Kabbalah (also spelled Qabbalah, Cabbalah, or Kabala) is an esoteric Jewish mysticism that focuses on the ability of the believer to engage God in a personal and highly intense level. Even though mystical encounters with God can be traced back to the ancient Jewish sacred texts, the branch of Kabbalah mysticism did not form until the 12th century C.E. Kabbalah is primarily an oral tradition that assists in attaining mystical experiences through visions, special techniques in studying scripture, and performing specific Jewish rituals. Kabbalah claims to have secret, unwritten knowledge that is not contained in the Torah or Talmud, causing some branches of Judaism to consider Kabbalah traditions heretical. Essential to the formation of Jewish mysticism was the text Sefer Yetsirah ("The Book of Creation"), which outlines the creation of the world. In this text, creation is supposedly ordered according to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the ten Sefirot (the ten emanations of God by which God built the universe). Further articulation of the ten Sefirot would become essential elements in Kabbalah ideology by giving insight into how God has ordered the world. Besides the Torah and Talmud, the primary text of the Kabbalah tradition is the Zohar ("Book of Splendor"), a commentary on Torah written in 13th century C.E. Spain. The Zohar articulates the mystical nature of God through explanation of the ten Sefirot. Kabbalah teaches that in acting in obedience to the God's commandments, believers can help restore the world and eliminate evil.

Quick Facts

Formed 1150
Adherents Unknown
Deity God (monotheistic)
Sacred Text Zohar, Sefer yetsirah, Sefer ha-bahir
Origin Europe
Headquarters None
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