"Kabbalah tells us that the ultimate cause of our problems from our personal lives to the widest range of humanity, is forgetting who we are. We have forgotten our true selves and our true purpose," writes Tamar Frankiel, who teaches the history of religions at the University of California, Riverside, and is the co-author with Judy Greenfeld of Minding the Temple of the Soul: Balancing Body, Mind, and Spirit through Traditional Jewish Prayer, Movement, and Meditation. This Jewish mystical tradition goes all the way back to the second century and is gaining momentum in the twenty-first century.
In four sections titled Seeking a New Vision, the Unfolding of Creation, the Path of Remembering, and Practical Applications of Kabbalah, Frankiel delineates the theology, cosmology, and anthropology of this wisdom tradition. One of the names of God in the Bible is "I will be what I will be" signaling that the Holy and Mysterious One is in the process of manifesting in the world. Hence the earth is a vessel for the disclosure of divinity and the art of life is to pay attention for we never know where or when or how this will happen.
Frankiel opens up some of the complex teachings of the Kabbalah with insights into the Divine Light, being wholehearted, ego and naming, unification and intellect, and the spiral of loving consciousness. We were quite impressed with her discussion of reincarnation where she writes: "According to Kabbalah, the results of past lives our accomplishments and our failings are encoded in our bodies. . . . People reincarnate until they have accomplished their soul's mission."
Part of our mission in life is to add to the glory of God or as Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler puts it: "Each person possesses a unique admixture of psychological and intellectual qualities which form the basis of his own particular, unique contribution to the sanctification of God's name." Frankiel's special contribution to the continuing study of Kabbalah is her down-to-earth overview of this often arcane treasure trove of ancient wisdom.