Centre for Continuing Education

Kabbalah and Mysticism Course: Secret Knowledge in Judaism

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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 Jillian Fine on 0410 497 870 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 well understood. As a result, despite the public chatter about Kabbalah, for many, this important aspect of the Jewish tradition remains a “closed book.” This new Melton Scholars course enables participants to gain familiarity with the rich history of Jewish mysticism, and understanding of many of the texts that have been so central to that tradition. Presented chronologically, the course provides an opportunity for discussing the progression of Jewish mystical tradition over hundreds of years. Discussions surrounding the texts will relate to enduring Jewish challenges, issues of pressing relevance for Jewish life both past and present. The course will expose participants to some of the ways that the particular lens of the mystical and esoteric has been employed throughout Jewish history to discover the relevant, deeper meanings of Judaism, as students consider the extent to which Jewish mystical teachings speak to the deepest mysteries of human existence, offering rich, meaningful explanations for so many of life’s eternal universal questions.

Course Content

Early Jewish Mysticism: Biblical and Rabbinic Encounters with God

The Jewish 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 Jewish 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 Jewish 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.

Sefer HaZohar: Reading from the Book of Splendour

This lesson will focus exclusively on the Zohar, arguably the crowning literary achievement of medieval Kabbalah by examining why the Zohar succeeded as well as it did in Jewish society over time and the way the Torah has continued to resonate with so many Jews?

Mystical Visions and Voices: From Spain to Safed

The objective of this lesson is to illustrate the development of two new emphases in kabbalistic discourse: the importance of asceticism, or mortification of the body, for attaining mystical insight; and the translation of theosophic ideas into ethical ideals that prescribe how to live a pious and good life.

Lurianic Kabbalah: Creation, Destruction and Individual Tikkun

The objective is to explore the way that Lurianic Kabbalah transforms the medieval kabbalistic notion of theurgy as a collective Jewish project into a more individualized endeavor whereby each Jew, through the unique capacities associated with their own particular soul, plays an essential role.

Chasidism: Seeking God in a Troubled World

This lesson explores how the most salient feature of the development of Chasidism is its use of Kabbalah for new purposes, reflecting the new conceptions of the self that became operative in Jewish communities in the early modern world.

Kabbalah in a New Age: Contemporary Forms of Jewish Mysticism

The objective of this lesson is to examine how Kabbalah has proven itself to have remarkable value, as seekers from many walks of life, both within and beyond the Jewish world, have turned to the teachings of the Jewish mystics in their pursuit of spiritual fulfillment.

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


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  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Certificate of completion