Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel, 14 May 2010
Curiously, many of its rituals and symbolism draw its roots from the Kabbalah. In the Kabbalah, the interest in a knowledge of sounds, written letters, and words was intensified. Each sign was given a magical value that had a religious meaning and a numerical relationship. For example, the Hebrew letter alef became the symbol of mankind and the abstract principle of material objects.
Most importantly, Freemasonry taught that they are building a spiritual temple in heaven. Each member regardless of his religion must fashion himself into a perfect living stone to fit into the spiritual temple of God. Indeed, this idea bears considerable similarity to the Tikkun Olam “Repairing the world” which the Kabbalists stress, is every human being’s duty. This concept is referred to as the “Common Gavel.” The common gavel serves as a metaphor for the breaking off the rough and superfluous parts of the stone, so as to be fit for the Supreme Architect’s use. Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting their hearts and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life: thereby fitting the Mason’s minds as living stones for that spiritual building. The Mason thus, makes himself fit for heaven by bettering himself through eliminating unwanted qualities. This spiritual lesson holds true for any Mason, regardless of his god or religious persuasion. The Kabbalists also refer to this same process as “etcafiyah” – bending the material impulses to the service of the Divine.