How has Kabbalah impacted my life as an orthodox Jew? Off the top of my head (such as it is :whacky: ), I can think of a few instances.
My wife :love: & I have been married for almost 16 marvelous years (thank God!). We had a traditional, orthodox Jewish wedding (see jewfaq.org/marriage.htm). At the beginning of the actual ceremony, as per the custom, my wife slowly circled me 7 times. There is a kabbalistic idea that our souls have 7 layers, with our true self, our true essence, being at the core. Total strangers do not know us at all. Casual acquaintances know only our outermost selves. Close friends and family members may know us at the second or third layer. When the bride circles her groom seven times, she is proceeding to the innermost core of his being; henceforth, only God will know him better than her. Thus, their union is far more than the merely physical. Her (impending) newfound intimate physical knowledge of him is matched by her newfound intimate spiritual knowledge of him. As much as the husband & wife will be one flesh, they will be one soul; no longer will they be incomplete half-things.
Deuteronomy 29:9-14 tells us:
You are standing this day all of you before the Lord your God: your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, even all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and your your stranger * that is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of your wood unto the drawer of your water; that you should enter into the covenant of the Lord your God, and into His oath, which the Lord your God makes with you this day; that He may establish you this day unto Himself for a people, and that He may be unto you a God, as He spoke unto you, and as He swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; but with him that stands here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day…*
Our Sages offer a Kabbalistic commentary on the last phrase (“and also with him that is not here with us this day…”) and teach that the soul of every Jew who ever lived, and who will ever live, was there to take oath & enter into the covenant. Thus, we are born bound by the Torah. (Our Sages further teach that even the souls of converts were there.) When I decided, quite suddenly, at the age of 23, to actively embrace the Jewish faith which, up until then, hadn’t meant anything special to me, I was not embarking on a new path, rather I was responding to a spiritual echo that had been resonating in my soul ever since I bound myself to honor God’s covenant over 3,000+ years ago.