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By Moshe Idel

During this prizewinning new interpretation of Jewish mysticism, Moshe Idel emphasizes the necessity for a comparative and phenomenological method of Kabbalah and its place within the historical past of faith. Idel presents clean insights into the origins of Jewish mysticism, the relation among mystical and old event, and the influence of Jewish mysticism on western civilization. "Idel's publication is studded with significant insights, and leading edge techniques to the full background of Judaism, and mastery of it is going to be crucial for all critical scholars of Jewish thought."-Arthur eco-friendly, long island occasions publication evaluation "Moshe Idel's unique, scholarly, and stimulating examine of Kabbalah comprises the promise of a masterwork."-Elie Wiesel "Moshe Idel's publication may help the nonspecialized reader to reassess the entire of Kabbalistic culture compared to many facets of latest thought."-Umberto Eco "There could be no dispute concerning the value and originality of Idel's paintings. providing a wealth of complementary insights to Gershom Scholem and his university, it's going to command loads of awareness and critical discussion."-Alexander Altmann

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We find no more than passing remarks on Gnostic, Catharic, or Christian sources in Scholem's works. Despite his recurrent insistence upon the influence of Gnosticism upon Kabbalah, he never presented in his published works a thorough treatment of the relationship of the two. What I perceive as a conscious refrain in the founder of modern Kabbalah research, however, became in time a tacit ideology. For most of his students and followers, Scholem's initial commitment to the centrality of text study became an inert ideology of textology.

I likewise presume that there were Kabbalists who never undertook mystical journeys, but were content to collect, classify, and afterward describe the material stemming from the labors of their predecessors or colleagues, just as one can sketch a map without ever having actually seen the territory involved. This reservation notwithstanding, however, an organic conception of the various bodies of Kabbalistic literature may reveal unexpected affinities among seemingly disparate literary genres; thus, for example, commentaries on the ten Sefirot may serve as aids for the performance of commandments, or for praying, with Kabbalistic intention.

Strangely enough, despite the close proximity of Kabbalistic circles in Jerusalem and Benai Barak to the academic centers for the study of Kabbalah, such contacts are not regarded by the academic establishment as productive, all research in Kabbalah instead being focused exclusively on written texts. For this reason, no up-to-date picture is available on current Kabbalistic thought. More than one hundred years after ethnologists came to regard the collection of data and contact with remote tribes as essential for their descriptive work, and two decades after the introduction of the psychophysiological study of mystical experiences, researchers in Jewish mysticism work exclusively in relation to < previous page page_25 next page > < previous page page_26 next page > Page 26 texts, without even an awareness of the necessity of making the acquaintance of their close neighbors, the Kabbalists.

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