THE ZOHAR AND KABBALAH The Zohar is the central text of Kabbalah, and Kabbalah is the spiritual heritage of all humankind. Though it is often defined as the mystical tradition of Judaism, Kabbalah predates and transcends identification with any religion, nation, or ethnicity. Kabbalah is a body of spiritual wisdom and teachings, but it is not "religious" as that word is often understood. Kabbalah is not about rote obedience of laws or commandments. It is not based on literal interpretation of scriptures, nor does it include fear of punishment as a motivation for observance. Moreover, unlike traditions that celebrate ecstatic or transcendent approaches to divine wisdom, Kabbalah includes logical analysis of spiritual matters as an important tool. As in quantum physics or genetics, however, logic in Kabbalah can take challenging and paradoxical forms. To fully grasp the kabbalistic principles as they are presented in the Zohar, it is best to discard both conventional religious expectations and linear, mechanistic styles of rational thought. Science tells us that an electron can exist in two places at once, even at opposite ends of the universe. Kabbalah does not ask us to accept anything more radical than that--or any less radical, either! It is most useful to think of Kabbalah in terms of tools, practical applications, guidebooks, and sometimes delphic utterances, rather than as religion or academic philosophy. By doing so, we can begin to put these tools to work in our own lives. We can also eliminate preconceptions that are utterly foreign to the true teachings of the sages. Kabbalah and the Zohar belong to everyone who has a sincere desire to learn, grow, and transform. When the Creator brought the world into being, it was not His intention to include the pain and suffering that today beset us. Kabbalah, in common with other spiritual traditions, teaches that the negativity that afflicts humankind came about through the temptation and fall of primordial man. The kabbalists have used the word chaos to describe the negative circumstances that surround us--the "Murphy's Law" environment in which things will go wrong if they possibly can. Chaos is indeed an apt word. It is the opposite of harmony with the Creator, or more precisely, the unity with Him that once existed and will one day be regained. Achieving this unity, according to Kabbalah, is the true purpose of lives: to restore Creation to the state that God intended for it, and to reenter the Eden from which we were exiled by Adam's sin. To make possible this return to paradise, the Creator has provided us with powerful spiritual tools, including the Sabbath, the Hebrew language and alphabet, and many others. Most of these tools are identified with Judaism in the public mind. But they, like the redemption they are intended to foster, are the birthright of everyone. Making this clear is an important purpose of this book, and of Kabbalah as a whole. The Zohar is a very long book--a complete translation comprises many volumes--but even at full length the sages of Kabbalah view it as a concentrated distillation of infinite wisdom. To the kabbalists, the Zohar is more like a finely polished gem than an object made of paper and ink. Like a diamond or ruby, the Zohar is hard and durable. It is ageless. It shines as brightly today as it did at the time of its creation. Again, like a jewel, it is easily hidden, and there have been centuries in which its very existence was known to only a few. Moreover, the Zohar has many facets and colors, depending on the angle and the spiritual light in which it is viewed. Perhaps it is no surprise that one of history's greatest kabbalists, Rabbi Moses Chaim Luzzatto (1707-1746) was a diamond merchant in Amsterdam. Among secular scholars and historians there is controversy surrounding the authorship and chronology of the tradition's most important texts, but the kabbalists themsBerg, Rav P. S. is the author of 'Essential Zohar The Source of Kabbalistic Wisdom' with ISBN 9780609807316 and ISBN 0609807315.