a tree with roots, illustrate the  relationships  of elements in this world with the elements in the higher worlds of consciousness.

Root and Branch: The Language of Kabbalah

by yedidah on November 23, 2017


When we read books of kabbalah, as for example English  translations of the Zohar , or look at diagrams of the Sephirot, we often end up more puzzled than enlightened. This is because Kabbalah actually uses a specific language.

As we know, every discipline has its own language. We wouldn’t expect to understand a book on  engineering unless we had already mastered the terms used. So why do we get so surprised when we don’t fully understand what we’re reading in the Kabbalah?

The answer is based on the way the Kabbalah sees reality. Every element in this world comes from the spiritual worlds above. It is a branch, the root of which is to be found in the higher spiritual worlds. Therefore, the sages found that by using ordinary, everyday language that pertains to elements in this world, they could in fact reference their roots in the higher spiritual worlds. Of course, the sages would have a clear perception of the relationships between the elements of this world — the branches— and their equivalent roots in the higher spiritual worlds.

So we find that the sages of the Kabbalah used our  everyday language, but in a way that we, ordinary mortals, who don’t have direct perception of the higher spiritual worlds, can easily be misled by.

That’s why we were so fortunate in our generation to have had   a great Sage like Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag who acted  as translator. He translated  from the language in which the Zohar and other Kabbalah texts are written in and and brought their meanings into our ordinary spoken language. In our generation, we have been so blessed to have had this great Sage in our midst, to open for us wisdom that through its code had been locked for centuries.

This shiur, is dedicated in loving memory of Feiga bat Shmuel and Rvikah and for the elevation of her soul.

 The material for this shiur is taken  from  the forthcoming book, “ The Master of the Ladder, the Life and teachings of the Baal haSulam, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag, by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb, translated and edited by Yedidah Cohen, Nehora Press. 




Why is it important to understand the language of Kabbalah? Many people learn about Kabbalah using terms such as light, Sephirot, the Tree of life, without  really knowing what they mean. But this is a shame, because when we learn the meaning of these words terms accurately we  obtain a precious key to the wisdom of our Sages, and to our own lives.

The light of God, the Creator, is one, One indivisible goodness. But we cannot grasp any aspect of it unless we want it.

Rabbi Ashlag the great Kabbalist gives this example:

Take a sefer Torah:  The light is the white of the parchment. It contains all the wisdom of the Torah,  But if it were not for the black letters, I would not know what this wisdom is saying to me.

Black is the absence of light. So the letters of the Torah, black ink on white parchment  are actually absences of the light… yet the letters catch the light within their spaces. In our own lives when we lack something we yearn for it. It is our desires that make up the letters, words and sentences of our lives.

Our question today is, are the sentences we are writing today, truly reflecting our deepest desires?

By learning the words of the Torah and of the Kabbalah , accurately  we can see our own desires, more clearly.

Today we look at the term zivug, which is the Kabbalistic term for the entry of light into the vessel and is also the term used for the relationship between a man and wife.

On a personal note I wish to give thanks to HaShem that after a long period of illness I am able once again to write and broadcast these short shiurim, and to  my dear family and chevrutas who all helped me with their encouragement and prayers. 


Jacob’s intentions: A man of truth.

by yedidah November 17, 2015
Thumbnail image for Jacob’s intentions: A man  of truth.

If we don’t know the intentions of the other person we can so easily misjudge their overt actions. Nowhere is this truer than in the Bible stories. Learning the literal story alone, may even lead us away from the truth revealed within it. By revealing intentions, the Kabbalah teaches us the consciousness of the Torah in a way that we can grow ourselves. Nowhere is this more poignant than in the story of Jacob and Esau.

Read the full article →

Kabbalah: A language for the Revelation of the Divine light

by yedidah July 3, 2014
Thumbnail image for Kabbalah: A language for the Revelation of the Divine light

The Torah is the great repository and record of our connection with the Divine. Its very words are vessels which hold within them the Divine relation, as it was, as it is and as it will be. Its very essence is one with the Divine. It is both the garments for the Divine and it is one with the Divine who is clothed within it.

Read the full article →

God is my strength and my song….(He is also my friend and my brother)

by yedidah April 25, 2014
Thumbnail image for God is my strength and my song….(He is also my friend and my brother)

“God is my strength and my song; He will be for me a salvation.” This phrase from the scriptures finds unexpectedly beautiful and intimate interpretations given to it by the Sages of the Zohar. Their words spoken and recorded two thousand years ago reverberate for us today, helping us in the here and now. A lesson from the Zohar itself.

Read the full article →

Mixed motives: Are they any good?

by yedidah January 7, 2014
Thumbnail image for Mixed motives: Are they any good?

When we start to learn the Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag and we learn that most of our desires are driven by our own egoistic desires that separate us from the Creator, it comes as a shock. We notice that even our good deeds seem tainted with our selfish ways. We feel stuck, even paralyzed. How do we move forwards now? From the teachings of Rabbi Ashlag

Read the full article →