Peering into the Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction to Jewish Mysticism
Led by Joel Hecker, PhD
Tuesdays, May 5, 12, 19, 26, 3:30–4:30pm Eastern $144 for four sessions
All sessions will be recorded and available to participants. You may join the session live or watch recordings at your own convenience.
Jewish Mysticism—Kabbalah—has enjoyed several surges of interest in the last century, the most recent one populated by movie stars and pop musicians. Long restricted to a rabbinic elite, over the last few decades, many major kabbalistic texts have been translated, rabbinical seminaries require its study, and popular kabbalah classes are readily available online.
This course will serve as a brief introduction to some of the features of Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah from its earliest appearances in the Hebrew Bible to the Hasidism of the 18th century:
First session: will focus on biblical and rabbinic texts that provide basic imagery and attitudes toward mysticism in the ancient Jewish world.
Second session: we will examine foundational kabbalistic texts to learn about primary assumptions in Jewish mysticism.
Third session: we will turn to the Zohar, central and canonical work of Jewish mysticism. Studying two texts we will see how we are responsible for the presence of Divinity in the world, and about kabbalistic hand-washing.
Forth session: In our last session we will read a Hasidic text about the spiritual ecosystem of eating.
These last two sessions in particular will provide material for take-home practices to enhance our own spirituality.
Joel Hecker is Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He is the author of Volumes 11–12 of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, the first complete scholarly translation and commentary of the Zohar, the canonical text of Jewish mysticism. He has also published Mystical Bodies, Mystical Meals: Eating and Embodiment in Medieval Kabbalah, as well as numerous articles in scholarly and popular venues.