Centre for Continuing Education

Ancient Kabbalah Course

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Learn about Jewish culture the smart way with Jewish Culture courses at CCE, the University of Sydney.

In partnership with the Department of Hebrew, Biblical & Jewish Studies
Course materials developed by The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning - a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For specific enquiries regarding the program, please contact Hinda Young on 0432 567 917 or email.

Thanks to Madonna and other contemporary celebrities, Kabbalah today is one of the best known facets of Judaism, yet also one of the least understood. As a result, and despite the public chatter about Kabbalah, for many, the important aspects of the Jewish mystical tradition remain a “closed book”. This is the first of two courses presented to enable participants to gain familiarity with the rich history of mysticism and an understanding of many of the texts that have been so central to that tradition.

Presented chronologically, this short Course takes the story from biblical and rabbinic roots, though the mystics and ascetics of medieval Germany, the early and important text the Sefer HaBahir, and the flowering of ‘Classical Kabbalah’ in the middle ages, including the doctrine of the Ten Sefirot. We provide an opportunity for discussion on the progression of mystical tradition over hundreds of years. These discussions will relate to enduring challenges and issues of pressing relevance for life both past and present, and participants will be exposed to some of the ways that the particular lens of the mystical and esoteric has been employed throughout history whilst considering the extent to which mystical teachings speak to the deepest mysteries of human existence.

If you are interested in related courses, please also see Kabbalah Since the Sefer HaZohar Course.


Students will trace the historic developments in Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition. They will also understand ‘Classical Kabbalah’ and the central teaching of the Ten Sefirot.


Early Mysticism: Biblical and Rabbinic Encounters with God

The mystical and esoteric tradition derives most of its terminology and ideas from biblical and rabbinic literature as well as from ancient texts that derive from the pre-medieval world. The objective of this lesson is to provide a basic grounding in mystical literature. This lesson will consider some of the images of an encounter with or a vision of God in biblical literature, rabbinic notions of secret knowledge and its relationship to mystical experience.

The Secrets of the Chasisei Ashkenaz

This lesson explores the important new forms of mysticism that developed in mediaeval Germany.

Sefer HaBahir and the Writings of the First Kabbalists

The objective of this lesson is to explore new forms of mysticism in Provence/ Northern Spain.

Classical Medieval Kabbalah Part I: The Ten Sefirot and the Created Cosmos

This lesson explores some of the key features of medieval Kabbalah, also sometimes referred to as “Classical Kabbalah.” Particular attention will be given to the way these texts understand the ten sefirot in relation to the created universe.

Classical Medieval Kabbalah Part II: Body, Soul and the Performance of Mitzvot

Particular attention will be given to the way these texts understand the ten sefirot in relation to the created universe and how they can be influenced through the observance of commandments.

Intended Audience

Suitable for anyone, no prior knowledge is required.

A discount applies for couples enrolling. In order to receive this discount, please contact Hinda Young for details prior to enrolment.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion