Yoel David Bakst
Rabbi Yoel David Bakst is a teaching rabbi and scholar of the Kabbalah who, while living in Jerusalem for 20 years, studied and taught in Orthodox yeshivot.
Raised in a Southern California Conservative Jewish home, Joel became a ba'al teshuva (newly religious) at the age of 20 bringing full circle his lineage from a long line of Rabbis. Both his grandfather and uncle were Orthodox rabbis, his great grandfather was chief rabbi of St. Louis, MO and his great, great grandparents made aliya to Eretz Yisrael and are buried on the Mt. of Olives. He is the 8th generation of the Rabbi Eliyahu, the famed Gaon of Vilna, whose unique teachings in Kabbalah, have been a focus of Joel's esoteric studies.
Joel's spiritual search through comparative religions led him to Israel in 1971 where, upon enrolling in a traditional Eastern European style yeshiva, he became part of the original Ba'al Teshuva movement, the initial great wave of assimilated Jews returning to rabbinical Judaism. For 10 years he studied Talmud, Halacha (Jewish Law) and mussar (Jewish Ethics). During the next 10 years, while continuing his Talmudic studies, he also began a search into Hassidic and mystical literature.
He then studied under Sephardic kabbalists along with Ashkenazic teachers and colleagues. Uncommonly, Joel has had the honor of having immersed in all four of the great rivers of Kabbalah that flow from the holy Ari (Lurianic Kabbalah): 1) R. Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov (the Besht), 2) R. Shalom Sharabi (the Rashash), 3) R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (the Ramchal), and 4) R. Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, the Gaon of Vilna (the Gra).
In 1984 he received rabbinical ordination and continued on a path of intense Torah study and practice as well as teaching both men and women. He has lectured and given workshops in Israel, the United States and India. Joel is the author of numerous works on rabbinical methodology, esoteric Judaism, the prophetic confluence of Kabbalah with the new sciences and the messianic role of the maps and models pouring forth from modern technology. A guiding light for Joel's stimulating approach to Torah teaching is stressed by the Gaon of Vilna, "There can never be a contradiction between the esoteric (sode) and the exoteric (pshat)".
Concurrent with his traditional yeshiva training, Joel had always taken a deep interest in the Torah's interface with world religions and Noachides. He has done extensive research into the Talmudic, Midrashic and medieval rabbinical sources concerning Noachides, Christianity and the "Seventy Nations". This investigation includes many obscure and little known Kabbalistic teachings about Yeshu HaNotzri, the role of Christianity and Islam as well as the phenomenon of the role of Oriental religions in our "Final Generation" during the present period of the End Days. "In the Torah world it has always been known that the non-Jew can truly only understand his true essence and mission from an authentic Jewish perspective. As we are currently accelerating toward the Edge of Time the Torah and her ancient sages are beginning to reveal that a key to the mystery of Jewish existence is also to be found in the eternal mystery of Bnai Noach".
Joel currently teaches in his small yeshiva in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he has also been instructing a dedicated group of Bnai Noach for the past 3 years. Along with performing Jewish weddings he also offers nationwide unique "Biblical/Kabbalistic/Noachide" wedding ceremonies to sincere gentile couples.