Kabbalah remains shrouded in mystery even to those familiar with the ideas of its teachings. An ancient Jewish tradition that espouses theosophy, Kabbalah seeks to use mysticism to explain the relationship between the universe and man, by means of 10 steps known as sefirot
. Those who are well-versed in Kabbalah are considered holy men, respected tremendously in their communities and turned to in times of question or need. Yet, Kabbalah need not remain delegated to a select few; as Rabbi Laibl Wolf invites in his book Practical Kabbalah: A Guide to Jewish Wisdom for Everyday Life
: "Embark on a spiritual adventure with a down-to-earth destination" using the powers, or "spiritual flows," of sefirot
. Using this mystical tradition, Rabbi Wolk aims to make the fundamental principles relevant to everyday life, to help people use it as a means of self-understanding and furthering personal growth.
The first section, "Spirit Move," explores the tradition of Kabbalah, tracing its roots to the Bible and comparing many of its traditions to Eastern religions, suggesting they originated in the same beliefs. The second section, "Flows of Mind and Emotion," devotes a chapter to each of the sefirot--three of which relate to the mind, the other seven to emotion--to show how you can use these tenets to improve your life. For instance, Tif'eret relates to a wise heart, and its chapter concentrates on ideas such as "inner balance for wellness," truth and beauty, and compassion using the teachings of Maimonides and the Bible, a Hasidic tale, an exercise, a meditation, and even some thoughts on Deepak Chopra.
If you are searching for a book that will explain the doctrine of Kabbalah, this is not the book for you. However, for a spiritual person looking for a way to integrate some of the more popular self-help techniques into religious practice, Practical Kabbalah is an excellent guide. --Jenny Brown
From Publishers Weekly
Kabbalah is the richest repository of ancient Jewish mysticism. Its myriad writings express the profundity of God's mysteries and "explain the eternal laws of how spiritual energy moves through the Cosmos." For centuries, holy men have devoted their entire lives to plumbing its depths. Rabbi Wolf, who leads workshops and seminars on Kabbalah, believes that the great wisdom of Kabbalah can be used in everyday life to achieve balance and harmony. In the first section of the book, Wolf provides a useful introduction to the history of Kabbalah and its interpretation. He discusses Kabbalah's many layers and paints a picture of the kabbalist, someone whose life is devoted to prayer and the study of Kabbalah. In his second section, Wolf elaborates upon the 10 Sefirot, "the spiritual energies of Mind and Emotion," that make up Kabbalah. The Kabbalah teaches that the universe's creation is incomplete and these Sefirot are the tools we can use to "create the environment through which the universe can be perfected." For example, Wolf interprets "Hessed" as the "unlocking flow of love." He notes that "Hessed is the dominant flow that propels us to a state of oneness and unity." As in the other meditations, Wolf offers a variety of meditation exercises on the Sefirot so that the Sefirot can be woven into everyday life. The author uses stories from Hasidic teachers, biblical stories and personal anecdotes to illustrate the ways that Kabbalah can guide seekers to spiritual unity. (June)
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