Tag Archives: Sha’ar HaGilgulim

A Kabbalistic History of the World

Does the first chapter of Genesis secretly allude to the major events in the history of mankind? How do the Six Days of Creation parallel the past six thousand years of human civilization? Find out in this class where we review the key developments of history through the lens of Torah, Talmud, and Kabbalah, and take a peek into what’s to come in the long-awaited seventh millennium. Also: does AI have anything to do with the forthcoming Messianic Age?

For more on the Sefirot and ‘Fundamentals of Kabbalah’, see here.
For the specific colours associated with the Sefirot, see here.
For ‘Astrology and Astronomy in Judaism’, see here.

Perspectives on Hell

‘Abraham and the Three Angels’ by James Tissot

This week’s parasha, Vayera, begins by telling us that following Abraham’s circumcision, he was “sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day was hot.” (Genesis 18:1) The Ba’al HaTurim (Rabbi Yakov ben Asher, 1269-1340) offers several interesting possibilities as to why the Torah had to mention this seemingly superfluous detail. One of the answers is that k’chom hayom, the heat of the day, is actually alluding to the heat of Hell. As is characteristic of the Ba’al HaTurim, he proves it mathematically, pointing out that the numerical value of k’chom hayom (כחם היום) is equivalent to “this is in Gehinnom” (זהו בגיהנם), when including the additional kollel.

The Ba’al haTurim also draws on a Talmudic teaching (Eruvin 19a) that Abraham sits at the “entrance” to Gehinnom and pulls out all who are circumcised from there! There is an exception to this, though, for being “circumcised” is more than just the one-time passive active of getting circumcised. A man also has to “uphold” his circumcision, meaning not to abuse that organ. Anyone who was promiscuous over the course of their life has their foreskin grow back in Gehinnom—and those people Abraham does not save!

That said, what exactly is Gehinnom? Is it the equivalent of “Hell”? Does Judaism have a concept of such an eternal place of torment? It is common to hear that Judaism does not have such a notion, and that the Tanakh does not describe such a place. Yet, later Jewish literature is actually quite rich with discussion of a hellish torment of some sort for certain wicked individuals in the afterlife. What is the truth? Continue reading

Metatron & the Book of Enoch

What really happened to Enoch when God “took him”? Who is the mysterious angel Metatron? And why did Rabbi Elisha ben Avuya become a heretic after seeing him in Heaven? Find out in the class below, where we also compare the three Books of Enoch, discuss Azazel and the Watchers, and uncover the true identity of the Biblical “Son of Man”. Also: who was the teacher of Moses and how did Joseph know 70 languages?

For lots more on the Four Who Entered Pardes and a different interpretation of Elisha’s vision of Metatron, see here.

See also ‘Who is Metatron?’

For part one of the series on the Apocrypha, see here.

For the class on the Watchers and the Book of Jubilees, see here.