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8. Are some aspects of the Kabbalah shared with other major religions?

The basic themes of the Kabbalah - the origins of this world, who controls it, life, death and destiny - are found in all religions, yet they are treated radically differently by different traditions, with far-reaching consequences in matters of belief and religious practice.

It is highly likely that from early times, Kabbalistic ideas were taken up by other traditions, although conclusive evidence is hard to find. It is said that the "gifts" given by Abraham to the sons of his concubine whom he sent to the east consisted of secret wisdom (Genesis 25:6 and Rashi there; Sanhedrin 91a). Some speculate that Pythagoras (6th century B.C.E.) became familiar with certain Kabbalistic teachings through contact with the Hebrew prophets on Mount Carmel in Israel, subsequently introducing them into Greek thought. Some believe that the "lost" Ten Tribes of Israel, who went into exile c. 550 B.C.E. prior to the destruction of the First Temple, spread Kabbalistic ideas in many different places, and traces of these are said to be discernible in a number of religions, such as Japanese Shinto. Some consider that the Hindu Brahmin caste in India have some relation with Abraham or that Buddhism contains Kabbalistic ideas.

Christianity and Islam derived many of their teachings from Judaism, and both incorporate a variety of ideas that are rooted in the Kabbalah. As the latter-day religions developed, the original ideas were often transmuted and took on a radically different significance from that which they possess in the authentic Kabbalah received by Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria and all of their students who followed the Torah of Moses.


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