…being an introduction to the ancient kabbalistic origins and meanings of the tarot
Newsletter foreword by Jean-Michel David
When I first came across Dovid Krafchow’s book, its description intringued me, not so much because here was another title that was going to present some kind of relation between Tarot and Kabbalah, but rather in part because of the publisher’s own description – undoubtedly at least in part supplied by the author – stating the following:
“When the Greeks invaded Israel and forbade study of the Torah, the Jewish people began a secret method of Toranic study that appeared to be merely a simple way to fill time: playing cards. These first tarot decks enabled study of the Torah without detection. Once the Maccabees expelled the Greeks from Israel and Israel once again became a Jewish kingdom, tarot cards dropped from sight. Fifteen hundred years later, in response to Jewish disputations with Catholic theologians, political and religious persecutions, and ultimately the Inquisition, the cards resurfaced as a secret learning tool of the Torah.
“In Kabbalistic Tarot, Dovid Krafchow details how the true meaning of the tarot is locked within the Kabbalah. He shows the correspondence between the 22 Major Arcana cards and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and how the four suits correspond to the four kabbalistic worlds of Briah, Yitzerah, Asiyah, and Atzilut. He describes the kabbalistic meanings of each of the 78 cards and their relations to the Torah and provides insight into the Tree of Life spread through several kabbalistic readings.”
Now I have to admit that a number of responses arise in me simultaneously: on the one hand, I am intringued as to what possible historical insight Dovid brings to this; also, and although I have come across (and similarly suggested) a possible card-playing engagement to avert suspicion from local mediaeval and later laws that forbade Jewish existence (in parts of Europe during the numerous expulsions that occured), the timing he proposes appears – at least to me – anachronous.
Still… here was a book and an author I wished to hear more from, and here follows Dovid’s tale and views of his book. The book is available from Inner Traditions, isbn-13: 978-1-59477-064-7
The book has 144 pages with 84 black and white illustrations.
Hebraic Wisdom in the Major and Minor Arcana
I had not read any Tarot books before committing my own knowledge of the Tarot into the recently published Kabbalistic Tarot by Inner Tradition. My understanding of the Tarot came after three decades of studying Cabala. Religion had never been friendly to me and through a strange happenstance I stumbled unto the Tarot and adopted her as a way to proceed in life as a teacher. After all, Tarot spelt backwards is Torat as in Torat Emet (Teaching of Truth).
Until Kabbalistic Tarot no one had been able to untangle the connection between the Tarot and the Torah/Teaching, the Hebrew term for the collective knowledge of the Jewish People. Inner Traditions were good enough to give me a dedicated editor who helped me polish the book into a skilled piece of writing that I am very proud to have authored.
Unfortunately, the book has not yet been widely received, partly because I had become such a better writer after working with an editor that I poured myself into a project I had been mulling over for the last ten years: to chronicle the last 266,455,766 years of history. I call it The Dance of the Pig. Both Kabbalistic Tarot and The Dance of the Pig have a disturbing commonality—their knowledge is new.
People are afraid of new, yet they hanker after new; what is the meaning of this strange phenomenon most exemplified by people interested in Tarot for the purpose of knowing the future? What could be more new than the future? Thinking I had the most new knowledge of all, I was ready to make a killing—but I was wrong, because people are afraid of new.
New and future invoke the same fear because each comes when least expected and out of nowhere—meaning their entrance into life or society is sudden and not the result of cause and effect. The plethora of books on the Tarot is books composed from cause and effect—one book led to another in the transference and reconstruction of the same knowledge handed down a hundred year previous.
Kabbalistic Tarot did not rely on the common knowledge, but instead found sources in the ancient writings of the Zohar and Sefer Yitzira to break the code of the Tarot. After ten years of reading cards I felt confident to commit this knowledge into book form. Because I am the first to postulate such things in the Tarot, my book has been widely overlooked with the exception of a very nice review by Aeclectic Tarot.
Kabbalistic Tarot, besides being a new look into the cards, is a template by which one can understand primal Cabalistic ideas from the form of the human body—in this way the knowledge is open to all peoples. The Dance of the Pig goes even further, confronting the stagnant assumptions that society is based upon; cosmology and history are stood their heads with some amazing results. These books are for people who dare to want to know the truth—truth is the ancient stone upon which the world is built.
In my experience, and it is how I use the Tarot Cards, people are looking for clarification of the present and the extrapolated future considering what has transpired in the past—cause and effect. New and future is beyond cause and effect; it is what makes life gloriously unpredictable. Some people try using their psychic ability to intuit these sudden happenings in the future, but they are only star-gazers and not prophets.
Like digging deep into the ground to bring forth the pure spring water, new knowledge bursts upon the scene and everyone runs away not wanting to get wet, but it is the insistent natural thirst of the human being for the truth that keeps bringing us back.
Those wanting to have a sense for Dovid’s other works and essays are encouraged to peruse his website: www.JewishBohemian.com
For those amongst us with esoteric and Kabalistic interests, and irrespective as to whether we agree with his conclusions, a book well worth adding.