Mysticism 11/13/08 2:44 PM Mysticism Difficult to define (on purpose) According to Satlow ??a religious understanding in which 1. The individual 2. Aspires to unite with 3. The all encompassing One? (CJ 232) Jewish mysticism is characterized by ??the desire to experience the fullness of God?s presence? (CJ 232) Theoretical questions: Can Jewish mysticism exist outside of Judaism? Satlow discusses the Christian history of the (pseudo) divide between ?religious? and ? spirituality? (pg 231). How does this effect modern notions that understand these as separate entities? There are earlier Jewish mystical traditions Remember ?Work of Creation/Chariot? texts Magical bowls and amulets Theurgy? 13th century Jewish mystics innovate dramatically on these Kabbalah= ?Tradition? there is no work called ?The Kabbalah? Sefer haBahir ?The Book of Illumination? 12th-13th century France Pseudepigraphy 1st kabbalistic work to refer to the Sefirot Mysticism: 10 Sefirot page CJ234 Can you think of any theological problems these might cause for Jews? Sefer haBahir and the 10 Sefirot God= the sum of these semiautonomous divine emanations Parallels with Cathars Inquisition ?Gnostic? ideas of dualism What do these parallels mean? Bahir influences the Zohar Mysticism: Zohar Zohar= ?Splendor? (light) Written in archaizing Aramaic Pseudepigrapha: NOT: 1st century Rabbi Shimon bad Yohai Rather: 13th century Moses de Leon Why? Eyn Sof= The Infinite Godhead is dynamic, not static God is comprised of the 10 sefirot and the energy that flows between them Like plumbing, there can sometimes be a block in the pipes This leads to theological problems.. Polytheism? How might Maimonides view the sefirot? Pantheism? If Eyn Sof encompasses all? Do animals contain part of the divine within them? Is evil part of God? Zohar offers several complicated answers See CJ 236ff The Zohar is esoteric The Zohar creates, uses, and deciphers codes Torah is a code for mystics to unlock ?Mystical? or ?Magical?? What is the difference? Theosophic Kabbalah Mystical practices focused on contemplating divine nature Redirecting and reuniting divine energy flow An act of theurgy Zohar employs significant sexual imagery Shechinah (lowest sefirah) estranged from upper sefirot A metaphor for relationship between Jews and both the land of the Israel and God Redemption possible when Shechinah (feminine) has sexual intercourse with the Yesod (foundation; the divine phallus) Israel participates with God in this redemptive act by performing the mitzvot Active or passive eschatology? Mysticism Abraham Abulafia 13th century Christian Spain Promoted manipulations of divine names and gematria Criticized theosophic kabbalah Compared it to Christian trinity Considered it polytheistic His approach is called prophetic or ecstatic Believed that humans could unite with the divine cosmic force, an agent intellect This approach requires a relatively ascetic lifestyle Such a person becomes a prophet and a messiah He considered himself to be the messiah Some historical perspective: Kabbalists were deeply imbedded in rabbinic traditions and texts Remember: Kabbalah means ?tradition? Don?t tell Madonna, but to be a Kabbalaist, one needed to be an observant and knowledgeable rabbinic Jew Christianity (and Islam) developed mystical traditions in this same time and place Mysticism: Safed Jews expelled from Spain in 1492; spread Kabbalah 16th century Safed (modern day n. Israel) becomes a center for kabbalists Kabbalat Shabbat Lekha Dodi ?Come, my beloved to greet the bride, The Sabbath presence, let us welcome (nikabilah)!? Mystics in Safed emphasized the human ability to Change God Bring Shechinah out of exile Bring all of Israel out of exile They invent the ritual of the Tu b?Shevat Seder Tu b?Shevat= 15th of Shevat (January/February) New year for trees Underdetermined in previous rabbinic texts Develop an elaborate meal, using sexualized language In modern times, this is recast by JNF and environmentalists Mysticism: Isaac Luria 16th century Safed Dried young leaving no writings; students preserve his teachings Lurianic Kabbalah: Originally, Eyn Sof was everywhere God decided to retract (tsimtsum) so collects some of Gods light in vessels Something goes horribly wrong in the process, and the vessels, shatter This accounts for evil in the world Humans must help and imperfect God repair the world (tikkun ?olam) Through formulate and actions, and with proper intention (kavanah), the repairer is elevated into the sefirot Until this happens, his soul transmigrates (like reincarnation) Thus combines theosophic and ecstatic kabbalah Mysticism Gone Wild Lurianic Kabbalah laud the groundwork for several ?failed? messianic movements Sabbatai Zvi 17th century Turkey Declared Messiah by his prophet, Nathan of Gaza Spread quickly, amongst all segments of the population Sultan made him choose between conversion or death He choose conversion Interesting explanations offered Others drew on Lurianic Kabbalah Hasidism Rebbe as intermediary More on later in course Frankists Jacob Frank (18th century Poland) Declared himself Messiah and reincarnation of Zvi Rejected halakah Staged ritual orgies Modern Lubavitch
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