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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.
|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|
|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|
|About the Editor||551|