The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism / Edition 1

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The Mystic Quest explains the major ideas and concepts of Jewish mystical thought in a way that the general reader can clearly understand. Drawing upon his own extensive research as well as on the growing body of scholarly material on the subject, Dr. David Ariel, president of the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies, presents the extremely difficult and complex elements of Jewish mysticism in language that makes it accessible to the layperson. Jewish mysticism is as old as the Bible itself. It is a rich and subtle web of secret teachings and practices that has been part of Judaism since antiquity and has sought to keep the original spark of religious experience alive through the centuries. It is the relatively unknown, esoteric dimension of Judaism that has nourished a deep spiritual power within a tradition of law, ritual, and observance. A central element in Judaism, the "mystic quest" has shaped both Judaism and Jews throughout history, generating the kabbalistic tradition and Hasidism, which continue to thrive today, As Ariel says, "This book is concerned primarily with the development and meaning of the Kabbalah, the principal tradition of mystical Jewish thought." The Mystic Quest begins with an examination of the variety of phenomena known in different cultures as "mysticism." Ariel then located the Jewish mystical tradition within the context of Jewish history and traces its evolution throughout the ages. Jewish mystical theories about the hidden and revealed God, the feminine aspects of divinity, the mystical Torah, and the concepts of the soul and human destiny are then explored in detail. Finally, the author considers Hasidism and modern Jewish mystical thought, discussing the role of mysticism in contemporary Judaism. In language accessible to the beginner, yet sophisticated enough to captivate the advanced student, The Mystic Quest fills an important gap in our knowledge of mysticism by bringing a comprehensive and fresh understanding of the subject to a new generation of

A lucid, accessible introduction to the esoteric mystical tradition in Judaism known as Kabbalah. "The first comprehensive history of Jewish mystics to make its ideas accessible to the nonspecialist. Readers, Jewish or non-Jewish, with an interest in mysticism will find much knowledge here."--Publishers Weekly.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Jewish mystical tradition is unknown to most Jews today, yet for centuries prior to the French Revolution mysticism was an important current in Judaism. Rabbis in second-century Israel practiced visualization techniques and meditation. Kabbalists, beginning in Provence around 1175, deciphered the ``ten numerals''God's personal aspect. To the early Jewish mystics, God's wisdom Hokhmah prefigured everything that might come into existence; each person possessed a higher and lower soul; and God's feminine, caring aspect Shekhinah was locked in holy marriage with his masculine component. Jewish mystics' detailed deathbed visions, as reported here, bear direct comparison to modern parapsychologists' accounts of after-death experiences. Ariel's Eastern Dawn of Wisdom brilliant study is the first comprehensive history of Jewish mysticism to make its ideas accessible to the nonspecialist. Readers, Jewish or non-Jewish, with an interest in mysticism will find much knowledge here. August
Library Journal
Ariel discusses the nature, history, character, and principles of Jewish mysticism. He also details number symbolism, reference to the feminine aspect of God, the idea of Torah as God's emanation, destiny of the soul, religious life of the mystic, and modern Jewish mysticism. The book is useful for general readers and specialists, but it does not oversimplify. It is an excellent, comprehensive study. Highly recommended for seminary and academic libraries; large public libraries should consider.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780876689288
  • Publisher: Aronson, Jason Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/7/1977
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.45 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

David S. Ariel, former assistant professor of religion at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, is currently president of the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies. He has taught Judaica at Boston University and Hebrew at Brandeis University, where he received his Ph.D. in Jewish philosophy and Kabbalah. He has taught and lectured in the United States, Israel, and the Soviet Union and has published articles on Jewish and Islamic mysticism in the Brown University Judaica Series, Judaism, Religious Studies Review, and New Outlook.

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Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader
Transliteration Rules
1 Seekers of Unity: The Nature of Mysticism 1
2 Bridging the Abyss: The History of Jewish Mysticism 17
3 Living with the Abyss: The Character of Jewish Mysticism 39
4 The Hidden and the Revealed: The Principles of Jewish Mysticism 51
5 The Calculus of the Divine World: The Teaching of the Sefirot 65
6 The Shekhinah: The Feminine Aspect of God 89
7 Language and Being: The Torah as God's Emanation 111
8 The Oneness of Being: The Destiny of the Soul 123
9 The Mystic Drama: The Religious Life of the Jewish Mystic 139
10 Uplifting the Sparks: Modern Jewish Mysticism 163
11 Jewish Mysticism and the Mystic Quest 191
Notes 205
Glossary 219
Bibliography 223
Index 229
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