As a young child, in my native Puerto Rico, I lived most of my life under the towering power of the Catholic Church. I attended Mass and took Holy Communion every Sunday. I went to confessions on Saturday evenings, accompanied by my mother and other relatives. Thursdays were devoted to the Twelve Stations of the Cross, which we followed in the steps of Jesus. There would be two or three additional early masses during the week.
The Mass was said in Latin, and it was beautiful. I still miss the Latin Mass, and I feel very strongly that one of the many mistakes made by Vatican II was to eliminate it from the Catholic liturgy. The congregation knew by heart the answers to the officiating priest's prayers, and Latin somehow seemed like a special language used only to speak to God.
There was a special part in the Mass towards the end of the service, when the priest asked the congregation to pray for the conversion of the Jews. Even as a young child, I found this petition to be incongruous. Was't Jesus a Jew? I asked myself. Are we asking him to convert also? Convert from what?
These early questions were to resurface in my mind many years later, together with others of equal importance. They all coalesced when I took my first course in Logic at the University of Puerto Rico. Suddenly, my most intrinsic beliefs were being assailed. Was it possible that a child be conceived by a woman without a father? I wrestled with this question for a whole year. Then I had to make a decision. I had to choose between blind faith and logic. Logic won in the end. I cried for many months over this choice, but I could not believe that God would circumvent his own laws.
My rejection of the Virgin birth was the first step in my rationalization of the life of Jesus. I felt I had to learn more. Around this time—some thirty years ago—I discovered the Kabbalah. It was like finding hidden treasure. It answered many of the questions that had haunted me for years. Much of what I learned was compiled in my first book on Kabbalah, Kabbalah for the Modern World.
But Kabbalah is a hard master. It will not let go. Once you enter through those lofty portals, you are hooked for life. Kabbalah is such an infinite source of knowledge; no one can ever hope to master it completely. Each individual will receive (Kabbalah means "to receive") what he or she needs in order to advance in his or her spiritual evolution. No more and no less.
As I continued my study of Kabbalah, I began to receive knowledge and illumination on what is known as the "inner levels." This is knowledge that is not found in any book. It just flows from the depth of your unconscious.
One day I realized that the Pater Noster was a Kabbalistic prayer. The last part of this prayer, known as the doxology, "For thyne is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory," is clearly a reference to the seventh, eighth, and tenth spheres of the Tree of Life, the heart of the Kabbalah. The Kingdom is Malkuth, The Power is Netzach, and the Glory is Hod. Whoever constructed this prayer was a consummate Kabbalist. And the one who constructed it was Jesus.
This realization made me turn to the Gospels to search for more clues on Jesus' Kabbalistic teachings. I discovered he taught often at the local synagogues, which meant that he was an ordained rabbi. But rabbis at that time had to be married. Was Jesus a married man?
I spent a great deal of time reading the New and the Old Testaments, where I found even more enlightening clues. Isaiah referred to a "man of sorrows despised by all, who carried on his shoulders the sins of many." Was this Jesus? It seemed so.
I began to study Jesus' teachings closely. They were all clearly founded on Kabbalistic principles. He referred to the Five Virgins, clearly a reference to the Kabbalistic Partzufim. He spoke of himself as the Bridegroom, a reference to Zauir Anpin, who dwells in Tiphareth, the sphere of the Tree of Life whose image is that of a crucified king. All these teachings were given in parables, understood only by those "who had ears to hear."
But Jesus also claimed to be the Messiah, and this traditional redeemer of the Jews had to fulfill many important conditions to be accepted by the Jewish people of the time. I realized that the image of Jesus presented by the Christian Churches was in direct contradiction of the traditional Jewish requirements. According to Christianity, Jesus was a celibate, born through a Virgin birth. But the Messiah had to be married and had to father at least one son. He had to descend in direct line from David, through his father. The Christian Churches' depiction of Jesus made it impossible for him to be the Messiah, Jesus' most important claim. The name "Christ" itself means Messiah. The Christian Churches, by virtue of their assertion that he was never married and never had a physical father, denied Jesus the right to be called the Christ.
At this point in my research, I came across a translation of the Sepher Yetzirah, the oldest of the Kabbalistic texts. The translation was made by Aryeh Kaplan, one of the most enlightened Jewish Kabbalists of the Twentieth Century. In the introduction to the Sepher Yetzirah, Kaplan refers to a Rabbi Yehoshua (Jesus' name in Hebrew), who was one of the leading Kabbalistic sages of the first century and who lived in the Jerusalem area at the time of Jesus. Kaplan refers to him as Rabbi Yehoshua Chanayna, who gave many important Kabbalistic teachings to Rabbi Akiba. One of Rabbi Akiba's disciples was Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, the most important and illuminating of the texts on the Kabbalah. Was Jesus Rabbi Yehoshua Chanayna? It most certainly seemed so.
With this last piece of evidence, however controversial, I felt the pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place. I knew now that not only was Jesus a Kabbalist, but one of the wisest of his time. The entire edifice of the Kabbalah came into focus when viewed alongside his teachings. Here was one of the master Kabbalists of all times, surrendering the secrets of the ages to the common people through simple but illuminating metaphors.
That was how The Keys of the Kingdom came to be written. It is Kabbalah through the words of Jesus. It is a new interpretation of his teachings in the light of the most profound and exalted cosmological system of all times. The book guides the reader through Jesus' tumultuous life and shows how his claim to Messiahship is not only tenable, but true. Each of the "keys" unlocks a new mystery. And the "Ultimate Key," sealed, and presented at the end of the book, is both a revelation and a tribute to the extraordinary wisdom and preternatural love of Jesus Christ.