It appears to be like there isn’t enough information regarding Jewish mysticism that can be provided to anyone who is interested in it. But the truth is that the origins of it are, in fact, very interesting, particularly to the ones who are drawn to these topics.
What we do know is that the origin of it starts with the Tanakh which represents the Hebrew Bible, which is also known as Miqra. It contains the Hebrew scriptures, including the Nevi’im, the Ketuvim, and the Torah.
During the medieval era, by virtue of the mystical text, the Sefer Yetzirah, Jewish mysticism started to thrive and expand. Many Jewish sources attribute it to Abraham, the biblical patriarch, and precisely this book has become the object of numerous studies conducted by the people who called themselves bale ha-kabbalah, which stands for masters of the Kabbalah.
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Different Types Of Jewish Mysticism
In the rich history of Judaism, you can come across three types of mysticism, the contemplative, the ecstatic, and the esoteric. Even though each of them is different and authentic in its own way, they oftentimes overlap.
The ecstatic one represents sort of a journey to find God or to be more precise, it can be defined as access to the supernatural. As far as the contemplative is concerned, it is rooted in metaphysical meditation.
Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, along with several other Jewish individuals were frequently inspired by the Greco-Arabic Neoplatonism, and at times, by the Muslim mysticism. It’s safe to say that they made the biggest impact on these great Jewish thinkers.
Then we move on to the last type, which is an esoteric type that focuses on everything that’s wonderful about life itself and the relationship between life and the natural realm, also known as the extra-divine. From ancient times, it has informed Jewish spirituality.
What About Kabbalah?
Unless you are Jewish, it is highly unlikely that you’ll be familiar with this term and what it means. Some define kabbalah as the occult knowledge, or mysticism and it represents part of Jewish tradition that explores everything that’s related to the essence of God.
Generally speaking, Kabbalists are convinced that God moves in ways that cannot always be understood by people, however, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to understand these paths.
On the contrary. They believe that these occurrences are in a way obtainable and that if we do our best to expand our knowledge, we will be able to understand God much better and everything He does.
The Zohar, which is a vast collection of written commentaries on the Torah can be defined as the basis of Kabbalah. Furthermore, it was written in medieval Hebrew and medieval Aramaic and its main purpose is to be the guide to anyone who decides to embark on the spiritual journey.
It aims to help these individuals develop a deeper connection with God. Many perceive Kabbalistic thought as part of Jewish mysticism, however, those who practice it often accentuate the fact that they perceive the Creator, as well as the Creation as a continuum and their main goal is to reach high levels of intimacy with God.
They are yearning to have this type of relationship with their Creator because they feel there’s an omnipotent sense of kinship between people and God. Moreover, they firmly believe that every single living being on this planet has that “inner God” that is longing to be seen and uncovered.
How Everything Started In Terms Of Kabbalah?
There’s a common misconception that Kabbalah was practiced by Moses, which isn’t accurate. Its origins are in medieval Europe. Namely, back in the 13th century, Jewish scholars claimed that they were the ones who had secret scriptural knowledge in their possession that originated with Moses. These individuals, along with exegetes were concentrated on two parts of the Torah, that no one was allowed to discuss publically.
The first one represents the Creation of Genesis, while the second one is a description in the Book of Ezekial of Ezekial’s vision of a cosmic chariot. Furthermore, Kabbalah appeared at the moment when Judaism was mostly dominated by rabbis who were very strict and demanded that every single Jew strictly follow all Jews-related laws and principles.
Back then, Kabbalists were dying to properly define God, and at the same time, to enter His world and experience his omnipotence and power, which was perceived (by purists) as something heretical.
The most impactful movement (when it comes to Kabbalah) was established in the 16th century in Safed in Galilee. Its leader was Rabbi Isaac Luria who was in fact, seriously affected by the Inquisitional persecution of Jews in Spain.
Namely, it was then viewed as a perfect example of massive persecution and even compared with the desolation of the Second Temple in A.D. 70. During the 18th century, it seemed like Kabbalah had lost its power and influence, due to the rise of various other sects.
As time went by, Kabbalism was no longer as influential as it used to be, which wasn’t the case with Hasidism which became extremely popular in Eastern Europe and was being welcomed by a plethora of Jews. During the World War II, a lot of Kabbalist masters have lost their lives.
Celebrities And Kabbalah
Without a doubt, the first celebrity who decided to openly talk about it and who embraced it was Madonna, over twenty-five years ago. Namely, she became a follower of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, and nineteen years ago, she visited Israel and used that opportunity to pay a visit to Rabbi Ashlag’s grave.
Even though Madonna was the first celebrity who publicly talked about it and how much it meant to her, she most definitely isn’t the only one. Kabbalah has in fact, a lot of famous followers, such as Ariana Grande, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mick Jagger, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and many others.
As you can see, there are so many enticing things that can be said about Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism in general, and we honestly hope that these facts will encourage you to dig a bit deeper when it comes to this.