March 22, 2017



Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Related Terms

  • Aramaic, Cabala, Cabbala, Cabbalah, Hebrew, Hebrew Bible, Hebrew Scriptures, Hermetic Kabbalah, integrated Kabbalistic healing (IKH), Jew, Jewish philosophy, Jewish scriptures, Judaism, Kabala, Kabbala, Kabbalist, Kabbalistic, mysticism, Old Testament, Qabala, Qabbala, Qabbalah, religion, spirituality, Torah.


  • Kabbalah (also spelled Kabbala, Kabala, Cabbalah, Cabbala, Cabala, Qabbalah, Qabbala, or Qabala) is a mysterious derivative of Judaism. Kabbalah involves aspects of Jewish mysticism, philosophy, and science. In Hebrew, qabbalah literally means "reception." Kabbalah is an ancient practice of meditation, mysticism, and devotion that was secretly taught to a select few. It is considered a deeper understanding of Judaism than traditional Judaism.

  • According to legend, God taught Kabbalah to a select group of angels. After the fall of Adam and Eve's paradise, the angels taught Kabbalah to Adam to help humankind return to God. These teachings were orally passed down to Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Moses added the first five books of the Old Testament (or Hebrew Scriptures or Hebrew Bible), also called the Torah, to the oral tradition of Kabbalah. Moses then taught Kabbalah to 70 elders. The elders continued this oral tradition of teaching, but eventually the teachings of Kabbalah were written down. Two books are considered the foundation of Kabbalah: the Zohar (the Book of Splendor, or Light) and the Sepher Yetzirah (the Book of Formation, or Creation).

  • In the mid-18th Century, a Kabbalah teacher named Israel ben Eliezer (also known as the Baal Shem Tov) made Kabbalah accessible to the general public. Today, Kabbalah centers and educational programs provide information about the tradition to anyone who is interested. Information is also widely available at local libraries and bookstores, as well as online.

  • Kabbalah may be divided into three categories: theoretical, spiritual, and magical. Theoretical Kabbalah involves studying the system of Kabbalah. It provides a foundation of knowledge so that meditative and practical Kabbalah may be understood. Spiritual Kabbalah involves aspects of the spiritual world, including angels and souls. It also involves meditating as a means to achieve a higher level of consciousness or awareness. Magical Kabbalah involves altering or influencing the course of nature. Mystical exercises often involve the use of magical seals, magical stones, amulets, and incantations (spoken rituals).

  • Individuals who practice Kabbalah aim to understand the origin and fate of the soul, the meaning of life, and the nature of divinity. Jewish Kabbalists generally aim to achieve a union with God while maintaining a family and social life within the framework of traditional Judaism. However, Kabbalah is often considered more of a philosophy of life than a religion.

  • Integrated Kabbalistic healing (IKH) has been used for centuries. IKH combines 13th-Century Kabbalistic wisdom with current theories from quantum physics, 20th-Century physiological insight, and teachings of nonduality. IKH is used to heal the whole person: mind, body, and soul. Individuals use this type of healing to nurture their relationships with the source of all healing power, a process called God-cleaving. IKH may be used for self-healing or for healing others.

  • Although Kabbalah is founded on the Torah, the Jewish scriptures, and other sacred writings, some non-Jews also practice some aspects of Kabbalah to achieve spiritual enlightenment. This form of Kabbalah does not have a formal name, but it is often called Hermetic Kabbalah. Hermetic Kabbalah dates back to the late 15th Century.


  • General: In Hebrew qabbalah means, "reception." It is an ancient tradition that was passed down to only a select few. There has always been controversy surrounding the teaching of this wisdom, especially when Kabbalists first tried to make it accessible to the public. Over the past few thousand years, many Kabbalists who taught the tradition to the masses were persecuted by other Kabbalists, who believed that women or Christians should not be taught this tradition.

  • However, today, all individuals, regardless of their age, gender, or religion, may access the teachings of Kabbalah. Individuals may study Kabbalah on their own, with a teacher, or at a Kabbalah center or school. In general, Kabbalist teachers require a strong commitment from their students. Educational resources on Kabbalah are also available online, at the library, and in bookstores.

  • Requirements: There are no formal requirements in order for an individual to teach Kabbalah. This may make it difficult for a student to find a suitable educator outside a Kabbalah center. Many Kabbalists recommend that individuals who are interested in learning the tradition meet with several potential teachers and ask questions to understand the priorities of the teachers before choosing one.

  • According to some Jewish Kabbalists, it is impossible to study Kabbalah without knowing the Hebrew language. Even most Hermetic Kabbalists learn some Hebrew. This is because only a small number of Kabbalist texts, written in the ancient languages of Hebrew or Aramaic, have been translated. Thousands of Kabbalist writings have not been translated into modern languages. However, there are many rituals and exercises that may be performed with only minimal knowledge of Hebrew.

  • Practice: Kabbalah is practiced in solitude. However, individuals may receive expert instruction and network with like-minded individuals at local Kabbalah centers. Kabbalists who are Jewish generally aim to maintain a family and social life within the framework of traditional Judaism.

  • Integrated Kabbalistic healing: Integrated Kabbalistic healing (IKH) has been used for centuries. During IKH sessions, patients talk to a healer about the problems or dilemmas they are facing in their lives. The healer then uses wisdom and understanding from Kabbalah to transform each patient's consciousness in order to heal the body, mind, and spirit. IKH may also be conducted in a long-distance session over the phone.


  • General: Kabbalists aim to answer deep, paradoxical religious questions about life and humankind, such as "what is the meaning of life?" and "why is the world finite?" However, the primary question that Kabbalists try to answer is, "how can humans know God when he is infinite, all good, and all-knowing?"

  • Kabbalah answers the primary question in two ways. First, Kabbalists believe that because God is the sum of all things, he also contains contradictions. Therefore, God is good and evil, compassionate and merciless, and unknowable and knowable.

  • Second, God is seen as a mirror that shines a brilliant light. This light is then reflected onto a second mirror, then onto a third, then to a fourth, and so on. With each succession, the reflected light loses some of its brilliance. When the light finally reaches the physical world in which humans live, it shines very dimly.

  • Teachings: The concept of reflecting light is used to describe Kabbalah's theory of the creation of the world. According to Kabbalah, before the world was created, there was just God. God sent an emanation that is often described as a light. This first emanation gave rise to nine more, which are collectively called the sephiroth,meaning "enumerations". Kabbalists believe that the lights of the sephiroth make up God and the universe. Another common teaching of Kabbalah is that the soul descended from God and became trapped in the human body. Therefore, because humans are part of God, he is knowable.

  • Integrated Kabbalistic healing: Integrated Kabbalistic healing (IKH) has been used for centuries. Individuals use this type of healing to nurture their relationships with the source of all healing power. Although individuals have used this ancient form of Kabbalah to heal themselves and others, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support this use.


  • Kabbalah is not recommended as the sole treatment approach for potentially serious medical conditions. Individuals with potentially serious medical conditions should not postpone established medical treatments for Kabbalah instead. Kabbalah should be used cautiously by individuals with histories of mental illness.

Author Information

  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. www.ifcj.org

  2. Jewish Awareness America. www.jaam.net

  3. Littlewood R, Dein S. The effectiveness of words: religion and healing among the Lubavitch of Stamford Hill. Cult Med Psychiatry. 1995 Sep;19(3):339-83. View Abstract

  4. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com

  5. The Kabbalah Centre. www.kabbalah.com

  6. World Jewish Congress. www.worldjewishcongress.org

Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


March 22, 2017