What is Jewish Mysticism?

Seeing Beyond | Rachel Bishop

Judaism is one of the world’s oldest religions steeped in history and tradition and deeply woven into cultural practices. Judaism also has a unique mysticism called Kabbalah.

Kabbalah is aimed at teaching understanding of the God and his relationship with the world and creation, according to Chabad.org.

Some know Kabbalah for the red bracelets celebrities like Madonna and Ashton Kutcher wore years ago, but it is more than a celebrity trend and a red string. Those practicing Kabbalah seek a deep relationship with God and view as more connected to creation than others in the Jewish faith.

Those practicing Kabbalah have reportedly had more supernatural experiences on their quest for knowledge and intimacy with the creator, which is another reason Kabbalah falls under the term mysticism

This Jewish mysticism originated with the Revelation of Sinai, when the Torah was given to the people of Israel, Chabad.org said, meaning the Kabbalah is part of the Jewish spiritual text. Those practicing Kabbalah have reportedly had more supernatural experiences on their quest for knowledge and intimacy with the creator, which is another reason Kabbalah falls under the term mysticism, according to Chabad.org.

But Kabbalah isn’t all about seeing visions and having contact with other-worldly beings. It can be a spiritual philosophy many — even those that are not inherently Jewish — apply to their lives to gain more understanding of divinity.

Jewish mysticism has three “dimensions,” according to reformjudaism.org: The investigative, the experiential and the practical. The investigative level is where people find hidden meanings in sacred texts, hear tradition from masters of Kabbalah or receive spiritual visits.

The experiential level is where more mysticism comes in. People are seeking those supernatural experiences we tend to associate with mysticism. The purpose of such an experience in Kabbalah is to “seek the ec­static experience of God, not merely knowledge about God,” according to reformjudaism.org. Those practicing Kabbalah take part in a lot of prayer and studying of religious texts in order to gain access to these mystical experiences.

The final dimension of Kabbalah focuses on applying mystical experiences and studies and the gained intimacy with God to bettering our world and the world beyond us, according to reformjudaism.org.

Kabbalah is a unique combination of mysticism, tradition, religion and philosophy and uncovers “the infinite layers of the secrets of life, of Creation, of the soul, of the heavenly spheres,” chabad.org said.

Jewish mysticism is, according to chabad.org, just as much a part of Jewish theology as any other part of the religion and doctrine because it is ingrained in the Torah. So while it is a form of mysticism based on its practices and purposes, it is also a philosophical take on one of the world’s oldest faiths.