List Categories | List All Articles | List Articles By Title
About The Spiritual World of Madonna
Pop singer Madonna came this week to Tel Aviv to take part in a congress of Kabbala studies. According to press releases, she is going to stay in Israel until Sunday night and will have on the last day of her visit, the opportunity to visit the graves of Jewish Tzaddikim (righteous holy people) near Safed, a small town in northern Israel.
Why Safed? What does Kabbala mean? (Literally it means "Receiving" in Hebrew).
I am not so sure the press has given the correct answers to these and other questions related to the background of this visit. Here is my humble contribution.
Safed , one of the four "holy cities" in Israel, together with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias, is actually a small mountain town (27,000 residents). As opposed to other historical cities in Israel, it is not even mentioned in the Bible.
Its golden era was during the Middle Ages, when it functioned as a Crusaders fortress and a Moslem administrative centre. But it was only in the 16th century that Safed was a city of international importance, as well as a Jewish cultural Capital.
What made Safed so special is linked to what Maddona is looking in Israel for.
The Jewish congregation of Safed is the oldest in Israel. It has been there for the last 800 years. But during the Crusaders time it was very small, because the Christian knights did everything they could to massacre Jews (and Moslems).
The turning point was the conquest of the area by the Turkish Sultanate. This Moslem empire gave shelter to the Spanish Jews during their mass expulsion in the end of the 15th century. The Turks, who were great warriors and administrators, did not master commerce, industry and science. They understood the great potential of Spanish Jews who were experts in these fields, and gave them asylum.
Some of those Jews, a few thousands, came to Safed and settled down there. Safed attracted them for two main reasons: The good water sources and the closeness to the grave site of the founder of the Kabbala, the Jewish mysticism, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
The water was needed for establishing a wool manufacturing centre which became one of the biggest in the world, and made Safed a flourishing city. The grave of Bar yochai, and an ancient tradition according to which the Messiah will first come out Safed, attracted some of the greatest Jewish religious scholars of Spain, most of them Kabbalists.
In Safed of the 16th century settled down Rabbi Yosef Karo, of Toledo, the greatest Jewish Law expert of the new era, who wrote the codification book "Shulkhan Arukh", the third most important Jewish book, after the Bible and the Talmud.
Another great Kabbalist was Shlomo Alkabetz, who is known today more for his religious poetry. His most famous liturgical poem is called "Lecha Dodi". It is used in every Synagogue to receive Sabbath. His brother in law was Rabbi Moshe Kordoveiro, a student of Rabbi Karo, who wrote the first book which explains the Kabbala methodically.
The greatest student or Rabbi Kordoveiro was Rabbi Yizhak Luria, who is more known as HaAri Hakadosh. Luria Died when he was only 38 years old. Only two and a half years he spent in Safed. But it was in that short period of time that he created a Kabbalist theoretical movement that has had an immense influence on the life of almost every Jew since then.
What does Kabbala mean? If you have time and patience just go to a site called http://kabbalaonline.org/ and start reading. It will take you a few days. Otherwise, here is a somewhat simplified explanation.
According to the Talmud, the world of Torah (the knowledge of Judaism) is based on four layers: Pshat (Literal meaning, in Hebrew), Remez (Implication), Drash (Interpretation) and Sod (Secrecy). Every one of these layers is a different way of weighing the same words of the Torah. The deepest layer is the Secrecy. The Secrecy doctrine, which includes the Kabbala, is so mysterious, deep, and special, that not everyone can understand it. Therefore, it is recommended by Jewish scholars to start studying it only at the age of 40. A younger person does not have the spiritual maturity needed to cope with its depths.
The Secrecy doctrine exists since the 2nd century, but did not appear in any book until the end of the 14th century, when a Spanish Jewish scholar named Rabbi Moshe de Leon rewrote and edited it in a book called "Seffer Hazohar" (The book of Glow, in Hebrew). The contents of the book is attributed to the Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (mentioned above) who had lived 1300 years before the time of de Leon. Believers claim that Bar Yochai wrote the book, but Kabbala researchers say that the text was written much later, in the middle ages.
"Seffer Hazohar" is not a text book. It is a collection of ideas and Torah material. Only in the end of the 15th century, another Spanish Rabbi, Moshe Cordoveiro, who later moved to Safed, wrote structured lessons which enabled a systematic studying of Kabbala.
As opposed to the other three layers of Torah world, dealing primarily with the Jewish religious laws, the Secrecy doctrine deals with the philosophical side of Judaism: For example, the eternal question of "Why do righteous people suffer in our world, and why are wicked people so successful?"
The Kabbala, developed in Safed by a genius nicknamed "HaAri Hakadosh" in the 16th century, uses abstract concepts which are incomprehensible to outsiders: "Elohut" (Divinity) and "Tzimtzum" (Reduction), for instance. The Divinity filled in the past the whole universe. It was later reduced to make room for the present world. Following this Reduction, the lights of Divinity were accumulated into "Sefirot", the vessels which contain the immense Divine lights. The three upper "Sefirot" did their job. But the lower six broke into many pieces and scattered. This is called in Hebrew: "Shevirat Hakelim" (Breaking of Vessels). Because of this breaking of vessels, good and evil were mixed with each other in the whole universe. The splinters of the divine lights, called "Nitzotzot" (sparks), fell into the depths of "Clippot", the evil powers of impurity. The broken "Divinity" went into exile among the "Clippot". According to Kabbala, the fate of the Jewish people is similar to that of the "Divinity". The Jews are still in exile amongst the nations. The salvation depends on every person. If people succeed in collecting all the "Nitzotzot", the salvation of humanity will come. The collection of "Nitzotzot" will be done by good deeds, such as obeying the Jewish religious rules. When someone does so, he collects "Nitzotzot" and puts them back in place. He then deals with "Tikun Olam", correction of the world.
The Kabbala has a great influence on Judaism, especially on the Hasidim movement. Kabbalic concepts, developed mainly in 16th century Safed, have penetrated the Jewish liturgy. One of them is the "Holy matching". Philosophically, this concept has another meaning, but in the popular cognition it is perceived as a holy marriage treaty between God and the Jewish people.
For example, the "Shavuot" holiday, in which the Holy Torah was given by way of a pact between God and the Jews, has been compared to such a holy marriage. Also the customs of "Kabbalat Shabbat", (receiving Sabbath), were changed following the Safed notion of "Holy matching". The Kabbala followers in Safed started in the 16th century the custom of going Friday before sunset out of town, wearing white clothes, to receive the bride, Shabbat. Friday night was the link between God (the king) and Shabbat (the queen). Following the mystical marriage, souls of righteous people were born. This custom of going out of town Fridays was abolished after the fall of the Safed centre in the beginning of the 17th century, but its influence is felt until today the Alkabetz poem "Lecha Dodi", mentioned above.
HaAri Hakadosh said that "the Shechinah (the presence of God) rests above Safed". You can feel it even today. Its clear air and serenity helps visitors to contemplate about the philosophical subjects I have just mentioned, and others. It is worth visiting this place even if you do not have the faintest idea what you are going to do there.
The Author is a freelance journalist and a tour guide in Israel
The Catholic Obsession with Martyrs and the Question of Pain and Suffering
The Catholic Church is kind of like a forest sometimes. Someone on the outside looking in sees nothing but thousands of trees?and most of them look alike.
Has God Ever Disappointed You in Prayer?
Of a truth, the physical manifestations of God's answers to our prayers do nto come as quikly/immediately as we ask from Him. Why? God answers our prayers each time we pray to Him, but the manifestation of some of these prayers are delayedat times due to reasons best known to God, some of which He in His infinite mercy Has laid in our heart to share with the people of God to strenght and encourage them to pray.
Hope and Restoration in the Valley
The bible tells a story about the prophet Ezekiel who envisioned a valley full of dry bones. God led Ezekiel back and forth in the midst of this valley, surrounded by dry bones.
Webster's dictionary explains majesty meaning a title used to speaking of or to a monarch. Or Dignity, splendor, and grandeur.
Why Churches Die: Denying The Gift Of Healing The Sick
Recently a question was posted on a Christian forum asking why so few churches practice anointing with oil to heal the sick (See James 5:14). That's a good question.
The Pope Hates Potter - Both of Them
This month a court in Burlington, Kentucky issued the largest settlement to date against the Catholic Church in the "Priestofeelya" scandal.Judge John Potter ruled in favor of the victims against the church to the tune of $120 million dollars (place pinky to corner of mouth.
The Power of Thankfulness and Vice Versa
We are soon to celebrate once again the National Holiday known as "Thanksgiving."We do this every year.
A Worship Leader is a Spiritual Leader
This article is for worship leaders. And as such, I believe it needs to focus on leadership skills.
End-Times and the Other Bible
Can you imagine Biblical "End-Times" prophecies happening in your lifetime? Does thinking about disasters like the three days of darkness and the Wormwood predictions trouble you when you're alone in the still of the night? If so, the "End-times" knowledge in a Bible-era wisdom text called The Kolbrin offers hope through new insights. Parts of it were written in the very days when Jesus walked the Earth, and it echoes the warnings of the Bible, that we could be in the "End-Times!"Unlike the rare and arcane texts used by Bible researchers, The Kolbrin offers a familiar way to understand Bible prophecy.
Kabbalistic Chanukah: The Downloading of Primordial Light
God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.(Genesis 1:3)The 36 candles on the menorah correspond to the 36 hours when Adam and Eve were bathed in The Primordial Light of creation.
Truth or Consequence
Prime probability:You have been and are being deceived by those you trust the most for your spiritual education. Some of that deception may be intentionally done in an attempt to control your behavior and your wallet and some may be done simply out of ignorance.
The Emmaus Journal ~ The Standards Of This World Are Not Our Standards
The Emmaus Journal The Standards Of This World Are Not Our Standards How often do we hear this righteous phrase and how often do we really heed this righteous phrase? "The standards of this World are not our standards." As Believers these few words should mold our very existence from day to day.
Matthew 24:34-24:35 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
The Rapture of the Church
The Rapture of the Church will be the most startling event to happen in all of human history. Millions will disappear in "the twinkling of an eye.
Are These People Putting You In Danger Of Eternal Hell Fire?
Most people put a lot of effort into being like others around them. We also tend to follow the thoughts or opinions of society threw television, movies, books and the internet.
This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. JOHN 15:8Can you imagine the fruit of six million lighthouses across America praying for, caring for, and sharing Jesus Christ with their neighbors, friends, and family?I can imagine it, but there was a time when I couldn't have.
Jesus is Lord: Lets Stop Usurping His Roles
In five words Paul enunciates the basic principle of the Christian life: "You are not your own" (1 Cor. 6:19).
It is interesting that everyone is so hung-up on the debate regarding who has official rights to The Land known historically as "The Land of Canaan."If we go back far enough, we discover the near Middle East was settled by descendants of Canaan, thus the region was referred to as "The Land of Canaan.
Learn How to Be Delivered From Witchcraft, Drugs, Sexual Perversion, Pain and all Addictions.
Exposing Hidden SinFor nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. (Luke 8:17).
Cut Off Your Hand!
Cut off your Hand!Arguably the most bizarre command of Christ is found in Matthew 5:29-30, where he tells us to pluck out our eyes or cut off our hands if they cause us to sin. "It is better to enter heaven blind and lame," he says, "than to have a healthy body and be cast into hell.
home | site map
All articles are copyright to their owners.
Note: this website lists articles, We do not Write Articles !