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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: July 2020

6 - Destruction and Triumph

Summary

Despite the Holocaust and the dislocation of the Jewish communities of the Near East and north Africa, the twentieth century was the apex of kabbalistic life and writing. The chapter begins with the urban renaissance of Kabbalah in pre-Holocaust Europe, and then moves to the emerging center in mandatory Palestine, which later became the leading kabbalistic center of Israel. Here an analysis of the nationalistic doctrine of Rabbi Kook and the Socialist doctrine of Rabbi Ashlag is joined with an examination of the development of the kabbalistic Yeshiva, as the leading institutional form of traditional Jewish learning and practice today. Alongside this development, the development of Jewish mystical life in the United States receives special attention. Beyond the Jewish world, the transformation of Kabbalah into a leading player in the post-war global mysticism, especially in the form of the New Age movement, is followed. In this context, the impact of kabbalistic images and themes on cultural life is examined. Naturally, Scholemian academic Kabbalah, seen here as part of its history rather than just as the study of its history, is given its due place.

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