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5 Purim Customs and their Kabbalah Meaning

The Purim holiday is celebrated on the 14th of Adar (15th in Jerusalem, also known as Shushan Purim) and it is considered by the Kabbalah the highest and the holiest day of all. Purim is celebrated by several unique customs and traditions such as wearing masks and costumes, drinking alcohol and giving away charity and gifts. All those customs have a deeper, spiritual meaning in the Kabbalah.

1. Reading the Meggilah

Reading the Book of Esther (Meggilah) on Purim in the Synagogue is an important Mitzva. According to Chazal the public reading has two purposes: to publicize the miracle of the Jewish people salvation and to thank God for it.

There are many customs regarding the mentioning of Haman, the book’s evil, in the public reading: shout out his name and then pause in silence; make loud noises using ratchet toys (raashanim) or hitting the table, writing names and erasing them, and so on. This customs allows us to erase the darkness and the negativity from our lives and bring on the light.

2. Wearing Costumes & Masks

Wearing costumes is a spiritual tool that helps us connect to our true, inner self. By choosing a costume and wearing it, we reveal our desires, the objects of our identifications; we expose the gap between who we really are and who we wish we were. Ironically, by wearing a mask we uncover the mask that covers us.

3. Drinking Wine

Drinking on the Purim holiday is a Mitzva and according The Zohar, one should drink until he cannot tell between right and wrong. Similar to the mask, the wine serves as a spiritual tool – by seeing things upside down, we get to see the high, spiritual level. Still, getting drunk on a daily basis is not recommended. The Zohar explains that there are specific time frames where this communication channel is open, and Purim is the only one where alcohol helps to open this window.

The drinking usually occurs during the festive Purim meal (seudath Purim), celebrated with family and friends. A traditional Purim meal includes symbolic food: triangular-shaped dishes (kreplach, hamanatashen, also known as Haman’s pockets or Haman’s ears) to remind us of the ears of Haman; braided Challa to remind us of the rope used to hang Haman, etc.

4. Giving Charity (Matanot LaEvyonim)

Sharing and giving are important principals in the Kabbalah and they are expressed in this Purim mitzva, where each one gives away a gift (money, food) to needed people (poor, widows, orphans) or to a charity organization on the day of Purim. This custom lets us share the light and happiness with the less privileged.

5. Giving Baskets of Food (Mishloach Manot)

The Purim basket (Mishloach Manot) is another expression of sharing and giving in Purim. On the day after the Purim celebration we give away baskets filled with delicacies to our family, friends and neighbors, sharing our conditional love and positive energy with our loved ones during the special energetic time frame of Purim.

Looking for an original way to share a light on Purim? The Zohar Book app is just a click away from your mobile device. The lite version is available for free.

For Apple devices:

Zohar eBook (full version) & free version

For Android:

Book of the Zohar (full version) & Light version (free)

 

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Valentine’s Day in the Kabbalah

Valentine’s Day, the romantic holiday celebrated worldwide on February 14, provides an opportunity to tie relationship with our loved ones and to renew distant relationships. The Kabbalah offers great tools that help us get closer to the people we love, by studying and sharing the deep, ancient knowledge hidden in wisdom of The Zohar and the Kabbalah literature, as well as by giving special, spiritual gifts.

image courtesy of sritangphoto/freedigitalphotos.net

Love is a mystery, and it is very difficult to define how it feels to finally find our soul mate. The Kabbalah helps us understand deeply the essence of love and to improve our relationships with the others, not just our significant other.

Love does not depend on a thing

According to the Kabbalah, the highest spiritual order of love is love that does not depend on anything, meaning loving the other without expecting to get back some personal benefit. The purest love is derived by giving for the sake of giving, without wanting anything in return.

Giving is an important concept in the Kabbalah. One of the wonderful things about giving is that fills the giver with happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment. In other words, by giving (the loved ones) without expecting anything in return, we gain a true feeling of happiness and wholeness. That way, our relationship with the other and the deep, spiritual powers becomes closer. Giving connects us to the world’s richest spiritual channels.

Spiritual Valentine’s Day Gifts

You can embrace Kabbalah in several ways: through in-depth learning of the Jewish mystic thought, reading the Zohar book, holding charms or significant items such as Kabbalah jewelry – rings and decorative pieces, stamped by Kabbalah symbols and texts. Kabbalah jewelry is a great Valentine’s Day gift, which carries the spiritual meaning of the Kabbalah and serves as a decorative object with a symbolic and sentimental meaning. Giving gifts to our loved ones is a great way to express our feelings.

If you are looking for an original Valentine’s Day gift for spiritual people who are interested in the Kabbalah, give them the Zohar app, making all the Kabbalah wisdom with additional unique and useful features available directly from the smartphone or tablet.

Bring back the spiritual meaning of Valentine’s Day with the Zohar book. The lite version is available for free.

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2014 in the Kabbalah

We are always told to live our life as they are now, cherish the present, carpe diem. However, what if you were told that the past two decades were a build-up to the years 2014–2015?

Sounds absolutely ridiculous: children were born, raised, married, people lived and died, accomplishments were made. We drove right into the second millennium. So what is all this talk about 2014 being one of the most special years since the existence of mankind?

Image: Stuart Miles/Freedigitalphotos.net

Well, this Hebrew year, 5774, Ayin Daleth, is a leap year in the Jewish calendar (there’s an extra month between Pisces and Aries, so the solar and the lunar cycles will be synchronized). It is the fullest year possible, rounding up to a whopping 385 days of a year.

For all you astrology fans (and non-fans), in the years 2014-2015 there is going to be a ton of drama in the sky: there are going to be two incredible lunar eclipses (blood red moons) in two of the most important Jewish holidays: Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). In the past two thousand years, this had occurred only seven times – making 2014–2015 solar eclipses the 8th times this miraculous line-up of the stars happen. In Kabbalah numerology, some meanings of the number 8 is turning point of a cycle, deviation from routine and changeability. All these perfectly describe 2014, sky-wise.

2014 in Gematria

Furthermore, the number 19 takes a great part in this year’s (lunar and solar calendar’s) part. Every 19 years, the number of days in the year are equal, and the amount of days in 19 lunar years and solar years match, which make both the calendars equinox. The number 19 is an important number both in Kabbalah numerology and Hebrew Gematria (the Jewish system of letters equivalent to numbers): they represent the eighth and tenth letter, meaning: CHAI – to live, living. This symbolic number and meaning could not match any better to this exciting 2014.

As we study the Kabbalah to help us understand the Torah (the Old Testament, given to us by God. Later on Jesus Christ, God’s gift to Earth, gives us the New Testament) in our search for enlightenment and all that is good, we can make this year count. We can make 2014 just as incredible as the night sky will be.

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Kabbalah & The Book of Zohar in the Mirror of Christmas

When thinking of “Christmas time”, presents and shopping comes to mind. You’re probably not connecting spiritual Jewish thinking – the Kabbalah – to the holiday spirit; but there’s more to it than you can ever imagine. At times, when you’re in the usual holiday whirr of finding presents for everyone whilst trying to find a way of not going completely broke, RSVPing five different family gatherings and trotting between your kids’ annual Holiday Assembly, you can feel pretty beat. Sometimes, shopping and money makes the entire holiday feel empty and hollow. This is where the Kabbalah takes part.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/Freedigitalphotos.net

Christmas doesn’t have to be this way. There’s a simple (and cheap) way to bring your family together, bring light to your life;  give these holidays depth and meaning we’ve been looking for through these hectic money-spending days. Christmas is about family, about togetherness, about commemorating the birth of God’s gift to Earth, the birth of Jesus Christ, son of God, God’s humanly reincarnation. Finding the way back to our loved ones and the path back to enlightenment had never been so easy.

Kabbalah and the Christmas Spirit

Many, many years ago, God has given us the Bible – his written word. Along with the Bible, there came the Kabbalah. You’ve probably heard of celebrities like Madonna and Ashton Kutcher who have been studying Kabbalah with great devotion. What is it they find so fascinating? What does the Kabbalah give them and many, many others, and how it is connected to the Christmas spirit?

While the Bible (the Old Testament as you might know it) is our way to find the path back to God. Tikun, it’s called in Hebrew, fixing our souls. If the Bible is for improving ourselves, then the Kabbalah brings us one step closer to enlightenment. You study it right along with the Bible; it gives us much better understanding of it – therefore, reaching closer to Tikun – and the chance to take a great place in this world and it the path God had chosen for us. The Kabbalah is all bundled up in a book called The Zohar Book, Zohar meaning brightness, light.

Just in the same way God’s chosen people progressed to their way to enlightenment throughout two thousand years, God creates his son: an earthly version of himself. He places Him amongst human beings – so we can see ever clearer now the way back to God, his father.

The Zohar Book for Christmas

In the same way we celebrate the birth of Christ, God’s gift to Earth to help us to enlightenment, we can commemorate the Kabbalah, and bring light and joy to ourselves and the people surrounding us. The Zohar Book is the perfect Christmas gift for anyone you know, including yourself. Find the light within yourself; let yourself explore your soul and reach out to the path back to God.

You’re probably imaging The Zohar Book like an old, tattered, thick book, but in fact, thanks to the 21st century technology, we can now read it on our smartphones – with The Zohar Book application available on every iPhone and Android phone. You can take it anywhere with you; read it at any time of the day; explore the different scriptures and even receive a daily sentence of wisdom for inspiration.

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Happy Thanksgivukkah!

Thanksgiving+Hanukkah=Thanksgivukkah

This year, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are celebrated on the same day for the first time since 1918.

Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, share not only the date. Both the Jewish holiday and the national American holiday focus on thanking and being grateful. On Hanukkah we share gratitude for the Maccabees victory and the oil miracle and on Thanksgiving – for all the wealth and goodness.

Hanukkah according to the Kabbalah

According to the Kabbalah, Hanukkah opens the gate connecting us to the power of miracles and allows us to turn the impossible into reality. The Zohar shows us that happenings in the physical, material world relate to happenings in the spiritual world.

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The influence of kabbalah on art and architecture

Architect Alexander Gorlin’s new book Kabbalah and Architecture is a wonderful showcase of mystical imagery in art, architecture and synagogue design. Reflecting all creative expressions of Jewish culture, including paintings, sculpture, and architecture, Gorlin explores a subject close to his heart, namely architectural references in the Bible, and the temple in Jerusalem.

credit: Ariely/Wikimedia Commons

Driven by his earlier thesis on the description of the temple from the book of Ezekiel, Gorlin explores the role of Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah on art and architecture. Fascinated by the influence of Kabbalah on art, Gorlin discusses the works of Anselm Kiefer and Steven Holl.

 

Kabbalistic principles in Art

 

Though some of his associations are merely aesthetic, such as the relationship between Jacobs ladder and the Versailles Hall of Mirrors, he explores the spiritual nature of the work creating a link between Kabbalistic principles and art. Some examples of this can be found in his attribution of the Kabbalistic concept of ‘repairing the world’ or ‘Tikkun Olam’ as the inspiration behind Berlins reconstructed Reichstag and the Kabbalistic concept of ‘Tzimtzum’ as the inspiration behind Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

 

Using explicit examples of architectural structures and Art, Gorlin carefully shows their relationship to Kabbalistic concepts. He brings Art and Kabbalistic theory together in a way that gives the reader a real insight into the highest spiritual influences on the artists and their work.

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Jewish mysticism compared with other spiritual path

As the Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, become more popular it is tempting to try and overlay both theory and practice with other mystical and spiritual paths, because our natural tendency is to try and make associations with what we already understand. Comparative studies have been done between Jewish mysticism, Buddhism, Christian Spirituality, Hinduism and Islam, and while many similarities exist, it is essential to note that Kabbalah cannot be understood completely as a practice separately from Torah. The two are intrinsically connected.

 

Through the path of Chassidut (as revealed by the Baal Shem Tov), Kabbalah is brought down to give us a ‘soulful’ or ‘spiritual’ understanding behind the practices of the halacha – Torah law and practice. However, without the practice (and this is true in all spiritual paths), the study of the Kabbalah alone remains merely theoretical. The physical actions required by Torah law act as conduits to ground the highest mystical principles found in Kabbalah, bringing together the body and soul, the material and the spiritual.

 

Kabbalah and New Age

 

Many of the ‘new age’ spiritual practices we know are rooted in eastern spirituality, namely Buddhism, Hindu and Tao. These include the practice of meditation, contemplation, consciousness, human centred compassion, the number seven as a primal energetic differentiator of frequency, the systems of numerology (gematria), astrology, cosmology, palmistry, the five elements of nature, directional balance and harmony, the practice of nullification of ego and desire, surrender and devotion to a guru, master or teacher, extensive study and refinement of behaviour, food intake, speech, etc.

 

All of these spiritual practices can be found in Jewish mysticism as components of a greater system, the depths of which are infinite.

 

Kabbalah’s Chakra System

 

For example, the tree of life has its own ‘chakra’ system. However, the seven chakras are only one aspect of a multi-faceted system. They represent the seven emotional aspects, love, fear, harmony, victory, surrender, foundation and completion. There are also three higher aspects, namely; concept, understanding and knowledge. All ten aspects (called sephirot) are connected in a complicated system of paths, totalling twenty two, the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The tree of life is considered to be a blueprint of the universe and mankind. Each sephira represents an aspect of our personalities as well as an aspect of nature, which can be likened to the Hindu representatives, yet unlike in the Hindu tradition, they are not worshiped as separate entities but rather represent aspects of Unity.

via Wikipedia

 

These aspects can be used for healing the body, (like the chakra system), for understanding the natural cycles of life, for living in harmony with nature and for self exploration. During the forty nine days between Passover and Simchat Torah (the receiving of the Torah), or in earthly terms, between the temple offering of Barley (the first fruits) and the offering of wheat, (the harvest), we are invited to count the days and the weeks. The first week of seven, represents ‘kindness’. Each day represents an aspect of the seven, so the first day represents ‘kindness in kindness’, the second day represents ‘discipline in kindness’, the third day represents ‘balance in kindness’ etc. This creates a complicated yet brilliant opportunity for refinement of character and introspection during this time of counting.

 

Jewish mysticism can be compared with other spiritual practices yet its infinite nature only makes us aware of its inherent complexities and yet we may draw on other spiritual paths and practices to help us further understand and appreciate Kabbalah.

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Kabbalah Numerology in Daily Life

The ancient kabbalistic teachings include a type of kabbalah numerology, based on the number system used in the tree of life and the Hebrew alphabet. To understand this numerology, we must first understand that the building blocks of creation are made up of energy. Like musical notes, which have colour, shape, form, sound, frequency and resonance, so too does each and every letter of the ancient Hebrew alphabet. Each letter represents a certain energetic frequency and corresponds to a number. These are the building blocks of the universe. This letter/number relationship is called Gematria. It is the study and understanding of the energetic and spiritual meaning behind words which are in fact the tools of creation; “God said let there be…”

via Wikipedia

We also need to understand that the physical world, the world of action, of which we have limited understanding and vision, is just one of many worlds. There is also the world creation, the world of formation and the spiritual world. And we need to understand that ‘meaning’ may be understood in the simplest sense, the allegorical, the deeper, more insightful and the highest, most spiritual or secret. Therefore, each word has multi-layered meaning, from the simplest to the most complicated, and that meaning is intricately connected to its placement and context in the written Torah. It is said that each word of the Torah has seventy meanings. For example, the Hebrew letter ‘Mem’, represents the number forty. Forty represents the element of water in the physical world (mayim in Hebrew), and water represents the Torah, emotion (tears) and learning.

The Tree of Life in Kabbalah & Torah

The tree of life is the spiritual diagram or blueprint for the creation of the universe and man. Each sephirah represents a different attribute and each is connected to a number. The highest being one, which represents the crown aspect and unity. Likewise each day of the week and each month of the year has a different numerological energy. The ‘weekly parsha’ (the weekly torah portion we read each week), is directly related to the energetic frequency of the week. We can see this in our private lives, in seemingly synchronistic events and also in world events if we pay attention.

 Gemetria in Daily Life

So, in daily life, we may use our understanding of the numerological value of the day of the week, the parsha (story) of the week, the month of the year (each month is represented by one of the tribes and each tribe carried a specific name, number and energy) and  even the hour of the day to further understand the energetic frequencies that are prevalent. The energy of Tuesday is said to be ‘benevolent’ and that is why Jewish marriages often take place on a Tuesday. Each day of Sukkot correlates to one of the seven lower sephirot (from the tree of life), bringing a different energy to each night. On the first night, Avraham is said to be the ‘spiritual visiting guest’ and he represents the aspect of ‘kindness’ etc. On the second night, Yitzchak is said to visit, representing a harsher aspect of discipline or strength. Often the second night of Sukkot is when winds, storms or rain send guests running in for cover. And of course the Counting of the Omer offers a complete ‘spiritual and emotional’ opportunity for self-investigation using the numerological ‘counting’ of the seven emotional attributes as a guide.

 

The numerological kabbalistic systems are complex and brilliant and require a wholistic study coupled with a dedicated daily practice of Torah life.

 

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The Zohar book and relationship challenges

The position of relationship challenges according to the Zohar book and the Kabbalah religion are based on the biblical story of Yaakov and the archetypal representation of his sister brides Leah and Rachel who represent different aspects of the human personality.

Leah & Rachel by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 

Yaakov first falls in love with the outwardly charming younger sister. Rachel. She is forward and seen in the world and she represents that part of ourselves which we allow others to see, our outward persona. Leah is more reserved, she lives in the shadows, and she represents that part of ourselves which we keep hidden, or which we don’t even acknowledge ourselves. Yaakov marries Leah, the older (and wiser) sister first for it is she who must teach him about embracing his feminine shadow. Only after seven years of work is he permitted to marry the younger and more appealing Rachel who eventually gives birth to his favorite sons Joseph and Binyamin.

 

The symbolism behind the story is one that shows us that in all relationships there are unacknowledged shadow aspects to our partners and indeed our own behavior. Only with internal work, the work of nullification of the ego, will we be given the pleasures of unification with the side that is outwardly charming. Nullification of the human ego is one way we mimic our creator, who conceals Himself so that we may exist.

 

In relationships, each partner is expected to conceal or reduce his ego so the other’s needs can exist and be met. Of course healthy boundaries and clear communication skills are required so that neither partner does falls into the trap of contracting their own needs so much that they are abused.

 

The general idea according to the beliefs of the Zohar is that our partners give us an opportunity to come to terms with our own inadequacies which we project onto them. By reducing our ego (blame) and taking responsibility for our reactions (to what we initially see as being their faults), we are able to face shadow aspects of ourselves and work towards embracing them and becoming whole.

 

 

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Correction and Forgiveness in Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism

Based on the principles of the teachings of Hassidut, Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah teach that Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is a day that affords us an opportunity for spiritual re-alignment. The concepts of sin and forgiveness are more akin to the idea that during the year we have come out of alignment with our highest spiritual essence, and for this we must forgive ourselves. Through examining our actions, forgiving ourselves and with the intention of correction in mind, we re-align ourselves with the highest and most holiest of our potential selves.

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur (Wikimedia commons)

Tzvi Freeman writes that the Day of Atonement is a day of at-one-ment. It is a day in which we are given an opportunity to be at-one again with our essential nature and with the Divine Creator of our life force. By aligning these two aspects, we are brought into harmony and balance again.

Spirituality and Fasting on Yom Kippur

Fasting on this day allows us to break our attachment to the physical body and pay attention to the spiritual work of the day. We are likened to the angels who spend the day in perfect harmony with the Creative Force, singing praises and adjusting or correcting the parts of ourselves that have gone off track as an individual, as a community and as a nation. It is a day during which we take responsibility for our past actions, and we make the appropriate spiritual and emotional adjustments.

We also ask family and friends to forgive us because the re-alignment between man and man can only happen through personal request. One of the most beautiful and spiritual moment of the day is when the rams horn, the shofar is blown at the end of the day. The shofar represents the call to the soul to awaken, to bring awareness and consciousness into our daily lives, to live with respect for the highest beings that we are. After a day of fasting and checking ourselves, we are again at One.

 

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