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The Oracle of Kabbalah

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The Hebrew word for letter, "ot," also means “sign” or “wonder” or “miracle.” For thousands of years, Jewish sages have taught that the Hebrew letters, the Aleph Beit, embody wonderful and miraculous powers. "The Oracle of Kabbalah" distills ancient teachings regarding the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and shows how these teachings can be made practical in our contemporary lives.

For centuries, Jewish mystics (and some Christian ones, too) have turned to the Hebrew letters for guidance and inspiration. For centuries, people have meditated upon the letters and reflected on their special powers. By trying to become more intimate with the building blocks of creation, these spiritual seekers hoped to become more intimate with the Creator. The Baal Shem Tov taught, “Enter into every letter with all your strength. God dwells in each letter and as you enter it, you become one with God.”

The basic way to access this oracle is to become quiet for a few minutes and enter into a receptive, meditative attitude. Take three slow, deep breaths from the belly. Formulate a question for which you seek the guidance of the Aleph Beit. Avoid “yes” or “no” questions. A good generic question is, “What perspective on this matter would help me proceed in the best way?” Pray for inspiration and receptivity.

Then, keeping your question in mind, select a letter and discover what sign is revealed to you and the potential paths and lessons to be learned that the letter reveals.. Read or listen to the text and see how the ideas there correspond with or illumine your situation or question. Meditate upon the letter's associations and also the emotional tone it evokes within you.

Abraham Abulafia advised students to concentrate on the letters “in all their aspects, like a person who is told a parable, or a riddle, or a dream, or as one who ponders a book of wisdom in a subject so profound....” Ponder the answer to your question as you would a riddle or a dream.

In your imagination, become the letter. You are not just someone who “chose,” for example, the letter Dalet, which means “door,” you are the door itself, opening up. You are not just a human who happened to pick Gimmel, the symbol of the camel, you are the camel, making your way steadily through a desert. You are not just a person who is reading about Nun, the energy of “fish,” you are the fish itself, swimming through the ever-changing waters of life. Experience the cards in this way and they will speak to you more intimately. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel has written, “The ultimate way is not to have a symbol but to be a symbol, to stand for the divine.”

Early Kabbalist practitioners reported that after periods of meditating upon the alphabet, the letters came to life and began talking. Others said they saw the letters grow wings and fly from the surface of the page. Even if your experience is less dramatic, perhaps the letters will speak quietly to you.

Please have fun with these letters. Approach them respectfully, but with a spirit of play, and they will be your friends. May the letters of the Aleph Beit stimulate your mind. May they provide guidance and direction to your actions and speech. May they blaze through your heart like the sound of a shofar. May they help you feel closer to the great Mystery and to all beings.