By Bnei Baruch
Some people think of Kabbalah as a mystery, a new age religion, mysticism, or magic. In fact, Kabbalah is none of these, yet even Kabbalists call it "a concealed wisdom." At first, this seems like a paradox: How can Kabbalah be something that's "concealed," yet not be a mystery?
The key discernment here is to understand that by "concealed," the Kabbalists do not mean that Kabbalah is something which can never be understood or comprehended. When one looks at the many charts and diagrams in Kabbalah books, with their arrows and sketches, one may instantly think that this wisdom is too complicated to ever be understood. In a way, they are correct-since Kabbalah is not meant to be understood through our regular mind and concepts. But "concealed" also doesn't mean that this wisdom is unattainable or that it is a secret only a few are willing to share. Rather, "concealed" means something which is presently concealed to us, but that can be revealed.
According to this definition, Kabbalah is a science. It gradually reveals broader and broader layers of reality that were previously concealed to the student, doing so to the degree that the student is able to grasp and comprehend. It is like a child in the first grade who learns that the world he lives in is the earth. But in the second grade, the child learns that there's an entire solar system and even a galaxy. Finally, in the fourth grade, he discovers that he lives in an infinite universe.
In a similar way, Kabbalists also learn about parts of reality that they were not aware of at first and that were concealed to them. In Kabbalah, these concealed layers of reality are called "the Upper Worlds." And just like no one would call the new knowledge a child learns in the fourth grade "mystical" or "mysterious," but rather a "science," so Kabbalah is a science that reveals new, spiritual layers of reality to a student in a clear, scientific manner.
In Hebrew, Kabbalah means "to receive." This means that what Kabbalah students learn is how to receive or feel the concealed, Upper Worlds. There is no secret here. The only mystery or concealment is that there is always more to attain, just like in college there are always more advanced levels of mathematics or physics you can learn. And as a person walks further along the spiritual path, he becomes more "mature," in the spiritual sense, and his world expands. Things that were a mystery yesterday become second nature today.
The most famous Kabbalistic book, the Bible, allegorically explains how a Kabbalist feels as he discovers the Upper Worlds: It describes how Abraham leaves a familiar country, only to be led to a place he does not know. In a similar way, one who is on the spiritual path often feels that many new discoveries are ahead and that he is walking in uncharted territory.
Hence, the purpose of all Kabbalistic books is to help us reveal the Upper Worlds, or parts of the universe that are presently concealed to us. There is nothing mystical, magical, or religious about this wisdom, but rather it's a universal science that's available to all who want to learn it. Therefore, there are no restrictions on race, age, or gender. One doesn't even need to know Hebrew to study. All one truly needs is a willingness for the concealment to be lifted.
Bnei Baruch, http://www.kabbalah.info is the largest group of Kabbalists in Israel, sharing the wisdom of Kabbalah with the entire world. Study materials in over 25 languages are based on authentic Kabbalah texts that were passed down from generation to generation.