What is Kabbalah?
According to Jewish tradition, God gave the secrets hidden within the text of the Torah to the People of Israel at Mt. Sinai together with the Torah. These secrets and hidden messages form the basis of kabbalah. The meaning of the word “kabbalah” -- receiving -- indicates that God passed this wisdom to the Jewish people so that, by studying and attempting to understand what God wants and expects, each individual has the opportunity to receive this wisdom and develop a closer relationship with God.
Kabbalah scholars delve into the study of man’s soul. The discipline provides an explanation of how the codes of the universe guide events and how these processes influence and affect each individual, both physically and spiritually. Learning about kabbalah allows each person to develop a higher level of self-awareness as he reaches into his soul and grapples with the elements that affect his essence. Many people find that the study of kabbalah gives them the tools to channel these elements as they grow spiritually and personally. Through kabbalah study an individual can harness the cosmos and add spiritual meanings to his daily life.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai
In the second century A.D. when Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was forced into hiding by the ruling Romans. For four years, hiding in a small cave with his son, Rabbi Elazar, he studied the secrets of kabbalah which he accessed through divine inspiration. After the decree against him was revoked and he left his cave, Rabbi Shimon traveled through the north of Israel, teaching what he had learned. He wrote the “Zohar,” -- The Light -- which set down his teachings. The Zohar serves as the basis for kabbalah study until today.
Throughout Jewish history only a small group of select scholars and kabbalists learned the wisdom of kabbalah. The knowledge was passed down orally from scholar to scholar and most of the population did not have access to this information. Today, information technology combined with a thirst for spirituality has created a desire among a large number of people to learn about kabbalah and incorporate elements of this mysticism into their lives.