The Humanistic Judaism Study Group is a self-facilitated study group that meets the third Thursday of the month. Each month we choose a topic of interest related to Humanistic Judaism to discuss at our next meeting. There is no registration and no fee. We welcome guests.
Jewish Mysticism is the topic for this week’s Humanistic Judaism Study Group. Jewish mysticism had its roots during Second Temple times when mystics attempted to achieve a vision of the divine throne found in the Book of Ezekiel. The chanting of magical hymns and reciting divine names followed during the third and sixth centuries. However, it was during medieval times that Jewish mysticism began to change normative Judaism. Kabbalah flourished in 13th century Spain and is based on The Zohar, a book that focused on understanding the relationship between our world and the divine world. In the 18th century, the Hasidic movement spread throughout Eastern Europe teaching its ideas of having direct experiences with God.
As humanistic Jews we do not seek a relationship with a divine being. However, we have incorporated some of the ideas of mystical Judaism. The idea of tikkun olam (repairing the world) is one of the most well-known adoptions of an idea from mystical Judaism. At Kol Shalom we include the practice of singing a nigun, a wordless melody developed by the Hasidic movement to evoke the soul of the rabbi who wrote the song. Some questions we will consider are: What is spirituality for a humanistic Jew? What does Jewish spirituality look like for a humanistic Jew? What can we learn from Jewish mysticism?
What are your thoughts on Jewish mysticism? We look forward to hearing them!