In the following pages I will be discussing the history and some of the basic theories of the Kabalah. One complaint I frequently hear from many people is that the Kabalah is confusing or boring. In fact, it is neither. But it may take several readings of the following material to get a feeling for the intricacies of Kabalistic thought. Just go through the following pages at your leisure while you practice the daily ritual which is composed of the Relaxation Ritual, LBRP and Tarot Contemplation Ritual. Also work with the Four Adorations, and the technique for defeating real or imagined psychic attack. Although I have explained the Kabalah and its history hundreds of times in my classes, there are usually one or two people who do not immediately quite catch onto the ideas presented. So take a week or two practicing the rituals and perhaps making your robe and go over the following pages as many times as necessary.
It is said that there were three "literatures" for the ancient Hebrews: The Torah (which is comprised of the first five books of the Old Testament), the Talmud (commentaries on the Torah) and the Kabalah (mystical interpretations of the Torah and speculations on the nature of God and the universe). The Torah was known as "The Body of the
Tradition," and it was said that if ignorant people would read the Torah they would profit from the experience. The Talmud was called the "Jew's Rational Soul," and those who were learned would profit in its study. The Kabalah was called the "Jew's Immortal Spirit," and the wise were advised to meditate upon it.
You may have noticed that different books and authors spell the word "Kabalah" in different ways. This is because the word "Kabalah" comes directly from the Hebrew and there is no precise transliteration between English and Hebrew.
This gives me a chance to interject some thoughts concerning the Hebrew language. Many of the rituals in this course (such as the LBRP) will be using words from the Hebrew. But all languages, including Hebrew, change in their pronunciation over the centuries. As an example, the word "knight" which we today pronounce "nite" was originally pronounced "k-nigh-t" with a short "i" and the "gh" being a harsh gutteral version of the "ch" in the Scottish word "loch." Thus, English has changed over the past few hundred years. Is it any wonder that Hebrew has changed over the past two thousand years?
Turning to look at Hebrew as it is spoken today in Israel and in synagogues around the world (and discounting local dialects) does not help our understanding of Hebrew pronunciation. For modern Hebrew is not the same as Biblical Hebrew. About a hundred years ago a man named Eliezer ben Yehudah came to believe that Hebrew should once again become a living language. It had been relegated merely to religious documents and study rooms much in the way that Latin is today. Through his efforts, Hebrew, like a phoenix, rose from the dead and became a living language, and was adopted as the language of the State of Israel. This would compare with the idea of having all people in Italy learn Latin and use it as their everyday tongue!
But in the process of bringing Hebrew from death back to life, many changes in the language's very nature took place:
1. Certain letters which had two different sounds no longer do so (see the book Sepher Yetzirah for a list of all the original doublesounding letters).
2. The Hebrew letter called the "vah" or "vahv," usually having a "v" sound, may have originally sounded like our "w" and was called the "waw."
3. Even today certain Hebrew letters can have several sounds. The Aleph can sound like ah, eh or aw. The Yud can sound like ee, ay or eh. The Heh can indicate ah or heh. The system of points and lines to indicate the vowels were added hundreds of years after Ezra compiled the Torah (circa 400-300 B.C.), so they may not be accurate.
4. Perhaps worst of all, mystically speaking, is that to make Hebrew a modern language, ben Yehudah had to take out much of Hebrew's wonderful lack of precision. As an example, the word "Oh-lahm" originally seems to have meant "world," "universe," "aeons," and "forever." This showed that to the ancient Hebrew mind all of these things were related. Now, unfortunately, much of that knowledge is lost, as in modern Hebrew words are more meaning-specific.
5. Many Hebrew words were replaced by Aramaic words. As an example, in ancient Hebrew "Av" or "Ab" meant "father." In modern Hebrew the word for "father" is the Aramaic "Abba."
The next question is, "Should we try to discover the ancient Hebrew pronunciation? After all, isn't the way the words are pronounced important?" The answer is yes, the way the words are pronounced is important. But no, it is not worth our time to seek out the ancient pronunciation of Hebrew. Most of the rituals used today were really created long after Biblical Hebrew was a mere memory.
In this course, the pronunciations used are those of modern Hebrew. In this way you will be tapping into the energies of millions of people who speak the tongue every day, rather than guessing at what ancient Hebrew may have sounded like.
After this digression, let us now return to this word of import, "Kabalah." Kabalah (or Kabbalah or Qabalah or Qabbalah or Kabala or Cabala or Q.B.L., etc.) comes from the Hebrew word which means "to receive," implying that the Kabalah is a "received" doctrine; that is, received from God. It also means that it is given by one person and received by another, usually in an oral manner. Thus, the true Kabalah was an oral, secret tradition which for thousands of years was jealously guarded from the profane.
like the Tarot, there are two types of histories of the Kabalah. The first is a mythological history, the second is the known, factual history.
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