Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Psychics, Telepathy, Kabbalah and Judaism

What is Practical Kabbalah?
by Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh

There are two basic types of Kabbalah:

Kabbalah iyunit, "contemplative Kabbalah," seeks to explain the nature of God and the nature of existence via intellectual and meditative techniques.

Kabbalah ma'asit, "practical Kabbalah," seeks to alter the nature of existence and change the course of events via ritualistic techniques. Sometimes practical Kabbalah involves summoning spiritual forces, such as angels, and commanding them or causing them to swear to perform a certain act or function in reality.

Four hundred years ago, the Arizal taught that in our generations we should not be involved with, or attempt to use the methods of practical Kabbalah. As the Holy Temple is not standing, and we do not possess the ashes of the Red Heifer, we are unable to purify our bodies. The practice of practical Kabbalah by a person with an impure body is very detrimental and perversive. Thus the Arizal totally forbade the pursuit of this realm of Kabbalah.

What About People Who Claim to have Spiritual or Healing Powers?
by Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh

In general, if the "healer" is not a true tzaddik ("righteous one"), such as a Rebbe, the healing is always a mixture of good and evil. It is certainly possible for a person's soul to possess psychic powers. However, with the exception of a very few true tzaddikim, psychic powers are a mixture of light and darkness, at best. Often, they are completely negative. When good and bad or truth and falsehood are mixed together, the final result is usually negative. Thus if there is a mixture of good and evil, it is better to stay clear of these practices.
There were great tzaddikim, such as the Rebbes of Kamarno, that possessed psychic powers. They related that when they arrived at a certain maturity of understanding, through being involved in the truth of the Torah and Kabbalah, they understood that these psychic powers were detrimental to their own progress in the true service of God. Even though these powers were purely good, they asked God to remove them as they felt that these powers were not helping them or the world in the true service of God. They desired to serve God purely through the study and teaching of the Torah and the performance of mitzvot.

Spiritual Powers of the Non-Righteous
Although we have stated that telepathy is actually a Divine power of the righteous, we sometimes find that “normal” people profess to have similar spiritual powers. It should be clear that ninety-nine percent of these so-called “healers” and spiritual diviners etc. are nothing more than charlatans. This is true whether they deceive the public consciously or whether they themselves truly believe that they possess such powers. The whole of the book of Tanya is intended to save people from self-deception. However, there is still a minimal percentage of people who truly are capable of such divination even without having purified themselves in holiness.

The powers these people possess do not come from garbing the higher powers of the soul with the garment of thought, rather they have holes in their garments, a type of nakedness through which the light from the upper powers of the soul are manifest.

Before the primordial sin, Adam and Eve were both naked and were not embarrassed of their nakedness, however the rectification after the sin was that they must wear garments. Our sages teach us that the word levush, “clothing,” is a permutation of lo bosh, “unembarrassed,” meaning negation of the negative embarrassment that resulted from the sin.

Garments are of utmost importance, so much so that the word tikkun, “rectification,” is a synonym for levush. Through their prayers, the tzaddikim raise and purify their garments, especially the garment of thought. The pure and refined garments then rise to clothe the inner powers of the soul, which gives the tzaddik the power to act spiritual actions that normal people are unable to carry out. However, there are people whose natural garments are not refined, rather they have “holes” in their garments. They are born with a defect, just as a person may be born lacking a certain limb, God forbid. There are some limbs that are more crucial than others and a person is able to survive without that limb, contrarily, he may even develop sharper senses in another limb to overcome his disability. There are those who are born with the ability to solve dreams, for instance, with holes in the garments such that the inner light is revealed, giving him the power to act. However these are the unrectified lights of chaos and do not result from the person’s having purified his garments, therefore there is always a certain extent of self-conceit in such people.

Read the entire article on Kabbalah and Telepathy at this link: TorahScience

Paranormal Powers
The following is a reply by Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh to someone who has paranormal powers:

The most important principle to remember when considering paranormal phenomena is the one anchored in the injunction: “Be simple (tamim) with GOD your God.” This injunction appears within the context of a constellation of prohibitions pertaining to witchcraft and sorcery. Since these practices were widespread among the pagan peoples who occupied the land of Canaan at the time of Israel’s conquest, they presented one of the first obstacles to rectified service of God. The Divine antidote to these insidious influences is identified in the verse as the attribute of temimut, simplicity or integrity.

That said, the next thing to understand is that the Torah’s abhorrence of occult practice does not imply that a person with unusual sensitivities to spiritual experiences, like yourself, need ignore, suppress, or devalue them. They certainly possess a place, even a prominent one, when incorporated within a Torah-oriented way of life .

It is indicated in various Jewish teachings, that all living beings are endowed with a spiritual consciousness. In particular, we find in the mystical collection of verses called Perek Shirah, the Chapter of Song, that every creature is gifted with a unique song of praise to God .

Although it may not appear this way to most people, it is only by virtue of a person’s choice that the spiritual side of his or her being remains hidden from awareness. At every moment we decide whether it is the external aspect of creation with which we wish to identify—its (apparently) autonomous material character—or whether it is its deep spiritual dimension that we wish to penetrate.

One of the most basic teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the eighteenth century founder of the Chassidic movement, asserts that as we move through life, we are constantly being addressed by God through both our normal and paranormal senses . Every experience in life has some providential significance of which, unfortunately, we cannot always be certain without the benefit of direct prophecy. Although this would appear to leave us in a paradoxical situation, experiencing a constant flow of Divine communication which we are not always able to decipher, Kabbalah teaches us that we can always benefit from these signals by adopting a dual strategy: the innocent path of simplicity together with the focused approach of rational analysis .

These two somewhat antithetical approaches to paranormal experiences work together as follows:

Whenever subliminal vibrations emanating from the created realm amplify themselves into our consciousness, we must try as hard as possible to accept the vibes with equanimity without becoming overly obsessed or concerned with the experience. In true simplicity we should remember that all experiences ultimately emanate from God and thus are equally “normal.” The danger lies in entertaining the possibility that such an experience emanates from some source other than God.

Having accepted the experience with all simplicity, we can then try to analyze the symbols that appear in the experience with the rational tools that are available to us and to attempt to relate the experience to recognized Torah principles.

The very association in your mind with sorcery etc. can totally pollute that which may otherwise be a potentially enriching spiritual experience, for the essence of the occult is denial of God’s absolute unity and His mastery over creation . Thus practically speaking, the permissibility of opening yourself up to the sensations you describe depends upon the degree to which you can rid yourself of such associations.

To some extent, the simple indulgence of the ego in such an experience can be just as threatening as the introduction of occult associations. You should never consciously intend to bring on such an experience for the sake of the gratification it provides you or the feeling of power it gives you. Doing so is a guarantee to either losing your sensitivity altogether or to summoning all kinds of false experiences which are liable to affect a destructive impact upon yourself and upon others .

So don’t attempt to seek out paranormal stimulation. When it presents itself, take it lightly, and try not to exaggerate its significance. In short, be simple with God and you will find joy in having creation sing to you even when the words of the song are unclear.

At the same time, realize that man’s Divine gift of rational analysis is intended to help human beings digest experience so that the moral good inherent therein can be gleaned and the evil discarded. The process of rational analysis, clarifying reality through the prism of our consciousness, is called birur, and it occupies a central place in the Kabbalistic scheme of redemption. The Torah is our representation of the Divine standards meant to be applied in the pursuit of such clarity. Through the process of birur we gradually strip away the layers of illusion that envelope reality and lay bare the Divine essence inherent in all things.

Hence it is incumbent upon you to try to “clarify” your intuitive experience as best you can, using the language and thought patterns of the Torah as a guide.

The teachings of the Torah encompass law (mitzvot and halachah) as well as prayer, ethics, Kabbalah, Chassidut etc. The phenomena that you experience lend themselves in particular to the language and teachings of Kabbalah. Chassidic teachings, which enclothe Kabbalah in an accessible, conceptual form, can surely help you place your experiences into a proper Jewish perspective. Even familiarizing yourself with stories about the great Chassidic masters (especially the Ba’al Shem Tov) will demonstrate to you how relevant and prevalent experiences such as those you describe were to Jews who lived less than three hundred years ago. The stories and parables told by the great Chassidic Master Rabbi Nachman of Breslav are another rich resource for you to explore in pursuing an alternative spiritual language with which to analyze your experience.


Akiva said...


Yonatan said...

Simply beautiful - I have never read this before. If you have an "awareness" that seems to go beyond that which others have, do yourself a favor and study Chassidus. Personally, I'd recommend Tanya, but thats only because it is very helpful to me and I haven't read some of the other works. Once you start to fathom the depths, you will have no choice but to approach things "simply" as written in this article. A new world will open up to you. Enjoy the journey!

Anonymous said...

apart from the tanya, books by ramchal, esp Way of G-d, Path of the Just and Knowing Heart. the Kuzari is also a very inspiring book to read esp regarding the sacrifices. To Know G-d by R Shalom Dovber is a very inspiring and soul searching book as also If you were G-d by R Aryeh Kaplan and Garments of the soul by Rebbe Menachem Schneerson.
if you want an indepth understanding on animals kindness to animals according to jewish law and comparisons between jewish and non jewish approach to slaughtering animals R David Sears of Breslov, Garden of Eden and his book on jewish approach to noahides, Compassion to Humanity are among the best.

Anonymous said...

regarding the exact time for prophecy, i remember moses said around midnight though he knew Hashem would arrive at midnight, during the plague of the first born, i believe its because he did not want the magicians to calculate and give a time and say its wrong. but to make aliyah or not will rest mainly with Hashem, if He wants one to leave, definitely the path would be open for them to do so. Rabbi Ginsburgh has been my spiritual teacher and guide since 1995, when the internet first came to where i live. His advice is priceless and over time i realised to just accept his guidance with faith that all will be well since he is explicity following the holy torah. and the oral torah and its guidance.