#45 Two Temples (part 1)

This episode is the first instalment of David’s next four-part series, Two Temples, launched to coincide with the beginning of the Three Weeks—a period of mourning in the Jewish calendar that marks the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem. In this podcast episode, David examines the construction of the First Temple during the reign of King Solomon. He then explores the major events, personalities, and challenges of the earlier years of the First Temple period, including brutal dynastic struggles, the rise of the institution of the prophet, and the ever-present threats from other nations.

Salomon de Bray: The Queen of Sheba before the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Public Domain.

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#44 Communities in Search of Meaning: Jewish History of the 17th Century (part 4)

The final lecture in this four-part series provides a fascinating overview of the closing decades of the 17th century and the historical events and characters that would prepare the world for the new century. In this podcast episode, David examines the extraordinary stories of a Portuguese explorer; of the reputed appearance of the lost ten tribes; of the well-argued lobbying that allowed Jews to return to England; of the enormous spiritual and intellectual whirlwind that was Baruch Spinoza; of communal tragedy in Yemen; and of the remarkable story of a mass immigration to the Land of Israel that went terribly wrong – only to be resolved in the 21st century.

Emanuel de Witte, Interior of the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam. Public Domain.

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#43 Communities in Search of Meaning: Jewish History of the 17th Century (part 3)

In this podcast episode, David examines the lives, contributions, and influences of six significant Jewish women from the 17th century. In exploring the individual stories of these poets and scholars, merchants and messianic figures, David provides fascinating insight into different areas of Jewish life in the 1600s as well as into the remarkable – and sometimes unexpected – responsibilities, opportunities, and accomplishments of Jewish women from the time.

Réunion de dames, Abraham Bosse, 17th century. Public Domain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#42 Communities in Search of Meaning: Jewish History of the 17th Century (part 2)

This podcast episode begins with an exploration of two significant moments in the second quarter of the 17th century: the contributions and controversies of the German rabbi and kabbalist Naphtali Bacharach and the horror of the Cossak uprisings in Ukraine under the leadership of Bohdan Khmelnytsky. With this background in place, David then moves to the extraordinary story of one of Judaism’s most infamous messianic figures, Shabtai Zvi, taking listeners on an incredible journey through mystical narratives, revolutionary ideas, political drama, spiritual aspirations, communal devastation, and historical consequences.

Shabbatai Tzvi as a prisoner of the Turks in Abydos. Unknown author – 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. From “Ketzer Geschichte,” 1701. Public Domain.

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#41 Communities in Search of Meaning: Jewish History of the 17th Century (part 1)

With a background of war, emerging superpowers, and the Enlightenment, Jewish History of the 17th century is largely seen through the prism of communal experience. In this podcast episode, David explores the narratives and circumstances of communities across Europe, tales of emerging Jewish life in the Americas, and accounts of the situation for Jews in the Land of Israel. In examining these fascinating stories, David also weaves in portraits of individuals, showing how their contributions and situations were reflected in the broader picture of shared Jewish experience.

The old synagogue in Josefov, Prague. Public Domain.

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#40 A History of Mystical Encounters (part 4)

The revelation of the Zohar saw an enormous shift in the landscape of Jewish mystical thinking, including in the techniques and ideas focused on the quest to engage with the Divine. In this podcast episode, David examines the ideas, practices, and approaches to encounters with Gd as explored in the Zohar, Lurianic Kabbalah, and Hassidism. This final instalment of David’s four-part series, A History of Mystical Encounters, also includes discussions on Maggidic revelation and Jewish mystical meditation.

The illustration below is a rendition of Tzimtzum, a concept discussed in this podcast episode. For a reminder about the sefirot illustration provided last week, please click here.

Emanation of Sefirot according to Lurianic Kabbala. Public Domain.

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#39 A History of Mystical Encounters (part 3)

The Jewish mystical concept of devekut is largely concerned with ways through which a person can become closer to Gd. In this podcast episode, David discusses two of the more practiced paths towards devekut: prayer and sex. He also examines profound themes in Sefer HaBahir and touches on the fundamental kabbalistic text of the Zohar, providing a fascinating explanation of the structure and meaning of the mystical idea of the sefirot.
This episode makes reference to an illustration of the sefirot as provided in Dr. Daniel Matt’s translation of the Zohar. For copyright reasons, we have provided an alternative image of the sefirot (see graphic below).
The Kabbalistic Tree of Life with the names of the Sefirot and paths in Hebrew. Public Domain.

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#38 A History of Mystical Encounters (part 2)

It is not only in Tanach (Hebrew Bible) that we find moments of human encounters with the Divine. In this podcast episode, David explores mystical encounters of this kind as described in sacred Jewish texts from the Talmudic to Medieval periods. In addition to examining the nature of these Divine encounters, David also discusses a number of Jewish mystical practices and techniques emerging from these books.

Click here to see the extract from Sefer Yetzirah discussed in this episode.

Hebrew letters as described in the ”Sefer Yetzirah.” Created by PuckSmith on January 7, 2006 with LView Pro 1.D2, Firefox 1.5 and ACDSee 3.1. Public Domain.

 

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#37 A History of Mystical Encounters (part 1)

The Jewish mystical tradition has fascinating and profound speculations about accessing divine reality. In this podcast episode, the first in a four-part series entitled ‘A History of Mystical Encounters’, David explores definitions of mysticism and its manifestations in life and texts. In doing so, he looks at different forms of Jewish mystical practice, including biblical prophecy. Unusually, this lecture also involves textual study. David examines extracts from Bereishit, Genesis, and the Book of Ezekiel (Sefer Yechezkel), and discusses mystical ideas presented and the context in which they are set.

Click on the links to download the extracts from the Books of Genesis and Ezekiel discussed in this episode.

Engraved illustration of the “chariot vision” of the Biblical book of Ezekiel, chapter 1. Public Domain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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