Are there any seforim which serve as an introduction to learning Kabbalah? These seforim, I imagine, would give the basic terms and ideas of Kabbalah along with some explanation for the novice learner.

Any personal experience with particular seforim would be highly valuable.

  • Try Kabbalah For Dummies by Arthur Kurzweil – Turk Hill Apr 9 '19 at 21:07
  • 6
    Try Talmud Bavli by Rabbi Ashi. – Double AA Apr 9 '19 at 21:35
  1. Shomer Emunim Hakadmon (Rabbi Yosef Irgas), generalities and introduction to abstract language

  2. Amud Haavodah (Rabbi Boruch Kosover), optimization of the first. Very long but very clear.

  3. Shaare Ora (Rabbi Yosef Gikitilia, a rishonim), introduction to the torat hasefirot.

  4. Mishnat Chasidim (Rabbi Immanuel Chay Richi), compilation of torat Haari.

There are a lot of books, including books of Ramchal. But Ramchal writes in a very concise way and is hard to grasp. There is no classical book unanimously accepted. The main problem is to learn that kabala is abstraction and concrete thinking it's not easy to leave concrete thinking. Anyways the Shomer Emunim is almost universally accepted as the first step. There are books with definitions, as klale hatchalat hachochma, compilated from Ramchal and Gra, but in my experience they don't help as Shomer Emunim. Sefer Habrit is well known. I don't know it. Many tendencies learn Sifre Rav Chayim Vital at first, Otsrot Chayim, but with Shyur only. Some tendencies are mistrustful toward books there are not from Ramak or Ari.

Note :. I'm not able to understand Kabala, but I make efforts to learn it a little. All the sefarim in this list are from great rabbanim.

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Inner Space from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (written by his students based on his teachings) is a great intro in English. He goes through the concept of ein sof, tzimtzum, the four worlds, the sefirot, partzufim etc.

Another great Sefer is Nefesh Hatzimtzum, an English translation of Nefesh Hachaim (from Rabbi Chaim Volozhin) by Rabbi Avinoam Frankel. There are extended footnotes and a second volume that gives English translation to a lot of the Kabbalah that Nefesh Hachaim is based on.

Finally there is the Sefer שפתי חן (I forget the author) which is specifically written as an intro to the Kabbalah that chassidus is based on.

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In the Even Israel printing of the Vilna Gaon's commentary to Mishlei, there is a long (50 pages or so) introduction written by the publisher, Rav Yisroel Yaakov Vidovsky, which goes through a lot of background which I found helpful as introductory knowledge. It requires strong textual skills.

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  • Any online copies you are aware of? – Dr. Shmuel Apr 11 '19 at 3:47
  • @Dr.Shmuel sorry, not that I know of. But I'm a poor internet researcher. – Y     e     z Apr 11 '19 at 3:50

You do not specify if you are looking for an English or Hebrew book. In English, you could try The Thirteen Petalled Rose: A Discourse On The Essence Of Jewish Existence And Belief by R Adin Steinsaltz.

See also here

This new and expanded edition of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz’s contemporary classic, which includes two additional chapters, seeks to bring the fundamental notions of Kabbalah to an ever-growing audience of spiritual seekers.

The title of the book comes from the symbolic image used to represent the People of Israel in the opening lines of the mystical Jewish text known as the Zohar. In The Thirteen Petalled Rose (perhaps Rabbi Steinsaltz’s most famous work), he seeks to open new vistas for understanding the man-God relationship and how moral human beings should conduct their lives.

The Thirteen Petalled Rose addresses profound topics like good and evil, Divine revelation, the human soul, holiness, ethical ways of life, the Torah and its commandments, the search for the self, and the nature of spiritual worlds and their relationship to the physical. The expanded edition also features a new preface by the author, as well as new chapters on the Kabbalistic view of prayer and devotion.

Rabbi Steinsaltz’s vast knowledge of science, psychology, mysticism and philosophy come together in The Thirteen Petalled Rose as he translates the ancient concepts of Kabbalah into an intelligible language for a new generation of readers.

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  • The original Hebrew version was published as שלושה עשר עלי השושנה – b a Apr 10 '19 at 17:50

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