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Hidden Meanings: Part I: The Devine
By Saul Gorenstein - December 25, 2008


Rembrandt: The Kabbalist
Mysticism has often been defined as the pursuit or communion of awareness with what all religious or spiritual people would define as their Creator or G-d. Like all religions Judaism has a long and rich history of mysticism from its very earliest days. The Torah has a multitude of visitations by angels and of course the ultimate communication when HaShem spoke to Abraham and Moses to give them directions and dictates to fulfill the Jewish destiny as the chosen people. There is a long tradition in both the Torah and other Jewish religious writings that refer to the dreams and visions of the Jewish prophets and religious leaders.

Zohar
There have also been many discussions that have interpreted the Torah through the ages of Judaism and what many believe are secrets behind those initial sacred words. In the Middle Ages some of these views began to appear in writing and with the invention of the printing press these ideas began to get more circulation, at least among the most educated Jewish people in Europe and their spiritual advisers. One of the most famous was called the Zohar which was a mystical commentary on the first five books of the Torah. It is also widely believed to be the beginning of what we know today as the Kabbala or Kabbalah, from the Hebrew letters Koff-Beit-Lamed, meaning ("to receive, to accept.") and for many Jews, and even non-Jews, is their entry point into the world of Jewish mysticism.

The Zohar is actually a group of books that include not just spiritual interpretation but even psychology, and what some would call anthropology. There are some questions about the actual writer of the Zohar but it was published by a Jewish writer named Moses de Leon in Spain in the 13th century.
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