The Kabbalistic Secrets of Kissing

“And please do not forget to let people know what the Ba’al Shem Tov said about the reason that Mashiach’s coming is delayed”

said R’ Zalman to us. The year was 2005. My life partner, Dawn Cherie, and I had just decided to open “KabaLove”, the school of love in Kabbalah (www.kabalove.org) and came to our rabbi’s house in Boulder Colorado to ask for his blessing. 

What he meant is to this segment from “Toldot Ya’akov Yosef”, the first book to bring the mystical teachings of Rabbi Israel Ba’al Shem Tov (18th century, the Ukraine) who later will be considered in history as the founder of the Hasidic movement. His disciple, Rabbi Ya’akov Yosef from Polna’a writes there:

I have received the teaching from my master the Ba’al Shem Tov, what he himself was told from the heavens, the reason for the late coming of Mashiach, because people do not take long enough time in Ahava Rabba (Great Love) in the secret of kissing before intercourse, to arose the desire of the female so she will orgasm first 

Toldot Ya’akov Yosef, Parashat Va’era

The orthodox way of understanding this statement is to say that the Ba’al Shem tov did not speak about human love making at all. He meant to say that people do not take long enough time in prayer, not in bed. He spoke about the blessings that are called Ahava Rabba, that are a part of the morning prayers. Since in Kabbala prayer itself is a process of love making between the feminine and masculine aspects of the divine, the silent prayer is the secret of divine intercourse (Zivug haYesodot) while all the blessings that come prior to that are in the secret of “kissing”, which is the union of the two on the level of consciousness itself (Zivug Chochma and Binah). Reb Zalman Schakter Shalomi was of course aware of all that, but he was also aware that it means nothing if people follow these instructions only in prayer time yet are lame to fulfil it in bed as well. In fact, he was always making jokes of kabbalists who forgot that this life, in the flesh, IS sacred, not only the words and letters in the books.

Kissing is the exchange of spirits. There is a wonderful teaching in the Zohar (Spain, 13th century) that speaks about the secrets of kissing:

A kiss of Love is spreading to the four directions, and the four directions are being connected by it as One.

Zohar V.2 146b

In a kiss, claims the Zohar, the spirits of the lovers are uniting through the breath that they are sharing together. There are two spirits in the male, which are masculine and feminine, and two spirits in the female, which are as well feminine and masculine. Those four spirits unite through the common breath of the kissing lovers and they are sacrificing the four directions. The Zohar continue to talk about the One spirit that is constructed of those four, which is the spirit of Mashiach, that arises and comes to life by the lovers kiss. 

In my experience as a lover and as a teacher in the realms of sacred sexuality, when real intimacy is reached there is an inner feeling of redemption that bursts out in the heart. We move from the world of separation, where our deep heart is suffering constantly,  to the world of divine unity, where a deep aspect of our soul is feeling seen and liberated. That IS the meaning of the spirit of Mashiach in a kiss, not a mashies as “someone” but as a level of awareness that shines on us while we reach the place that is home for our deep souls. For this to happen we need to “take our time in the secret of kissing” and fall deeper and deeper into union, beyond our separate egos. It is not enough to just kiss and move on to sex, as if we are rushing somewhere. 

Rushing towards an aim is a masculine quality. It is supported biologically by the main masculine hormone — Testosterone. We all have feminine and masculine qualities and hormones within us, in different (and specifically personally perfect balances). Our feminine side is not rushing towards an aim like our masculine. It is more in the being and less in the doing: “Because being is in the woman” (Sefer Hapli’ah, Europe, 14th century). Therefore when we take our time to connect deeply in the secret of kissing, sharing our breaths, eye gazing, relaxing into each other, the feminine in us feels seen and respected.

In ancient Kabbala the tongue is considered be the genitalia of the moth (Sefer Yetzira) and Rabbi Hayim Vital, the successor of the Ari, writes in the 16th century about the functions of those moth-genitalia in two ways: Connecting our inner masculine and feminine (the upper pallet being our inner masculine — Chochma, while the deep throat being our inner feminine — Binah) as well as penetrating the moth of the other lover, and thus uniting all the four spirits together (Etz Hayim, Gate 39, 9).

What was said to the Ba’al Shem Tov from heavens is that by taking time this way, in Grate Love — Ahava Rabba — the woman can orgasm first, and that will bring the messianic  redemption to the world. I know many women that smile and not when they hear it. yep. Masiach will come when women will come. Makes sense!

From brain science we know today that the amygdala (the part of the brain that constantly scans for potential dangers) needs to deeply relax first for women to be able to orgasm. The secrets of kissing with Great Love are a pathway to that deep intimacy and relaxation of the amygdala.

In another part of the Zohar the four lips of the lovers are seen as four wings that each of the sacred animals of the Merkava has: 

When they commune it is said ‘He shall kiss me from the kisses of his mouth’ (Song of Songs). What are the ‘kisses of his mouth’? His two lips and hers, these are the four wings of the animals… 

Tikunei Zohar p. 25b

When Hanna, the Ba’al Shem tov’s wife, died, it is said that he weeped and said: “With her I had wings and I could fly”. I think now we know why.


* This article was written for the website “My Jewish Learning” and was published there in an edited version. see here

Pele Ohad Ezrahi was ordained as a rabbi by R’ Zalman Schakter Shalomi in 2000. Together with his life partner Dawn Cherie he established www.kabalove.org the school for Love in Kabbala. They both are currently working as lead facilitators of Spiritual Sexual Shamanic work via ISTA — the international School of Temple Arts.