Why Study Kabbalah?

Unlike the rest of the work, this first part of Klach Pitchei Chochma hardly touches upon Kabbalah per se, but rather offers a rationale for the book as a whole.

Nonetheless the first thing open for discussion in this Kabbalistic work is why we should study Kabbalah in the first place. After all, many insist we shouldn’t and others suggest it isn’t worth the effort which could be better spent on more “useful” things like Talmud, Halacha, etc. Ramchal has his own insights into that as we would expect, but let’s see what others who had preceded him offered.

Without explaining the personal or general advantages to be had from studying Kabbalah, some say we simply must if we’re able to (See Tikkunei Zohar 43 and refer to Kissei Melech there; Vilna Gaon’s Even Shleima 5:24 and his comments to Tikkunei Zohar p. 81b; Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Talmud Torah 4; Sefer HaTanya, Kuntress Acharon p. 156b; Arizal’s Sha’ar HaMitvot, Introduction; etc.)

Others do explain the advantages to its study, on the other hand. Some say learning it solidifies one’s faith in God, since it’s so deep and wondrous (R’ Yaakov Tzemach’s Introduction to Ranu Yisrael, as cited at the beginning of the standard text of Eitz Chaim) and allows one to be sure of the wisdom of God’s ways (Sur Marah v’Assei Tov 138); being proficient in its study enables one to dedicate even his more profane acts more effectively to God (Sur Marah v’Assei Tov 140); and R’ Moshe Cordovero cites nineteen profound reasons, running the gamut from be able to achieve Devekut to being able to pray more efficaciously and much more (Ohr Ne’erav 4-5).

We’ll see what Ramchal proposes next.

(c) 2010 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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