On Saturday, March 5, I had the pleasure of discussing Jewish mysticism with members of Temple Beth David as part of my Bissel of Judaism adult education series. The goal of this course is to provide some overview information on the breadth of Jewish knowledge, in order to inspire further inquiry.
Mysticism is a particularly difficult topic to introduce to a Jewish audience. So much of its language is foreign to us. Modern Judaism was built separate from this wellspring of inspiration. Many of our 20th century prayer books removed the poetry from our translations in addition to the mystical concepts. This is the beginning of my attempt to reclaim spiritual reverence for the modern, rational, Jewish soul.
There are more books on Kabbalah than anyone could read in a lifetime. More than reading a book, experiencing a teacher has been the most important factor in me integrating mysticism into my spiritual journey. I welcome the opportunity to bring this rich tradition to life for your community. I will again be meditating into the sefirot during the counting of the Omer this year between Passover and Shavuot. That is a concrete way to experience how Divine emanations can transform our lives. Similarly, a spiritual lens can be brought to the prayer experience. And finally, there are so many wonderful ways to learn about the history of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism more generally.
A mystical frame for prayer
The weekday service and the four worlds explained by my professor, Dr. Tamar Frankiel:
Jewish prayer as a form of meditation, a classic book by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, z”l: