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.
In this podcast episode, David examines a phase in 18th century Jewish history that he calls the ‘zenith of rabbinics’ for its extraordinary collection of learned rabbis. Among this ensemble of remarkable figures, one man towered over the rest – Elijah, the Vilna Gaon.
The Gra, as the Gaon of Vilna was also known, was an unparalleled prodigy in Jewish textual study and methodology, with an almost incomprehensible knowledge of Torah. David explores the life and contribution of the Gra and why he is one of the most revered Torah scholars of the past millennium. He also discusses the life and work of the Gra’s greatest student, Rabbi Chayim of Volozhim.
The 18th century also saw the rise of a new phenomenon in Jewish history, known as the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment. Two enormously important figures to launch this seismic shift in Jewish life were the philosophers:
Moses Mendelssohn, often called the father of the Haskalah, and
Other intellectuals of note in the early days of the Haskalah that David mentions were:
Naphtali Herz Wessely.
Through the story of these impressive intellectual figures, David paints a picture of the historical circumstances, rights, challenges, and emerging opportunities for 18th century European Jews.
Providing background to this discussion, he also explores the legal and political reforms of:
Frederick the Great
David concludes with a discussion of another important figure from the 18th century, Meyer Amschel Rothschild, founder of an unprecedented banking dynasty. As a result of its tremendous business success, the Rothschild family pioneered a new type of Jewish participation and influence in broader society, stretching to the highest echelons of the European establishment.
Kabbalah Since the AR”Y: the Vilna Gaon and Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
The teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the AR”Y (also known as the Ari or Arizal), 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.
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