'The Origins of Jewish Mysticism' offers an in-depth look at the history of Jewish mysticism from the book of Ezekiel to the Merkavah mysticism of late antiquity. The author reveals what these writings seek to tell us about the age-old human desire to get close to and communicate with God.
Interest in Jewish mysticism is, in our generation, widespread and growing. From Hebrew schools to Hollywood, people of all backgrounds and levels of knowledge are pursuing the subject. Books, magazines, journals, and classes are rapidly growing in number. One result of this burst of interest and popularization of Jewish mysticism is the problem of misinformation. The need for reliable source material has become crucial. This four-volume work by Professor Joseph Dan is a monumental event in the publishing history of English-language reference books on the subject of Jewish mystical thought and practice. Professor Dan's credentials are of the highest order. The recipient of the Israel Prize (considered to be Israel's highest honor), Joseph Dan is the Gershom Scholem Professor of Kabbalah at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and continues to be a visiting professor at some of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world.
Questions of how the divine presence is understood and interacts within the world have been around since the time of the biblical prophets. The Jewish mystical tradition conceives God as active, just, powerful, and present while allowing for divine limitation so as to understand the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people in their history. Jewish Mysticism surveys Jewish visionary and mystical experience from biblical and ancient Near Eastern times through the modern period and the emergence of modern Hasidism. Marvin Sweeney provides a comprehensive treatment of one of the most dynamic fields of Jewish studies in the twenty-first century, providing an accessible overview of texts and interpretative issues. Sweeney begins with the biblical period, which most treatments of Jewish mysticism avoid, and includes chapters on the ancient Near East, the Pentateuch, the Former Prophets and Psalms, the Latter Prophets, Jewish Apocalyptic, the Heikhalot Literature, the Sefer Yetzirah and early Kabbalistic Literature, the Zohar, Lurianic Kabbalah and the Shabbetean Movement, and the Hasidic Movement. Placing Jewish apocalyptic literature into the larger development of ancient Jewish visionary and mystical experience, Sweeney fills gaps left by the important but outdated work of others in the field. Ideal for the scholar, student, or general reader, Jewish Mysticism provides readers with a fresh understanding of the particular challenges, problems, needs, and perspectives of Judaism throughout its history.
Concise classic on the salient features of Jewish mysticism and its impact on Jewish thought and worship. Based on researches of Jewish scholars, and reinforced by author's acquaintance with talmudic and rabbinical literature, the book covers Essenism, Merkabah mysticism, the book "Yetsirah," "Zohar" mysticism, the ten Sefirot, the Soul, more.
Over the past generation, scholars have devoted increasing attention to the diverse forms that Jewish mysticism has taken both in the past and today: what was once called “nonsense” by Jewish scholars has generated important research and attention both within the academy and beyond, as demonstrated by the popular fascination with figures such as Madonna and Demi Moore and the growing interest in spirituality. In Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah, leading experts introduce the history of this scholarship as well as the most recent insights and debates that currently animate the field in a way that is accessible to a broad audience. From mystical outpourings in ancient Palestine to the Kabbalah Centre, and from attitudes towards gender to mystical contributions to Jewish messianic movements, this volume explores the various expressions of Jewish mysticism from antiquity to the present day in an engaging style appropriate for students and non-specialists alike.
An annotated anthology of Jewish mystical works, concepts, and experiences, A Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism Reader explores issues relating to what has compelled Jews to seek a more intimate relationship with God. It does this by providing readings from the most important mystical texts, accompanied by Daniel M. Horwitz's insightful introductions and commentary. It is carefully designed to make the basic concepts and teachings of Jewish mysticism accessible to a wide audience and to ground these ideas within the broader Jewish tradition. Horwitz's introduction describes five major types of Jewish mysticism and includes a brief chronology of its development, with a timeline. He begins with biblical prophecy and proceeds through the early mystical movements up through current beliefs. Chapters on key subjects characterize mystical expression through the ages, such as Creation and deveikut ("cleaving to God"); the role of Torah; the erotic; inclinations toward good and evil; magic; prayer and ritual; and more. Later chapters deal with Hasidism, the great mystical revival, and twentieth-century mystics, including Abraham Isaac Kook, Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, and Abraham Joshua Heschel. A final chapter addresses today's controversies concerning mysticism's place within Judaism and its potential for enriching the religion. Daniel M. Horwitz is chapel rabbi at Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston, Texas. He is a teacher at the Akiba Academy of Beth Yeshurun and the Houston Melton Adult Mini-School.
This book analyzes and describes the development and aspects of imagery techniques, a primary mode of mystical experience, in twentieth century Jewish mysticism. These techniques, in contrast to linguistic techniques in medieval Kabbalah and in contrast to early Hasidism, have all the characteristics of a full screenplay, a long and complicated plot woven together from many scenes, a kind of a feature film. Research on this development and nature of the imagery experience is carried out through comparison to similar developments in philosophy and psychology and is fruitfully contextualized within broader trends of western and eastern mysticism.
"This book deals with the Kabbalah and also with Hebrew literature and poetry. The book also deals with modern issues of philosophy, Levinas and Heidegger, and the relationship between philosophy and Kabbalah"--back cover.
In this thoughtful and lucid exploration of the Jewish mystical tradition, leading scholars and teachers come together to share their favorite texts-many available in English for the first time-and explore why these materials are meaningful and relevant to contemporary life.
It has been asserted that monotheism, in the Jewish tradition, has long been understood both exoterically and esoterically. In the exoteric Scripture-based rabbinic tradition, monotheism is the belief in a one and only God, a belief which goes hand in hand with the affirmation of distinct individual and divine existences, so that there is a dualism between humanity and God. In the esoteric or mystic tradition, this dualism is overcome by a conception of monotheism in which God is One, not only in his ‘Lordship’ but also in his universal reality. That is, God is the only reality, so that everything which exists is in essence an aspect of divinity. Jewish mysticism has both a devotional or practical and an intellectual or speculative side. On its devotional side it emphasizes those aspects of the biblical precepts which serve to promote direct communion between the worshipper and God. On its speculative side it is especially concerned with outlining and bringing into relief the link or links between God and man, or more generally between the Creator and the universe. The focus of this study is on the questions of how and why Jewish mysticism arose and underwent a variegated evolution throughout much of the history of the Jewish people from remote antiquity to the present day.