In this talk, David examines the question: Which books of Kabbalah should a person have when building a Jewish library?
He also speaks for the first time publicly about completing the first-ever full English translation of the cornerstone kabbalistic text, Tiqqunei HaZohar.
David begins his presentation with a broad overview of the foundational texts required for a Jewish library, before narrowing his focus to which books of Jewish Mysticism should also be included. In doing so, he explores the background of each of the kabbalistic texts discussed, including their:
importance within the corpus of Kabbalah.
In the final part of the talk, David discusses the background and details of his translation of Tiqqunei HaZohar.
He also provides several images which illustrate the historical development of Tiqqunei HaZohar, including sample pages from the forthcoming publication of his translation.
In the final part of this series, David explores messiahs of the modern period of Jewish history and the dangers of mystical attempts to bring about redemption.
Among the figures David discusses are:
Yosef Della Reina
Rabbi Avraham ben Eliezer ha-Levi
Shlomo Molcho and David haReuveni
Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital
Rabbi Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal
Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov
Gaon of Vilna
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
Hannah Rachel Verbermacher, the Maid of Ludmir
Rav Abraham Isaac Kook
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Ideas that the lecture examines include:
a return to the apocalyptic- this time with mystical magic
the transformation of Christianity
the concept of a ‘special time’
redeeming the sparks
the antinomian messiah
kabbalistic efforts to bring redemption
sexual practices to bring the special soul
the redemptive spirit in the special soul.
David discusses the stories of these fascinating messianic figures and thinkers and unpacks their ideas, influences, and contributions to history as well as to the ever-developing notion of redemption and messianic fulfillment.
David examines major works and ideas in Kabbalah over the past five centuries in this final part of his lecture series, A Kabbalistic Journey Through Time.
The talk explores the contributions of:
The GR”A, the Vilna Gaon
Rabbi Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal
Rabbi Naphtali Bacharach.
It also discusses the ideas of the following rabbis:
Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov
Dov Ber ben Avraham of Mezeritch, the Maggid
Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, the Gramam
Schneur Zalman of Liadi
Nachman of Breslov
Yitzchak Izaak Chaver
Shalom Sharabi, the Rashash
Yehuda Ashlag, the Baal Hasulam
Shlomo Elyashiv, the Leshem.
Some of the concepts covered in the lecture include:
Lurianic kabbalah is an extended allegory
Revelation and concealment in relation to creation
The people of Israel in cosmic and world history
The revelation of esoteric knowledge, the secret level of Torah
The Torah is light
Darkness is a reality, not merely an absence
The role of Sabbateanism
The intersection of Kabbalah and Chassidut.
In addition to providing an overview of the development of Jewish mystical ideas since the AR”Y (Rabbi Isaac Luria), David explains the context of the examined thinkers and their work and provides historical background to their contributions.
Two towering kabbalistic figures of the 16th century are examined in this third part of David’s lecture series, A Kabbalistic Journey Through Time.
David explores the ideas of Rabbi Moshe (Moses) Cordovero (the RaMaQ) and Rabbi Yitzchak (Isaac) Luria (the AR”Y), whose contributions to Kabbalah – both emerging in late 1500s in the town of Tzfat – have been seismic.
The lecture investigates the RaMaQ’s book, Pardes Rimonim (The Orchard of Pomegranates), and its exploration of:
ein sof (infinite)
the relationship between Divine influence and the sephirot
the four worlds
the immanence of the Divine in reality
the divine element in the human soul
the revelation of God in meditation, kavannot, and mystical experience.
The AR”Y did not write down his vast kabbalistic teachings. The recording of his ideas was left to his students, chief among whom was Rabbi Chaim Vital. It was Vital who compiled the book Etz Chayim (Tree of Life), the cornerstone text of Lurianic Kabbalah. This book, which was to change forever the landscape of Jewish Mystical thinking, contained many transformative kabbalistic concepts, including:
primordial man (Adam Qadmon)
the domain of chaos (tohu);
integrated configurations known as ‘partzuphim’
the maintenance and repair of the World of Emanation
the trapped sparks of lower worlds
the five levels of the individual soul
the responsibility of souls to repair the world
David provides an overview of these concepts, a picture of the men from who they emerged, the historical setting of this extraordinary revolution in mystical thinking, and the legacy of these ideas.
David’s second lecture in his series, A Kabbalistic Journey Through Time, explores the extraordinary ideas and contributions of the:
and Sefer ha-Temunah.
In his discussion of the Zohar, David examines its dynamic interpretation of the Torah and how it applies this interpretation to the structure of the sefirot. He also looks at the way the Zohar explores the cosmic links between G-d, Israel, creation, and history.
The Tikkunei HaZohar, David explains, is concerned with the Divine presence in the various domains of the universe as well as in exile. Among other things, he considers the Tikkunei HaZohar’s discussion of the feminine Divine presence – the Shekhinah – and Her quest to find unity and completion with Her male counterpart, the blessed Holy One.
The final text David examines is Sefer HaTemunah, which is predominantly concerned with the Divine in time. All things emanate from G-d and return to Him, David explains, and time is divided into cosmic cycles.
In discussing these three important texts, David provides the historical and cultural background to their emergence in Jewish history and their impact on mystical thinking. He also shows his audience the size and presentation of the books and discusses their availability for interested readers – in English, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
David provides a remarkable historical overview of the origins of Kabbalah through the emergence of its early fundamental texts. The series explores numerous questions regarding the development of Kabbalah:
What are the key kabbalistic books to have shaped our understanding of Jewish mysticism?
When did they appear?
And what were the profound ideas they contributed which would shape our understanding of the mystical dimensions of heaven and earth?
This first lecture in the series examines three early kabbalistic texts:
Sefer Bahir, and
and discusses numerous ideas, including:
The creation of the universe,
Attributes of the sefirot,
Divine interaction with the world,
The divine flow of energy and wisdom,
The reincarnation of soul,
Divine male and female imagistic symbols, and
The patriarchs and other figures from the Bible as representations of Divine attributes.
David maps out the timeframe and locations of the development of Kabbalah through Jewish History. He explains the context of the evolution of Jewish mystical thinking, its influences, impacts, and legacy.
The mystical interpretation of the festival of Passover (Pesach) is the focus of David’s latest podcast episode, a concentrated Kabbalah lecture delivered this week during chol hamoed Pesach.
Kabbalistically, Pesach marks the birth of a nation, following its liberation from slavery. But it also represents the beginnings of the creative project of the people of Israel, tasked with placing transcendent divine consciousness into a pre-existing world.
David explains the mystical manifestation of Pesach as the concept of da’at, a term best translated in this context as ‘conscious awareness.’ It is one of a number of advanced kabbalistic ideas and descriptions contained in this talk.
Drawing on ideas and insights from Rabbi Isaac Luria, David maps out the mystical relationships between past, present, and future and how this relates to the eternal connection between the Jewish people and the Divine.
Kefitzat haderech, roughly translated as instant travel, is an idea in Judaism that a person can travel from one location to another in a moment – a type of Jewish teleportation. In this podcast episode, David discusses this fascinating concept and its place in Jewish life and texts. He explains four methods for achieving instant travel and the place teleportation will have in messianic times. David also describes several intriguing episodes in Jewish history in which this extraordinary mode of movement is said to have occurred.
The teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Ari (AR”Y), have been profoundly influential on Jewish mystical thought of the past five hundred years. In this episode of the podcast, the second lecture in a series exploring post-Lurianic Kabbalah, David discusses the historical background, lives, and ideas of two iconic Jewish intellectual and spiritual figures – the Vilna Gaon and Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto. In doing so, he examines their remarkable contributions to kabbalistic thought on G-d, the world, and Divine revelation.
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).
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