Monday, 14 April 2008

Chassidus and Kabbalah - which to learn and why?

It is the natural desire of the soul to learn the secrets of Torah. We are taught that this is the area of Torah known as Kabbalah - stemming from the word and root letters "KBL" meaning "To receive". "Moses received the Torah from Sinai" (Ethics of the Fathers 1:1). Here the word used is "Kibel". Kabbalah is about reception - not about domination and importance. On the contrary, it is to the one who wishes to receives in a humble fashion, who will receive - far more than the one who simple wants for his own person ego.

We sometimes get caught up in not knowing what we need to focus on and what true "mysticism" really is. In the video below, the Lubavitcher Rebbe is talking to Rabbi Simcha Ashlag - the grandson of the Rabbi who wrote the commentary on the Zohar - HaSulam. In it, Rabbi Ashlag asks the Rebbe to give his approbation to the importance of learning Zohar. The Rebbe explains that while there is no problem with learning this way, it is in fact through the teachings of Chassidus Chabad - the Tanya and the various discourses by the Rebbes, that the true teachings of the mystical paths of Torah come through.

Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai (in approximately 100-150 C.E.) revealed the Zohar - the most basic text of Kabbalah. Rabbi Yitzchak Luria - the Arizal (1534-1572) revealed the most important teachings in understanding the necessary things in order to really understand the Zohar properly. The Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760) having been taught by Achiyah HaShiloni - a great Tzaddik who came out of Egypt with the Children of Israel, and who also received the full tradition of Torah from King David (*many* years later) and also the teacher of Elijah the Prophet - revealed how to properly understand the teachings of the Arizal in ways that could be grapsed even by the simple person.

The Maggid of Mezritch (Rabbi Dov Ber - d. 1772) continued to teach the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.The Lubavitcher Rebbes, starting from the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), continued these teachings, right up until the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe in the video below. The teachings thereby given here are most relevant to all of us - especially if, as in this case - we wish to pursue an accurate and true curriculum of learning the inner most depths of Torah wisdom.

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