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Zephyros  Zephyros is offline
Join Date: 31 Jan 2004
Location: Israel
Posts: 8,179

Originally Posted by Cheiromancer View Post
Come to think of it, I don't know what mainline Judaism thinks of Kabbalah. Or what the main views are. What would the average Jew in the synagogue say about it? Is it harmless woo-woo, or is it spiritually dangerous, or what? About all I know of it is that it was traditionally restricted to Jewish men of a certain age (40?) with children, with a lot of experience studying Torah. I don't know if Christian Cabalists had any special restrictions.
Well, opinions may vary, but it is important to define one's terms. In Jewish mainstream religious circles, the Torah is all, it is the direct conduit to God's own word. There is nothing beyond it, and no authority higher. Kabbalah, as an extension, is another way of coming to terms with it, through study. While groups such as the Golden Dawn may have appropriated it for their own ends, Jewish Kabbalah is an extension of faith, not magic or occult or anything like that. It is used to understand better the Torah, the word of God.

That doesn't mean, however, that everyone studies it. The restrictions put in place seem arbitrary, but I don't believe they are. At its root, Kabbalah is nihilistic, and impressing a young mind that they are nothing that came from nothing is dangerous both psychologically and religiously. Taking it to extremes, one could lose faith in the world, question whether anything even matters and perhaps even go insane (especially when paired with extreme religious fervor!). Kabbalah is not for young hotheads. From the religious aspect, to study the Torah, to marry, to be fruitful and multiply, to teach the Torah and to engage in the Jewish community are central tenets, and it is inappropriate that one should eschew all that for advanced enlightenment. Fulfill your obligations to God first, then do whatever you want.

As to what people actually think of it, it depends who you ask. In Israel gematria and different Kabbalistic techniques are used for a variety of things, from setting wedding dates to business deals to children's names. It has a big "people" aspect, although it can be argued that using it this way is more superstition and tradition than anything else. For the religious people, I wouldn't say it is seen as dangerous, but few people are on the level of actually studying infinitely complex Rabbinical Kabbalistic literature, Kabbalistic Torah interpretations and other related things, these are reserved for people who have made them their life's work. Remember that while occult orders concentrated on a small part of Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, it could be said that the "real meat" of Kabbalah is interpretation of the Torah with it, and that takes dedication.
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