20 Tishrei 5782 / Sunday, September 26, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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The Real Deal    

The Real Deal

True Kabbalah goes hand in hand with piety. Torah scholarship and piety are prerequisites for true Kabbalah. If one breaks a law of Torah in the name of...


Hashem, in His magnificent lovingkindness, gave us a set of laws – the Oral Law and the Written Law - which comprise the "revealed" Torah. These laws are designed to assure the physical and spiritual welfare of the individual and of society as a whole. The more society and individuals live according to the Torah's laws, the better they thrive; unfortunately, the opposite holds true as well.
Kabbalah is the esoteric part of Torah. In a nutshell, genuine Kabbalah explains the inner dimensions of Hashem's mitzvahs, and how the fulfillment of these mitzvahs affects the spiritual world. For centuries, Kabbalah has served as a spiritual incentive to encourage the complete and joyous fulfillment of Hashem's mitzvahs. For example, when a person realizes how observing the Sabbath illuminates entire spiritual worlds and creates an indescribable sanctification of Hashem's holy name, that person will exercise extra care in guarding the laws of the Sabbath.
Fad Kabbalists take a distorted and perverted look at religious law. They claim that the mitzvahs of the Torah were designed to achieve a spiritual "tikkun", or correction, of the upper worlds. They maintain that the actual fulfillment of mitzvas is for simpletons: If a person doesn't know the inner secrets of Torah, they say, then that person must fulfill the mitzvah in order to achieve the "tikkun".
For example, the mitzvah of loving one's fellow man creates a unification of the four holy letters of Hashem's name in all the upper worlds. A fad Kabbalist will tell you, "I don't need to go around loving other people; I'll simply meditate on the oneness of Hashem's name, and I'll achieve the same 'tikkun' in the spiritual realm." Such a fad Kabbalist is dead wrong. If the fad Kabbalist meditates day and night but goes around cheating and insulting others, then he/she causes a destruction of all worlds – material and spiritual. Who needs that kind of meditation?
The mitzvahs of Torah are not only designed to effect a tikkun in the upper worlds; they are designed predominantly for purifying ourselves and the physical world in which we live.
History's greatest Kabbalists, from Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai to the great Rabbi Yitzchak Luria Ashkenazi the Arizal, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato the Ramcha"l, Rabbi Eliahu the Vilna Ga'on, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, and Rabbi Chaim ben Attar to Rebbe Nachman of Breslev and the Ben Ish Chai, as well as the twentieth century's Rabbi Yehuda Pataya, Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi, and the Baba Sali – just to name a few - were all monumental scholars of Torah and sages of phenomenal piety. True Kabbalah goes hand in hand with Torah scholarship and piety. Even more so, Torah scholarship and piety are prerequisites for true Kabbalah.
Therefore, whenever you see a person breaking a law of Torah in the name of Kabbalah, that person is an impostor, a spiritual criminal, and certainly not a Kabbalist.
The false messiahs of Jewish history, like the fad Kabbalists, always professed to be on a higher spiritual plane, and therefore claimed to be able to achieve the mystical "tikunim" without the physical act of the mitzvahs. Like they say down home, that's hogwash.
The 17th Century Polish Rabbi David Halevi, the famed "Taz" (author of the Turei Zahav commentary on Shulchan Aruch and son-in-law of the renowned "Bach", Rabbi Yoel Sirkis), once sent his son-in-law and a pupil to check out Shabtai Tzvi, who was then claiming to be the messiah. The Taz's son-in-law returned home and declared, "The man is an impostor! He is certainly no messiah!" The Taz asked how his son-in-law was so sure. "I found him lying prostrate on his back". A Jew is not allowed to lay bed on his back (see Tractate Nida 14a, Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 23:2, 63:1). If Shabtai Tzvi was blatantly breaking the laws of Torah, how could he be the messiah, whose task is to spread Torah observance throughout the world?
Indeed, fad Kabbalah leads to the distortion and desecration of Torah. The Torah forbids tattooing of the body and demands personal modesty. Yet, the female prodigy of a famous fad Kabbalist appears semi-unclad on stage, with one of Hashem's holy names tattooed on her arm! It's hard to dream of a bigger farce; it would be funny if it weren't such a tragedy.
Genuine Kabbalah has a special sweetness, kind of like "spiritual honey". The one problem with honey though, is that it attracts flies. The flies that fly around the spiritual honey are the fad Kabbalists. On many occasions, Rebbe Nachman warned us to steer clear of such types.
Success in spirituality, like in any other discipline, requires hard work. If you want to soar upwards, the only way to get off the ground is by uncompromising dedication to Torah and its commandments and by fulfilling the directives of the generation's true tzaddikim. Don't let anybody sell you fad spirituality, and I certainly wouldn't want you buying a red Kabbalah string for $27.00. For the same money, you can get a couple emuna CDs and The Garden of Emuna that will really change your life for the better. That way, you'll be investing in the eternal happiness that I wish for you and your loved ones.
We here at Breslev Israel are committed to the real deal. If you’re an English speaker interested in greater spiritual heights, we cordially invite you to begin studying our weekly lessons in introductory Kabbalah, according to the teachings of the famed Ramcha"l as translated by my dear and esteemed friend, Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum. We hope you enjoy it, along with the rest of our features as well.
With smiles and blessings always, Lazer Brody.

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