for you and as soon as any tradition starts throwing bricks at other folk who do it differently, then you are working from a crystallised mindset, better known as a religion. And a religion is where the trouble starts…

This is one of my books on the subject of de-mystifying Kabbalah.

2 thoughts on “What is Kabbalah?

  1. There are some good points here. It is interesting how widespread this idea is that only married men over the age of 40 would be allowed to study Kabbalah. This restriction may have been applied in certain times and places, yet we know for example that Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, one of the most famous kabbalists, began his studies at age 20. And also, there have been kabbalistic communities, where everyone is steeped in the tradition from childhood, men, women, and children all.

    I think one of the key points here is that Kabbalah is indeed a Living tradition. People like to think the main importance is diagrams or intellectual learning, but the key is inner understanding and learning to live as kinder and better people.

    Thanks for sharing


    1. I’m pretty sure the ‘over 40’ rule only showed up after the ‘false messiah’ farago of Sabbatai Zevi in the 1600s. That clamped a lot of Kabbalah.

      And yes, living it is the key … living it. Thanks for commenting.


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