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The Sephardic tradition is permeated by the spirit of Kabalah, the mystical dimensions of Judaism. 

Based on The Zohar, a complex and imaginative collection of the teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai and his students, the great teachers Rabbi Moshe Cordevero (Ramak) and Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (Arizal) founded a kabbalistic school in Tsfat in the 16th century. 

That community gave us some of our most important teachers, including Rabbi Yosef Caro, a mystic himself and the author of Shulchan Aruch, the most definitive code of Jewish law.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz has called Kabbalah “the official theology of the Jewish people.”  This is certainly true for Sephardim.  Sephardic practice and prayer are deeply informed by the teachings of Kabbalah. 

As Kabbalah tries to bridge the gap between finite human beings and The Infinite, Sephardim view the prayers and commandments as spiritual ladders reaching from world to world. 

Far from being simple cultural practices, the mizvot are viewed by the Kabbalistic masters as connections between our world and The Infinite. That understanding infuses Sephardic practice with a unique flavor. Like all complex flavors, it is best tasted rather than described. 

Fri, May 17 2024 9 Iyyar 5784