What is Kabbalah and Sufi?


#1

You know? Those two trendy religions celebrities tend to practice. I’m a faithful Catholic so I’ll never practice either but I’m seriously curious about their origins/practices. I know one is considered jewish mysticism (Kabbalah) and muslim mysticism (sufi). Thanks
God Bless


#2

Sufi is a form of Islam which typically places less emphasis on literal interpretations of Qur'an and hadith but instead focuses on mysticism and spirituality. Typical practices include dhikr (reciting the names of God) and some forms of mystical dance.

There's some debate as to whether Sufis are even Muslim, a seperate Islamic denomination to Sunni/Shia or whether Sufi practice is included in normal Muslim beliefs.


#3

[quote="RileyG, post:1, topic:285854"]
You know? Those two trendy religions celebrities tend to practice. I'm a faithful Catholic so I'll never practice either but I'm seriously curious about their origins/practices. I know one is considered jewish mysticism (Kabbalah) and muslim mysticism (sufi). Thanks
God Bless

[/quote]

Kabbala is not a religion except to people like Madonna. As you say, it is a form of Jewish mysticism, studied particularly by some Hasidic Jews, as an adjunct to their understanding of the more intricate portions of the Torah.


#4

[quote="meltzerboy, post:3, topic:285854"]
Kabbala is not a religion except to people like Madonna. As you say, it is a form of Jewish mysticism, studied particularly by some Hasidic Jews, as an adjunct to their understanding of the more intricate portions of the Torah.

[/quote]

Is it true that it's often reserved for all but a few of the highest Torah scholars to read as it's not deemed suitable for all worshippers?


#5

I have researched Kabbalah quite a bit and have come to this conclusion: There are some good things in Kabbalah, BUT everything good in Kabbalah can also be found in the Catholic Faith.

So, in my opinion, a Catholic has nothing to gain by getting instruction in Kabbalah at one of the Kabbalah Centres or bookstores or web sites.

I also think there are some very bad things in Kabbalah.

One example: Also this varies from Kabbalah teacher to Kabbalah teacher, most of them really do NOT believe that God is a person. For them, God is a force, or a series of forces, or a series of laws and dynamics.

Another example: Some versions of Kabbalah really come very close to saying that the purpose of life is for each person to become their own God.

Another example: Some versions of Kabbalah say that the serpent was actually working for God in the Garden of Eden, and that the Fall was a good thing in that it made it possible for humans to advance spiritually.

Another example: Most versions of Kabbalah place great emphasis on the Jewish Messiah. Some of the Kabbalah teaching organizations believe we are in the last days before the Messianic Age of total world peace and abundance will come to the earth. Some say this Messianic Age will come into being in about 50 years or so. But to them, Jesus is definitely NOT the Messiah. Thus, anyone associating with Kabbalah, is, directly or indirectly, supporting the view that Jesus is NOT the Messiah.

To a large extent, Kabbalah consists of a non-literal interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures (aka Old Testament), instead finding hidden principles and symbolic meaning. But plenty of Catholic scholars in the past have done the same thing with the Bible. You can find this in the Church Fathers, in the Spanish mystics (St. John of the Cross; St. Teresa of Avila; Blessed Ramon Llull), and in others. The current Catechism of the Catholic Church talks about the various senses in which a Catholic may and should read the Scriptures.


#6

[quote="RileyG, post:1, topic:285854"]
You know? Those two trendy religions celebrities tend to practice. I'm a faithful Catholic so I'll never practice either but I'm seriously curious about their origins/practices. I know one is considered jewish mysticism (Kabbalah) and muslim mysticism (sufi). Thanks
God Bless

[/quote]

good question - i was wondering about this too!


#7

[quote="Kouyate42, post:4, topic:285854"]
Is it true that it's often reserved for all but a few of the highest Torah scholars to read as it's not deemed suitable for all worshippers?

[/quote]

The study of Kabbalah is challenging at best so not everyone can profit from it. Yet some Hasidim believe it is essential for understanding the deeper interpretive meanings of the Torah as well as the Talmud. At the same time, other Orthodox Jews reject the study of Kabbalah as heretical due in part to its mystical nature (which speaks of reincarnation as a means of completion of Torah study, for example). The Kabbalah is not regarded as holy in the same way as the Torah even by those who advocate its study.


#8

[quote="Bartolome_Casas, post:5, topic:285854"]
I have researched Kabbalah quite a bit and have come to this conclusion: There are some good things in Kabbalah, BUT everything good in Kabbalah can also be found in the Catholic Faith.

So, in my opinion, a Catholic has nothing to gain by getting instruction in Kabbalah at one of the Kabbalah Centres or bookstores or web sites.

I also think there are some very bad things in Kabbalah.

One example: Also this varies from Kabbalah teacher to Kabbalah teacher, most of them really do NOT believe that God is a person. For them, God is a force, or a series of forces, or a series of laws and dynamics.

Another example: Some versions of Kabbalah really come very close to saying that the purpose of life is for each person to become their own God.

Another example: Some versions of Kabbalah say that the serpent was actually working for God in the Garden of Eden, and that the Fall was a good thing in that it made it possible for humans to advance spiritually.

Another example: Most versions of Kabbalah place great emphasis on the Jewish Messiah. Some of the Kabbalah teaching organizations believe we are in the last days before the Messianic Age of total world peace and abundance will come to the earth. Some say this Messianic Age will come into being in about 50 years or so. But to them, Jesus is definitely NOT the Messiah. Thus, anyone associating with Kabbalah, is, directly or indirectly, supporting the view that Jesus is NOT the Messiah.

To a large extent, Kabbalah consists of a non-literal interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures (aka Old Testament), instead finding hidden principles and symbolic meaning. But plenty of Catholic scholars in the past have done the same thing with the Bible. You can find this in the Church Fathers, in the Spanish mystics (St. John of the Cross; St. Teresa of Avila; Blessed Ramon Llull), and in others. The current Catechism of the Catholic Church talks about the various senses in which a Catholic may and should read the Scriptures.

[/quote]

Which are these versions of Kabbalah you're talking about; whose versions are they? Some of these things I've never heard of as part of Kabbalah teaching. A couple of quick points: the notion that Lucifer is working for G-d is part of mainstream Judaism, and not strongly influenced by Kabbalah. Where in the Zohar or elsewhere does it say the purpose of life is for everyone to become his own god? Many people say all kinds of erroneous things about the Kabbalah, as well as the Talmud, without having really studied them. That's why I'm interested in your sources. A final comment: why is reading a book that denies Jesus is the Messiah endorsing that view?


#9

This website has a non-exhaustive listing of false messiahs that have arisen out of the Kabbalah. Especially, pages 4-5.

israelinprophecy.org/wiki/uploads/Pdf/Pitfalls%20of%20Jewish%20Mysticism.pdf


#10

“Sufism” is really a Western term, and depending on you ask, it represents the watered down form of the real thing, which is tariqat. Tariqat is essentially the mystical path in Islam, its rather controversial since many muslims feel it is a corruption of Islam. Basically, like most eastern spirituality, it teaches the highest end of man is a certain anihilation of ego (fana), so that one be completed absorbed into God. I personally associated with a genuine tariqat back when I practiced Islam. It was an interesting experience, but one thing they lacked, and this is a problem with many false mysticisms, is a sense of reason. The Shaykh would say something that would just not sit well with me, and these folks would take it hook, line, and sinker.


#11

[quote="meltzerboy, post:7, topic:285854"]
The study of Kabbalah is challenging at best so not everyone can profit from it. Yet some Hasidim believe it is essential for understanding the deeper interpretive meanings of the Torah as well as the Talmud. At the same time, other Orthodox Jews reject the study of Kabbalah as heretical due in part to its mystical nature (which speaks of reincarnation as a means of completion of Torah study, for example). The Kabbalah is not regarded as holy in the same way as the Torah even by those who advocate its study.

[/quote]

Noted. Thank you for your explanation.


#12

[quote="meltzerboy, post:8, topic:285854"]
Which are these versions of Kabbalah you're talking about; whose versions are they? Some of these things I've never heard of as part of Kabbalah teaching. A couple of quick points: the notion that Lucifer is working for G-d is part of mainstream Judaism, and not strongly influenced by Kabbalah. Where in the Zohar or elsewhere does it say the purpose of life is for everyone to become his own god? Many people say all kinds of erroneous things about the Kabbalah, as well as the Talmud, without having really studied them. That's why I'm interested in your sources. A final comment: why is reading a book that denies Jesus is the Messiah endorsing that view?

[/quote]

He said that some versions of Kabbalah came very close to saying that the purpose of life was for each person to become their own G-d.
So I believe that he might have misunderstood something. He might have learned that everyone is to thank G-d and praise G-d at all times - which IS our purpose - so that we will connect with Him and be as one. I'm looking forward to his reply also :)


#13

[quote="meltzerboy, post:8, topic:285854"]
Which are these versions of Kabbalah you're talking about; whose versions are they? Some of these things I've never heard of as part of Kabbalah teaching. A couple of quick points: the notion that Lucifer is working for G-d is part of mainstream Judaism, and not strongly influenced by Kabbalah. Where in the Zohar or elsewhere does it say the purpose of life is for everyone to become his own god? Many people say all kinds of erroneous things about the Kabbalah, as well as the Talmud, without having really studied them. That's why I'm interested in your sources. A final comment: why is reading a book that denies Jesus is the Messiah endorsing that view?

[/quote]

Sources? I have to cite sources! Wow. I'm kinda busy. You can't just take my word for it? Just kidding. I can't recall every source. I'll give you want comes to mind right now.

First, my general source would be the instructors at the various locations of the "Kabbalah Centre" run by Rav Berg and his family.

Second, there is this passage * written by a doctor who studied/studies with an instructor at one of the Kabbalah Centre locations run by Rav Berg and his family:

*In all honesty, many sections of the Bible made no sense to me at first. They seemed very irrational, and lacked a logical foundation. For example, the Midrash states that when the Red Sea split *all the waters of the world split as well....It seemed ludicrous to me....

The Bible is filled with stories of wars, killings, and murder,... we Jews lived under a vengeful God. A deity who was in need of our prayers in order to subdue his wrath. I was instilled with teachings of fear, and servitude. We Jews had to obey God - like a dog obeying his master....

When faced with imminent death - a bloodthirsty Egyptian army right behind us, and a raging sea in front of us - we (the Israelites) according to Kabbalistic thought, controlled that potentially chaotic situation. After that, we just crossed the sea. It wasn't necessarily that the waters split, but that the nature of water split. WE exercised the innate power of our consciousness, applied MIND OVER MATTER, and transformed the sea back to its natural, primordial state. WE transformed those waters into a state of Godliness, in which the water could cause no harm to any individual

The Zohar (the main text of the Kabbalah) emphasizes that it was not God who actualized this feat. WE were the ones responsible for transforming those waters. After that, we just walked right through. Our clothes didn't even get wet.

In fact, the dialogue between God and Moses at the time of the splitting of the Red Sea is the essence of this Kabbalistic teaching. The Israelites were trapped between a raging sea and a vengeful army. Hope was lost; they complained to Moses and accused him of faulty leadership. What did they do next? They prayed to God. Just like usual - Blame your problems on someone else and then pray to God so he can save you.

But pay close attention to scripture. What was God's response in this episode - "Ma Titzak Eylai" - "Why are you crying out to me?"

Why such a crude response by our Creator? The Kabbalists teach us that God was really saying, "Why are you crying out to me? Don't you know that YOU possess this God-like power? I have already given you the Formula - the Kabbalah - of how YOU can create your own miracle....

And that's the main difference between most approaches to Judaism as opposed to the Kabbalistic one. Whereas I was previously taught that I would have to rely on God for salvation, the Kabbalistic approach is a more liberating one. The Zohar teaches that it is necessary to connect with God, but to realize that YOU are responsible for your own fate. YOU are capable of controlling you own future. YOU have the power to transform any situation - no matter how impossible it seems....

When a critical mass of people are taking part in this war then the Moshiach has arrived. The Moshis not just a man, but he symbolizes a global state of eternal peace, happiness, and fulfillment. The end of chaos as we know it. Contrary to much thought, we are not waiting for the Moshiach to come, but rather, WE are the ones and WE are the only ones that through our efforts are capable of creating this state of being.

Dr. Raphael Kellman is the founder of the Center for Progressive Medicine in Manhattan, NY, and is the author of Gut Reactions. He can be reached via email at [email]kellman93@cs.com[/email] The Kabbalah he has learned is from the Kabbalah Learning Centre., an international organization with branches all over the country. They provide books, tapes, lectures, and even online learning. You can reach them at: 1-800-KABBALAH or at kabbalah.com

I found the above at: jewishmag.com/66mag/kabbalah/kabbalah.htm

Third, some Kabbalah teachers I heard have said, or seemed to say, that by rebelling against God in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were becoming more like God. The logic seems to go like this:
(a) God is not subservient to anyone.

(b) By rebelling against the rules of God, Adam and Eve were rejecting a subservient status.
(c) Therefore, the rebellion of Adam and Eve made them more God-like.

I find that reasoning to be Satanic, and disturbing. The Christian view of the rebellion of Adam and Eve is that it was total SIN, and brought the curse of Original Sin (which can only be eliminated by the blessing of the sacrifice made by the New Adam, namely, Jesus Christ, who never rebelled against his Father).*


#14

[quote="mercytruth, post:9, topic:285854"]
This website has a non-exhaustive listing of false messiahs that have arisen out of the Kabbalah. Especially, pages 4-5.

israelinprophecy.org/wiki/uploads/Pdf/Pitfalls%20of%20Jewish%20Mysticism.pdf

[/quote]

This website, which I read, has a lot of false information about Kabbalah as well as Judaism, interspersed with some truthful statements. It is basically an outreach website that focuses on Messianic Judaism.


#15

Second, there is this passage * written by a doctor who studied/studies with an instructor at one of the Kabbalah Centre locations run by Rav Berg and his family:

[INDENT]*In all honesty, many sections of the Bible made no sense to me at first. They seemed very irrational, and lacked a logical foundation. For example, the Midrash states that when the Red Sea split *all the waters of the world split as well

The Bible is filled with stories of wars, killings, and murder,... we Jews lived under a vengeful God. A deity who was in need of our prayers in order to subdue his wrath. I was instilled with teachings of fear, and servitude. We Jews had to obey God - like a dog obeying his master....

When faced with imminent death - a bloodthirsty Egyptian army right behind us, and a raging sea in front of us - we (the Israelites) according to Kabbalistic thought, controlled that potentially chaotic situation. After that, we just crossed the sea. It wasn't necessarily that the waters split, but that the nature of water split. WE exercised the innate power of our consciousness, applied MIND OVER MATTER, and transformed the sea back to its natural, primordial state. WE transformed those waters into a state of Godliness, in which the water could cause no harm to any individual

The Zohar (the main text of the Kabbalah) emphasizes that it was not God who actualized this feat. WE were the ones responsible for transforming those waters. After that, we just walked right through. Our clothes didn't even get wet.

In fact, the dialogue between God and Moses at the time of the splitting of the Red Sea is the essence of this Kabbalistic teaching. The Israelites were trapped between a raging sea and a vengeful army. Hope was lost; they complained to Moses and accused him of faulty leadership. What did they do next? They prayed to God. Just like usual - Blame your problems on someone else and then pray to God so he can save you.

Why such a crude response by our Creator? The Kabbalists teach us that God was really saying, "Why are you crying out to me? Don't you know that YOU possess this God-like power? I have already given you the Formula - the Kabbalah - of how YOU can create your own miracle....

And that's the main difference between most approaches to Judaism as opposed to the Kabbalistic one. Whereas I was previously taught that I would have to rely on God for salvation, the Kabbalistic approach is a more liberating one. The Zohar teaches that it is necessary to connect with God, but to realize that YOU are responsible for your own fate. YOU are capable of controlling you own future. YOU have the power to transform any situation - no matter how impossible it seems....

When a critical mass of people are taking part in this war then the Moshiach has arrived. The Moshis not just a man, but he symbolizes a global state of eternal peace, happiness, and fulfillment. The end of chaos as we know it. Contrary to much thought, we are not waiting for the Moshiach to come, but rather, WE are the ones and WE are the only ones that through our efforts are capable of creating this state of being.

[FONT="Arial Narrow"]Dr. Raphael Kellman is the founder of the Center for Progressive Medicine in Manhattan, NY, and is the author of Gut Reactions. He can be reached via email at [email]kellman93@cs.com[/email] The Kabbalah he has learned is from the Kabbalah Learning Centre., an international organization with branches all over the country. They provide books, tapes, lectures, and even online learning. You can reach them at:

I find that reasoning to be Satanic, and disturbing. The Christian view of the rebellion of Adam and Eve is that it was total SIN, and brought the curse of Original Sin (which can only be eliminated by the blessing of the sacrifice made by the New Adam, namely, Jesus Christ, who never rebelled against his Father).

Thank you for the information. As I stated previously, while the Kabbalah can be used to understand the Torah, the study of the Kabbalah itself is very difficult and can lead to different interpretations, especially if one is not familiar with the several levels of analysis that the Kabbalah contains. There is a belief in Orthodox Judaism, perhaps partially influenced by Kabbalah but also found in the Talmud, that G-d and Mankind form a partnership to repair the broken world, which, according to this view, was intentionally created in an incomplete state by G-d. It is true that sometimes, as found in both Torah and Talmud, G-d gives us certain powers to repair the world and, in a sense, relies upon us to do so. I've heard rabbis (non-Kabbalists) express the view that G-d suffers when we do not fulfill our obligation to complete the world by means of acts of love and kindness, and that G-d Himself prays at times (which sounds trinitarian) that He will be more merciful to us for our negligence and abuse of our responsibilities, and refrain from anger. There is also a belief, perhaps Kabbalistic in origin, that we judge ourselves after death by reliving the deeds of our life, and that it is G-d who then passes sentence, and Lucifer who executes that sentence. But the notion that Lucifer is not a "bad guy" is in fact mainstream Judaism. However, in none of this, is Man taught that he can assume the role of G-d in his own behavior or that he can do whatever he wishes by means of mind over matter. Even the controversial reincarnation element found in Kabbalah is designed for a unique purpose: namely, to fulfill one's obligation toward the study and understanding of Torah, rather than in order to elevate oneself toward a higher level of consciousness so that one can rejoin the eternal spirit.*


#16

The part about Adam and Eve becoming more godlike by rebelling against G-d sounds to me like a misinterpretation of Kabbalah teaching; however, I'd have to check. It certainly flies in the face of both Judaism and Christianity. I suspect some of these teachers of Kabbalah are doing its message a disservice. And when the New Age philosophies get a hold of it, the consequence is even further distortion, which has a negative effect on people's understanding of Judaism.


#17

Thank you. I found your comment to be helpful and informative.


#18

[quote="meltzerboy, post:14, topic:285854"]
This website, which I read, has a lot of false information about Kabbalah as well as Judaism, interspersed with some truthful statements. It is basically an outreach website that focuses on Messianic Judaism.

[/quote]

It is true that this website article is written by a Christian of Jewish ancestry. I do not know if outreach is his intention, or whether it is a warning of the dangers of certain types of mysticism.

My purpose in referencing this website was to give a listing of the various individuals who have claimed to be the (a) messiah as a result of their delving into the Kabbalah. Sabbatai Zvi and Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia are two of the more well known and notorious. Moses Guibbory was associated with the Zionist movement. Madonna herself, claims or has claimed to be messiah as a result of her study of the Kabbalah.

I would be interested in knowing what Elisheva Gamaliel has stated that is inaccurate regarding Judaism, because if it is, he needs to be corrected.


#19

Furthermore, Meltzerboy, my sincere apologies are in order if I have offended you, or anyone else by referencing this website. At the time, I thought it was authored by a person of Jewish faith, as my only motive was to list the number of individuals who have delved into the Kabbalah and have been led astray as a consequence.

I understand the desire for spiritually sensitive individuals for seeking a deeper communion with G-d, or a deeper understanding of their scriptures. Such desire can lead to all sorts of revelations, enlightenments, deceptions, or delusions no matter the faith of the seeker.


#20

[quote="Kouyate42, post:2, topic:285854"]
Sufi is a form of Islam which typically places less emphasis on literal interpretations of Qur'an and hadith but instead focuses on mysticism and spirituality. Typical practices include dhikr (reciting the names of God) and some forms of mystical dance.

There's some debate as to whether Sufis are even Muslim, a seperate Islamic denomination to Sunni/Shia or whether Sufi practice is included in normal Muslim beliefs.

[/quote]

Historically there's not much debate--Sufism was mainstream Islam for centuries. (There's plenty of debate about the origins of Sufism, mind you.)

Modern forms of reformist Islam have often rejected Sufism, and in some extreme cases claimed that Sufis aren't really Muslims. But that's sort of like fundamentalist Christians who claim that Catholics aren't really Christians. It doesn't make any sense as a historical description of the mainstream of the religion.

Much the same is true of Kabbalah. It was certainly controversial originally, but during the late Middle Ages and the early modern period it seems to have become quite mainstream--it became controversial again around the 18th century.

The standard hymn sung by Jews to welcome the Sabbath on Friday evening was written by Kabbalists and is deeply shaped by Kabbalist ideas. That's an example of how embedded Kabbalism is in mainstream Judaism.

Edwin


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.