On the Social and Existential Meaning of Jewish Mysticism Today: Pitfalls and Potential

Yonatan Glaser, Yehuda Bar Shalom


The authors review the profound and diverse ways in which mysticism is embedded in and influences belief, lifestyle, identity and politics in Jewish life in Israel and North America. They outline some existential and cultural dimensions of the conditions in which this phenomena flourish, specifically relating to the condition of post-modernity. The seeming dominance of mysticism over more rational forms of religious belief and behavior is explored. The opposite ideational and historic trends within Jewish mysticism as they relate to national lifestyle, being alternatively closed and parochial or open and universal are reviewed. The authors suggest that, in light of the current situation within and outside of the Jewish people, the latter approach needs to be strengthened.


Jewish mysticism; universal and particular; post-modern condition; existential; political; kabala; Israel; Jewish people; Zionism

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