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Kabbalah Practice and Discipline

The kabbalah practice naturally flows from kabbalah beliefs. If one believes all life is communion with ineffable Being, one tends to seize the day and serve the moment with utmost attention, with a “higher” or more attuned soul. Sabbath is regarded with special esteem by the kabbalist; this reverence typically blossoms into six days of productive “in-the-zone” labor with brief meditations and disciplines, and evenings and Sabbath free for extended fellowship, study, and worship.

The best disciplines in kabbalah practice are the 613 mizhwoth found in Torah (enumerated by Maimonides), or at least as many of them as can be performed in the absence of a physical Jerusalem temple. Consult halakhah sources for some additional ways to perform these mizhwoth beyond the simple pshat meaning. Of particular interest are the tfilin (phylacteries), zhizhith (tassels), and mezuzoth (doorposts), of which many kabbalah beliefs and teachings have arisen, physical and spiritual, reverent and superstitious. For now it need merely be emphasized that any sincerely worn zhizhith are as efficaceous as any other. It is never intended for any mizhwah or practice to require any payment to or certification from any particular interest, besides the temple itself.

The Kabbalist in Good and Evil

Building good habits of kabbalah meditation upon the Hebrew Bible and wisely selected kabbalah books, and of discipline in doing well, is a matter of ordinary time management. It will be observed that the same cosmos which sustains you in kabbalah practice will also test you in it: the times, like humans themselves, give forth both good and evil.

In times of testing it is best to press oneself to obedience to what was revealed at other times, particularly to redouble kabbalah meditation upon blessings one has received from such as the Hebrew prophets. You are the master of your kabbalah practice, not its slave: failure to meet your goals is not disheartening, because the kabbalist always succeeds at meeting the mystical cosmic goals. Your kabbalah practice is only the means to these larger goals, not a goal itself. Yosef the son of Israel said of his 22 years of trials (properly translated), “You meant evil for me, but God meant it [the evil] for good”: the intent of the cosmic order is that even evils work for the good of those who desire God wholeheartedly.

The Kabbalah in Use and Abuse

Another pitfall is that rigorous discipline in some areas tempts one to laxity in others. Pride and security in one kabbalah practice should not permit one to ignore one’s responsibility in other areas of kabbalah practice. The one who excuses rampant criminality on the grounds of trust in one’s habits to disperse negative energy is not a kabbalist.

In both extremes, whether overemphasis or underemphasis upon kabbalah practice, it must be recalled that kabbalah practice is only a means to pursuit of Ein Sof. Practice, like anything else, is not pursued in itself. Regarding behaviors, practices, habits, and disciplines as a means to higher goals, goals selected by the scheme of cosmic order rather than self, is another liberating revelation of kabbalah.

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