#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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#9 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 3: 1200-1250)

Life in the first half of the 13th Century continued in the shadow of dramatic and perilous historical events including the Second Reconquista; the fourth to sixth crusades; the rule of the Ayyubids; the Mongol invasion; the rise of the Mamluks; and the emergence of high scholasticism. Within this context, Jewish life was often fraught with danger and uncertainty, but it also gave rise to a number of extraordinary individuals. David Solomon examines the personalities and contributions of some of the significant Jewish figures who lived during this time. He also explores the impact of numerous initiatives concerning Jews, including various papal decrees, the Fourth Lateran Council, the beginning of the Inquisition, the burning of Jewish texts, forced disputations, and anti-semitic canards. This period also saw Jewish spiritual, cultural and linguistic developments that would shape the lives of communities for centuries.

Woodcut carved by Johann von Armssheim (1483). Portays a disputation between Jewish and Christian scholars (Soncino Blaetter, Berlin, 1929. Jerusalem, B. M. Ansbacher Collection). Public domain – This file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights.

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