Thursday, December 18, 2008

And These are the Blog's Generations

Safe Study of Kabbalah

All of you out there in the blogosphere might be asking the following question: Am I old enough to read this blog? There is a well known halakhah that you must be over 40 to study Kabbalah. I will discuss this halakhah (more like advice) in depth in a later post. However, the short answer is - no you do not have to be over 40 to read this blog. Studying Kabbalah is not for everyone; some people will find Kabbalistic ideas to be antithetical to their conception of Judaism. Those people should not read this blog because they will find it to be disconcerting.

The study of Kabbalah is certainly an esoteric area of the Torah and is not suited to everyone. Most of you will be able to self-select; if you find the blog entries to be boring or somewhat absurd - then this is a good sign that the study of Kabbalah is not for you. Some of you may find yourselves feeling uncomfortable because of these ideas and I will try and help you as much as I can. Kabbalah is a definite paradigm shift from the mainstream approach to Judaism. I have found that my study of Kabbalah has had a very positive impact and I hope that you will also find reading this blog to be a positive experience.

Blog style

A note about the style of this blog - I have already discussed that the goal of this blog is to discuss interesting ideas from Kabbalah and Chassidut. I assume that you, the reader, have a general familiarity with basic Jewish terms and concepts; but you do not have any knowledge about Kabbalah. (And thus you are reading this blog!) I will explain Kabbalistic terms and concepts, but not necessarily other Jewish terms and concepts. For example, I will explain what the meaning of the word Olamot, but not the meaning of Mishnah or Gemara.

One problem with learning a new body of knowledge is that there is a group of basic ideas that need to be learned before you can understand the big picture. In Kabbalah there are a number of core concepts that are interdependent and you cannot fully understand one without understanding the others. (ie. You cannot understand A, until you understand B. And you cannot understand B until you understand A.) But you must start somewhere!? What I recommend is to reread the Kabbalah entries every couple of weeks in order to fully understand the ideas. (Feel free to make as many comments as you want as you reread the blog again and again!) The blogs about Chassidut are tangentially related to the Kabbalistic weltanschauung (love that word!) and will not be designed to help you understand the basic ideas of Kabbalah.

Kabbilistic Idea of the Day (K.I.D.)

I realized that I have spent so much time talking about the blog, that I haven’t actually said anything Kabbilistic yet. So here it goes. Koach and Po’al are two important ideas that are connected. Koach means potential, and Po’al means to actualize that potential. In simpler words, I can make a plan to write a book. And then there is the actualization of that plan, when I physically type in Microsoft Word. The planning of the book - is the Koach of my book. The writing of the book - is the Po’al of my book. The entire process of writing the book can be described as: going from the Koach to the Po’al. The movement from the Koach to the Po’al is a concept that appears in many different contexts in Kabbalah. If you are familiar with the famous Chabad table metaphor, that is also an example of this concept. If not, then you will have to wait until I post about it. Or you can ask your LCR (local Chabbad Rabbi).

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