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(3,137 words)

Author(s): Wolfson, Elliot R.
Kabbalah and Secrecy 1. ‘Kabbalah’ is the term employed by both practitioners and scholars to denote the esoteric lore and practice cultivated by elite rabbinic circles from the Middle Ages to the present. The word itself is derived from a root that means ‘to receive,’ and hence ‘Kabbalah’ signifies in its most basic sense → ‘tradition.’ Needless to say, Kabbalah is not monolithic in nature; on the contrary, it is better described as a collage of disparate doctrines and practices encompassing such …

Mysticism, Judaism and

(9,179 words)

Author(s): Wolfson, Elliot R.
It is a commonplace in the history of religions to assume that most, if not all, religions have a tradition of mysticism associated with them. Generally speaking, the mystical element is linked to intense and often extreme forms of consciousness that relate one way or another to an encountering of ultimate reality, identified in theisitc religions as God. But can we really speak of a universalist phenomenon called “mysticism”? Or is it better to speak of mysticism relative to the specific contex…