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" The Zohar is written in Aramaic (the language of the Talmud) in the form of a commentary on the five books of the Torah.

Whereas most commentaries interpret the Torah as a narrative and legal work, mystics are as likely to interpret it "as a system of symbols which reveal the secret laws of the universe and even the secrets of God" (Deborah Kerdeman and Lawrence Kushner, The Invisible Chariot, p. To cite one example, Leviticus 26 records "a carrot and a stick" that God offers the Jewish people. But if they spurn them, God will "set His face" against the people: "I will discipline you sevenfold for your sins...." and "I will scatter you among the nations" (, 33).

Between 15, Scholem has written, "kabbalah was widely considered to be the true Jewish theology," and almost no one attacked it.

With the Jewish entrance into the modern world, however-a world in which rational thinking was more highly esteemed than the mystical-kabbalah tended to be downgraded or ignored.

He referred to a certain matter as being in the Torah, and when I asked him where, he said: "It's in the Zohar.

Is that not the same as if it was in the Torah itself?

While codes of Jewish law focus on what it is God wants from man, kabbalah tries to penetrate deeper, to God's essence itself.

Azzai, the Talmud records, "looked and went mad [and] Ben Zoma died." Elisha ben Abuyah became a heretic and left Judaism.He had told them that it was not possible, but if they wished they could have a course on the history of kabbalah.For at a university, Lieberman said, "it is forbidden to have a course in nonsense.Rabbi Akiva alone "entered in peace and left in peace." It was this episode, the later experiences of individuals who became mentally unbalanced while engaging in mystical activities, and the disaster of the false Messiah Shabbetai Zevi that caused seventeenth-century rabbis to legislate that kabbalah should be studied only by married men over forty who were also scholars of Torah and Talmud.The medieval rabbis wanted the study of kabbalah limited to people of mature years and character.

In recent years, there has been an upsurge of interest in kabbalah, and today it is commonly studied among Hasidic Jews, and among many non­-Orthodox Jews who are part of the counterculture.

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