Questions and Answers - Official Kabbalah Publication of the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute
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Questions and Answers

Why is it said that it is forbidden to study Kabbalah before the age of 40?

According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, age 40 signifies the degree in one’s spiritual evolution when one can attain the spiritual forces. At this degree, a person acquires the powers of bestowal, the power to give. After obtaining those forces, one begins to actively affect reality and thus changes the world.

The number 40 does not refer to a person’s physical age, but rather to one’s spiritual degree. Many Kabbalists studied Kabbalah long before the age of 40. The Holy Ari and Rabbi Nachman of Breslau, for instance, both great Kabbalists, never even made it to the age of 40 and passed away at the age of 38. The Vilna Gaon (GRA) wrote Kabbalah books even before his Bar Mitzva (age 13). Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam commentary on The Book of Zohar, began to study Kabbalah at a very early age, as well. At 26 he was already composing Kabbalistic texts.

Kabbalists established this limitation on the study of Kabbalah to prevent people from studying before they were ready for it. The Kabbalists waited until the ego would complete its evolution, and humankind would understand that there was nothing left to study but this ancient wisdom. Today, there are no limitations on the study of the wisdom of Kabbalah, and Kabbalists are writing that now is the “Time to Act,” as Rabbi Ashlag puts it.