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Introduction to Kabbalah

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev via edX

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Overview

For hundreds of years, Kabbalah has been perceived as a body of secret theoretical and practical knowledge concerning creation, the divine world, and human interaction with it. This course will introduce you to the major ideas and practices of the Kabbalah from an academic point of view.

The course will examine basic Kabbalistic themes such as the theory of the Sefirot, ecstatic and prophetic Kabbalistic techniques, reincarnation, demonology, and practical Kabbalah. It will introduce major Kabbalistic works and movements, including the Sefer ha-Zohar, Lurianic Kabbalah, Hasidism, and the contemporary revival of popular Kabbalah.

In recent decades, interest in Kabbalah has been increasing and many non-academic Kabbalah centers have been founded throughout the world. Most of the information available online for the layman is non-academic, and at times it can be misleading and confusing.

The aim of this course is to introduce students with no background in Kabbalah or Jewish thought to the major ideas and practices of the Kabbalah in their historical and cultural settings. The ideas are presented in an accessible manner without jeopardizing the course's academic rigor.

The course approaches Kabbalah from a historical and sociological perspective. Kabbalistic theories and practices will be studied through reading and analyzing primary sources (the Kabbalistic texts themselves) as well as applying the most up-to-date secondary literature (academic research)

The course presents a variety of different perspectives on the themes it covers. Through the assignments and discussions that accompany the video lectures, students will be encouraged to express their opinions and individual perspectives, and to contribute to fruitful intellectual discussions.

Syllabus

1. Introduction: Kabbalah and its Academic study The lesson will introduce you to Kabbalah and to its academic study. We will discuss the term “Kabbalah,” and the varieties of forms and schools of Kabbalah throughout history. 2. Sefirot:  The Kabbalistic Theory of the Divine Structure We will learn about one of the most central concepts of Kabbalah – the Sefirot: a structure of ten divine powers. We will also explore the concept of God as En-Sof (The Infinite) and his relationship with the Sefirot. 3. The Inner Life of God: The Dynamics within the Sefirot We will explore interrelation of the different Sefirot and the effect of their inner dynamics on the lower realms. We will also learn about Kabbalistic theories about the formation of Evil and Kabbalistic demonology. 4. Human Influence on the Divine We will learn about the theories and practices of the Kabbalists that relate to their belief in the ability of human beings to influence and repair the divine. We will introduce the theory of rectification of the Divine- Tikkun. 5. Connecting with the Divine: Prophecy, Attachment, and Union This lesson will be dedicated to encounters with the Divine in Kabbalah in different forms, such as accents, visions, and automatic speech, the idea of “unio mystica”, and the techniques Kabbalists used to connect and unite with the Divine. 6. Kabbalistic Perception of the Human Body and Soul We will explore the Kabbalistic perception of the human body and the structure of the soul, and the structural resemblance between the human body and the structure of the Sefirot. We will discuss different notions of reincarnation as well the idea of possession (Dybbuk) and exorcism, which is still practiced by Kabbalists today. 7. Early Kabbalah and Sefer ha-Zohar This lesson will be dedicated to the early Kabbalah and the authorship of the Sefer ha-Zohar. We will also learn about the Kabbalistic schools of Spain and the ecstatic Kabbalah of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia. 8. Lurianic Kabbalah We will learn about the Kabbalist center in early-modern Safed and the school of Isaac Luria. We will also discuss the Christian Kabbala. 9. Kabbalah and Modernity We will explore Kabbalah and modernity in its main schools of Hasidism, Lithuanian Kabbalah, and the school of Shalom Sharaabi as well as the contemporary revival of Kabbalah.

Taught by

Prof. Boaz Huss and Dr. Yoed Kadary

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Reviews for edX's Introduction to Kabbalah
5.0 Based on 4 reviews

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Karen C
5.0 8 months ago
by Karen completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Great class for anyone curious about what Kabbalah is, but not particularly interested in actual practice. The course covers the most common theo-philosophical aspects of Kabbalah (since there are many different varieties), and the historical evolution of the concepts. There is some Hebrew vocabulary (using the Roman alphabet) - Sefirot, En-Sof, etc - but there's plenty of repetition with great graphics to help visual learning. Fascinating subject.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/intro-to-kabbalah-mooc/

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Anonymous
5.0 8 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This is a wonderful introduction to the subject and absolutely no previous insights or knowledge is necessary. Using a historical and sociological perspective this course gives an easy to understand overview into the history and main concepts of Kabbalah. I would thoroughly recommend it.
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Anonymous
5.0 8 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
A perfect course to discover the very complex word of Kabbalah.

Very helpful to understand the most fascinating ideas and different movements about this subject.

Highly recommended.
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Anonymous
5.0 8 months ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
Great course, I really enjoined the multimedia. Very accessible and gave me a good understanding about kabbalah and made me want to learn more.
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