Press-Republican

Faith & Spirituality

January 31, 2014

Kabbalah demystified

Montreal rabbi presents talk about Jewish mysticism at Keene Valley Library

KEENE VALLEY — If the only Kabbalah reference you have is Madonna, then Rabbi Moishe New’s talk, “Kabbalah,” is a must-hear Monday evening at the Keene Valley Library.

New, the spiritual leader of the Montreal Torah Center, will give an introduction in the world of Jewish mysticism with emphasis on the insights it offers to deal with 21st century challenges.

Kabbalah in Hebrew means “to receive.” The study of Kabbalah is a traditional teaching that is passed down on an elemental level.

“The Torah, which is the Bible, was the written law as dictated by God and simply written down,” said New, who is a sought-out lecturer on the topic and its relevance today.

“When God gave the Torah to Moses, he also gave Four Keys, which unlock the meaning of the text. Quite frankly, the text on its own, in many places are ambiguous or contradictory and often not understandable. The reality is, it wasn’t meant to be studied on its own.”

The Torah is a divine, inscrutable text that continues to yield teachings, information and insight.

“But it reveals by means of these four basic keys,” New said. “These keys are four levels of understanding the text. Level I is the simple level to make it intelligible enough on the simple, most pragmatic level. What’s the story and what is the Bible telling us to do? All these keys are defined further and have a whole system of rules and formulas by which the text yields insights and information.”

DEFINING KEYS

Key I is understanding the literal meaning of the text.

“Key II is a deeper level,” New said. “You apply the information from Key I. It yields allusions and hints that are not obvious in the text. Key III is often described as a very broad area. It’s the psychological, legal and philosophical dimensions, the homiletic dimension of the text. The Talmud is devoted to understanding the text at Level III. It’s much more complex.”

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