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.
Chassidism marked a moment of revolutionary change in Jewish life and spiritual engagement of the 18th century. Heavily influenced by the teachings of the Ari, early Chassidic thinkers explored and contributed to the development of Jewish mysticism.
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.
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.
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.
De-mystifing the mystical: in this podcast episode David Solomon explores the complex and profound field of Kabbalah to provide an overview of its texts and ideas, together with their historical background. David also explains exactly where popular Kabbalah comes from and provides the one thing that it is missing: context.
Jewish life in the Ottoman Empire flourished in the 16th century. In this podcast episode, David Solomon examines factors across the empire that would come together during this period to create revolutionary developments in Jewish law and mysticism. David examines the lives and work of key individuals involved in this revolution, providing an overview of the profound new ideas that emerged and the lasting impact they would have on the world.
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