Ask the Rabbi

  • Halacha
  • Mysticism and Ayin Hara

Kabbalah and the General Public


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Iyyar 18, 5774
Kabbalah used to be restricted to people over 40 who were accomplished scholars. Now it seems that everyone is learning it. Why the change? Is this acceptable?
As a result of modernism and various reform movements, over the last centuries many people have left religion, and Judaism is no exception. In order to bring them back, we must use every “weapon” in our arsenal, especially the appealing truths of philosophy, morality, and kabbala which all deal with the beautiful understanding of the depths of Torah. The Mishna (Sotah 48) already wrote almost 1,800 years ago that even though the world was always religious, when we approach the messianic era, there’s going to be a rebellion against religion. Rav Kook explains that the competition with religion which was brought about by the fall of the ghetto walls and the opening of university halls, and the exposure of our youth to new and dynamic ideologies, will force the rabbis to “rediscover” the depths and beauty of Torah. It was always there, but the preoccupation with the details of practical halacha, the Talmud, and the difficulties of exile, distracted us from it. Accordingly many great rabbis from the Chassidic masters to Rav Kook, and even “yeshivish” rabbis of ba’alei tshuva agreed that the Godly plan is that we must do what has to be done in order to revive the Torah in her full beauty. Educators who have worked with ba’alei t’shuva claim that kabbala is one of the quickest ways to grab the attention of the non-religious to interest them in learning more Torah. This doesn’t mean to say that every charlatan who claims he is a kabbalist is legitimate, but it does say that we must be more open on this topic than in previous generations, and the God of history basically is forcing us to bring the “full-Torah”, including kabbala, to the masses. After they are interested, we must then go back and step-by-step, help them properly reconstruct the basics: from Tanach, halacha, Talmud, Rambam, Kuzari etc. “Lag” Same’ach!
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