There is no one correct way to study Kabbalah. Kabbalah itself, in fact, has many different voices (some more prominent and influential than others). Though these voices don't always agree, they speak a common language and share a passion and devotion to the realm of life visible to the inner eye.
Kabbalah has a long history that began in the mystical elements that are already found in the Bible and which began to flower in the early rabbinic period around the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. and the following centuries. What can properly be called Kabbalah emerged in the twelfth century and drew from all the previous forms of Jewish mysticism, centering on a specific language of divine emanations and powers called Sefirot, and a transcendent, infinite, ultimately Unknowable Divinity called Ein Sof.
Kabbalah represents a lifestyle, practice, and mystical philosophy that aim to connect with God to transmute daily existence into a holy and spiritual one. Kabbalah is not meant to be an abstract body of thought. It is intended by its practitioners to inform and transform the way you perceive and experience the world around you and the divinity that surrounds and fills you.
Kabbalah, like any religious phenomenon, exists in a particular environment and grows out of the spiritual experiences of the people in that environment. It therefore has a specific cultural language, in this case primarily Hebrew and Aramaic. At the same time, it has universal elements that are shared with other forms of mysticism.
Over the last forty years, people of varied backgrounds and orientations have become increasingly interested in the study of Kabbalah as they search for spiritual fulfillment. There was a period of time in Jewish history, particularly during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, during which people relied on a belief in rationalism and were distrustful of the perspectives of Kabbalah. Even science became a sort of religion. Now we are beginning to see an approach in which science and mysticism are understood as supplementing and complementing each other, rather than being in conflict. Some scientists are even reaching conclusions that Kabbalists expressed almost 1,000 years ago.
Kabbalah is no longer a secret study reserved for an initiated few. There are an increasing number of Kabbalistic texts and books about Kabbalah available to anyone interested. As a student of Kabbalah, you have the choice and freedom to approach it in many different ways. You can sample it as an interesting spiritual phenomenon, reading about it as a historian might, you can apply it to your own life and experience, or you can even attempt to live according to it. Perhaps you will become part of the next phase in the future of Kabbalah.
This book will give you an overview of Kabbalah, including its history, concepts, techniques, and symbolic language. It also makes available translations of Kabbalistic texts in order to provide a more immediate taste of original Kabbalistic material rather than merely being a book about Kabbalah. Kabbalah may become a lifelong pursuit and practice or an interesting detour in any person's life journey. This book is intended to help the interested reader follow either of those directions or any in between.