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What is Practical Kabbalah?

We are taught that there are two types of Kabbalah.
One is the study of the deep teachings and secrets that Kabbalah reveals about creation, the immanence of God's light in creation, and the transcendence of God's infinite light.
The second realm is called Practical Kabbalah. This involves using the knowledge of Kabbalah in order to influence actual events that take place in the world.
Sometimes Practical Kabbalah involves summoning spiritual forces, such as angels,
and other spiritual forces which exists in the world and commanding them or causing them to swear to perform a certain act or causing them to swear to perform a certain act or function in reality.
400 years ago, the Arizal taught that in our generations we should not be involved with, or attempt to use the methods of Practical Kabbalah. As the Holy Temple is not standing,
and we do not possess the ashes of the Red Heifer, we are unable to purify our bodies.
The practice of Practical Kabbalah by a person with an impure body is very detrimental and pervasive.
Thus the arizal totally forbade the pursuit of this realm of Kabbalah.
Once, when the Ba'al Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidut, was still a young Tzaddik, he was in danger. In order to escape, he had to cross a river.
As he knew Practical Kabbalah, he knew how to pronounce secret mysterious Names of God. Through this he attained the power to cross the river, and saved his life.
We are told that all his life he regretted that he had once used a practice of Practical Kabbalah, which had already been forbidden by the Arizal.
Even though he used it in the absolute state of holiness of his very great soul, he regretted and repented for having used Practical Kabbalah in order to affect some phenomenon in reality.
When any Jew does true and complete teshuva (�repentance�) in accordance with the level of his soul and the rectification which is required of his soul,
there is a sign from heaven that this repentance has been accepted and is considered complete. One sign of true repentance is that one returns to a similar situation,
and this time, reacts in a proper Torah manner to the trial. When the Baal Shem Tov was much older, he found himself once again in a similarly dangerous situation.
He had to cross a river, but this time he did not use Practical Kabbalah in order to attain the power to cross the river.
He was so connected with God that the depth of faith of his pure soul gave him the miraculous supernatural power to cross the river. He then knew that his teshuva was complete.
This is the very essence of the way of chassidut, the inner soul of Kabbalah, that the Baal Shem Tov revealed to the world.
From the time of the Baal Shem Tov, Kabbalah is exclusively for the sake of bringing once close to God and revealing the Mashiach.
The power of the soul to affect thing in our world is called conscious determination.
This consciousness must be based purely on simple and absolute faith in God's essence and his transcendent infinite light.
Through the revelation of the Kabbalah of the Baal Shem Tov and his disciples, this purpose can now be related to and focused upon.
It can penetrate the soul, giving the power to actually effect miraculous acts in the world through simple and pure faith,
together with the inspiration and Divine Spirit which comes from the true study of Kabbalah.


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