Essential Papers on Kabbalah / Edition 1

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Overview

As recently as 1915, when the legendary scholar of Jewish mysticism Gershom Scholem sought to find someone—anyone—to teach him Kabbalah, the study of Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah was largely neglected and treated with disdain. Today, this field has ripened to the point that it occupies a central place in the agenda of contemporary Judaic studies.

While there are many definitions of Kabbalah, this volume focuses on the discrete body of literature which developed between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries. The basis for most of this kabbalistic literature is the concept of the ten sefirot, the complex schema depicting the divine persona, and speculation about the inner life of God. It maintains the conviction that all human action reverberates in the world of the sefirot, and thus influences the life of divinity. Proper action helps to restore harmony and unity to the world of God, while improper action reinforces the breach within God brought about originally through human transgression.

Collected here in one volume are some of the most central essays published on the subject. The selections provide the reader with a sense of the historical range of Kabbalah, as well as examples of various kinds of approaches, including those of intellectual and social history, history and phenomenology of religions, motif studies, ritual studies, and women's studies. Sections discuss mystical motifs and theological ideas, mystical leadership and personalities, and devotional practices and mystical experiences.

While there are many definitions of Kabbalah, this volume focuses on the discrete body of literature that developed between the 12th and 17th centuries. Collected here in one volume are some of the most central essays published on the subject, which provide the reader with a sense of the historical range of Kabbalah, as well as examples of recent approaches.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Concentrating on the theosophical/theurgical trend of Kabbalah, 15 essays, reprinted from academic journals and often translated from Hebrew, examine the body of literature that grew up between the 12th and 18th centuries from several approaches. They cover mystical motifs and theological ideas, mystical leadership and personalities, and devotional practices and mystical experience. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814726297
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Series: Essential Papers on Jewish Studies
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 562
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence Fineis the Irene Kaplan Leiwant Chair of Jewish Studies at Mount Holyoke College.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
I Mystical Motifs and Theological Ideas 25
1 The Zohar: Jewish Mysticism in Medieval Spain 27
2 Ayin: The Concept of Nothingness in Jewish Mysticism 67
3 The Doctrine of Man in the Zohar 109
4 Samael, Lilith, and the Concept of Evil in Early Kabbalah 154
5 The Meaning of the Torah in Jewish Mysticism 179
6 Myth vs. Symbol in the Zohar and in Lurianic Kabbalah 212
7 The Doctrine of Transmigration in Galya Raza 243
8 Eternality of Punishment: A Theological Controversy within the Amsterdam Rabbinate in the Thirties of the Seventeenth Century 270
II Mystical Leadership and Personalities 289
9 The Zaddiq as Axis Mundi in Later Judaism 291
10 The Art of Metoposcopy: A Study in Isaac Luria's Charismatic Knowledge 315
III Devotional Practices and Mystical Experience 339
11 Prayer and Devotion in the Zohar 341
12 Kabbalistic Rituals of Sabbath Preparation 400
13 Mystical Techniques 438
14 Circumcision, Vision of God, and Textual Interpretation: From Midrashic Trope to Mystical Symbol 495
15 Woman As High Priest: A Kabbalistic Prayer in Yiddish for Lighting Sabbath Candles 525
Index 547
About the Editor 551
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