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Descripción de editorial
This book tells the story of the mystical Jewish system known as Kabbalah, from its earliest origins until the present day. We trace Kabbalah's development, from the second century visionaries who visited the divine realms and brought back tales of their glories and splendours, through the unexpected arrival of a book in Spain that appeared to have lain unconcealed for over a thousand years, and on to the mystical city of Safed where souls could be read and the history of heaven was an open book.
Kabbalah's Christian counterpart, Cabala, emerged during the Renaissance, becoming allied to magic, alchemy and the occult sciences. A Kabbalistic heresy tore apart seventeenth century Jewish communities, while closer to our time Aleister Crowley hijacked it to proclaim 'Do What Thou Wilt'. Kabbalah became fashionable in the late 1960s in the wake of the hippy counter-culture and with the approach of the new age, and enjoyed its share of fame, scandal and disrepute as the twenty first century approached.
This concise, readable and thoughtful history of Kabbalah tells its story as it has never been told before. It demands no knowledge of Kabbalah, just an interest in asking the questions 'why?' and 'how?'
In this accessible, eminently readable survey, Aramaic scholar Freedman (The Murderous History of Bible Translations) provides a balanced look at a religious tradition whose reach has extended far beyond its original Jewish roots. Freedman explains that kabbalah, what was once the province only of "deeply mystical, otherworldly Jews, studying in closed, secretive groups in twelfth-century Provence," has become part of the mainstream with many celebrities now donning red string bracelets intended to ward off the evil eye. Freedman attributes its broad appeal to being "a rare example of a spiritual philosophy open to people of all creeds, yet one that does not detract from their faith." Freedman begins with kabbalah's origins in the first centuries CE, as ancient Jews sought to learn more about the nature of heaven, then explores how kabbalah study found a foothold in Europe in the Middle Ages, and ends in the present, when Jews and non-Jews alike make use of kabbalistic "meditations, incantations and body contortions" to experience the sublime. Freedman doesn't shy from troubling developments around the faith, such as the fraud and sex scandals that plagued the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles over the past decade. In tracking kabbalah's evolution and transformation through the centuries, this comprehensive guide to an important religious tradition will appeal to both readers of Jewish history and general readers of spirituality.