Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה, literally - "receiving") is a discipline and school of thought discussing the mystical aspect of Judaism. It is a set of esoteric teachings meant to define the inner meaning of both the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and traditional Rabbinic literature, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.
Torah study uses four levels of interpretation (exegesis) of its text:
* Peshat (lit. "simple")—the direct meaning.
* Remez (lit. "hint[s]")—the allegoric meaning (through allusion).
* Derash (from Heb. darash: "inquire" or "seek")—midrashic (Rabbinic) or comparative meaning.
* Sod (lit. "secret" or "mystery")—the secret or inner meaning—a foundation of the kabbalah.
Kabbalah teaches that God is neither matter nor spirit. Rather God is the creator of both. The Sephirot correspond to various levels of creation:
* Keter (will)
* Chochmah (wisdom)
* Binah (understanding)
* Chesed (loving kindness)
* Din (Sometimes referred to as Gevurah or Geburah) (judgement)
* Tiferet (harmony)
* Netzach (victory)
* Hod (glory)
* Yesod (foundation)
* Malchut (sovereignty)
The Kaballah posits that the human soul has three elements, the nefesh, ru'ach, and neshamah. The nefesh is found in all humans, and enters the physical body at birth. It is the source of one's physical and psychological nature. The next two parts of the soul are not implanted at birth, but can be developed over time; their development depends on the actions and beliefs of the individual. They are said to only fully exist in people awakened spiritually. A common way of explaining the three parts of the soul is as follows:
* Nefesh (נפש) - the lower part, or "animal part", of the soul. It is linked to instincts and bodily cravings.
* Ruach (רוח) - the middle soul, the "spirit". It contains the moral virtues and the ability to distinguish between good and evil.
* Neshamah (נשמה) - the higher soul, or "super-soul". This separates man from all other lifeforms. It is related to the intellect, and allows man to enjoy and benefit from the afterlife. This part of the soul is provided at birth and allows one to have some awareness of the existence and presence of God.
The Raaya Meheimna discusses the two other parts of the human soul:
* Chayyah (חיה) - The part of the soul that allows one to have an awareness of the divine life force itself.
* Yehidah (יחידה) - the highest plane of the soul, in which one can achieve as full a union with God as is possible.
Kabbalah Ma'asit ("Practical Kabbalah") is used to refer to secret science in general, mystic art, or mystery regarding the ability to foretell events or know occult events by the Kabbalah. Within Judaism proper, the foretelling of the future through magical means is not permissible, not even with the Kabbalah. However, there is no prohibition against understanding the past nor coming to a greater understanding of present and future situations through inspiration gained by the Kabbalah (a subtle distinction and one often hard to delineate). The appeal to occult power outside the monotheist deity for divination purpose is unacceptable in Judaism, but at the same time it is held that the righteous have access to occult knowledge. Such knowledge can come through dreams and incubation (inducing clairvoyant dreams), metoscopy (reading faces, lines on the face, or auras emanating from the face), Ibburim and Maggidim (spirit possession), and/or various methods of scrying.
The Renaissance saw the birth of Christian Kabbalah (also Christian Cabbala, Christian Cabala). Interest grew among some Christian scholars in what they saw to be the magical and occult aspects of Judaic Kabbalah.
Hermetic Qabalah (from the Hebrew קַבָּלָה "reception"), is a Western esoteric and mystical tradition. It is the underlying philosophy and framework for magical societies such as the Golden Dawn, Thelemic orders, mystical societies such as the Builders of the Adytum and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, and is a precursor to the Neopagan, Wiccan and New Age movements.
Hermetic Qabalah draws on a great many influences, most notably: Jewish Kabbalah, Western astrology, Tarot, Alchemy, pagan religions (especially Egyptian and Greco-Roman), neoplatonism, gnosticism, the Enochian system of angelic magic of John Dee and Edward Kelly, hermeticism, rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and tantra. It differs from the Jewish form in being a more admittedly syncretic system, however it shares many concepts with Jewish Kabbalah.
It is most often transliterated with a 'Q' rather than a 'K' or a 'C', distinguishing it from Jewish Kabbalah and Christian Cabbalah.
Emanation (literally "dripping") is a belief, found in Neoplatonism, that the cause of certain beings or states of being consists of an overflow from the essence of God or other higher spiritual beings, as opposed to a special act of creation. This overflow is usually conceived in a non-temporal way as a permanent relationship of causation rather than as an event causing an entity to come into existence at a given point in time. The word "emanation" can refer either to the process of emanation or to the thing emanated. Equivalent concepts are found in Gnosticism and in Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism).
Gnosticism (Greek: γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge) refers to a diverse, syncretistic religious movement consisting of various belief systems generally united in the teaching that humans are divine souls trapped in a material world created by an imperfect god, the demiurge, who is frequently identified with the Abrahamic God: called "Yahweh" or "Jahveh" for the true name of God is the ineffable Tetragrammaton. The demiurge may be depicted as an embodiment of evil, or in other instances as merely imperfect and as benevolent as its inadequacy permits. This demiurge exists alongside another remote and unknowable supreme being that embodies good. In order to free oneself from the inferior material world, one needs gnosis, or esoteric spiritual knowledge available to all through direct experience or knowledge (gnosis) of God. Jesus of Nazareth is identified by some Gnostic sects as an embodiment of the supreme being who became incarnate to bring gnosis to the earth. In others he was thought to be a gnosis teacher, and yet others, nothing more than a man.