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Posted October 18, 2004
I have never had a strong affinity for the Kabbalah. I have found it difficult at times to read, stiff, dogmatic, and I was never sure how the whole thing fit together. Then, I was introduced to the book Universal Kabbalah: Dawn of a New Consciousness by Sheldon, Jesse, and Lorraine Stoff. If you recall, Sheldon and Jesse's article, 'Education for Spiritual Growth' was featured in the March-April 2004 issue of Quest and as the article had received very positive reviews, I decided to give Universal Kabbalah a try. I was far from being dissapointed.Universal Kabbalah is a wonderful springboard for anyone interested in getting a practical introduction to the esoteric meaning of the Kabbalah. It is incredibly honest, inviting, easy to understand, and made the reviewer feel as if the authors were speaking specifically to her.The book was originally conceived by Sheldon Stoff, professor emeritus of Adelphi University, based on his experience with Judaism and an invitation, much later in life, from a master rabbi to study Kabbalah with him. Equally supporting the book are sons Joshua and Jesse and wife Lorraine. Later in this book something very special about Lorraine is revealed. (I won't divulge this information, as I would like readers to listen to Lorraine with an open mind.) The joy of reading this book lies in the authors' step by step method of going deeper and deeper, chapter by chapter, in to the study of the self. This is not a book to just read. The Universal Kabbalah is divided into two parts. The first part written by Sheldon and Lorraine, deals with the esoteric meaning of the Kabbalah using the Tree of Life as a roadmap and requires the reader to meditate upon what is read to truly grasp the significance. (In fact, the authors suggest reading the book once and then again for meditation, study, and practice.) It is packed with thought-provoking extracts from various rabbis and thinkers. The second part is written by Jesse Stoff and provides 'An Introduction into Kabbalistic Medicine,' which I viewed as another roadmap explaining how the physical world is truly connected to the immaterial world and how the physical effects the unseen and vice-versa. In order to create a healed world, we only need to open our eyes, change our perception, and become more aware of how we treat each other and the world around us. The second part of the book continues with information from the first part so there is no feeling of disconnection. But each section is dynamic in its own way. The book's first chapter on 'Knowledge' sets the tone with a subtitle that states, ' Without Balance There is Only Distortion,' explaining that intellectual knowledge (Hokhmah, the masculine energy) must be balanced with true knowing that consists of love, intuition, and understanding (Binah, the feminine energy) becuase everything is comprised of this. If equally combined, these two energy centers (Sefirot-Sefirah being singular) create perfect knowlege and relationship (Da'at). With each chapter, the authors explain the remaining qualities in the Tree of Life, giving the Kabbalisit view, the universal view, and examples from the authors' own lives. As each qulaity is revealed, one begins to understand the interconnectedness of everything, seen and unseen, heard and unheard. One of my favorite chapters was on 'Reincarnation,' a process I personally feel to be true. Sheldon shares his encounter with a seer who reveals to him why he (Sheldon) feels such a connection to Native Americans and Jewish Mysticism. The chapter also quotes some very well-known (especially to Theosophists) scientists in the field of reincarnation, namely Sylvia Cranston and our latest Kern lecturer, Ian Stevenson. For anyone interested in taking a beginner's inner journey into the Kabbalah, I recommend this book. It would also make a wonderful book for study groups, as there are lots of footnotes to pursue further reading and study. Should one decide to take a journey with the StoWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.