What is Jewish Mysticism?

Judaism began with the reception of the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, by the Israelites, in the Hebrew month of Sivan (Gemini), in the year 2448 (1313 BCE). Kabbalah refers to the tradition of Jewish mysticism based on the names of God found in the Torah and the verses of the Torah, itself.

An important source for Kabbalah is a small book entitled Sefer Yetzirah. The importance of this sefer (book), since its appearance over a thousand years ago, can be seen from the fact that it is referred to, commented on, and mentioned in countless rabbinical works over the centuries up to our own times.

The Sefer Yetzirah besides its importance for Kabbalah, is also a primary source for Jewish Astrology. To understand these Kabbalah texts and to know what they are about essentially, it is necessary to understand the purpose of Judaism, and therefore of Jewish mysticism and Jewish Astrology. Broadly speaking, the Torah and Jewish mysticism speak to the dilemma of how to live a spiritual life in a material world. The goal of Jewish spirituality is to attach or join oneself with the Divine by shaping one’s behavior to emulate Divine characteristics, such as compassion and love for others. Needless to say, spirituality transcends gender, age, social status, and even religious affiliation or lack thereof. 

The video clip below shows Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, who translated and commented on the Sefer Yetzirah, in an interview with Dr. Russell Barber, TV host and producer.

Click “CC” for Closed Captions in English.