AN OFFICIAL PRIMER AND FACT SHEET ON WHAT KABBALAH
ACTUALLY IS, PRODUCED FOR THE MEDIA BY
AN AUTHENTIC JEWISH ORGANIZATION.
16 AV 5764 - August 4, 2004
Printable PDF Version
1. This is a "Sephardic" organization, what does Sephardic mean and how does it relate to Kabbalah and the Zohar?
"Sepharad" is the Hebrew word for Spain. In general terminology, the "Sephardim" are the Jews who originate from Spain, as well as Portugal and North Africa. This major division of Jews is differentiated from that of the Ashkenazim (the Jews of Germany, Poland and other Eastern European countries). Today Sephardim live all over the world, and many don't realize they came by the tens of thousands to the United States in the 1920's. In Israel, Sephardim make up the majority of the Jewish population.
In the 13th century, a Sephardic Jew named Moshe de Leon of Vallidolid, Spain brought to the world's attention the Zohar, a holy book, that traces its origins back in the 2nd century CE and Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai. The Zohar (Book of Splendor) is an esoteric mystical commentary on the Torah, written in Aramaic. From Spain the Zohar spread across the world (figuratively and literally) to all Jewish communities.
2. Facts on Kabbalah ?
Fact: Kabbalah is an integral part of modern (as well as ancient) Judaism.
Fact: To say Kabbalah is not a part of Judaism is grossly misleading.
Fact: Kabbalah refers to the mystical interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures.
Fact: Kabbalah is NOT a unique religion, and cannot be "practiced" separate from Judaism.
In his universally respected work Jewish Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin describes Kabbalah as, "the name applied to the whole range of Jewish mystical activity. While codes of Jewish law focus on what it is God wants from man, Kabbalah tries to penetrate deeper, to God's essence itself."
3. What is real Kabbalah from the Jewish perspective?
Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok, a Jerusalem educated orthodox rabbi and leading authority on Kabbalah in the United States sums it up well:
- Real Kabbalah is the metaphysical understandings underlying the physical commandments and stories of the Torah given by God to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai;
- Real Kabbalah is more than a subject of learning, it is a method of practice that revives the living spirit of the Torah that is concealed within it's every word and letter;
- Real Kabbalah explains the deepest meanings and reasons for observing the Torah and Rabbinic commandments;
- Real Kabbalah is an integral part of Torah and Halakha (Jewish holy Law). The two can never be separated.
4. What are the REAL FACTS about Kabbalah and its up surging popularity?
Fact: Kabbalah is being advertised as a "mystical religion" when it is solely a part of Judaism.
Fact: Kabbalah has become the latest fad, perpetuated by Hollywood stars and the media.
Fact: Kabbalah is being exploited for profit by self-proclaimed Kabbalah "experts".
Fact: Kabbalah and its "teaching institutions" are about financial gain, not religion.
Fact: Kabbalah is big business, grossing hundreds of millions of dollars in profits for its exploiters.
NOTE: THIS BREIF PRIMER AND FACT SHEET WAS PRODUCED FOR THE MEDIA DUE TO THE INCREASING NUMBER OF ERRORS OCCURING WHEN REPORTING OR DESCRIBING WHAT KABBALAH IS. IT ALSO SERVES TO DECLARE OUR POSITION AS A REPRESENTITIVE JEWISH ORGANZIATION, ONE WHICH STRIVES TO MITIGATE JUDAISM FROM CONTINUED "KABBALAH EXPLOITATION" BY THOSE WITH A VESTED FINANCIAL INTEREST.
The International Society for Sephardic Progress is a Jewish agency developed to serve the Sephardic community--the descendants of the Jews of historic Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Levant who share both common religious and cultural bonds. Although based in the United States, the ISFSP is an advocacy organization representing Sephardim internationally. "Advocates for the Sephardim, activists for the Jewish people."