Fiction and Fantasy Feed Humanity

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Kabbalah and the Cosmic Tree of Life

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Sefirot in Jewish Kabbalah

Hello everyone. Welcome to Week 27.

This is a reading from European Jewish liturgy that was practiced sometime between 1150 and 1250. We don’t know the author, but this was the time when Kabbalistic mysticism was flourishing. Its roots, however, go back to the beginning of Judaism.

As explained in In the Same Breath, until the 1100s, the teaching of this form of mysticism went “from mouth to ear,” little was written down and the practices seldom reached ordinary people.

Perle Besserman writes in The Shambhala Guide to Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism, that Jewish meditation that developed from the 3rd to 11th centuries used the Hebrew alphabet and “the ten sefirot _ worlds within worlds that make up the cosmic Tree of Life.” This became the foundation for many later branches of Kabbalah.

One translation of “sefirot” is the ten attributes through which the Being one might call One Spirit reveals herself or himself and constantly creates and manifests the universe.

The ethereal nature of this form of mysticism is shown in this reading.

Everything is in Thee and Thou art in everything:

Thou fillest everything and dost encompass it; when everything was created,
Thou was in everything;

Before everything was created, Thou wast everything.

One of the central ideas of the Kabbalah – that God is in exile from himself – was important to Jews in the 1400s as the Ashkenazic Jews were pushed out of cities across Europe and Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain.

This concept of exile took on renewed importance during World War II.

There are now secular practitioners of Kabbalah and well as Jewish, Islamic and Christian followers, a strong sign of the flexibility and durability of this tradition.


Author: jeanlatzgriffin

Jean Latz Griffin is the owner of CyberINK, a small business that produces quirky skeleton-themed products. She has finished the first draft of a historical fantasy and received comments from her agent. She has turned to Orson Scott Card for tips on the second draft. She is author of "In the Same Breath," and "One Spirit: A Creation Story for the 21st Century." She has a certificate in creative writing from the University of Chicago's Writers Studio. Griffin is a member of the growing community of former Chicago Tribune reporters, enjoys Weekend Writing Warriors and the Story Studio in Chicago. Her Sheltie, Thunder, likes to "type" on her computer keys, and Dr Wu, a Weimaraner, likes to lick her ear when she is trying to think. Her husband passed in June of 2011. Her three fabulous grown sons live nearby. She plays violin in an amateur string orchestra.

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