Many well-known celebrities have popularized a new age, pop-culture distortion of kabbalah. It borrows the language of kabbalah, but is far from any authentic Jewish tradition.
So what is kabbalah?
Kabbalah comes from the Hebrew root kuf-beit-lamed, and literally means to receive or accept. The term kabbalah refers to Jewish esoteric teachings, which were taught primarily during the medieval period.
Generally, scholars believe there are four ways to study Torah. The first is called pshat, examining the surface level of the text. The second is called remez, looking at allegories and the like within the text. The third is drash, reading rabbinic or midrashic interpretations concurrently with the text. And the final is sod, reading Torah for its hidden mystical secrets. Kabbalah is the name for the study of the inner secrets of the Torah.
Because the inner secrets of the Torah are far too difficult for the average person to understand, people were traditionally not taught kabbalah until the age of 40, when they had completed their studies of Torah and Talmud.
Kabbalah remains one of the most misunderstood parts of Judaism. Most books you find in secular bookstores with headings like “practical kabbalah” are inauthentic and cannot be taken as truth.