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Catholic Dictionary




A system of esoteric theosophy peculiar to Judaism in Europe after the twelfth century. When the Jews were expelled from Spain, they brought this belief to Palestine. According to the kabbalists, God, the Supreme, Endless, and Infinite One, manifests himself in ten potencies or sephiroths, which formed the first world creation, which in turn produced the second world; each world generating the next. The human was created by the sephiroth and his or her pre-existent soul returns to God through transmigration. The Messiah will be born at the end of time, and then the world will return to the Source, hell will end, and bliss will begin. To the kabbalist God is a conscious reaction to the God of Christianity. Human redemption, on kabbalist terms, is achieved through the rigid observance of the law. Kabbalism exerted a high moral influence on its members, many adherents, such as Riccio and Jacob Franck, later becoming Christians.