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About Learning Kabbalah

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About this site

Learnkabbalah.com is a free source of Kabbalistic teachings, texts, and resources. It was created by Jay Michaelson, a teacher and student of Kabbalah, in response to a simple problem: though there are many Kabbalah sites on the Internet, most are associated with a specific school or sect, and don't present the material from an objective point of view. Of course, this site also has its biases — but it tries to be upfront about them, and present multiple perspectives when they apply.

Launched in April 2005, learnkabbalah.com is continually under construction, with new pages being added constantly. This year, we will add learning modules on specific Kabbalistic texts, additional introductory pages for key Kabbalistic concepts and figures, and much more. Your feedback is very important to us — if you have suggestions or questions, fill out our feedback form, and let us know.

One of the meanings of Kabbalah is "receiving," which suggests both the received-tradition aspect of Kabbalah (it is a very old body of knowledge, originally passed directly from master to disciple) and the importance of each of us being able to "receive" its wisdom. Even more deeply, the word suggests our great task in life: to receive what is really happening right now, as richly and completely as we can. The Kabbalah is a set of teachings, practices, and methods for doing that.

Naturally, though, we all receive in different ways. Some of us have skeptical, inquiring minds; others want a more emotional encounter with this kind of material. Some of us have a lot of background in Judaism and Jewish text — others have none at all. This is what, in the Kabbalah, is referred to as the "vessel," and knowing the makeup of your own vessel is as important as what you're trying to put into it. Put in the wrong kind of material, and the vessel can't hold it. It might even shatter.

What this site tries to do, as a result, is work on multiple levels at the same time. Sometimes, we'll present the material in a way that may seem dry and academic to some people. Other times, we'll speak from our own experiences, in a way that might horrify rigorous scholars of the history of Kabbalistic texts. Obviously, this means that not every page on the site will be right for all people all the time. But we think it's the best way to present this complicated and yet inspiring wisdom to a broad audience.

In today's world, it may seem odd that we're giving all these teachings away. Is there a catch somewhere? A cult we'd like you to join? Nope. Despite the commercial aims of many Kabbalah centers today, no one owns the Kabbalah. This is wisdom that was received by generations of gifted sages, and we think it helps people become wiser, more compassionate beings — which our world could surely use more of. We make a little money when you click on our Google ads, or buy books from Amazon off of our booklist, but that's about it.

Of course, if you like what you see here, you might consider coming to one of Jay's classes, or inviting him to speak at your synagogue, school, or other institution. Jay is also a widely published writer, with more books and articles on the way. So there is a commercial side to the website in that respect. (By the way, it's important to know a little bit about your teacher, so there's an "About Jay" you can visit by clicking that link.) But honestly, if you download and print the pages of this site, and find yourself enriched, that really is the primary goal of our work. The wisdom of the Kabbalah is too precious to be left to commercial enterprises, hobbyists, and well-meaning spiritualists who don't have an adequate textual background to really understand the material. We are honored to join the many inspired and inspiring teachers of Kabbalah in the effort to make this material better known, and deepen the consciousness of those who come in contact with it.

Finally, we are quite sure that for every teaching on this site, you can find, somewhere, a Kabbalistic teaching which contradicts it. Every concept of the Kabbalah seems to have seventy faces, and that seems to be on purpose. Don't worry. Keep your mind open, and your heart open, and your spirit will do the discerning it needs to do. Most importantly, remember that all these words are just the recipe, not the actual meal. To really experience Kabbalah, you need to learn and practice it in your "real" life. You can read all the books and websites in the world, but until you sit down with a teacher and let the teachings sink into your "kischkes" (your 'guts', but kischkes is a much nicer word), and until you put the practices into practice via meditation or prayer or religious life — you won't have really, experientially tasted what Kabbalah is about. So, consider this your invitation to the banquet.

Next: About Jay Michaelson