The Mystic Quest explains the major ideas and concepts of Jewish mystical thought in a way that the general reader can clearly understand. Drawing upon his own extensive research as well as on the growing body of scholarly material on the subject, Dr. David Ariel, president of the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies, presents the extremely difficult and complex elements of Jewish mysticism in language that makes it accessible to the layperson.
The Jewish mystical tradition is unknown to most Jews today, yet for centuries prior to the French Revolution mysticism was an important current in Judaism. Rabbis in second-century Israel practiced visualization techniques and meditation. Kabbalists, beginning in Provence around 1175, deciphered the ``ten numerals''God's personal aspect. To the early Jewish mystics, God's wisdom ( Hokhmah ) prefigured everything that might come into existence; each person possessed a higher and lower soul; and God's feminine, caring aspect ( Shekhinah ) was locked in holy marriage with his masculine component. Jewish mystics' detailed deathbed visions, as reported here, bear direct comparison to modern parapsychologists' accounts of after-death experiences. Ariel's ( Eastern Dawn of Wisdom ) brilliant study is the first comprehensive history of Jewish mysticism to make its ideas accessible to the nonspecialist. Readers, Jewish or non-Jewish, with an interest in mysticism will find much knowledge here.