Experiences of the Divine

Growing up, I had what one would call a religious upbringing. While in my home, Judaism and Jewish tradition was less about religion and more of a cultural, ancestral mandate; school was a different story. I went to a very religious yeshiva for most of my childhood, where things were markedly different than at home. The school day was split in two. Half was dedicated to religious studies, conducted primarily in Hebrew. We had mandatory prayer, mandatory Torah study (in the original Aramaic), mandatory study of secondary ancient texts, and extensive review of various rabbinical commentaries… you get the idea. The second half of the school day was dedicated to the less-important subjects, things like math, english, history, etc. Non-essential subjects and critical thinking were off-limits, for the most part. Frankly, I was so disengaged most of the time, that I remember almost nothing from all those years of schooling. (That’s not entirely true. I remember quite a lot. What I don’t have any recollection of is the religious content they tried so hard to inculcate.) (more…)

A quick foray into Kabbalah

I’ve been vaguely interested in Kabbalah for a while now, (Madonna notwithstanding) but every time I touched it, it felt too esoteric and incomprehensible. Maybe I’ve matured in my spiritual understandings, or maybe I just never found the proper teachings. Anyway, yesterday I took a quick dip into what it is, and what it does. And I finally get it!

Tree of Life. Image source: wikipedia

Tree of Life. Image source: wikipedia

Here’s what I found:

1. The Kabbalah is not a book per se, but a tradition of mystical practices. The Zohar, the primary text, was written (or received, you can say) in 13th century Spain.


2. The Zohar offers many different things – it’s a huge compendium of stuff. It changes some large primary assumptions and reinterprets the whole Torah under this new light.


3. It introduces Ein Sof (the infinite) as the real supreme being, the creator of what we know as God.