What is Kabbalah? – a lecture in the series Old and New Questions
Kabbalah is one of the most important movements of mystical Judaism. At its source, there is the conviction that the basic writings of Judaism, including Torah, contain hidden meanings. Their cognition not only allows for a fuller understanding of the Creator's message, but also enables to influence the destiny of the world.
The origins of Kabbalah go back to ancient times, but as a religious-philosophical system, it was formed in the circle of Jewish scholars of medieval Western Europe, especially in Spain. And it was probably there where the most important book of Kabbalah – the Zohar (in Hebrew: The Book of Radiance) had first appeared. In the 16th century, the main centre of Kabbalah became the city of Safed in Palestine, where many prominent scholars evolved their ideas, including Icchak Luria, who developed the earlier concepts of divine emanation. Kabbalah has evolved in many ways, and it has also influenced the rise in the Polish lands of a number of great mystical movements, such as Hasidism.
Various aspects of the Kabbalah, its different trends, will be presented by Prof. Moshe Idel – an eminent expert in Jewish mysticism, retired professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and currently a lecturer at the Centre for Humanistic Studies at the Jagiellonian University, author of several hundred papers, published also in Polish, including Kabała. Nowe Perspektywy (Kabbalah. New Perspectives), Kraków 2006.
The lecture is organized within the Global Education Outreach Program.
The lecture was made possible thanks to the support of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland.