Practical Kabbalah (Heb: קבלה מעשית Kabbalah Ma'asit) in historical Judaism, is a branch of the Jewish mystical tradition that concerns the use of magic. It was considered permitted White Magic by its practitioners, reserved for the elite, who could separate its spiritual source from Kelipot realms of evil if performed in holiness and purity. The concern of overstepping Judaism's strong prohibitions of impure magic ensured it remained a minor tradition in Jewish history. Its teachings include the use of Divine and angelic names for amulets and incantations. Kabbalah Ma'asit is mentioned in historical texts, but most Kabbalists have taught that the use of it is forbidden. It is contrasted with the mainstream tradition in Kabbalah of Kabbalah Iyunit ("Contemplative Kabbalah"), that seeks to explain the nature of God and the nature of existence through theological study and meditative techniques.
According to Gershom Scholem, many of the teachings of practical Kabbalah predate and are independent of the theoretical Kabbalah which is usually associated with the term:Historically speaking, a large part of the contents of practical Kabbalah predate those of the speculative Kabbalah and are not dependent on them. In effect, what came to be considered practical Kabbalah constituted an agglomeration of all the magical practices that developed in Judaism from the Talmudic period down through the Middle Ages. The doctrine of the Sefirot hardly ever played a decisive role in these practices..."
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... There are two differentiated streams in Kabbalah, that leading Kabbalists separated over concerns of illegitimate use of Practical Kabbalah Kabbalah Iyunit, "Contemplative Kabbalah" (Theosophical-Meditative ... Without this, he said, Practical Kabbalah is very damaging ... Yitzchak Ginsburgh describes the connection of Jewish amulets to Practical Kabbalah Amulets are on the border between Practical Kabbalah and an external manifestation of Kabbalah ...
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“No delusion is greater than the notion that method and industry can make up for lack of mother-wit, either in science or in practical life.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley (182595)