David Solomon 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.
David Solomon 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.
The third part of David Solomon’s lecture series, A Kabbalistic Journey Through Time, examines two towering kabbalistic figures of the 16th century.
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 Solomon’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 Solomon provides a remarkable historical overview of the origins of kabbalistic ideas 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 kabbalistic 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.
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