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KABBALAH (Hebrew : קַבָּלָה‎, literally "parallel/corresponding," or "received tradition" ) is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought that originated in Judaism. A traditional Kabbalist in Judaism
Judaism
is called a _Mekubbal_ (מְקוּבָּל‎).

Kabbalah's definition varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it, from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its later Christian , New Age , and Occultist/western esoteric syncretic adaptations. Kabbalah
Kabbalah
is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal, and mysterious Ein Sof (infinity) and the mortal and finite universe (God's creation). While it is heavily used by some denominations, it is not a religious denomination in itself. It forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Kabbalah
Kabbalah
seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of the concepts and thereby attain spiritual realisation.

Kabbalah
Kabbalah
originally developed within the realm of Jewish tradition , and kabbalists often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings. These teachings are held by followers in Judaism
Judaism
to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature and their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.

Traditional practitioners believe its earliest origins pre-date world religions, forming the primordial blueprint for Creation's philosophies, religions, sciences, arts, and political systems. Historically, Kabbalah
Kabbalah
emerged, after earlier forms of Jewish mysticism , in 12th- to 13th-century Southern France and Spain, becoming reinterpreted in the Jewish mystical renaissance of 16th-century Ottoman Palestine . Safed
Safed
Rabbi
Rabbi
Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
is considered the father of contemporary Kabbalah. It was popularised in the form of Hasidic Judaism from the 18th century onwards. Twentieth-century interest in Kabbalah
Kabbalah
has inspired cross-denominational Jewish renewal and contributed to wider non-Jewish contemporary spirituality, as well as engaging its flourishing emergence and historical re-emphasis through newly established academic investigation.

CONTENTS

* 1 Traditions

* 1.1 Jewish and non-Jewish Kabbalah
Kabbalah

* 2 History
History
of Jewish mysticism

* 2.1 Origins

* 2.1.1 Terms * 2.1.2 Mystic elements of the Torah
Torah

* 2.2 Talmudic era * 2.3 Pre-Kabbalistic schools * 2.4 Medieval emergence of the Kabbalah
Kabbalah

* 2.5 Early modern era: Lurianic Kabbalah

* 2.5.1 Ban on studying Kabbalah
Kabbalah
* 2.5.2 Sefardi and Mizrahi
Mizrahi
* 2.5.3 _Maharal_ * 2.5.4 Sabbatian mysticism * 2.5.5 Frankism * 2.5.6 Modern-era traditional Kabbalah
Kabbalah
* 2.5.7 Hasidic Judaism * 2.5.8 20th-century influence

* 3 Concepts

* 3.1 Concealed and revealed God
God

* 3.2 Sephirot
Sephirot

* 3.2.1 Ten Sephirot
Sephirot
as process of Creation * 3.2.2 Ten Sephirot
Sephirot
as process of ethics

* 3.3 Divine Feminine * 3.4 Descending spiritual Worlds * 3.5 Origin of evil * 3.6 Role of Man * 3.7 Levels of the soul * 3.8 Reincarnation * 3.9 Tzimtzum, Shevirah and Tikkun * 3.10 Linguistic mysticism of Hebrew

* 4 Primary texts

* 5 Scholarship

* 5.1 Claims for authority

* 6 Criticism

* 6.1 Dualistic cosmology * 6.2 Distinction between Jews
Jews
and non- Jews
Jews
* 6.3 Medieval views * 6.4 Orthodox Judaism
Judaism
* 6.5 Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism
Judaism

* 7 Contemporary study

* 7.1 Universalist Jewish organisations * 7.2 Neo-Hasidic * 7.3 Hasidic * 7.4 Rav Kook

* 8 See also * 9 Notes * 10 References * 11 External links

TRADITIONS

According to the Zohar
Zohar
, a foundational text for kabbalistic thought, Torah study can proceed along four levels of interpretation (exegesis ). These four levels are called _pardes _ from their initial letters (PRDS Hebrew: פרדס‎‎, orchard).

* _ Peshat _ (Hebrew: פשט‎‎ lit. "simple"): the direct interpretations of meaning. * _Remez_ (Hebrew: רמז‎‎ lit. "hint"): the allegoric meanings (through allusion ). * _Derash_ (Hebrew: דרש‎‎ from Heb. _darash_: "inquire" or "seek"): midrashic (Rabbinic) meanings, often with imaginative comparisons with similar words or verses. * _Sod_ (Hebrew: סוד‎‎ lit. "secret" or "mystery"): the inner, esoteric (metaphysical ) meanings, expressed in kabbalah.

Kabbalah
Kabbalah
is considered by its followers as a necessary part of the study of Torah
Torah
– the study of Torah
Torah
(the _ Tanakh _ and Rabbinic literature ) being an inherent duty of observant Jews.

Modern academic-historical study of Jewish mysticism reserves the term "kabbalah" to designate the particular, distinctive doctrines that textually emerged fully expressed in the Middle Ages, as distinct from the earlier Merkabah mystical concepts and methods. According to this descriptive categorisation, both versions of Kabbalistic theory, the medieval-Zoharic and the early-modern Lurianic kabbalah together comprise the theosophical tradition in Kabbalah, while the meditative-ecstatic Kabbalah
Kabbalah
incorporates a parallel inter-related Medieval tradition. A third tradition, related but more shunned, involves the magical aims of Practical Kabbalah . Moshe Idel , for example, writes that these 3 basic models can be discerned operating and competing throughout the whole history of Jewish mysticism, beyond the particular Kabbalistic background of the Middle Ages. They can be readily distinguished by their basic intent with respect to God:

* The Theosophical tradition of _Theoretical Kabbalah_ (the main focus of the Zohar
Zohar
and Luria) seeks to understand and describe the divine realm. As an alternative to rationalist Jewish philosophy, particularly Maimonides' Aristotelianism, this speculation became the central component of Kabbalah * The Ecstatic tradition of _Meditative Kabbalah_ (exemplified by Abulafia and Isaac
Isaac
of Acre ) strives to achieve a mystical union with God. Abraham
Abraham
Abulafia's "Prophetic Kabbalah" was the supreme example of this, though marginal in Kabbalistic development, and his alternative to the program of theosophical Kabbalah * The Magico-theurgical tradition of _Practical Kabbalah_ (in often unpublished manuscripts) endeavours to alter both the Divine realms and the World. While some interpretations of prayer see its role as manipulating heavenly forces, Practical Kabbalah properly involved white-magical acts, and was censored by kabbalists for only those completely pure of intent. Consequently, it formed a separate minor tradition shunned from Kabbalah. Practical Kabbalah was prohibited by the Arizal until the Temple in Jerusalem
Jerusalem
is rebuilt and the required state of ritual purity is attainable. :31

According to traditional belief, early kabbalistic knowledge was transmitted orally by the Patriarchs, prophets , and sages (_hakhamim_ in Hebrew), eventually to be "interwoven" into Jewish religious writings and culture. According to this view, early kabbalah was, in around the 10th century BCE, an open knowledge practiced by over a million people in ancient Israel. Foreign conquests drove the Jewish spiritual leadership of the time (the Sanhedrin ) to hide the knowledge and make it secret, fearing that it might be misused if it fell into the wrong hands.

It is hard to clarify with any degree of certainty the exact concepts within kabbalah. There are several different schools of thought with very different outlooks; however, all are accepted as correct. Modern halakhic authorities have tried to narrow the scope and diversity within kabbalah, by restricting study to certain texts, notably Zohar and the teachings of Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
as passed down through Hayyim ben Joseph Vital . However, even this qualification does little to limit the scope of understanding and expression, as included in those works are commentaries on Abulafian writings, _Sefer Yetzirah_, Albotonian writings, and the _Berit Menuhah_, which is known to the kabbalistic elect and which, as described more recently by Gershom Scholem , combined ecstatic with theosophical mysticism. It is therefore important to bear in mind when discussing things such as the _sephirot _ and their interactions that one is dealing with highly abstract concepts that at best can only be understood intuitively.

JEWISH AND NON-JEWISH KABBALAH

_ Latin translation of Gikatilla\'s Shaarei Ora_

From the Renaissance
Renaissance
onwards Jewish Kabbalah
Kabbalah
texts entered non-Jewish culture, where they were studied and translated by Christian Hebraists and Hermetic occultists. Syncretic traditions of Christian Kabbalah and Hermetic Qabalah developed independently of Jewish Kabbalah, reading the Jewish texts as universal ancient wisdom. Both adapted the Jewish concepts freely from their Judaic understanding, to merge with other theologies, religious traditions and magical associations. With the decline of Christian Cabala in the Age of Reason , Hermetic Qabalah continued as a central underground tradition in Western esotericism . Through these non-Jewish associations with magic, alchemy and divination, Kabbalah
Kabbalah
acquired some popular occult connotations forbidden within Judaism, where Jewish theurgic Practical Kabbalah
Kabbalah
was a minor, permitted tradition restricted for a few elite. Today, many publications on Kabbalah
Kabbalah
belong to the non-Jewish New Age and occult traditions of Cabala, rather than giving an accurate picture of Judaic Kabbalah. Instead, academic and traditional publications now translate and study Judaic Kabbalah
Kabbalah
for wide readership.

HISTORY OF JEWISH MYSTICISM

JEWISH MYSTICISM

Forms

Prophets 800–500 BCE

Apocalyptic literature 300–100 BCE

Pardes c. 1 – 130s CE

Merkabah and Hekhalot 100 BCE – 1000 CE

Sefer Yetzirah 200–600 CE

Chassidei Ashkenaz c. 1150–1250 CE

* Medieval Kabbalah * Meditative -Prophetic * Practical Kabbalah

c. 1175–1570 CE

* Safed
Safed
School * Cordoverian

1500s CE

Lurianic Kabbalah 1570 CE–today

Sabbatean sects 1665–c. 1800 CE

Hasidism 1730s CE–today

Academic study c. 1920s–today

* v * t * e

ORIGINS

According to the traditional understanding, Kabbalah
Kabbalah
dates from Eden. It came down from a remote past as a revelation to elect Tzadikim (righteous people), and, for the most part, was preserved only by a privileged few. Talmudic Judaism
Judaism
records its view of the proper protocol for teaching this wisdom, as well as many of its concepts, in the _ Talmud
Talmud
_, Tractate _ Hagigah _, 11b-13a, "One should not teach ... the Act of Creation in pairs, nor the Act of the Chariot to an individual, unless he is wise and can understand the implications himself etc."

Contemporary scholarship suggests that various schools of Jewish esotericism arose at different periods of Jewish history, each reflecting not only prior forms of mysticism , but also the intellectual and cultural milieu of that historical period. Answers to questions of transmission, lineage, influence, and innovation vary greatly and cannot be easily summarised.

Terms

Originally, Kabbalistic knowledge was believed to be an integral part of the Oral Torah
Torah
, given by God
God
to Moses
Moses
on Mount Sinai around the 13th century BCE according to its followers; although some believe that Kabbalah
Kabbalah
began with Adam
Adam
.

For a few centuries the esoteric knowledge was referred to by its aspect practice—meditation Hitbonenut (Hebrew : התבוננות‎‎), Rebbe
Rebbe
Nachman of Breslov 's Hitbodedut (Hebrew : התבודדות‎‎), translated as "being alone" or "isolating oneself", or by a different term describing the actual, desired goal of the practice—prophecy ("_NeVu'a_" Hebrew : נבואה‎‎).

During the 5th century BCE, when the works of the Tanakh were edited and canonised and the secret knowledge encrypted within the various writings and scrolls ("Megilot"), the knowledge was referred to as _Ma'aseh Merkavah_ (Hebrew : מעשה מרכבה‎‎) and _Ma'aseh B'reshit_ (Hebrew : מעשה בראשית‎‎), respectively "the act of the Chariot" and "the act of Creation". Merkabah mysticism alluded to the encrypted knowledge within the book of the prophet Ezekiel
Ezekiel
describing his vision of the "Divine Chariot". B'reshit mysticism referred to the first chapter of Genesis (Hebrew : בראשית‎‎) in the Torah
Torah
that is believed to contain secrets of the creation of the universe and forces of nature. These terms are also mentioned in the second chapter of the Talmudic tractate _Hagigah_.

Mystic Elements Of The Torah

Ezekiel
Ezekiel
and Isaiah
Isaiah
had prophetic visions of the angelic Chariot and Divine Throne.

When read by later generations of Kabbalists, the Torah's description of the creation in the Book of Genesis reveals mysteries about God himself, the true nature of Adam and Eve , the Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life
Tree of Life
, as well as the interaction of these supernatural entities with the Serpent which leads to disaster when they eat the forbidden fruit , as recorded in Genesis 3.

The Bible provides ample additional material for mythic and mystical speculation. The prophet Ezekiel's visions in particular attracted much mystical speculation, as did Isaiah's Temple vision—_Isaiah_, Ch.6. Jacob
Jacob
's vision of the ladder to heaven provided another example of esoteric experience. Moses' encounters with the Burning bush and God
God
on Mount Sinai are evidence of mystical events in the Torah
Torah
that form the origin of Jewish mystical beliefs.

The 72 letter name of God
God
which is used in Jewish mysticism for meditation purposes is derived from the Hebrew verbal utterance Moses spoke in the presence of an angel, while the Sea of Reeds parted, allowing the Hebrews to escape their approaching attackers. The miracle of the Exodus, which led to Moses
Moses
receiving the Ten Commandments and the Jewish Orthodox view of the acceptance of the Torah
Torah
at Mount Sinai, preceded the creation of the first Jewish nation approximately three hundred years before King Saul .

TALMUDIC ERA

Grave of Rabbi
Rabbi
Akiva in Tiberias
Tiberias
. He features in Hekhalot mystical literature, and as one of the four who entered the Pardes The grave of Shimon bar Yochai in Meron before 1899. A Talmudic Tanna , he is the mystical teacher in the central Kabbalistic work, the Zohar
Zohar

In early rabbinic Judaism
Judaism
(the early centuries of the 1st millennium CE), the terms _Ma'aseh Bereshit_ ("Works of Creation") and _Ma'aseh Merkabah_ ("Works of the Divine Throne/Chariot") clearly indicate the Midrashic nature of these speculations; they are really based upon Genesis 1 and Ezekiel
Ezekiel
1:4–28, while the names _Sitrei Torah_ (Hidden aspects of the Torah) ( Talmud
Talmud
_Hag._ 13a) and _Razei Torah_ (Torah secrets) (_Ab._ vi. 1) indicate their character as secret lore. An additional term also expanded Jewish esoteric knowledge, namely _Chochmah Nistara_ (Hidden wisdom).

Talmudic doctrine forbade the public teaching of esoteric doctrines and warned of their dangers. In the Mishnah
Mishnah
( Hagigah 2:1), rabbis were warned to teach the mystical creation doctrines only to one student at a time. To highlight the danger, in one Jewish aggadic ("legendary") anecdote, four prominent rabbis of the Mishnaic period (1st century CE) are said to have visited the Orchard (that is, Paradise, _pardes_, Hebrew: פרדס lit., _orchard_):

Four men entered _pardes_—Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, _Acher_ (Elisha ben Abuyah), and Akiba. Ben Azzai looked and died; Ben Zoma looked and went mad; Acher destroyed the plants; Akiba entered in peace and departed in peace.

In notable readings of this legend, only Rabbi
Rabbi
Akiba was fit to handle the study of mystical doctrines. The _ Tosafot _, medieval commentaries on the Talmud, say that the four sages "did not go up literally, but it appeared to them as if they went up". On the other hand, Rabbi
Rabbi
Louis Ginzberg , writes in the _ Jewish Encyclopedia
Jewish Encyclopedia
_ (1901–1906) that the journey to paradise "is to be taken literally and not allegorically".

Maimonides
Maimonides
interprets _pardes_ as physics and not mysticism.

PRE-KABBALISTIC SCHOOLS

The mystical methods and doctrines of Hekhalot (Heavenly "Chambers") and Merkabah (Divine "Chariot") texts, named by modern scholars from these repeated motifs, lasted from the 1st century BCE through to the 10th century, before giving way to the documented manuscript emergence of Kabbalah. Initiates were said to "descend the chariot", possibly a reference to internal introspection on the Heavenly journey through the spiritual realms. The ultimate aim was to arrive before the transcendent awe, rather than nearness, of the Divine. From the 8th to 11th centuries, the Hekhalot texts, and the proto-Kabbalistic early _Sefer Yetzirah_ ("Book of Creation") made their way into European Jewish circles.

Another, separate influential mystical movement, shortly before the arrival there of Kabbalistic theory, was the " Chassidei Ashkenaz " (חסידי אשכנז) or Medieval German Pietists from 1150 to 1250. This ethical-ascetic movement arose mostly among a single scholarly family, the Kalonymus family of the French and German Rhineland.

MEDIEVAL EMERGENCE OF THE KABBALAH

The 13th-century eminence of Nachmanides , a classic Rabbinic figure, gave Kabbalah
Kabbalah
mainstream acceptance through his Torah commentary

Modern scholars have identified several mystical brotherhoods that functioned in Europe starting in the 12th century. Some, such as the "Iyyun Circle" and the "Unique Cherub Circle", were truly esoteric, remaining largely anonymous.

There were certain Rishonim ("Elder Sages") of exoteric Judaism
Judaism
who are known to have been experts in Kabbalah. One of the best known is Nahmanides (the _Ramban_) (1194–1270) whose commentary on the Torah is considered to be based on Kabbalistic knowledge. Bahya ben Asher (the _Rabbeinu Behaye_) (died 1340) also combined Torah
Torah
commentary and Kabbalah. Another was Isaac the Blind (1160–1235), the teacher of Nahmanides, who is widely argued to have written the first work of classic Kabbalah, the _ Bahir
Bahir
_ (Book of "Brightness").

Many Orthodox Jews
Jews
reject the idea that Kabbalah
Kabbalah
underwent significant historical development or change such as has been proposed above. After the composition known as the Zohar
Zohar
was presented to the public in the 13th century, the term "Kabbalah" began to refer more specifically to teachings derived from, or related to, the _Zohar_. At an even later time, the term began to generally be applied to Zoharic teachings as elaborated upon by Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
Arizal. Historians generally date the start of Kabbalah
Kabbalah
as a major influence in Jewish thought and practice with the publication of the Zohar
Zohar
and climaxing with the spread of the Arizal's teachings. The majority of Haredi
Haredi
Jews accept the Zohar
Zohar
as the representative of the _Ma'aseh Merkavah_ and _Ma'aseh B'reshit_ that are referred to in Talmudic texts.

EARLY MODERN ERA: LURIANIC KABBALAH

The leading scholars in 16th-century Safed
Safed
invigorated mainstream Judaism
Judaism
through new legal, liturgical, exegetical and Lurianic-mythological developments

Following the upheavals and dislocations in the Jewish world as a result of anti- Judaism
Judaism
during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, and the national trauma of the expulsion from Spain in 1492, closing the Spanish Jewish flowering, Jews
Jews
began to search for signs of when the long-awaited Jewish Messiah
Jewish Messiah
would come to comfort them in their painful exiles. In the 16th century, the community of Safed
Safed
in the Galilee
Galilee
became the centre of Jewish mystical, exegetical, legal and liturgical developments. The Safed
Safed
mystics responded to the Spanish expulsion by turning Kabbalistic doctrine and practice towards a messianic focus. Moses
Moses
Cordovero and his school popularized the teachings of the Zohar which had until then been only a restricted work. Cordovero's comprehensive works achieved the systemisation of preceding Kabbalah. The author of the _ Shulkhan Arukh _ (the normative Jewish "Code of Law"), Rabbi
Rabbi
Yosef Karo (1488–1575), was also a scholar of Kabbalah who kept a personal mystical diary. Moshe Alshich wrote a mystical commentary on the Torah, and Shlomo Alkabetz wrote Kabbalistic commentaries and poems.

The messianism of the Safed
Safed
mystics culminated in Kabbalah
Kabbalah
receiving its biggest transformation in the Jewish world with the explication of its new interpretation from Rabbi
Rabbi
Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
(1534–1572), by his disciples Hayim Vital and Israel
Israel
Sarug . Both transcribed Luria's teachings (in variant forms) gaining them widespread popularity, Sarug taking Lurianic Kabbalah to Europe, Vital authoring the latterly canonical version. Luria's teachings came to rival the influence of the Zohar
Zohar
and Luria stands, alongside Moses
Moses
de Leon, as the most influential mystic in Jewish history.

Ban On Studying Kabbalah

"I have seen it written that the prohibition from Above to refrain from open study in the wisdom of truth was only for a limited period, until the end of 1490, but from then on the prohibition has been lifted and permission was granted to study the Zohar. Since 1540 it has been a great Mitzva (commandment) for the masses to study in public, old and young... and that is because the Messiah will come because of that and not because of any other reason. Therefore, we must not be negligent." Rabbi
Rabbi
Abraham
Abraham
Ben Mordechai Azulai, Introduction to the book, Ohr HaChama

The ban on studying Kabbalah
Kabbalah
was lifted by the efforts of the 16th-century kabbalist Rabbi
Rabbi
Avraham Azulai (1570–1643).

"I have found it written that all that has been decreed Above forbidding open involvement in the Wisdom of Truth was the limited time period until the year 5,250 (1490 C.E.). From then on after is called the "Last Generation", and what was forbidden is allowed. And permission is granted to occupy ourselves in the Zohar. And from the year 5,300 (1540 C.E.) it is most desirable that the masses both those great and small , should occupy themselves , as it says in the Raya M'hemna . And because in this merit King Mashiach will come in the future—and not in any other merit—it is not proper to be discouraged ."

The question, however, is whether the ban ever existed in the first place. Concerning the above quote by Avraham Azulai, it has found many versions in English, another is this

"From the year 1540 and onward, the basic levels of Kabbalah
Kabbalah
must be taught publicly to everyone, young and old. Only through Kabbalah
Kabbalah
will we forever eliminate war, destruction, and man's inhumanity to his fellow man."

The lines concerning the year 1490 are also missing from the Hebrew edition of _Hesed L'Avraham_, the source work that both of these quote from. Furthermore, by Azulai's view the ban was lifted thirty years before his birth, a time that would have corresponded with Haim Vital's publication of the teaching of Isaac
Isaac
Luria. Moshe Isserles understood there to be only a minor restriction, in his words, "One's belly must be full of meat and wine, discerning between the prohibited and the permitted." He is supported by the Bier Hetiv, the Pithei Teshuva as well as the Vilna Gaon . The Vilna Gaon says, "There was never any ban or enactment restricting the study of the wisdom of Kabbalah. Any who says there is has never studied Kabbalah, has never seen PaRDeS, and speaks as an ignoramus."

Sefardi And Mizrahi

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Synagogue
Synagogue
Beit El Jerusalem. Oriental Judaism
Judaism
has its own chain of Kabbalah
Kabbalah

The Kabbalah
Kabbalah
of the Sefardi (Iberian Peninsula) and Mizrahi
Mizrahi
(Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus) Torah
Torah
scholars has a long history. Kabbalah
Kabbalah
in various forms was widely studied, commented upon, and expanded by North African, Turkish, Yemenite, and Asian scholars from the 16th century onward. It flourished among Sefardic Jews
Jews
in Tzfat (Safed), Israel
Israel
even before the arrival of Isaac
Isaac
Luria. Yosef Karo, author of the _Shulchan Arukh_ was part of the Tzfat school of Kabbalah. Shlomo Alkabetz, author of the hymn _ Lekhah Dodi _, taught there.

His disciple Moses
Moses
ben Jacob
Jacob
Cordovero (or Cordoeiro) authored _ Pardes Rimonim _, an organised, exhaustive compilation of kabbalistic teachings on a variety of subjects up to that point. Cordovero headed the academy of Tzfat until his death, when Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
rose to prominence. Rabbi
Rabbi
Moshe's disciple Eliyahu De Vidas authored the classic work, _Reishit Chochma_, combining kabbalistic and _mussar_ (moral) teachings. Chaim Vital also studied under Cordovero, but with the arrival of Luria became his main disciple. Vital claimed to be the only one authorised to transmit the Ari's teachings, though other disciples also published books presenting Luria's teachings.

The Oriental Kabbalist tradition continues until today among Sephardi and Mizrachi Hakham sages and study circles. Among leading figures were the Yemenite Shalom Sharabi (1720–1777) of the Beit El Synagogue
Synagogue
, the Jerusalemite Hida (1724–1806), the Baghdad leader Ben Ish Chai
Ben Ish Chai
(1832–1909), and the Abuhatzeira dynasty.

_Maharal_

The 16th-century Maharal of Prague articulated a mystical exegesis in philosophical language

One of the most innovative theologians in early-modern Judaism
Judaism
was Judah Loew ben Bezalel (1525–1609) known as the " Maharal of Prague". Many of his written works survive and are studied for their unusual combination of the mystical and philosophical approaches in Judaism. While conversant in Kabbalistic learning, he expresses Jewish mystical thought in his own individual approach without reference to Kabbalistic terms. The Maharal is most well known in popular culture for the legend of the golem of Prague, associated with him in folklore. However, his thought influenced Hasidism, for example being studied in the introspective Przysucha school. During the 20th century, Isaac
Isaac
Hutner (1906–1980) continued to spread the Maharal's works indirectly through his own teachings and publications within the non-Hasidic yeshiva world.

Sabbatian Mysticism

The spiritual and mystical yearnings of many Jews
Jews
remained frustrated after the death of Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
and his disciples and colleagues. No hope was in sight for many following the devastation and mass killings of the pogroms that followed in the wake of the Chmielnicki Uprising (1648–1654), the largest single massacre of Jews
Jews
until the Holocaust, and it was at this time that a controversial scholar by the name of Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676) captured the hearts and minds of the Jewish masses of that time with the promise of a newly minted messianic Millennialism in the form of his own personage.

His charisma, mystical teachings that included repeated pronunciations of the holy Tetragrammaton
Tetragrammaton
in public, tied to an unstable personality, and with the help of his greatest enthusiast, Nathan of Gaza , convinced the Jewish masses that the Jewish Messiah had finally come. It seemed that the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah had found their "champion" and had triumphed, but this era of Jewish history unravelled when Zevi became an apostate to Judaism
Judaism
by converting to Islam after he was arrested by the Ottoman Sultan and threatened with execution for attempting a plan to conquer the world and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem
Jerusalem
. Unwilling to give up their messianic expectations, a minority of Zvi's Jewish followers converted to Islam along with him.

Many of his followers, known as Sabbatians , continued to worship him in secret, explaining his conversion not as an effort to save his life but to recover the sparks of the holy in each religion, and most leading rabbis were always on guard to root them out. The Dönmeh movement in modern Turkey is a surviving remnant of the Sabbatian schism.

Due to the chaos caused in the Jewish world, the Rabbinic prohibition against studying Kabbalah
Kabbalah
established itself firmly within the Jewish religion. One of the conditions allowing a man to study and engage himself in the Kabbalah
Kabbalah
was to be at least forty years old. This age requirement came about during this period and is not Talmudic in origin but Rabbinic. Many Jews
Jews
are familiar with this ruling, but are not aware of its origins. Moreover, the prohibition is not halakhic in nature. According to Moses
Moses
Cordovero, halakhically, one must be of age twenty to engage in the Kabbalah. Many famous kabbalists, including the ARI, Rabbi
Rabbi
Nachman of Breslov, Yehuda Ashlag, were younger than twenty when they began.

Frankism

The Sabbatian movement was followed by that of the Frankists who were disciples of Jacob
Jacob
Frank (1726–1791) who eventually became an apostate to Judaism
Judaism
by apparently converting to Catholicism . This era of disappointment did not stem the Jewish masses' yearnings for "mystical" leadership.

Modern-era Traditional Kabbalah

Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
, a leading Italian kabbalist, also wrote secular works, which the Haskalah see as the start of modern Hebrew literature The Vilna Gaon , 18th-century leader of Rabbinic opposition to Hasidism - a Kabbalist who opposed Hasidic doctrinal and practical innovations

Rabbi
Rabbi
Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
(1707–1746), based in Italy, was a precocious Talmudic scholar who deduced a need for the public teaching and study of Kabbalah. He established a yeshiva for Kabbalah
Kabbalah
study and actively recruited students. He wrote copious manuscripts in an appealing clear Hebrew style, all of which gained the attention of both admirers and rabbinical critics, who feared another "Shabbetai Zevi" (false messiah) in the making. His rabbinical opponents forced him to close his school, hand over and destroy many of his most precious unpublished kabbalistic writings, and go into exile in the Netherlands. He eventually moved to the Land of Israel
Israel
. Some of his most important works, such as _ Derekh Hashem _, survive and serve as a gateway to the world of Jewish mysticism.

Rabbi
Rabbi
Elijah of Vilna (Vilna Gaon) (1720–1797), based in Lithuania, had his teachings encoded and publicised by his disciples, such as Rabbi
Rabbi
Chaim Volozhin , who (poshumously) published the mystical-ethical work _Nefesh HaChaim _. He staunchly opposed the new Hasidic movement and warned against their public displays of religious fervour inspired by the mystical teachings of their rabbis. Although the Vilna Gaon did not look with favor on the Hasidic movement, he did not prohibit the study and engagement in the Kabbalah. This is evident from his writings in the _Even Shlema_. "He that is able to understand secrets of the Torah
Torah
and does not try to understand them will be judged harshly, may God
God
have mercy". (The Vilna Gaon, _Even Shlema_, 8:24). "The Redemption will only come about through learning Torah, and the essence of the Redemption depends upon learning Kabbalah" (The Vilna Gaon, _Even Shlema_, 11:3).

In the Oriental tradition of Kabbalah, Shalom Sharabi (1720–1777) from Yemen was a major esoteric clarifier of the works of the Ari. The Beit El Synagogue, "yeshivah of the kabbalists", which he came to head, was one of the few communities to bring Lurianic meditation into communal prayer.

In the 20th century, Yehuda Ashlag (1885—1954) in Mandate Palestine became a leading esoteric kabbalist in the traditional mode, who translated the Zohar
Zohar
into Hebrew with a new approach in Lurianic Kabbalah.

Hasidic Judaism

Synagogue
Synagogue
of the Baal Shem Tov , founder of Hasidism, in Medzhybizh Ukraine. It gave a new phase to Jewish mysticism, seeking its popularisation through internal correspondence Main article: Hasidic Judaism

Rabbi
Rabbi
Israel
Israel
ben Eliezer Baal Shem Tov (1698–1760), founder of Hasidism in the area of the Ukraine, spread teachings based on Lurianic Kabbalah, but adapted to a different aim of immediate psychological perception of Divine Omnipresence amidst the mundane. The emotional, ecstatic fervour of early Hasidism developed from previous Nistarim circles of mystical activity, but instead sought communal revival of the common folk by reframing Judaism
Judaism
around the central principle of devekut (mystical cleaving to God) for all. This new approach turned formerly esoteric elite kabbalistic theory into a popular social mysticism movement for the first time, with its own doctrines, classic texts, teachings and customs. From the Baal Shem Tov sprang the wide ongoing schools of Hasidic Judaism, each with different approaches and thought. Hasidism instituted a new concept of Tzadik leadership in Jewish mysticism, where the elite scholars of mystical texts now took on a social role as embodiments and intercessors of Divinity
Divinity
for the masses. With the 19th-century consolidation of the movement, leadership became dynastic.

Among later Hasidic schools:

Rebbe
Rebbe
Nachman of Breslov (1772–1810), the great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, revitalised and further expanded the latter's teachings, amassing a following of thousands in Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Poland. In a unique amalgam of Hasidic and _Mitnaged _ approaches, Rebbe
Rebbe
Nachman emphasised study of both Kabbalah
Kabbalah
and serious Torah
Torah
scholarship to his disciples. His teachings also differed from the way other Hasidic groups were developing, as he rejected the idea of hereditary Hasidic dynasties and taught that each Hasid must "search for the _tzaddik _ ('saintly/righteous person')" for himself and within himself.

The Habad-Lubavitch intellectual school of Hasidism broke away from General-Hasidism's emotional faith orientation, by making the mind central as the route to the internal heart. Its texts combine what they view as rational investigation with explanation of Kabbalah through articulating unity in a common Divine essence. In recent times, the messianic element latent in Hasidism has come to the fore in Habad.

20th-century Influence

Jewish mysticism has influenced the thought of some major Jewish theologians in the 20th century, outside of Kabbalistic or Hasidic traditions. The first Chief Rabbi
Rabbi
of Mandate Palestine, Abraham
Abraham
Isaac Kook was a mystical thinker who drew heavily on Kabbalistic notions through his own poetic terminology. His writings are concerned with fusing the false divisions between sacred and secular, rational and mystical, legal and imaginative. Students of Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Joseph B. Soloveitchik
, figurehead of American Modern Orthodox Judaism
Judaism
have read the influence of Kabbalistic symbols in his philosophical works. Neo-Hasidism, rather than Kabbalah, shaped Martin Buber 's philosophy of dialogue and Abraham
Abraham
Joshua
Joshua
Heschel 's Conservative Judaism
Judaism
. Lurianic symbols of Tzimtzum and Shevirah have informed Holocaust theologians .

CONCEPTS

CONCEALED AND REVEALED GOD

Metaphorical scheme of emanated spiritual worlds within the Ein Sof

The nature of the divine prompted kabbalists to envision two aspects to God: (a) God
God
in essence, absolutely transcendent, unknowable, limitless Divine simplicity , and (b) God
God
in manifestation, the revealed persona of God
God
through which he creates and sustains and relates to mankind. Kabbalists speak of the first as _Ein/Ayn Sof_ (אין סוף "the infinite/endless", literally "that which has no limits"). Of the impersonal Ein Sof nothing can be grasped. The second aspect of divine emanations, however, are accessible to human perception, dynamically interacting throughout spiritual and physical existence, reveal the divine immanently, and are bound up in the life of man. Kabbalists believe that these two aspects are not contradictory but complement one another, emanations revealing the concealed mystery from within the Godhead.

The Zohar
Zohar
reads the first words of Genesis, _BeReishit Bara Elohim – In the beginning God
God
created_, as "With the level of "_Reishit-Beginning_" the Ein Sof created _ Elohim
Elohim
_-God's manifestation in creation:

"At the very beginning the King made engravings in the supernal purity. A spark of blackness emerged in the sealed within the sealed, from the mystery of the Ayn Sof, a mist within matter, implanted in a ring, no white, no black, no red, no yellow, no colour at all. When He measured with the standard of measure, He made colours to provide light. Within the spark, in the innermost part, emerged a source, from which the colours are painted below; it is sealed among the sealed things of the mystery of Ayn Sof. It penetrated, yet did not penetrate its air. It was not known at all until, from the pressure of its penetration, a single point shone, sealed, supernal. Beyond this point nothing is known, so it is called _reishit_ (beginning): the first word of all..." "

The structure of emanations has been described in various ways: Sephirot
Sephirot
(divine attributes) and Partzufim (divine "faces"), Ohr (spiritual light and flow), Names of God
God
and the supernal Torah, Olamot (Spiritual Worlds), a Divine Tree and Archetypal Man, Angelic Chariot and Palaces, male and female, enclothed layers of reality, inwardly holy vitality and external Kelipot shells, 613 channels ("limbs" of the King) and the divine souls in man. These symbols are used to describe various parts and aspects of the model.

SEPHIROT

Main article: Sefirot Scheme of descending Sephirot
Sephirot
in 3 columns, as a tree with roots above and branches below

The _ Sephirot
Sephirot
_ (also spelled "sefirot"; singular _sefirah_) are the ten emanations and attributes of God
God
with which he continually sustains the existence of the universe. The Zohar
Zohar
and other Kabbalistic texts elaborate on the emergence of the sephirot from a state of concealed potential in the Ein Sof until their manifestation in the mundane world. In particular, Moses
Moses
ben Jacob
Jacob
Cordovero (known as "the Ramak"), describes how God
God
emanated the myriad details of finite reality out of the absolute unity of Divine light via the ten sephirot, or vessels. :6

Comparison of the Ramak's counting with Luria's, describes dual rational and unconscious aspects of Kabbalah. Two metaphors are used to describe the _sephirot_, their theocentric manifestation as the Trees of Life and Knowledge, and their anthropocentric correspondence in man, exemplified as Adam Kadmon . This dual-directional perspective embodies the cyclical, inclusive nature of the divine flow, where alternative divine and human perspectives have validity. The central metaphor of man allows human understanding of the sephirot, as they correspond to the psychological faculties of the soul, and incorporate masculine and feminine aspects after Genesis 1:27 (" God
God
created man in His own image, in the image of God
God
He created him, male and female He created them"). Corresponding to the last _sefirah_ in Creation is the indwelling shekhinah (Feminine Divine Presence). Downward flow of divine Light in Creation forms the supernal Four Worlds ; Atziluth , Beri\'ah , Yetzirah and Assiah manifesting the dominance of successive sephirot towards action in this world. The acts of man unite or divide the Heavenly masculine and feminine aspects of the sephirot, their anthropomorphic harmony completing Creation. As the spiritual foundation of Creation, the sephirot correspond to the names of God
God
in Judaism
Judaism
and the particular nature of any entity.

Ten Sephirot
Sephirot
As Process Of Creation

According to Lurianic cosmology, the _sephirot_ correspond to various levels of creation (ten _sephirot_ in each of the Four Worlds, and four worlds within each of the larger four worlds, each containing ten _sephirot_, which themselves contain ten _sephirot_, to an infinite number of possibilities), and are emanated from the Creator for the purpose of creating the universe. The _sephirot_ are considered revelations of the Creator's will (_ratzon_), and they should not be understood as ten different "gods" but as ten different ways the one God
God
reveals his will through the Emanations. It is not God
God
who changes but the ability to perceive God
God
that changes.

Ten Sephirot
Sephirot
As Process Of Ethics

In the 16-17th centuries Kabbalah
Kabbalah
was popularised through a new genre of ethical literature, related to Kabbalistic meditation

Divine creation by means of the Ten Sephirot
Sephirot
is an ethical process. They represent the different aspects of Morality. Loving-Kindness is a possible moral justification found in Chessed, and Gevurah
Gevurah
is the Moral Justification of Justice and both are mediated by Mercy which is Rachamim. However, these pillars of morality become immoral once they become extremes. When Loving-Kindness becomes extreme it can lead to sexual depravity and lack of Justice to the wicked. When Justice becomes extreme, it can lead to torture and the Murder of innocents and unfair punishment.

"Righteous" humans (_tzadikim_) ascend these ethical qualities of the ten _sephirot_ by doing righteous actions. If there were no righteous humans, the blessings of God
God
would become completely hidden, and creation would cease to exist. While real human actions are the "Foundation" (_ Yesod
Yesod
_) of this universe (_ Malchut _), these actions must accompany the conscious intention of compassion. Compassionate actions are often impossible without faith (_Emunah_), meaning to trust that God
God
always supports compassionate actions even when God seems hidden. Ultimately, it is necessary to show compassion toward oneself too in order to share compassion toward others. This "selfish" enjoyment of God's blessings but only in order to empower oneself to assist others is an important aspect of "Restriction", and is considered a kind of golden mean in kabbalah, corresponding to the _sefirah_ of Adornment ( Tiferet ) being part of the "Middle Column".

Moses
Moses
ben Jacob
Jacob
Cordovero, wrote _ Tomer Devorah _ (_Palm Tree of Deborah_), in which he presents an ethical teaching of Judaism
Judaism
in the kabbalistic context of the ten _sephirot_. _Tomer Devorah_ has become also a foundational Musar text .

DIVINE FEMININE

Main article: Shekhinah

DESCENDING SPIRITUAL WORLDS

Medieval Kabbalists believed that all things are linked to God through these emanations, making all levels in creation part of one great, gradually descending chain of being . Through this any lower creation reflects its particular characteristics in Supernal Divinity.

Hasidic thought extends the Divine immanence of Kabbalah
Kabbalah
by holding that God
God
is all that really exists, all else being completely undifferentiated from God's perspective. This view can be defined as monistic panentheism. According to this philosophy, God's existence is higher than anything that this world can express, yet he includes all things of this world within his Divine reality in perfect unity, so that the Creation effected no change in him at all. This paradox is dealt with at length in Chabad texts.

ORIGIN OF EVIL

Amulet from the 15th century. Theosophical kabbalists, especially Luria, censored contemporary Practical Kabbalah, but allowed amulets by Sages

Among problems considered in the Hebrew Kabbalah
Kabbalah
is the theological issue of the nature and origin of evil. In the views of some Kabbalists this conceives 'evil' as a 'quality of God', asserting that negativity enters into the essence of the Absolute. In this view it is conceived that the Absolute needs evil to 'be what it is', i.e., to exist. Foundational texts of Medieval Kabbalism conceived evil as a demonic parallel to the holy, called the _Sitra Achra_ (the "Other Side"), and the _Kelipot/Qliphoth_ (the "Shells/Husks") that cover and conceal the holy, are nurtured from it, and yet also protect it by limiting its revelation. Scholem termed this element of the Spanish Kabbalah
Kabbalah
a "Jewish gnostic" motif, in the sense of dual powers in the divine realm of manifestation. In a radical notion, the root of evil is found within the 10 holy Sephirot, through an imbalance of Gevurah , the power of "Strength/Judgement/Severity".

Gevurah
Gevurah
is necessary for Creation to exist as it counterposes Chesed ("loving-kindness"), restricting the unlimited divine bounty within suitable vessels, so forming the Worlds. However, if man sins (actualising impure judgement within his soul), the supernal Judgement is reciprocally empowered over the Kindness, introducing disharmony among the Sephirot
Sephirot
in the divine realm and exile from God
God
throughout Creation. The demonic realm, though illusory in its holy origin, becomes the real apparent realm of impurity in lower Creation.

ROLE OF MAN

Joseph Karo 's role as both legalist and mystic underscores Kabbalah's spiritualisation of normative Jewish observance

Kabbalistic doctrine gives man the central role in Creation, as his soul and body correspond to the supernal divine manifestations. In the Christian Kabbalah this scheme was universalised to describe _harmonia mundi_, the harmony of Creation within man. In Judaism, it gave a profound spiritualisation of Jewish practice. While the kabbalistic scheme gave a radically innovative, though conceptually continuous, development of mainstream Midrashic and Talmudic Rabbinic notions, kabbalistic thought underscored and invigorated conservative Jewish observance. The esoteric teachings of kabbalah gave the traditional mitzvot observances the central role in spiritual creation, whether the practitioner was learned in this knowledge or not. Accompanying normative Jewish observance and worship with elite mystical kavanot intentions gave them theurgic power, but sincere observance by common folk, especially in the Hasidic popularisation of kabbalah, could replace esoteric abilities. Many kabbalists were also leading legal figures in Judaism, such as Nachmanides and Joseph Karo .

Medieval kabbalah elaborates particular reasons for each Biblical mitzvah , and their role in harmonising the supernal divine flow, uniting masculine and feminine forces on High. With this, the feminine Divine presence in this world is drawn from exile to the Holy One Above. The 613 mitzvot
613 mitzvot
are embodied in the organs and soul of man. Lurianic kabbalah incorporates this in the more inclusive scheme of Jewish messianic rectification of exiled divinity. Jewish mysticism, in contrast to Divine transcendence rationalist human-centred reasons for Jewish observance, gave Divine-immanent providential cosmic significance to the daily events in the worldly life of man in general, and the spiritual role of Jewish observance in particular.

LEVELS OF THE SOUL

Building on Kabbalah's conception of the soul, Abraham
Abraham
Abulafia 's meditations included the "inner illumination of" the human form

The Kabbalah
Kabbalah
posits that the human soul has three elements, the _nefesh_, _ru'ach_, and _neshamah_. The _nefesh_ is found in all humans, and enters the physical body at birth. It is the source of one's physical and psychological nature. The next two parts of the soul are not implanted at birth, but can be developed over time; their development depends on the actions and beliefs of the individual. They are said to only fully exist in people awakened spiritually. A common way of explaining the three parts of the soul is as follows:

* _Nefesh_ (נפש): the lower part, or "animal part", of the soul. It is linked to instincts and bodily cravings. This part of the soul is provided at birth. * _Ruach_ (רוח): the middle soul, the "spirit". It contains the moral virtues and the ability to distinguish between good and evil. * _Neshamah_ (נשמה): the higher soul, or "super-soul". This separates man from all other life-forms. It is related to the intellect and allows man to enjoy and benefit from the afterlife. It allows one to have some awareness of the existence and presence of God.

The Raaya Meheimna , a section of related teachings spread throughout the Zohar, discusses fourth and fifth parts of the human soul, the _chayyah_ and _yehidah_ (first mentioned in the Midrash Rabbah). Gershom Scholem writes that these "were considered to represent the sublimest levels of intuitive cognition, and to be within the grasp of only a few chosen individuals". The Chayyah and the Yechidah do not enter into the body like the other three—thus they received less attention in other sections of the _Zohar_.

* _Chayyah_ (חיה): The part of the soul that allows one to have an awareness of the divine life force itself. * _Yehidah_ (יחידה): The highest plane of the soul, in which one can achieve as full a union with God
God
as is possible.

Both rabbinic and kabbalistic works posit that there are a few additional, non-permanent states of the soul that people can develop on certain occasions. These extra souls, or extra states of the soul, play no part in any afterlife scheme, but are mentioned for completeness:

* _Ruach HaKodesh_ (רוח הקודש) ("spirit of holiness"): a state of the soul that makes prophecy possible. Since the age of classical prophecy passed, no one (outside of Israel) receives the soul of prophecy any longer. * _Neshamah Yeseira_: The "supplemental soul" that a Jew can experience on Shabbat
Shabbat
. It makes possible an enhanced spiritual enjoyment of the day. This exists only when one is observing Shabbat; it can be lost and gained depending on one's observance. * _Neshamah Kedosha_: Provided to Jews
Jews
at the age of maturity (13 for boys, 12 for girls) and is related to the study and fulfillment of the Torah
Torah
commandments. It exists only when one studies and follows the Torah; it can be lost and gained depending on one's study and observance.

REINCARNATION

Main article: Gilgul

Reincarnation , the transmigration of the soul after death, was introduced into Judaism
Judaism
as a central esoteric tenet of Kabbalah
Kabbalah
from the Medieval period onwards, called Gilgul neshamot ("Cycles of the soul"). The concept does not appear overtly in the Hebrew Bible or classic Rabbinic literature, and was rejected by various Medieval Jewish philosophers. However, the Kabbalists explained a number of scriptural passages in reference to Gilgulim. The concept became central to the later Kabbalah
Kabbalah
of Isaac
Isaac
Luria, who systemised it as the personal parallel to the cosmic process of rectification. Through Lurianic Kabbalah and Hasidic Judaism, reincarnation entered popular Jewish culture as a literary motif.

TZIMTZUM, SHEVIRAH AND TIKKUN

16th-century graves of Safed
Safed
, Galilee
Galilee
. The messianic focus of its mystical renaissance culminated in Lurianic thought

_Tzimtzum_ (Constriction/Concentration) is the primordial cosmic act whereby God
God
"contracted" His infinite light, leaving a "void" into which the light of existence was poured. This allowed the emergence of independent existence that would not become nullified by the pristine Infinite Light, reconciling the unity of the Ein Sof with the plurality of creation. This changed the first creative act into one of withdrawal/exile, the antithesis of the ultimate Divine Will. In contrast, a new emanation after the Tzimtzum shone into the vacuum to begin creation, but led to an initial instability called _Tohu_ (Chaos), leading to a new crisis of _Shevirah_ (Shattering) of the sephirot vessels. The shards of the broken vessels fell down into the lower realms, animated by remnants of their divine light, causing primordial exile within the Divine Persona before the creation of man. Exile and enclothement of higher divinity within lower realms throughout existence requires man to complete the _ Tikkun olam _ (Rectification) process. Rectification Above corresponds to the reorganization of the independent sephirot into relating _Partzufim_ (Divine Personas), previously referred to obliquely in the Zohar. From the catastrophe stems the possibility of self-aware Creation, and also the _Kelipot_ (Impure Shells) of previous Medieval kabbalah. The metaphorical anthropomorphism of the partzufim accentuates the sexual unifications of the redemption process, while Gilgul reincarnation emerges from the scheme. Uniquely, Lurianism gave formerly private mysticism the urgency of Messianic social involvement.

According to interpretations of Luria, the catastrophe stemmed from the "unwillingness" of the residue imprint after the Tzimtzum to relate to the new vitality that began creation. The process was arranged to shed and harmonise the Divine Infinity with the latent potential of evil. The creation of Adam
Adam
would have redeemed existence, but his sin caused new shevirah of Divine vitality, requiring the Giving of the Torah
Torah
to begin Messianic rectification. Historical and individual history becomes the narrative of reclaiming exiled Divine sparks.

LINGUISTIC MYSTICISM OF HEBREW

Kabbalistic thought extended Biblical and Midrashic notions that God enacted Creation through the Hebrew language and through the Torah into a full linguistic mysticism. In this, every Hebrew letter, word, number, even accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contain esoteric meanings, describing the spiritual dimensions within exoteric ideas, and it teaches the hermeneutic methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings. Names of God in Judaism have further prominence, though fluidity of meaning turns the whole Torah
Torah
into a Divine name. As the Hebrew name of things is the channel of their lifeforce, parallel to the sephirot, so concepts such as "holiness" and "mitzvot " embody ontological Divine immanence, as God
God
can be known in manifestation as well as transcendence. The infinite potential of meaning in the Torah, as in the Ein Sof, is reflected in the symbol of the two trees of the Garden of Eden; the Torah
Torah
of the Tree of Knowledge is the external, Halachic Torah, through which mystics can perceive the unlimited Torah
Torah
of the Tree of Life. In Lurianic expression, each of the 600,000 souls of Israel
Israel
find their own interpretation in Torah.

"The reapers of the Field are the Comrades, masters of this wisdom, because _Malkhut_ is called the Apple Field, and She grows sprouts of secrets and new meanings of Torah. Those who constantly create new interpretations of Torah
Torah
are the ones who reap Her."

As early as the 1st century BCE Jews
Jews
believed that the Torah
Torah
and other canonical texts contained encoded messages and hidden meanings. Gematria is one method for discovering its hidden meanings. Each letter in Hebrew also represents a number; Hebrew, unlike many other languages, never developed a separate numerical alphabet . By converting letters to numbers, Kabbalists were able to find a hidden meaning in each word. This method of interpretation was used extensively by various schools.

PRIMARY TEXTS

Title page of first printed edition of the Zohar
Zohar
, main sourcebook of Kabbalah, from Mantua
Mantua
, Italy in 1558 Main article: Kabbalah: Primary texts

Like the rest of the Rabbinic literature, the texts of kabbalah were once part of an ongoing oral tradition, though, over the centuries, much of the oral tradition has been written down.

Jewish forms of esotericism existed over 2,000 years ago. Ben Sira (born c. 170 BCE) warns against it, saying: "You shall have no business with secret things". Nonetheless, mystical studies were undertaken and resulted in mystical literature, the first being the Apocalyptic literature of the second and first pre-Christian centuries and which contained elements that carried over to later kabbalah.

Throughout the centuries since, many texts have been produced, among them the ancient descriptions of _Sefer Yetzirah_, the _Heichalot_ mystical ascent literature, the _Bahir_, _ Sefer Raziel HaMalakh
Sefer Raziel HaMalakh
_ and the _Zohar_, the main text of Kabbalistic exegesis. Classic mystical Bible commentaries are included in fuller versions of the _Mikraot Gedolot _ (Main Commentators). Cordoveran systemisation is presented in _Pardes Rimonim_, philosophical articulation in the works of the Maharal , and Lurianic rectification in _Etz Chayim_. Subsequent interpretation of Lurianic Kabbalah was made in the writings of Shalom Sharabi, in _Nefesh HaChaim_ and the 20th-century _Sulam_. Hasidism interpreted kabbalistic structures to their correspondence in inward perception. The Hasidic development of kabbalah incorporates a successive stage of Jewish mysticism from historical kabbalistic metaphysics.

SCHOLARSHIP

Main article: List of Jewish mysticism scholars

The first modern-academic historians of Judaism, the "Wissenschaft des Judentums " school of the 19th century, framed Judaism
Judaism
in solely rational terms in the emancipatory Haskalah spirit of their age. They opposed kabbalah and restricted its significance from Jewish historiography. In the mid-20th century, it was left to Gershom Scholem to overturn their stance, establishing the flourishing present-day academic investigation of Jewish mysticism, and making Heichalot, Kabbalistic and Hasidic texts the objects of scholarly critical-historical study. In Scholem's opinion, the mythical and mystical components of Judaism
Judaism
were at least as important as the rational ones, and he thought that they, rather than the exoteric Halakha, were the living current in historical Jewish development.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem
has been a centre of this research, including Scholem and Isaiah
Isaiah
Tishby , and more recently Joseph Dan , Yehuda Liebes , Rachel
Rachel
Elior , and Moshe Idel. Scholars across the eras of Jewish mysticism in America and Britain have included Arthur Green , Lawrence Fine , Elliot Wolfson , Daniel Matt and Ada Rapoport-Albert .

Moshe Idel has opened up research on the Ecstatic Kabbalah
Kabbalah
alongside the theosophical, and has called for new multi-disciplinary approaches, beyond the philological and historical that have dominated until now, to include phenomenology , psychology , anthropology and comparative studies .

CLAIMS FOR AUTHORITY

Historians have noted that most claims for the authority of kabbalah involve an argument of the antiquity of authority (see, e.g., Joseph Dan's discussion in his _Circle of the Unique Cherub_). As a result, virtually all early foundational works pseudepigraphically claim, or are ascribed, ancient authorship. For example, _Sefer Raziel
Raziel
HaMalach _, an astro-magical text partly based on a magical manual of late antiquity, _ Sefer ha-Razim _, was, according to the kabbalists, transmitted by the angel Raziel
Raziel
to Adam
Adam
after he was evicted from Eden.

Another famous work, the early _Sefer Yetzirah_ , is dated back to the patriarch Abraham
Abraham
. :17 This tendency toward pseudepigraphy has its roots in apocalyptic literature, which claims that esoteric knowledge such as magic, divination and astrology was transmitted to humans in the mythic past by the two angels, Aza and Azaz\'el (in other places, Azaz'el and Uzaz'el) who fell from heaven (see Genesis 6:4).

CRITICISM

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CRITICISM OF RELIGION

BY RELIGION

* Buddhism * Christianity

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* Catholic

* Catholicism * Opus Dei

* Latter Day Saint movement

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* Jehovah\'s Witnesses * Protestantism * Orthodoxy * Seventh-day Adventist * Unification Church * Westboro Baptist Church

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* Islamism * Twelver Shi’ism * Wahhabism

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Judaism

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Judaism

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BY RELIGIOUS FIGURE

* Aisha * Charles Taze Russell * Ellen White * Jesus * Moses
Moses
* Muhammad * Saul

BY TEXT

* * Bible * Quran * Hadiths

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Talmud

RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE

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Judaism
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* By Christians

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* Christian * Hindu * Islamic * Sikh * Jewish

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Judaism

RELATED TOPICS

* Abuse

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Apostasy

* In Islam * In Christianity

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Criticism of atheism
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Criticism of monotheism
* Sexuality * Slavery

* v * t * e

DUALISTIC COSMOLOGY

Although Kabbalah
Kabbalah
propounds the Unity of God, one of the most serious and sustained criticisms is that it may lead away from monotheism, and instead promote dualism , the belief that there is a supernatural counterpart to God. The dualistic system holds that there is a good power versus an evil power. There are two primary models of Gnostic-dualistic cosmology: the first, which goes back to Zoroastrianism , believes creation is ontologically divided between good and evil forces; the second, found largely in Greco-Roman metaphysics like Neo-Platonism , argues that the universe knew a primordial harmony, but that a cosmic disruption yielded a second, evil, dimension to reality. This second model influenced the cosmology of the Kabbalah.

According to Kabbalistic cosmology, the Ten Sephirot
Sephirot
correspond to ten levels of creation. These levels of creation must not be understood as ten different "gods" but as ten different ways of revealing God, one per level. It is not God
God
who changes but the ability to perceive God
God
that changes.

While God
God
may seem to exhibit dual natures (masculine-feminine, compassionate-judgmental, creator-creation), all adherents of Kabbalah have consistently stressed the ultimate unity of God. For example, in all discussions of Male and Female, the hidden nature of God
God
exists above it all without limit, being called the Infinite or the "No End" (Ein Sof)—neither one nor the other, transcending any definition. The ability of God
God
to become hidden from perception is called "Restriction" (Tzimtzum). Hiddenness makes creation possible because God
God
can become "revealed" in a diversity of limited ways, which then form the building blocks of creation.

Kabbalistic texts, including the _Zohar_, appear to affirm dualism, as they ascribe all evil to the separation from holiness known as the Sitra Achra ("the other side") which is opposed to _Sitra D'Kedushah_, or the Side of Holiness. The "left side" of divine emanation is a negative mirror image of the "side of holiness" with which it was locked in combat. . While this evil aspect exists within the divine structure of the Sephirot, the _Zohar_ indicates that the Sitra Ahra has no power over Ein Sof, and only exists as a necessary aspect of the creation of God
God
to give man free choice, and that evil is the consequence of this choice. It is not a supernatural force opposed to God, but a reflection of the inner moral combat within mankind between the dictates of morality and the surrender to one's basic instincts.

Rabbi
Rabbi
Dr. David
David
Gottlieb notes that many Kabbalists hold that the concepts of, e.g., a Heavenly Court or the Sitra Ahra are only given to humanity by God
God
as a working model to understand His ways within our own epistemological limits. They reject the notion that a satan or angels actually exist. Others hold that non-divine spiritual entities were indeed created by God
God
as a means for exacting his will.

According to Kabbalists, humans cannot yet understand the infinity of God. Rather, there is God
God
as revealed to humans (corresponding to Zeir Anpin ), and the rest of the infinity of God
God
as remaining hidden from human experience (corresponding to Arich Anpin). One reading of this theology is monotheistic, similar to panentheism ; another reading of the same theology is that it is dualistic. Gershom Scholem writes:

It is clear that with this postulate of an impersonal basic reality in God, which becomes a person—or appears as a person—only in the process of Creation and Revelation, Kabbalism abandons the personalistic basis of the Biblical conception of God....It will not surprise us to find that speculation has run the whole gamut—from attempts to re-transform the impersonal _En-Sof_ into the personal God of the Bible to the downright heretical doctrine of a genuine dualism between the hidden Ein Sof and the personal Demiurge of Scripture. —_Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism_ Shocken Books (p.11–12)

DISTINCTION BETWEEN JEWS AND NON-JEWS

According to Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
(1534–72) and other commentators on the Zohar, righteous Gentiles do not have this demonic aspect and are in many ways similar to Jewish souls. A number of prominent Kabbalists, e.g., Rabbi
Rabbi
Pinchas Eliyahu of Vilna, the author of _Sefer ha-Brit_, held that only some marginal elements in the humanity represent these demonic forces. On the other hand, the souls of Jewish heretics have much more satanic energy than the worst of idol worshippers; this view is popular in some Hasidic circles, especially Satmar Hasidim .

On the other hand, many prominent Kabbalists rejected this idea and believed in essential equality of all human souls. Menahem Azariah da Fano (1548–1620), in his book _Reincarnations of souls_, provides many examples of non-Jewish Biblical figures being reincarnated into Jews
Jews
and vice versa; the contemporary Habad
Habad
Rabbi
Rabbi
and mystic Dov Ber Pinson teaches that distinctions between Jews
Jews
and non- Jews
Jews
in works such as the Tanya are not to be understood as literally referring to the external properties of a person (what religious community they are born into), but rather as referring to the properties of souls as they can be re-incarnated in any religious community.

But one point of view is represented by the Hasidic work _Tanya_ (1797), in order to argue that Jews
Jews
have a different character of soul: while a non-Jew, according to the author Rabbi
Rabbi
Shneur Zalman of Liadi (born 1745), can achieve a high level of spirituality, similar to an angel, his soul is still fundamentally different in character, but not value, from a Jewish one. A similar view is found in _Kuzari_, an early medieval philosophical book by Yehuda Halevi (1075–1141 AD)

Another prominent Habad
Habad
Rabbi, Abraham
Abraham
Yehudah Khein (born 1878), believed that spiritually elevated Gentiles have essentially Jewish souls, "who just lack the formal conversion to Judaism", and that unspiritual Jews
Jews
are "Jewish merely by their birth documents". The great 20th-century Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag viewed the terms "Jews" and "Gentile" as different levels of perception, available to every human soul.

David
David
Halperin argues that the collapse of Kabbalah's influence among Western European Jews
Jews
over the course of the 17th and 18th century was a result of the cognitive dissonance they experienced between the negative perception of Gentiles found in some exponents of Kabbalah, and their own positive dealings with non-Jews, which were rapidly expanding and improving during this period due to the influence of the Enlightenment.

However, a number of renowned Kabbalists claimed the exact opposite, stressing universality of all human souls and providing universal interpretations of the Kabbalistic tradition, including its Lurianic version. In their view, Kabbalah
Kabbalah
transcends the borders of Judaism
Judaism
and can serve as a basis of inter-religious theosophy and a universal religion. Rabbi
Rabbi
Pinchas Elijah Hurwitz , a prominent Lithuanian-Galician Kabbalist of the 18th century and a moderate proponent of the Haskalah, called for brotherly love and solidarity between all nations, and believed that Kabbalah
Kabbalah
can empower everyone, Jews
Jews
and Gentiles alike, with prophetic abilities.

The works of Abraham
Abraham
Cohen de Herrera (1570–1635) are full of references to Gentile mystical philosophers. Such approach was particularly common among the Renaissance
Renaissance
and post- Renaissance
Renaissance
Italian Jews
Jews
. Late medieval and Renaissance
Renaissance
Italian Kabbalists, such as Yohanan Alemanno , David
David
Messer Leon and Abraham
Abraham
Yagel , adhered to humanistic ideals and incorporated teachings of various Christian and pagan mystics.

A prime representative of this humanist stream in Kabbalah
Kabbalah
was Rabbi Elijah Benamozegh , who explicitly praised Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, as well as a whole range of ancient pagan mystical systems. He believed that Kabbalah
Kabbalah
can reconcile the differences between the world religions, which represent different facets and stages of the universal human spirituality. In his writings, Benamozegh interprets the New Testament
New Testament
, Hadith
Hadith
, Vedas
Vedas
, Avesta and pagan mysteries according to the Kabbalistic theosophy.

For a different perspective, see Wolfson. He provides numerous examples from the 17th to the 20th centuries, which would challenge the view of Halperin cited above as well as the notion that "modern Judaism" has rejected or dismissed this "outdated aspect" of the religion and, he argues, there are still Kabbalists today who harbor this view. He argues that, while it is accurate to say that many Jews do and would find this distinction offensive, it is inaccurate to say that the idea has been totally rejected in all circles. As Wolfson has argued, it is an ethical demand on the part of scholars to continue to be vigilant with regard to this matter and in this way the tradition can be refined from within.

However, as explained above, many well known Kabbalists rejected the literal interpretation of these seemingly discriminatory views. They argued that the term "Jew" was to be interpreted metaphorically, as referring to the spiritual development of the soul, rather than the superficial denomination of the individual, and they added a chain of intermediary states between "Jews" and idol worshippers, or spiritualised the very definition of "Jews" and "non-Jews" and argued that a soul can be re-incarnated in different communities (whether Jewish or not) as much as within a single one.

MEDIEVAL VIEWS

Golden age of Spanish Judaism
Judaism
on the Knesset Menorah , Maimonides
Maimonides
holding Aristotle
Aristotle
's work Kabbalah
Kabbalah
mysticism on the Knesset Menorah , which shared some similarities of theory with Jewish Neoplatonists

The idea that there are ten divine _sephirot_ could evolve over time into the idea that " God
God
is One being, yet in that One being there are Ten" which opens up a debate about what the "correct beliefs" in God should be, according to Judaism. Rabbi
Rabbi
Saadia Gaon
Saadia Gaon
teaches in his book Emunot v\'Deot that Jews
Jews
who believe in reincarnation have adopted a non-Jewish belief.

Maimonides
Maimonides
(12th century) rejected many of the texts of the Hekalot , particularly _Shi\'ur Qomah _ whose starkly anthropomorphic vision of God
God
he considered heretical.

Nachmanides (13th century) provides background to many kabbalistic ideas. His works offer in-depth of various concepts. In fact, an entire book, entitled _Gevuras Aryeh_, was authored by Rabbi
Rabbi
Yaakov Yehuda Aryeh Leib Frenkel and originally published in 1915, specifically to explain and elaborate on the kabbalistic concepts addressed by Nachmanides in his commentary to the Five books of Moses.

Rabbi
Rabbi
Abraham
Abraham
ben Moses
Moses
ben Maimon , in the spirit of his father Maimonides, Rabbi
Rabbi
Saadiah Gaon , and other predecessors, explains at length in his _Milḥamot HaShem_ that God
God
is in no way literally within time or space nor physically outside time or space, since time and space simply do not apply to his being whatsoever. This is in contrast to certain popular understandings of modern Kabbalah
Kabbalah
which teach a form of panentheism, that his 'essence' is within everything.

Around the 1230s, Rabbi
Rabbi
Meir ben Simon of Narbonne wrote an epistle (included in his _Milḥemet Mitzvah_) against his contemporaries, the early Kabbalists, characterizing them as blasphemers who even approach heresy. He particularly singled out the Sefer Bahir, rejecting the attribution of its authorship to the _tanna_ R. Neḥunya ben ha-Kanah and describing some of its content as truly heretical.

Rabbi
Rabbi
Leone di Modena , a 17th-century Venetian critic of Kabbalah, wrote that if we were to accept the Kabbalah, then the Christian trinity would indeed be compatible with Judaism, as the Trinity closely resembles the kabbalistic doctrine of the _sephirot_. This critique was in response to the knowledge that some European Jews
Jews
of the period addressed individual _sephirot_ in some of their prayers, although the practice was apparently uncommon. Apologists explain that Jews
Jews
may have been praying _for_ and not necessarily _to_ the aspects of Godliness represented by the _sephirot_.

Yaakov Emden , 1697–1776, wrote the _Mitpaḥath Sfarim_ (_Veil of the Books_), a detailed critique of the Zohar
Zohar
in which he concludes that certain parts of the Zohar
Zohar
contain heretical teaching and therefore could not have been written by Shimon bar Yochai.

ORTHODOX JUDAISM

Tikkun for reading through the night of Shavuot , a popular Jewish custom from the Safed
Safed
Kabbalists

Rabbi
Rabbi
Yiḥyeh Qafeḥ , a 20th-century Yemenite Jewish leader and Chief Rabbi
Rabbi
of Yemen, spearheaded the Dor Deah ("generation of knowledge") movement to counteract the influence of the Zohar
Zohar
and modern Kabbalah. He authored critiques of mysticism in general and _Lurianic Kabbalah_ in particular; his magnum opus was Milḥamoth ha-Shem (_Wars of Hashem_) against what he perceived as neo-platonic and gnostic influences on Judaism
Judaism
with the publication and distribution of the Zohar
Zohar
since the 13th Century. Rabbi
Rabbi
Yiḥyah founded yeshivot , rabbinical schools, and synagogues that featured a rationalist approach to Judaism
Judaism
based on the Talmud
Talmud
and works of Saadia Gaon
Saadia Gaon
and Maimonides
Maimonides
(Rambam).

Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903–1994), an ultra-rationalist Modern Orthodox philosopher and brother of Nechama Leibowitz , publicly shared views expressed in Rabbi
Rabbi
Yiḥyeh Qafeḥ's book _Milḥamoth HaShem_ against mysticism. For example, Leibowitz called Kabbalah
Kabbalah
"a collection of "pagan superstitions" and "idol worship" in remarks given after receiving the Yakir Yerushalayim Award (English: worthy citizen of Jerusalem) in 1990. In modern times, rationalists holding similar views aligned with the rationalism of Dor Daim have described themselves as "talmide ha-Rambam" (disciples of Maimonides) rather than Dor Daim, and are more theologically aligned with the rationalism of Modern Orthodox Judaism
Judaism
than with Orthodox Ḥasidic or Ḥaredi communities.

There is dispute among modern Haredim as to the status of Isaac Luria's, the Arizal 's Kabbalistic teachings. While a portion of Modern Orthodox Rabbis, Dor Daim and many students of the Rambam
Rambam
, completely reject Arizal's Kabbalistic teachings, as well as deny that the _Zohar_ is authoritative, or from Shimon bar Yohai , all three of these groups completely accept the existence and validity of _Ma'aseh Merkavah_ and _Ma'aseh B'resheet_ mysticism. Their only disagreement concerns whether the Kabbalistic teachings promulgated today are accurate representations of those esoteric teachings to which the Talmud
Talmud
refers. Within the Haredi
Haredi
Jewish community one can find both rabbis who sympathise with such a view, while not necessarily agreeing with it, as well as rabbis who consider such a view absolute heresy. Rabbis Eliyahu Dessler and Gedaliah Nadel maintained that it is acceptable to believe that the Zohar
Zohar
was not written by Rabbi
Rabbi
Shimon bar Yochai and that it had a late authorship.

CONSERVATIVE, REFORM AND RECONSTRUCTIONIST JUDAISM

A version of Lekhah Dodi song to welcome the Shabbat
Shabbat
, a cross denomination Jewish custom from Kabbalah
Kabbalah

Kabbalah
Kabbalah
tended to be rejected by most Jews
Jews
in the Conservative and Reform movements, though its influences were not completely eliminated. While it was generally not studied as a discipline, the Kabbalistic _Kabbalat Shabbat_ service remained part of liberal liturgy, as did the _Yedid Nefesh_ prayer. Nevertheless, in the 1960s, Rabbi
Rabbi
Saul Lieberman of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America is reputed to have introduced a lecture by Scholem on Kabbalah
Kabbalah
with a statement that Kabbalah
Kabbalah
itself was "nonsense", but the academic study of Kabbalah
Kabbalah
was "scholarship". This view became popular among many Jews, who viewed the subject as worthy of study, but who did not accept Kabbalah
Kabbalah
as teaching literal truths.

According to Rabbi
Rabbi
Bradley Shavit Artson (Dean of the Conservative Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in the American Jewish University )

Many western Jews
Jews
insisted that their future and their freedom required shedding what they perceived as parochial orientalism. They fashioned a Judaism
Judaism
that was decorous and strictly rational (according to 19th-century European standards), denigrating Kabbalah
Kabbalah
as backward, superstitious, and marginal.

However, in the late 20th century and early 21st century there has been a revival in interest in Kabbalah
Kabbalah
in all branches of liberal Judaism. The Kabbalistic 12th-century prayer _ Anim Zemirot _ was restored to the new Conservative _Sim Shalom_ _siddur_, as was the _B'rikh Shmeh_ passage from the Zohar, and the mystical _Ushpizin_ service welcoming to the _ Sukkah _ the spirits of Jewish forbearers. _Anim Zemirot_ and the 16th-century mystical poem _Lekhah Dodi_ reappeared in the Reform Siddur _ Gates of Prayer _ in 1975. All Rabbinical seminaries now teach several courses in Kabbalah—in Conservative Judaism, both the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies of the University of Judaism
Judaism
in Los Angeles have full-time instructors in Kabbalah
Kabbalah
and _Hasidut_, Eitan Fishbane and Pinchas Giller, respectively. In the Reform movement Sharon Koren teaches at the Hebrew Union College. Reform Rabbis like Herbert Weiner and Lawrence Kushner have renewed interest in Kabbalah
Kabbalah
among Reform Jews. At the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the only accredited seminary that has curricular requirements in Kabbalah, Joel Hecker is the full-time instructor teaching courses in Kabbalah
Kabbalah
and Hasidut.

According to Artson:

Ours is an age hungry for meaning, for a sense of belonging, for holiness. In that search, we have returned to the very Kabbalah
Kabbalah
our predecessors scorned. The stone that the builders rejected has become the head cornerstone (Psalm 118:22)... Kabbalah
Kabbalah
was the last universal theology adopted by the entire Jewish people, hence faithfulness to our commitment to positive-historical Judaism
Judaism
mandates a reverent receptivity to Kabbalah.

The Reconstructionist movement, under the leadership of Arthur Green in the 1980s and 1990s, and with the influence of Zalman Schachter Shalomi, brought a strong openness to Kabbalah
Kabbalah
and hasidic elements that then came to play prominent roles in the Kol ha-Neshamah siddur series.

CONTEMPORARY STUDY

Teaching of classic esoteric kabbalah texts and practice remained traditional until recent times, passed on in Judaism
Judaism
from master to disciple, or studied by leading rabbinic scholars. This changed in the 20th century, through conscious reform and the secular openness of knowledge. In contemporary times kabbalah is studied in four very different, though sometimes overlapping, ways:

* The traditional method, employed among Jews
Jews
since the 16th century, continues in learned study circles. Its prerequisite is to either be born Jewish or be a convert and to join a group of kabbalists under the tutelage of a rabbi, since the 18th century more likely a Hasidic one, though others exist among Sephardi-Mizrachi, and Lithuanian Rabbinic scholars. Beyond elite, historical esoteric kabbalah, the public-communally studied texts of Hasidic thought explain kabbalistic concepts for wide spiritual application, through their own concern with popular psychological perception of Divine Panentheism. In recent times, many Orthodox Jewish outreach organisations for secular Jews
Jews
teach Kabbalistic and Hasidic texts. * A second, new universalist form, is the method of modern-style Jewish organisations and writers, who seek to disseminate kabbalah to every man, woman and child regardless of race or class, especially since the Western interest in mysticism from the 1960s. These derive from various cross-denominational Jewish interests in kabbalah, and range from considered theology to popularised forms that often adopt New Age terminology and beliefs for wider communication. These groups highlight or interpret kabbalah through non-particularist, universalist aspects. * A third way are non-Jewish organisations, mystery schools, initiation bodies, fraternities and secret societies , the most popular of which are Freemasonry , Rosicrucianism and the Golden Dawn , although hundreds of similar societies claim a kabbalistic lineage. These derive from syncretic combinations of Jewish kabbalah with Christian, occultist or contemporary New Age spirituality. As a separate spiritual tradition in Western esotericism since the Renaissance, with different aims from its Jewish origin, the non-Jewish traditions differ significantly and do not give an accurate representation of the Jewish spiritual understanding (or vice versa). * Fourthly, since the mid-20th century, historical-critical scholarly investigation of all eras of Jewish mysticism has flourished into an established department of university Jewish studies . Where the first academic historians of Judaism
Judaism
in the 19th century opposed and marginalised kabbalah, Gershom Scholem and his successors repositioned the historiography of Jewish mysticism as a central, vital component of Judaic renewal through history. Cross-disciplinary academic revisions of Scholem's and others' theories are regularly published for wide readership.

UNIVERSALIST JEWISH ORGANISATIONS

The two, unrelated organisations that translate the mid-20th-century teachings of Rabbi
Rabbi
Yehuda Ashlag into a contemporary universalist message, have given kabbalah a public cross-religious profile:

* _ Bnei Baruch _ is a group of Kabbalah
Kabbalah
students, based in Israel. Study materials are available in over 25 languages for free online or at printing cost. Michael Laitman established Bnei Baruch in 1991, following the passing of his teacher, Rabbi
Rabbi
Ashlag's son Rav Baruch Ashlag . Laitman named his group Bnei Baruch (sons of Baruch) to commemorate the memory of his mentor. The teaching strongly suggests restricting one's studies to 'authentic sources', kabbalists of the direct lineage of master to disciple. * _The Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Centre _ was founded in the United States in 1965 as The National Research Institute of Kabbalah
Kabbalah
by Philip Berg and Rav Yehuda Tzvi Brandwein, disciple of Rabbi
Rabbi
Yehuda Ashlag's. Later Philip Berg and his wife re-established the organisation as the worldwide Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Centre. In recent times its outreach teaching in New Age style has attracted a cross-religious celebrity following and media profile, though the organisation is led by Orthodox Jewish teachers.

Other prominent Jewish universalist organisations:

* _The Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Society _, run by Warren Kenton , an organisation based instead on pre-Lurianic Medieval Kabbalah
Kabbalah
presented in universalist New Age syncretic style. In contrast, traditional kabbalists read earlier kabbalah through later Lurianism and the systemisations of 16th-century Safed. * _The New Kabbalah_, website and books by Sanford L. Drob, is a scholarly intellectual investigation of the Lurianic symbolism in the perspective of modern and postmodern intellectual thought. It seeks a "new kabbalah" rooted in the historical tradition through its academic study, but universalised through dialogue with modern philosophy and psychology. This approach seeks to enrich the secular disciplines, while uncovering intellectual insights formerly implicit in kabbalah's essential myth:

"By being equipped with the nonlinear concepts of dialectical, psychoanalytic, and deconstructive thought we can begin to make sense of the kabbalistic symbols in our own time. So equipped, we are today probably in a better position to understand the philosophical aspects of the kabbalah than were the kabbalists themselves."

NEO-HASIDIC

From the early 20th century, Neo-Hasidism expressed a non-Orthodox Jewish interest in Jewish mysticism, becoming organisational among Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionalist Jewish denominations from the 1960s, through Jewish Renewal and the Chavurah movement. The writings and teachings of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi , Arthur Green, Lawrence Kushner, Herbert Weiner and others, has sought a Kabbalistic and Hasidic study and spirituality among modernist Jews. Arthur Green's translations from the religious writings of Hillel Zeitlin conceive the latter to be a precursor of contemporary neo-Hasidism.

HASIDIC

Since the 18th century, Jewish mystical development has continued in Hasidic Judaism, turning kabbalah into a social revival with texts that internalise mystical thought. Among different schools, Chabad-Lubavitch and Breslav with related organisations, give outward looking spiritual resources and textual learning for secular Jews. The Intellectual Hasidism of Chabad most emphasises the spread and understanding of kabbalah through its explanation in Hasidic thought, articulating the Divine meaning within kabbalah through human rational analogies, uniting the spiritual and material, esoteric and exoteric in their Divine source:

"Hasidic thought instructs in the predominance of spiritual form over physical matter, the advantage of matter when it is purified, and the advantage of form when integrated with matter. The two are to be unified so one cannot detect where either begins or ends, for 'the Divine beginning is implanted in the end and the end in the beginning' (Sefer Yetzira 1:7). The One God
God
created both for one purpose – to reveal the holy light of His hidden power. Only both united complete the perfection desired by the Creator."

RAV KOOK

The writings of Abraham Isaac Kook (1864–1935), first chief rabbi of Mandate Palestine and visionary, incorporate kabbalistic themes through his own poetic language and concern with human and divine unity. His influence is in the Religious-Zionist community, who follow his aim that the legal and imaginative aspects of Judaism
Judaism
should interfuse:

"Due to the alienation from the 'secret of God' , the higher qualities of the depths of Godly life are reduced to trivia that do not penetrate the depth of the soul. When this happens, the most mighty force is missing from the soul of nation and individual, and Exile finds favor essentially... We should not negate any conception based on rectitude and awe of Heaven
Heaven
of any form—only the aspect of such an approach that desires to negate the mysteries and their great influence on the spirit of the nation. This is a tragedy that we must combat with counsel and understanding, with holiness and courage."

SEE ALSO

* Kabbalah
Kabbalah
portal

* Abraham Abulafia
Abraham Abulafia
* Aggadah * Ayin and Yesh * Jewish mysticism * Ka-Bala board game * Kabbalah: Primary texts * List of Jewish Kabbalists * Mussar literature * Notaricon * Temurah (Kabbalah) * The Four Who Entered Paradise

NOTES

* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Ginsburgh, Rabbi
Rabbi
Yitzchak (2006). _What You Need to Know about Kabbalah_. Gal Einai. ISBN 965-7146-119 . access-date= requires url= (help ) * ^ "קַבָּלָה‎". _Morfix™, ™מורפיקס‎_. Melingo Ltd. Retrieved 19 November 2014. * ^ _Kabbalah: A very short introduction_, Joseph Dan , Oxford University Press, Chapter 1 "The term and its uses" * ^ "אינסוף". _Morfix™, ™מורפיקס_. Melingo Ltd. Retrieved 19 November 2014. * ^ "Imbued with Holiness" - The relationship of the esoteric to the exoteric in the fourfold Pardes interpretation of Torah
Torah
and existence. From www.kabbalaonline.org * ^ "The Freedom Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Library - Bnei Baruch Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Education & Research Institute". Kabbalah.info. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ "What is Kabbalah?". _ReformJudaism.org_. 2014-06-18. Retrieved 2017-07-10. * ^ Shnei Luchot HaBrit, R. Isaiah
Isaiah
Horowitz, Toldot Adam, Beit haChokhma, 14 * ^ "ZOHAR". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ "The Written Law - Torah". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ _Kabbalah: A very short introduction_, Joseph Dan, Oxford University Press, Chapters on "the emergence of Medieval Kabbalah" and "doctrines of Medieval Kabbalah" * ^ Moshe Idel, _Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic_, p. 31 * ^ _Megillah 14a, Shir HaShirim Rabbah 4:22, Ruth Rabbah 1:2, Aryeh Kaplan_ Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide _pp.44–48_ * ^ Yehuda Ashlag; _Preface to the Wisdom of Truth_ p.12 section 30 and p.105 bottom section of the left column as preface to the "Talmud Eser HaSfirot" * ^ See _Shem Mashmaon_ by Rabbi
Rabbi
Shimon Agasi. It is a commentary on Otzrot Haim by Haim Vital. In the introduction he list five major schools of thought as to how to understand the Haim Vital's understanding of the concept of _ Tzimtzum _. * ^ See _Yechveh Daat_ Vol 3, section 47 by Rabbi
Rabbi
Ovadiah Yosef * ^ See _Ktavim Hadashim_ published by Rabbi
Rabbi
Yaakov Hillel of Ahavat Shalom for a sampling of works by Haim Vital attributed to Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
that deal with other works. * ^ Wagner, Matthew. "Kabbala goes to yeshiva - Magazine - Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Post". Jpost.com. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ _Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction_, Joseph Dan, Oxford University Press 2007. Chapters: 5 Modern Times-I The Christian Kabbalah, 9 Some Aspects of Contemporary Kabbalah * ^ _The Jewish Religion: A Companion_, Louis Jacobs , Oxford University Press 1995. Entry: Kabbalah * ^ _A_ _B_ Sefer Raziel HaMalakh
Sefer Raziel HaMalakh
First Paragraph http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=35004&st=&pgnum=7&hilite= * ^ אין דורשין ... במעשה בראשית בשנים ולא במרכבה ביחיד אלא אם כן היה חכם ומבין מדעתו * ^ Archived January 24, 2005, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ "The Kaballah: Ma’aseh merkavah". SparkNotes. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ "The Kaballah: Ma’aseh bereshit". SparkNotes. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ _A_ _B_ Artson, Bradley Shavit. _From the Periphery to the Centre: Kabbalah
Kabbalah
and the Conservative Movement_, United Synagogue Review, Spring 2005, Vol. 57 No. 2 * ^ Urbach, _The Sages_, pp.184ff. * ^ A. W. Streane, _A Translation of the Treatise Chagigah from the Babylonian Talmud_ Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press
, 1891. p. 83. * ^ Louis Ginzberg, Elisha ben Abuyah", _ Jewish Encyclopedia
Jewish Encyclopedia
_, 1901–1906. * ^ Mishneh Torah, Yesodei Torah, Chapters 2-4. * ^ "The Zohar". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ " Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
& Kabbalah
Kabbalah
in Safed
Safed
My Jewish Learning". _My Jewish Learning_. Retrieved 2017-07-10. * ^ Rabbi
Rabbi
Abraham
Abraham
Ben Mordechai Azulai, Introduction to the book, Ohr HaChama * ^ Rabbi
Rabbi
Avraham Azulai quoted in Erdstein, Baruch Emanuel. The Need to Learn Kabbala * ^ Archived November 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ Shulhan Arukh YD 246:4 * ^ Shulhan Arukh 246:4 S"K 19 * ^ _The Jewish Religion: A Companion_, Louis Jacobs , Oxford University Press 1995: entry on Judah Loew * ^ "News". myJLI.com. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ "Where to Start - Recommended books". _Azamra, Torah
Torah
for our Time_. Retrieved 20 June 2017. * ^ "The Soul of Life: The Complete Neffesh Ha-chayyim: Rav Chayyim of Volozhin, Eliezer Lipa (Leonard) Moskowitz: 9780615699912: Amazon.com: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ " Theology on Tap Winter 2014 under way in Mandeville: Keeping the Faith". NOLA.com. 2014-01-29. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ " Jews
Jews
of Ponte Vedra/Jacksonville Beaches Address Relevance of Judaism
Judaism
in Modern Society". PR.com. 2014-01-08. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ Joseph Dan, _Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction_, Oxford University Press, chapter on the Contemporary Era * ^ Such as the theological novel _The Town Beyond The Wall_ by Elie Wiesel. Norman Lamm gives a Biblical, Midrashic and Kabbalistic exegesis of it in _Faith and Doubt: Studies in Traditional Jewish Thought_, Ktav pub. * ^ Zohar
Zohar
I, 15a English translation from _Jewish Mysticism – An Anthology_, Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Oneworld pub, p.120-121 * ^ See _Otzrot Haim: Sha'ar TNT"A_ for a short explanation. The vast majority of the Lurianic system deals only with the complexities found in the world of Atzilut as is explained in the introductions to both Otzrot Haim and Eitz Haim. * ^ _The Song of the Soul_, Yechiel Bar-Lev, p.73 * ^ J.H.Laenen, _Jewish Mysticism_, p.164 * ^ Wineberg, chs. 20–21 * ^ "Beginner Level Kabbalah: What is Practical Kabbalah?". Inner.org. 2014-02-24. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ Cantoni, Piero (2006). "Demonology and Praxis of Exorcism and of the Liberation Prayers", in Fides Catholica 1". * ^ Joseph Dan, _Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction_, Oxford, chapter on "Christian Kabbalah" * ^ (Otzar Eden Ganuz, Oxford Ms. 1580, fols. 163b-164a; see also Hayei Haolam Haba, Oxford 1582, fol. 12a) * ^ Joseph Dan, _Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction_, tentative analysis of Gershom Scholem and Isaiah
Isaiah
Tishby of Luria's scheme * ^ Moshe Cordovero, _Or Ha-Hammah_ on Zohar
Zohar
III, 106a * ^ _Sirach_ iii. 22; compare Talmud, _Hagigah_, 13a; Midrash _Genesis Rabbah_, viii. * ^ "Overview of Chassidut (Chassidus) ". Inner.org. 2014-02-12. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ The Founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov , cautioned against the layman learning Kabbalah
Kabbalah
without its Hasidic explanation. He saw this as the cause of the contemporary mystical heresies of Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob
Jacob
Frank . Cited in _The Great Maggid_ by Jacob
Jacob
Immanuel Schochet , quoting _Derech Mitzvosecha_ by Menachem Mendel Schneersohn

* ^ Archived September 21, 2005, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ http://www.srhe.ucsb.edu/lectures/info/matt.html#bio * ^ Moshe Idel, _Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic_, p.28 * ^ Archived October 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ Dovid, Nissan. "Kelipot and Sitra Achra - Kabbalah, Chassidism and Jewish Mysticism". Chabad.org. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ Archived January 24, 2005, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ _A_ _B_ Dov Ber Pinson, Reincarnation and Judaism * ^ סידור הרב, שער אכילת מצה * ^ ר' אברהם חן, ביהדות התורה * ^ article, _The Seductiveness of Jewish Myth_ * ^ Love of one's Neighbour in Pinhas Hurwitz's Sefer ha-Berit, Resianne Fontaine, Studies in Hebrew Language and Jewish Culture, Presented to Albert van der Heide on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, p.244-268. * ^ Israel
Israel
and Humanity, Elijah Benamozegh, Paulist Press, 1995 * ^ Wolfson, E.R. _Venturing Beyond: Law and Morality in Kabbalistic Mysticism_, Oxford University Press, 2006, ch.1. * ^ Maimonides' responsa siman (117 (Blau) / 373 (Freimann)), translated by Rabbi
Rabbi
Yosef Qafih and reprinted in his _Collected Papers_, Volume 1, footnote 1 on pages 475-476; see also pages 477–478 where a booklet found in Maimonides' Genizah with the text of Shi'ur Qomah appears with an annotation, possibly by Maimonides, cursing believers of Shi'ur Qomah (Hebrew: ארור המאמינו) and praying that God
God
be elevated exceedingly beyond that which the heretics say (Judeo-Arabic: תע' ת'ם תע' עמא יקולון אלכאפרון; Hebrew: יתעלה לעילא לעילא ממה שאומרים הכופרים). * ^ _Encyclopedia of Yemenite Sages_ (Heb. אנציקלופדיה לחכמי תימן), ed. Moshe Gavra, vol. 1, Benei Barak 2001, p. 545, s.v. קאפח, יחיא בן שלמה (Hebrew) שהקים את תנועת... דור דעה (he established the Dor Deah movement). * ^ Gamliel, Amram (1 January 1984). "A SPARK OF ENLIGHTENMENT AMONG THE JEWS OF YEMEN". _Hebrew Studies_. 25: 82–89. JSTOR 27908885 . * ^ http://www.yahadut.org.il/zohar/milhamot-hashem.pdf * ^ "Idol Worship is Still Within Us- Yesayahu Leibowitz". Scribd.com. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ "halacha - Is one allowed to become a Talmid HaRambam? - Mi Yodeya". Judaism.stackexchange.com. Retrieved 2015-09-27.

* ^ E.g., Rabbi
Rabbi
Ovadia Yosef , who ruled that it is "impossible" to consider dardaim as heretics: לגבי הדרדעים "אי אפשר לדונם ככופרים" (מעין אומר סימן צג עמ' עדר) available at hydepark.hevre.co.il * ^ An Analysis of the Authenticity of the Zohar
Zohar
(2005), p. 39, with "Rav E" and "Rav G" later identified by the author as Rabbi
Rabbi
Eliyahu Dessler and Rabbi
Rabbi
Gedaliah Nadel , respectively ( Rabbi
Rabbi
Dr. Marc Shapiro in Milin Havivin Volume 5 , Is there an obligation to believe that Rebbe
Rebbe
Shimon bar Yochai wrote the _Zohar_?, p. יב ): "I approached Rav A with some of the questions on the Zohar, and he responded to me - 'and what about nikud? Nikud is also mentioned in the Zohar
Zohar
despite the fact that it from Geonic times!' he said. I later found this comment in the Mitpachas Seforim. I would just add that not only is nikud mentioned, but only the Tiberian Nikkud - the norm in Europe of the middle ages - is mentioned and not the Yerushalmi nikud or the Babylonian one — which was used then in the Middle East, and is still used by Yemenites today. Also the Taamay Hamikrah - the trop - are referred to in the Zohar
Zohar
- only by their Sefardi Names. Rav A told me a remarkable piece of testimony: 'My rebbe (this is how he generally refers to Rav E ) accepted the possibility that the Zohar
Zohar
was written sometime in the 13th century.'" "Rav G told me that he was still unsure as to the origin and status of the Zohar, but told me it was my absolute right to draw any conclusions I saw fit regarding both the Zohar
Zohar
and the Ari." * ^ http://judaism.ajula.edu/Content/ContentUnit.asp?CID=1525&u=5504&t=0 * ^ Joseph Dan, _Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction_, chapters on Christian Kabbalah and the Contemporary Era * ^ "On Authentic Sources". Laitman.com. 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ "The Teaching of the Kabbalah
Kabbalah
and Its Essence Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Library - Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute". Kabbalah.info. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ "The Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Centre - learn transform connect". _kabbalah.com_. Retrieved 5 October 2015. * ^ " Rabbi
Rabbi
Philip Berg". _ Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph
_. 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2013-09-21. * ^ "Kabbalah". New Kabbalah. Retrieved 2015-09-27. * ^ Sanford Drob, _Symbols of the Kabbalah: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives_, Jason Aronson publishers, p.xvi-xvii. Comparisons of the Lurianic scheme to Hegel, Freud and Jung are treated in respective chapters of Sanford Drob, _Kabbalistic Metaphors: Jewish Mystical Themes in Ancient and Modern Thought_, Aronson. The modern disciplines are explored as particular intellectual/emotional perspectives into the inclusive supra-rational Lurianic symbolism, from which both emerge enriched * ^ HaYom Yom , Kehot publications, p. 110 * ^ Rabbi
Rabbi
Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (_Orot 2_)

REFERENCES

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Joseph della Reina"; Behayahu, M. _Studies and Texts on the History
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Handbook: A Concise Encyclopedia of Terms and Concepts in Jewish Mysticism". Penguin Books 2007. * Scholem, Gershom ; _Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism_, 1941. * Scholem, Gershom; _Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and the Talmudic Tradition_, 1960. * Scholem, Gershom; _Sabbatai Zevi, the Mystical Messiah_, 1973. * Scholem, Gershom; _Kabbalah_, Jewish Publication Society, 1974. * Wineberg, Yosef; _Lessons in Tanya: The Tanya of R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi_ (5 volume set). Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, 1998. * Wirszubski, Chaim; _Pico della Mirandola's Encounter with Jewish Mysticism_, Harvard University Press , 1989. * Wolfson, Elliot; _Through a Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism_, Princeton: Princeton University Press , 1994. * Wolfson, Elliot; _Language, Eros Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics and Poetic Imagination_, New York: Fordham University Press , 2005. * Wolfson, Elliot; _Venturing Beyond: Law and Morality in Kabbalistic Mysticism_, Oxford: Oxford University Press
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