QUESTION: “What is Kabbalah?”
ANSWER: Kabbalah means “reception or to receive.” It is the ancient Jewish wisdom which teaches the deepest insights into the essence of G‑d, His interaction with the world, and the purpose of Creation. The Kabbalah and its teachings – no less than the Law – are an integral part of the Torah. They are traced back to the revelation to Moses at Sinai, and some of them even before. The Kabbalah itself teaches that its study is an important method for helping to advance the final redemption and perfection of the world.
QUESTION: “I have heard that one must wait until they are 40 years old to study Kabbalah, is that true?”
ANSWER: QUESTION: Educational background is much important in learning and studying Kabbalah, rather than age. It is desirable to be as well versed as possible in the Jewish holy books. However certain basic concepts are available to everyone and should not be ignored.
Anyway, it is not a question to ask someone in Safed where I live, as the holy Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria) was the main Kabbalah teacher, and he was not yet 40. His students included Rabbi Yosef Caro, the author o The Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Law), who was then over 70.
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QUESTION: “Many people automatically think about Madonna when they hear the word Kabbalah. Some people think that Kabbalah is now a “trend religion”. Is that so?”
ANSWER: Kabbalah is not a religion in and of itself, so you can’t convert to it. Kabbalah is an integral part of Judaism and inseparable from it. The people whose awareness of it is limited to Madonna and “trend religion” journalists and opportunist charlatans have been thoroughly deluded. This is one the main reasons the “Kabbalah Project was launched. As an answer to places like the Kabbalah Centre that are not teaching Kosher Kabbalah.
QUESTION: “What does Kabbalah contain that makes people believe it is so dangerous for people to read if they are younger than 40 years and if they are not well versed in Torah?”
ANSWER: There really is no harm in “reading” it, especially in translation, since it loses much of its depth. It is when someone tries to learn at a deep level that they can lose their bearings. That is why there was a concern about someone being of a certain age and well rounded in their Torah learning before approaching Kabbalah.
QUESTION: “When and how did Kabbalah start?”
ANSWER: The answer to this is two-fold. It is taught within Judaism that the Kabbalah was first introduced when Adam was learning in the Garden of Eden. Additional teachings place the giving of Kabbalah along with the written and oral Torah at Mt. Sinai.