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What is Kabbalah?

Kabbalah (Hebrew: Qabbl, meaning “receiving, tradition,” or “correspondence”) is a Jewish mystic’s esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought. In Judaism, a traditional Kabbalist is referred to as a Mequbbl ( ). Kabbalah’s definition differs according to its theological origins as an inherent component of Judaism and its later adaptations in Western esotericism (Christian Kabbalah and Hermetic Qabalah). The Jewish Kabbalah is a collection of esoteric teachings intended to explain the relationship between the eternal, unchanging God—the enigmatic Ein Sof (, “The Infinite”)—and the mortal, finite universe (God’s creation). It is the bedrock of Judaism’s mystical religious interpretations. Originally, Jewish Kabbalists formed their own transmission of sacred writings within the framework of Jewish tradition, frequently referencing traditional Jewish scriptures to clarify and demonstrate their mystical teachings. These teachings are held by Judaism’s adherents in order to describe the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional rabbinic literature, as well as their previously unknown transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the purpose of Jewish religious observances. The Zohar, one of the major kabbalistic writings, was originally published in the 13th century, and Lurianic Kabbalah is the practically ubiquitous version of Kabbalah practised in modern Judaism. According to traditional practitioners, it predates world faiths, serving as the primal pattern for Creation’s philosophies, religions, sciences, arts, and political systems. Kabbalah evolved from older types of Jewish mysticism in 12th- to 13th-century Spain and Southern France, and was reinterpreted during the 16th-century Ottoman Palestine Jewish mystical revival. Isaac Luria is regarded as the founder of current Kabbalah; Lurianic Kabbalah was popularised in the 18th century as Hasidic Judaism. Academic interest in Kabbalistic writings, sparked principally by the Jewish historian Gershom Scholem, sparked the growth of historical research on Kabbalah in the field of Judaic studies during the twentieth century.

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