I came across a book entitled Invoking Angels written by a Master Kabbalist. Do you recommend this book, and what are your thoughts on Angels and Kabbalism?
If you are at a dinner party and someone you have just met tells you that he is the top-ranking undercover spy for the CIA, we recommend that you move on from the conversation. His self-aggrandizing claim instantly betrays him as a fraud. This is the best way we can describe how we feel about anyone who calls himself a Master Kabbalist. Anyone who truly knows Kabbala would be very circumspect about it. We’re not saying that David Cooper is a fraud, but we are saying that he knows little about true Kabbalah.
Kabbala (also known as caballa, kabala, kabbala, Qabala, etc….) is an authentic part of ancient Jewish wisdom. The literal meaning of the word is “that which is received” and it is passed down through the generations. If someone tells you that they are an expert at Quantum Mechanics but they do not know any algebra or calculus, they really can’t know Quantum Mechanics. In the same way, it is quite impossible to understand the real Kabbalah without many years of study and mastery of the underlying basics. This material isn’t available on the open market, but rather passed privately from a very limited number of teachers to very specifically chosen students.
The author of this book may indeed have valuable information to impart and may be using the term Kabbalah in a generic way to suggest a tie to ancient spiritual secrets. We ourselves may have mentioned the word (rarely) knowing that the word has become used widely, if incorrectly. Like so many other words, the word kabbala has lost its correct meaning when used in general use.
As for your question about angels, the Hebrew word for angel is the same as the Hebrew word for a messenger. Are these otherworldly creatures? They can be, but those are beyond our understanding. Often, the angels in our lives, the God-sent messengers, are real people and we all have the opportunity to be an angel to others. We think this is what David Cooper might mean.
Be an angel,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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