The Book of Zohar and Exegetical Spirituality

Michael Fishbane

in Mysticism and Sacred Scripture

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780195097030
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848805 | DOI:
The Book of Zohar and Exegetical Spirituality

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The book of Zohar is the masterpiece of Jewish mysticism. Ostensibly a commentary on the Torah, it pulses with the desire for God on virtually every page. One may even say that the commentary is carried by this desire and that its protean creativity is primarily motivated by a longing to experience the divine realities uncovered by mystical interpretation. Toward this end the full range of tradition is activated, which runs from late antiquity to the 13th century, when the book of Zohar appeared in Castile. Recovering theosophical truths in the teachings of the Torah, the mystics ascend exegetically to God. This process invites attention. This chapter argues the exegetical spirituality made manifest in the Zohar is a complex fusion of myth and ritual. First, and most important, the seekers' quest for divine truth is bound up with the myths of God imagined through the work of exegesis—an achievement that puts him in mind of the hidden mysteries, and in connection with them. In turn, these esoteric myths are enacted in liturgical recitation and mystical contemplation for the sake of God and man. The circularity of this spirituality is as paradoxical as it is profound: a search for certainty through the theological myths of the exegetical imagination.

Keywords: Jewish mysticism; exegesis; mystics; God; divine truth; Zohar

Chapter.  10026 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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