Kabbalism is the basis of nearly every tradition covered under the general heading of "occultism" Kabbalah:
Judaism has ancient mystical teachings Mysticism was taught only to those who had already learned Torah and Talmud Jewish mysticism is known as kabbalah, and part of it was written in the Zohar Kabbalah and its teachings have been distorted by mystics and occultists One well-known teaching is the Ein Sof and the Ten Sefirot When non-Jews ask about Judaism, they commonly ask questions like: Do you believe in heaven and hell?
In angels or the devil? What happens to the soul after death? What is the nature of G-d and the universe? The answers to questions like these define most religions; in fact, I have heard some people say that the purpose of religion is to answer these kinds of questions.
Yet in Judaism, most of these cosmological issues are wide open to personal opinion. The areas of Jewish thought that most extensively discuss these issues, Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism, were traditionally not even taught to people until the age of 40, when they had completed their education in Torah and Talmud.
Mysticism in Judaism Mysticism and mystical experiences have been a part of Judaism since the earliest days. The Torah contains many stories of mystical experiences, from visitations by angels to prophetic dreams and visions.
The Talmud considers the existence of the soul and when it becomes attached to the body. Jewish tradition tells that the souls of all Jews were in existence at the time of the Giving of the Torah and were present at the time and agreed to the Covenant.
There are many stories of places similar to Christian heaven and purgatory, of wandering souls and reincarnation. The Talmud contains vague hints of a mystical school of thought that was taught only to the most advanced students and was not committed to writing.
There are several references in ancient sources to ma'aseh bereishit the work of creation and ma'aseh merkavah the work of the chariot [of Ezekiel's vision]the two primary subjects of mystical thought at the time.
In the middle ages, many of these mystical teachings were committed to writing in books like the Zohar. Many of these writings were asserted to be secret ancient writings or compilations of secret ancient writings. Like most subjects of Jewish beliefthe area of mysticism is wide open to personal interpretation.
Some traditional Jews take mysticism very seriously. Mysticism is an integral part of Chasidic Judaismfor example, and passages from kabbalistic sources are routinely included in traditional prayer books.
Other traditional Jews take mysticism with a grain of salt.
One prominent Orthodox Jewwhen introducing a speaker on the subject of Jewish mysticism, said basically, "it's nonsense, but it's Jewish nonsense, and the study of anything Jewish, even nonsense, is worthwhile. For example, the English word "cabal" a secret group of conspirators is derived from the Hebrew word Kabbalah, but neither the Hebrew word nor the mystical doctrines have any evil implications to Jews.
The Misunderstood Doctrine Kabbalah is one of the most grossly misunderstood parts of Judaism.
I have received several messages from non-Jews describing Kabbalah as "the dark side of Judaism," describing it as evil or black magic. On the other end of the spectrum, I receive many messages wanting to learn more about the trendy doctrine popularized by various Jewish and non-Jewish celebrities.
These misunderstandings stem largely from the fact that the teachings of Kabbalah have been so badly distorted by mystics and occultists. Kabbalah was popular among Christian intellectuals during the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, who reinterpreted its doctrines to fit into their Christian dogma.
In more recent times, many have wrenched kabbalistic symbolism out of context for use in tarot card readings and other forms of divination and magic that were never a part of the original Jewish teachings.
Today, many well-known celebrities have popularized a new age pop-psychology distortion of kabbalah I have heard it derisively referred to as "crap-balah".
It borrows the language of kabbalah and the forms of Jewish folk superstitions, but at its heart it has more in common with the writings of Deepak Chopra than with any authentic Jewish source.
I do not mean to suggest that magic is not a part of Kabbalah. There are certainly many traditional Jewish stories that involve the use of hidden knowledge to affect the world in ways that could be described as magic. The Talmud and other sources ascribe supernatural activities to many great rabbis.
Some rabbis pronounced a name of G-d and ascended into heaven to consult with the G-d and the angels on issues of great public concern.
One scholar is said to have created an artificial man by reciting various names of G-d. Much later stories tell of a rabbi who created a man out of clay a golem and brought it to life by putting in its mouth a piece of paper with a name of G-d on it. However, this area of Kabbalah if indeed it is more than mere legend is not something that is practiced by the average Jew, or even the average rabbi.
There are a number of stories that discourage the pursuit of such knowledge and power as dangerous and irresponsible.
If you see any books on the subject of "practical kabbalah," you can safely dismiss them as not authentic Jewish tradition because, as these stories demonstrate, this kind of knowledge was traditionally thought to be far too dangerous to be distributed blindly to the masses.Historically, Kabbalah emerged, after earlier forms of Jewish mysticism, in 12th- to 13th-century Southern France and Spain, and was reinterpreted during the Jewish mystical renaissance of 16th-century Ottoman Palestine.
The Zohar (Hebrew: זֹהַר , lit. "Splendor" or "Radiance") is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah (the five books of Moses) and scriptural interpretations as well as material on mysticism, mythical cosmogony, and mystical .
The beginnings of the Jewish Kabbalah are traced back by scholars to the Medieval Age, originating in the Book of Bahir and the Book of Zohar.   However, the first historical instance of the modern diagram appeared centuries later in the Latin translation of Gates of Light in the year .
Indomitable even in his last years, when physically broken, both by the maltreatment of () and by serious medical challenges, he founded the Kfar Chabad village as a lighthouse of Yiddishkeit throughout Eretz Yisrael, and dispatched emissaries who utterly changed the face and future of the Jewish communities of Morocco and Australia.
Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah. Index. Bibliographical Guide to Jewish Mysticism; General Issues in the Study of Jewish Mysticism; Selections from Sefer Yetzirah: "The Book of Creation" Mysticism during the Talmudic Era: Sources; The Ascent to the Merkabah; From the Bahir to the Zohar;.
German pietism (Ḥasidut Ashkenaz). Classical Kabbalah: the doctrine of the Sefirot, and the Zohar. Ecstatic Kabbalah, as in the teachings of Abraham Abulafia Lurianic Kabbalah and its offshoots (messianic movements, etc.) Eastern European Ḥasidism.
Modern and contemporary Jewish mysticism. Course Requirements: Short paper assignment.