Practical Kabbalah (Kabbalah Ma’asit קבלה מעשית)

Practical Kabbalah as opposed to Theoretical Kabbalah, is not concerned with discovering the mysteries of the Torah, but rather, occupies itself with attempting to influence reality through the use of magical and Holy Names of God.  Practical Kabbalah is recognized mostly by its; talismans and charms carrying Holy Names, incantations, medicines, enchantments and so on. However, few are aware of the ban on learning Practical Kabbalah and the ban on using its products. Furthermore, according to the Holy Ari, the use of Practical Kabbalah, serves as a double-edged sword against the user.  Following is an excerpt from Rabbi Haim Vital’s book, The Gate of the Precepts (The writings of the Ari), article: “The prohibition to utter the Holy Name of God and the ban over Practical Kabbalah.”, which clearly states the clear and determined view held by the Ari on this very serious subject.

The Ari claims, the ban on using Practical Kabbalah today, unlike in ancient times, is because today, we are not pure enough. In fact, only a red heifer’s ashes, which cannot be accessed today, can cleanse our impurity. Impurity prevents the person from connecting to higher levels of holiness, especially those levels needed for writing or using the tools of Practical Kabbalah.

The Ari also adds that all names, amulets, and meditations used in our time are incorrect, even if it appears as if they are working. According to him, even those “that work” could cause damage to the user. In fact, regarding the use of the Holy Names of God, even The Ari himself was very careful whenever he had to utter a Holy Name or an Angel. So much so, that during his sermons he would spell them as opposed to saying the Names out loud.

Rabbi Haim Vital teaches, that when God created the Angels, he made it so that when they were called, they had to appear (they have no free will). Accordingly, when we mention an Angel’s name (while learning or just talking), with the intent of harnessing the Angel for our personal needs, we can cause damage to ourselves.  This action, of calling an Angel to serve us is considered as a form of idleness, and it is not acceptable for Angels to be used in this manner. However, Names of Angels that are being commonly used as names of people (Michael, Gabriel, etc.) can be freely pronounced and mentioned.

As a consequence, those who claim they are learning Practical Kabbalah are imposters at best, and they have no real understanding of Kabbalah (of the many dangers they can bring upon themselves, to mention a few, are financial and psychological). At worst, they are dangerous people who use knowledge that is dangerous for them and for those whom take their advice. In any case, we have to stay away from both types of people.

It should be emphasized that, using Mezuzahs, the Zohar, the “Ana BeKo’ah” prayer, the 72 names and other prayers/meditations for protection, is absolutely safe. This practice has been used for thousands of years and appears in the Siddur (The Traditional Hebrew Prayer Book), the Halakha ( Jewish law), and is recommended by Kabbalists with no risk.