Opposition to Kabbalistic Prayer

Rabbi Dr. Meir Sendor
Previously: Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University
Currently: Rabbi
Young Israel of Sharon, MA

his lecture presents the main points of opposition to kabbalistic prayer focusing on the sefirot. The opposition to the practice and theory of kabbalistic prayer began with the rise of kabbalah in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The very postulation by the kabbalists of the ten sefirot, representing different qualities and approaches to God, was seen to stand in direct contrast with the traditional idea of the radical oneness and absolute nature of God.

Charges against the teaching of the sefirot and the Kabbalists’ own replies to these charges are the subject of this lecture. Rather than an object of prayer, the sefira is an object of contemplation that opens up an awareness of what God requires of the very moment. Prayer for the kabbalists is seen as a path to awakening, recreating the mind of the child purely in the present moment. In danger of over-complication, the system of the sefirot offers an order for the contemplation of divine qualities.