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Introduction to Kabbalah

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev via edX

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For hundreds of years, Kabbalah has been perceived as a body of secret theoretical and practical knowledge concerning creation, the divine world, and human interaction with it. This course will introduce you to the major ideas and practices of the Kabbalah from an academic point of view.

The course will examine basic Kabbalistic themes such as the theory of the Sefirot, ecstatic and prophetic Kabbalistic techniques, reincarnation, demonology, and practical Kabbalah. It will introduce major Kabbalistic works and movements, including the Sefer ha-Zohar, Lurianic Kabbalah, Hasidism, and the contemporary revival of popular Kabbalah.

In recent decades, interest in Kabbalah has been increasing and many non-academic Kabbalah centers have been founded throughout the world. Most of the information available online for the layman is non-academic, and at times it can be misleading and confusing.

The aim of this course is to introduce students with no background in Kabbalah or Jewish thought to the major ideas and practices of the Kabbalah in their historical and cultural settings. The ideas are presented in an accessible manner without jeopardizing the course's academic rigor.

The course approaches Kabbalah from a historical and sociological perspective. Kabbalistic theories and practices will be studied through reading and analyzing primary sources (the Kabbalistic texts themselves) as well as applying the most up-to-date secondary literature (academic research)

The course presents a variety of different perspectives on the themes it covers. Through the assignments and discussions that accompany the video lectures, students will be encouraged to express their opinions and individual perspectives, and to contribute to fruitful intellectual discussions.


Lessons Program and Schedule

Lesson 1.Introduction: Kabbalah and its Academic study

The lesson will introduce you to Kabbalah and to its academic study. We will discuss the term "Kabbalah," and the varieties of forms and schools of Kabbalah throughout history.

Lesson 2.Sefirot: The Kabbalistic Theory of the Divine Structure

We will learn about one of the most central concepts of Kabbalah - the sefirot: a structureof tendivine powers. We will also explore the concept of God as En-Sof (the Infinite) and its relationship with the sefirot.

Lesson 3.The Inner Life of God: The Dynamics within the Sefirot

We will explore the interrelation of the different sefirot and the effect of their inner dynamics on the lower realms. We will also learn about Kabbalistic theories of the formation of evil and Kabbalistic demonology.

Lesson 4.Human Influence on the Divine

We will learn about the theories and practices of the kabbalists that relate to their belief in the ability of human beings to influence and repair the divine. We will introduce the theory of the rectification of the Divine -tikkun.

Lesson 5.Connecting with the Divine: Prophecy, Attachment, and Union

This lesson will be dedicated to encounters with the Divine in Kabbalah in different forms, such as ascents, visions, and automatic speech, the idea of "uniomystica", and the techniques Kabbalists used to connect and unite with the Divine.

Lesson 6.Kabbalistic Perceptions of the Human Body and Soul

We will explore Kabbalistic perceptions of the human body and the structure of the soul, and the structural resemblance between the human body and the structure of the sefirot. We will discuss different notions of reincarnation as well the idea of possession (dybuk) and exorcism, which is still practiced by Kabbalists today.

Lesson 7.Early Kabbalah and the Zohar

This lesson will be dedicated to the early Kabbalah and the authorship of the Zohar. We will also learn about the Kabbalistic schools of Spain and the ecstatic Kabbalah of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia.

Lesson 8.Lurianic Kabbalah

We will learn about the Kabbalist center in early-modern Safed and the school of Isaac Luria. We will also discuss the Christian Kabbala.

Lesson 9.Kabbalah and Modernity

We will explore Kabbalah and modernity in its main schools of Hasidism, Lithuanian Kabbalah, and the school of Shalom Sharaabi as well as the contemporary revival of Kabbalah.

Taught by

Prof. Boaz Huss and Dr. Yoed Kadary


5.0 rating, based on 7 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Introduction to Kabbalah

  • Great class for anyone curious about what Kabbalah is, but not particularly interested in actual practice. The course covers the most common theo-philosophical aspects of Kabbalah (since there are many different varieties), and the historical evolution of the concepts. There is some Hebrew vocabulary (using the Roman alphabet) - Sefirot, En-Sof, etc - but there's plenty of repetition with great graphics to help visual learning. Fascinating subject.

    FMI see my personal blog post at
  • Historical learning only, with frequent text quotations. Not mentioned any technique. Forums for discussion with another students. Book recommendations. Subtitles included.
  • A good overlook on both the common practices as well as its history and evolution to the modern-day. Great for anyone curious about the practice and are just starting out as well as for new religious anthropologists.
  • Anonymous
    This is a wonderful introduction to the subject and absolutely no previous insights or knowledge is necessary. Using a historical and sociological perspective this course gives an easy to understand overview into the history and main concepts of Kabbalah. I would thoroughly recommend it.
  • Dirk Petrus Johannes Steenekamp
    Thanks for a purpose i needed something to know (who and what) i am. There must be a greater meaning to life than your daily commenlies specifically the meaning of letters etc
  • Anonymous
    A perfect course to discover the very complex word of Kabbalah.
    Very helpful to understand the most fascinating ideas and different movements about this subject.
    Highly recommended.
  • Anonymous
    Great course, I really enjoined the multimedia. Very accessible and gave me a good understanding about kabbalah and made me want to learn more.

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