Two questions I received on whether it’s necessary to know the Torah before studying Kabbalah:
Question: I have been examining Kabbalah from every angle: science, religion, faith, spirituality, and so on. Are you sure that a person who studies Kabbalah with you and reads Baal HaSulam’s articles is able to understand what you are saying correctly? This wisdom is great and there is nothing like it in the entire world. Should it really be so easily available to every person who wants to study it? Maybe these people don’t even understand what they are reading.
I am asking this because I’ve met students who explain Kabbalah in a completely different way, and they have preconceived notions that are difficult to change. Shouldn’t they first learn about Abraham, Moses, and the stories from the Bible? Shouldn’t they first understand the simple meaning of the Torah before they start studying the spiritual part of the Torah?
My Answer: I brought many new students to my teacher, Rabash. They were secular and didn’t know anything about Torah, yet he accepted them to be his students. Rav Kook also wrote that the study of Kabbalah does not require any preliminary preparation. It doesn’t matter how a person understands the material, because this wisdom isn’t learned through common sense, but by attracting the Upper Light in order to reveal new qualities in the student. And to the degree that the student acquires the Light’s qualities, he starts understanding the Light.
On the other hand, people who “examine” this wisdom’s meaning with their corporeal qualities won’t be able to understand anything! The wisdom of Kabbalah differs from any other science, because in all other sciences, we can examine the world with the five senses that we already have, but in the wisdom of Kabbalah one first needs to acquire the sixth sense – similarity to the Light, and only after that, to the degree one is similar to the Light, he will be able to examine It.
Hence, this wisdom is much more practical, since we attain it within us, not outside of us. Using this wisdom, we reveal the Upper World, and we attain it from within, in a profound way. This attainment changes the student, since he studies everything inside himself only. This is why Kabbalah is called the wisdom of the inner, or the Inner Torah.
Question: If it’s impossible to understand the Torah without knowing Kabbalah, then why did most Kabbalists of the past say that before one can start studying Kabbalah, one has to learn the Torah in detail?
My Answer: It’s because the period from the 1st century until the 16th century (from the fall of the Second Temple until the Ari) was a period of exile from spirituality. During this time it was necessary to wait for the souls that fell from the spiritual level to intermix with the souls that have never been on that level. For example, Abraham was told ahead of time that the Egyptian exile was to last for 400 years. Similarly, Baal HaSulam predicted what would happen in our times – that beginning from 1995 on, there will be intensive, mass revelation of Kabbalah.
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