Question: How did the first teachers of the wisdom of Kabbalah receive this knowledge? Where is its origin? People think that Kabbalah is something close to magic, and many myths surround it.
Answer: Adam was the first Kabbalist who lived 5772 years ago. He was the first of all of humankind who discovered that an integral system of nature exists and it is possible to reveal it.
People had lived before him, but he was the first man in history who had questions: “What do I live for? What is the secret of life? Where is its source?” He wrote a book about this; it reached our days and is called The Secret Angel (Raziel HaMalach). An angel is a force. The “secret angel” means the “hidden force.” It is a small book, a few dozen pages.
The next book was written by Abraham around 3700 years ago and is called The Book of Creation (Sefer Yetzira). This book explains for the first time in a systematic form, the “Sefirot,” the 32 forces that descend to us and are connected among themselves.
At the same time, several Kabbalists together wrote one more Kabbalistic book, The Great Midrash (Midrash HaGadol), which means explanation or commentary. Many more books were created after that, until the greatest Kabbalistic book appeared, The Book of Zohar, which was written around 2000 years ago.
After that, plenty of books were written, up to the time of the Ari who lived in the 16th century. The Ari’s main book was The Tree of Life (Etz Chaim), which talks about Sefirot and worlds and is full of drawings and diagrams.
From the immense number of books that appeared after it, the most important for us are the books of Baal HaSulam, written in the 20th century.
All these books were not known to the general public. They were mentioned only occasionally, as though “leaked.” This formed a mysterious aura around Kabbalah as if it involves mysticism, secret forces, performing miracles, and predicting the future through Tarot cards. In reality, this is not related to Kabbalah at all!
Of course, Kabbalah uses symbols, diagrams, graphs, drawings, and Gematria (the numerical value of words). Kabbalah studies the soul and its stages of growth. But there is nothing mystical in it. I would say that it is simply the physics of the upper dimension.
Kabbalah is not associated with religion and any mystical practices. It is a science for people who want to know. Naturally, they have to work on and correct themselves. I would compare this with tuning a radio which is surrounded with many radio waves of various frequencies. If I tune the radio and create the wave that corresponds to the wave existing outside it, I receive that external wave and can hear the signal.
The science of Kabbalah helps us create these waves inside ourselves, and we begin to sense the force existing outside us, perceive, and study it. We develop the inner sense of hearing and inner sense of sight. The inner sense of hearing is called the degree of Bina (Sefira Bina), and the inner sense of sight is called the degree of Hochma (Sefira Hochma).
From the Lecture in Rome 5/20/2011