Kabbalah is the name given to Jewish mystical knowledge, originally transmitted by word of mouth. Within the great treasury of the Talmud, the law book of the 6th century CE, there are hints of mystical speculation. Stories are told that indicate how these doctrines were kept secret, since it was believed that such powerful knowledge should be restricted to a small group. It was said that the hidden name of God should be revealed only to a man “who is modest and meek, in the midway of life, not easily provoked to anger, temperate and free from vengeful feelings.” Perhaps the most famous mystical work was the Zohar (“Divine Splendor”). Compiled by Rabbi Moses de Leon of Granada in the late 13th century, it is set in the early 2nd century.. It purports to be a treasury of ancient knowledge, and it explains, and it explains god’s relationship with the world in terms of sefirot, the attributes of God, known as emanations, through which he created the universe. There were ten sefirot, and they were often portrayed as a tree, as concentric spheres, as a man, or as a branched candlestick. These doctrines were not intended merely as a theoretical system; the Zohar emphasized that human action has an effect on the higher world and that, through serving God, the pious soul will achieve union with the Divine.
From World Religions The great faiths explored & explained, by John Bowker
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