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Gernel
April 4th, 2011, 07:34 AM
Hi everyone,
I've been an avid reader of the forums for quite some time now, and just recently became a member. Mostly I have read the Kabbalah pages, and probably will be most of what I want to learn and talk about. I am very reticent about posting some of my thoughts as I believe they will be controversial, but I want to say now, I'm not here to convert, (no I'm not a christian), neither am I here "JUST" to stir the waters. But I believe if you are going to study Kabalah, and by extension Torah, then you must debate Torah. So to avoid apologizing 2500 times for seeming offensive because I disagree or simply seeming argumentative, let me assure you, I AM being argumentative but have no intention on being offensive. That said....I'll move on.
I've been working on what to use as my first post on the subject, and I've decided that the whole spelling of Qabalah should be a start. I don't anticipate much of a debate but maybe I can learn something and maybe I can shed some light on the subject or at least bring a new perspective.

Kabbalah, qblah, Qblh, cabala....all of these are simply phonetic spellings of an ancient Hebrew word (that without getting Hebrew text installed) is basically the sounding out of "hlbq". That is even backwards, because in Hebrew you read right to left. Even as simple as checking history or Hebrew is, even that spelling is one of much debate amongst linguistics and historians. When I write about kbla I purposefully change the spelling again and again simply to point out that it's not the spelling that counts. Ok, you can trace the "kabalah" to midi evil times, and the q back to ancient times, and even the one using to c to some Chinese literature. The best part about Qblh is there is a lesson to be learned in everything....even the different spellings spanning the globe. What I mean by this, is that Jewish mysticism has found it's way into nearly every religion in the world, on every continent. There are even temples in central Africa guarded by African tribes that boast having the arc of the covenant in their possession.
My point being this, if your going to have a debate on how to spell Kabala, then it should really start at the beginning, ancient Hebrew or maybe even Greek or Sumerian. But definitely should not be about whether it's spelled with a K or a C or a Q. Because in all honesty, it's not spelled with any of them. But the "IDEA" of kabala is a different story, that we can debate, and I think it would behoove us all to focus on that and not the phonetic pronunciation of a Hebrew word in which I am confident to assume that most of us are not experts in.
Now then why is this important at all? It's usually one of the first questions a newcomer to kabala asks, and when we start spouting off about the Greek, or the mid evil or Italian vs, the Spanish, or the Christian vs Jewish spelling it turns people off, and from an academic standpoint they are no closer to knowing how to spell it at the end of the conversation then they were at the beginning.
But, explain to them that kabalah has spanned many cultures, many religions and more importantly many languages and it's spelling is not important but what is important and what we all agree on is that it's roots lie in Jewish mysticism, and it's from this early Jewish mysticism that all the incarnations of qblh have their origins.

So next time someone asks, tell them that. If you have a better answer, please reply :)

Christoph
April 4th, 2011, 10:33 AM
The Q/C/K spelling of קבלה is used in modern esoteric circles to distinguish three different branches : Kabbalah (traditional Jewish), Cabala (Christian), and Qabalah ("Hermetic" -in quotes because it has very little to do with Hermeticism proper, but rather this term indicates a revival of the teachings of the Tree popularized in lodge societies in the 19th Century). Now, while the distinction seems silly there are some differences between the three traditions that do make them distinct and thus a method of differentiating one from the other is merited.

The word קבלה itself is really a broad general term that simply means "revealing" and is used to indicate the vast body of esoteric literature in Jewish mysticism from the Hekhalot texts (talmudic times), to the practices of the Merkabah mystics (Hellenic times) and most poignantly with the mystic revival of the 12th Century Sephardic jews from where we get the Ari and eventual Gra traditions that are the most well known and influential branches of traditional Kabbalah.

The core foundation of Kabbalistic thought are primarily the texts of the Sefer Yetzirah and Zohar. In these, the word "Kabbalah" is never used to denote a mystical tradition in itself. It is not until the 13th Century that we find the use of "kabbalah" as a catch-all for the various traditions of Jewish mysticism. I highly suggest that you look into Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's works (his translation of the Sefer Yetzirah , and his Meditation and Kabbalah) along with Geshom Scholem's scholarly works. They go into far more detail - and far more eloquently - into the origins of "Kabbalah" than I could ever dream of doing here.

Gernel
April 4th, 2011, 11:57 AM
this is one of the issues i have with different websites. I can google kabbalah and come up with 20 different deffinitions. But of these none of them come from actual Hebrew people. It's my understanding that it קבלה means to receive and not revealing. although a subtle difference, it is a difference and a fundamental one that changes a little bit what Kabbalah is in the first place. So what is it really? anybody here study hebrew?

Christoph
April 4th, 2011, 12:04 PM
this is one of the issues i have with different websites. I can google kabbalah and come up with 20 different deffinitions. But of these none of them come from actual Hebrew people. It's my understanding that it קבלה means to receive and not revealing. although a subtle difference, it is a difference and a fundamental one that changes a little bit what Kabbalah is in the first place. So what is it really? anybody here study hebrew?

Yes, I study Biblical Hebrew. The fact is as I mentioned that the word Kabbalah was not used in ancient times to describe the mystical path which it does now. It simply means "to receive", this attribution to a mystical tradition came at a much later date. Even our idea of what this mystic path is, is slightly skewed as in reality there are many different paths that have been converged into our modern idea of "Kabbalah".

Look into Kapplan's books. You will find a wealth of information there from an expert in the Hebrew language and practicing Kabbalist. If you read Hebrew, you will find his translation of the Sefer Yetzirah priceless as he presents the original Hebrew Text (in its various manuscripts - see the appendix as well) alongside English translations and his synthesis of over 500 years of commentary.

Gernel
April 4th, 2011, 12:14 PM
I get how the "word" kabalah has a shady past, like is it whatever. but just like the word grass. There was grass long before there was a word for it. Same with Kabalah from my understanding. I've read that some believe it can be traced as far back as Adam, But mostly traced back as far as Abraham when he would sit outside his tent and call passers to come and listen to him. So there was no name for what he was doing then, I get the word is pointless, i was just making the point that the "spelling" doesn't really matter. If you truly study kabala then you should be studying what Abraham and the teachers through the jewish tradition then later non-jewish people then we understand that the Word itself doesn't matter, and when you get down to it, it's not even mystical. It is considered by most respectable kabalists to be an actual science. To sum up i agree. Accept i'm pointing out that it doesn't really matter.

Christoph
April 4th, 2011, 12:36 PM
I get how the "word" kabalah has a shady past, like is it whatever. but just like the word grass. There was grass long before there was a word for it. Same with Kabalah from my understanding. I've read that some believe it can be traced as far back as Adam, But mostly traced back as far as Abraham when he would sit outside his tent and call passers to come and listen to him. So there was no name for what he was doing then, I get the word is pointless, i was just making the point that the "spelling" doesn't really matter. If you truly study kabala then you should be studying what Abraham and the teachers through the jewish tradition then later non-jewish people then we understand that the Word itself doesn't matter, and when you get down to it, it's not even mystical. It is considered by most respectable kabalists to be an actual science. To sum up i agree. Accept i'm pointing out that it doesn't really matter.

I agree for the most part, but the thing is that we are discussing a tradition of "received" wisdom of transcendent truth. Keep in mind that every esoteric tradition traces its foundation to the birth of mankind, not just Kabbalah. Also keep in mind that there are many vessels for understanding and making sense of the transcendent truths, just because one tradition is earlier historically doesn't make it any more legit than others. If that were the case, why would we be bothering with Kabbalah instead of say trying to make sense of prehistoric cave paintings or Mesopotamian philosophy, Egyptian religion, or Pythagorean thought (Moses does not even come into the picture until well after these traditions)? All these traditions feed into and build off each other; Hebrew Kabbalah is as much a product of its time as the Hermetic Qabalah of the 19th Century lodges. The only difference is the cultural context (and collective consciousness) used to make sense of it - the wisdom, if you will, is transcendent, it is always there, our method of interpreting that wisdom is what changes and depends on the technologies and culture that we have access to at any given time.

Gernel
April 4th, 2011, 12:38 PM
Well said, I might quote you when subject comes up in the future.

Gernel
April 4th, 2011, 12:46 PM
I thought a funny name for title of post. I really appreciate the input, and that's the kind of discussion I personally find fulfilling. A discussion and a conclusion and an understanding of something new. Thanks.

Christoph
April 4th, 2011, 12:56 PM
I thought a funny name for title of post. I really appreciate the input, and that's the kind of discussion I personally find fulfilling. A discussion and a conclusion and an understanding of something new. Thanks.

No thanks needed my friend, I get a kick out of these discussion as I am sure you do. That is the point of forums like this. To discuss and learn from each other, even those that attempt to posit an explanation to the original question learn from further formulating their thoughts into words.

Do take a look at Kaplan's works. I can guarantee you that you will find his research and knowledge extremely valuable to your path.