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Kabbalah to Modern Jewish Mysticism

Text Study for a Day or a Weekend

By Medieval times, mysticism had already become (in the words of Gershom Scholem) “the soul of Judaism.” Slowly, Kabbalah emerged, leading to the publication of the Zohar, often called Judaism’s “second Bible.” Through highways and byways of the spirit, Kabbalah pioneered new paths and claimed new ground always guided by a remarkable series of brilliant teachers and inspired seekers.

The story of modern Jewish mysticism illumines the life and work of great kabbalists including Isaac Luria, Shabbetai Tzvi, Jacob Frank, and Israel ben Eliezer (the Baal Shem Tov). It examines the shifting emphasis given to Chasidism and Jewish mysticism by the immediate disciples of the Baal Shem Tov in the first generations of Chasidic expansion and the origins and present condition of the most popular and familiar Chasidic sects today. It suggests that even now the teachings of Kabbalah need not be the possession of any sect or cult but are beneficial to every modern Jew.

(For destinations that seek intensive study, Rossel has crafted two separate courses: This second course, “The Kabbalah to Modern Mysticism,” concentrates on the shape of Kabbalah from the expulsion from Spain (1492) to modern Jewish Mysticism. Either course stands on its own; and for destinations with less time commitment, various segments of each course can also stand alone.)

Available Topics

  • Zohar: The Bible of Kabbalah

  • Shechinah & the Zohar’s Sexual Symbolism

  • The Sefirot & the Soul

  • Moses Cordovero

  • The Exile from Spain & Early Messianic Pretenders

  • Tsfat: A Mystical Homecoming

  • Isaac Luria: Lion of the Exile

  • Isaac Luria & Tikkun Olam

  • Shabbetai Tzvi: The False Messiah

  • Nathan of Gaza: Shabbetai’s Prophet

  • Jacob Frank: Another False Messiah

  • The Baal Shem Tov: Origins of Chasidism

  • Early Chasidic Teachings

  • Tzaddikim: The First Disciples of the
    Baal Shem Tov

  • 250 Years of Chasidic History

  • Chasidic Sects Today

  • A Potpourri of Chasidic Masters & Their Teachings

  • The Meaning of Mysticism: Your Life & Your Possibilities

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