Religious Studies | Introduction to Jewish Mysticism
R341 | 3645 | Yechiel Shalom Goldberg


This course will introduce the student to the mystical tradition
within Judaism by providing an overview of the various religious
movements, personalities, and writings in which Jewish mysticism is
manifest; and by presenting an overview of the main ideas and
characteristics of Jewish mysticism in its various forms.  In
addition, by examining and, at times, challenging the categories and
methods that have traditionally characterized the study of Jewish
mysticism, the student will become familiar with many of the key
issues and trends in the modern scholarly analysis of this tradition.

By combining historical and thematic approaches to the study of
Jewish mysticism the course will familiarize the student with the
distinct characteristics of different historical manifestations of
Jewish mysticism, while also demonstrating the continuity and
underlying unity of the mystical tradition within Judaism.

Requirements:  Writing assignments will include three or four short
(3-4 page) response papers, associated with select historical and
thematic units of the course, and a final term paper on a topic that
students will choose in consultation with the instructor.  In
addition, students will work in groups to write a commentary on a
selected text.  Attendance and class participation will be very
important as we work together to understand the religious morphology
of Jewish mysticism.  There are no prerequisites for the course.

The following is a partial bibliography of works from which required
readings will be drawn:  Fine, Lawrence, "Safed Spirituality:  Rules
of Mystical Piety, the Beginning of Wisdom"; Idel, Moshe, "Kabbalah:
New Perspectives"; Idel, Moshe, "The Mystical Experience in Abraham
Abulafia"; Matt, Daniel, "Zohar:  The book of Enlightenment"; "The
Early Kabbalah", Keiner, Ronald C. (Translator); Schafer, Peter, "The
Hidden and Manifest God: Some Major Themes in Early Jewish
Mysticism."