Is Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism) a form of Magic?


#1

To My Elder Brothers (the Jews);

Hello I have a discussion with my friend and my brothers who say that Kabbalah is a form of magic, in which I disagree. I could be wrong since I am no expert on the subject discussed. I say it isn’t because it would contradict the Mosaic Law that forbids magic.

If it is not magic, what is it?

Thanks


#2

Mysticism is distinct from magic. Many alchemists used or referenced the Kabbalah in their experiments, such as the creation of homunculi or searching for the philosopher’s stone; however, that bears the same relation to the actual practice as numerology does to the bible – in fact, it’s essentially identical.


#3

While I am neither a Jew nor a Kabbalah expert, I have read some books on the subject.

Kabbalah is a fairly complicated entity practiced in different forms, both by Jews and non-Jews. Some practices of Kabbalah are mixed by those who get involved in Pagan/Occultist movements (i.e. Theosophy) along with beliefs from Astrology, Eastern Religion, and borrowings from the mystical traditions of various religions. Other forms of Kabbalah are basically mystical devotions and practices designed to bring a Jew into mystical communion with God.

Generally sensible Jews who get involved in the mystical side of their religion insist to be in Kabbalah one must be a long-practicing Jew in good standing, and no-one below the age of 40 should get involved in the deeper mysteries of Kabbalah.

I doubt Jews would get involved in magical practices because of the Pentateuchal commandment against it, though some forms of Kabbalah can go ritually along these lines into theurgical practice.


#4

You also have to be male, unless they changed that very recently.


#5

Hi Manny, True Kabbalah, is on the line of studying logic, calculus, comon sense, and wisdom ( like in Proverbs ). Its main goal is to know God on a deeper level. The wisdom part borders on mysticism at times but does not go all the way into mysticism – based on theory of knowledge.

Among Reform Jewish people, usually Kabbalah is strictly mysticism.

Non-Jewish popular Kabbalah is magic mixed with the occult and is viewed to be a joke among Jewish people.

Christian books on cults that deal with Kabbalah in passing places it in the realm of magic, occultism.


#6

Grace & Peace!

A funny irony–many of the greatest Kabbalists were in their twenties when they began their work.

Re: magic, this has always been a particularly grey area. Most of the Pentateuchal commandments against it are very contextually specific–dealing with “knot magic”, the practices of other tribes and cultures, necromantic practices, etc. Despite the prohibitions against divination, for instance, it is widely believed that the breastplate of the high priest was a divinatory tool. The difference between good divination and bad? The good is what “we” do within the context of officially sanctioned religious practice, the bad is what “they” do.

When Moses kills the Egyptian with the stone, many Kabbalists see the word stone as related to the word for “word” and have interpreted that to mean that Moses (master of Kabbalah) killed the Egyptian with a word.

The Prophet Daniel was the chief of the enchanters, diviners, Chaldeans, and wise men.

To many outside observers, the practice of saying a novena is magical. The various requirements enforced on those seeking aid from St. Jude in some popular devotions have a similar flavor of the magical.

I think the distinction between theurgical practice and “magic” is a good one, though. In their proper religious contexts, these practices, which from the outside look like magic, are means of surrendering to God, of giving oneself over to the will of God and of making oneself, through an infusion of grace, the vessel of God’s work. This is theurgy, as I understand it. An act (prayer, even) which seeks to manipulate hidden forces, which seeks not God but some other thing, which sees God as a means, which is done out of curiosity, selfishness, or worse, even if the end result should be a “good”: that is dark magic indeed.

Kabbalah is basically theurgically oriented, though it it does comprehend magical practice. But sacramentals are also theurgically oriented, but can be used not as means of grace, but as means of coercion. Even the blessed Sacrament itself can be offered with a purely selfish intention, as if it were not our job to conform to God’s will, but for God to conform to our whim.

Kabbalah is a tool for understanding the world and it’s relationship to God within a particular religious context. A tool can be used well or poorly. The tool does not decide how it will be used.

Under the Mercy,
Mark

Deo Gratias!


#7

Kaballah has absolutely nothing to do with magic. The short version is that it is an alternative philosophical thought process which redefines in an absolutely new and unique way the role of man in this world. It deals not only with mans physical being but also with his soul and essence. It has psychological overtones. According to Kabbalah to every person there is a special role and a straight connection to God’s world which does not require an intermediary. Kabalah uses it concepts to reinterpert the Tanach.


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