The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality

The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality

by Gershom Scholem


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Gershom Scholem was the master builder of historical studies of the Kabbalah. When he began to work on this neglected field, the few who studied these texts were either amateurs who were looking for occult wisdom, or old-style Kabbalists who were seeking guidance on their spiritual journeys. His work broke with the outlook of the scholars of the previous century in Judaica—die Wissenschaft des Judentums, the Science of Judaism—whose orientation he rejected, calling their “disregard for the most vital aspects of the Jewish people as a collective entity: a form of “censorship of the Jewish past.” The major founders of modern Jewish historical studies in the nineteenth century, Leopold Zunz and Abraham Geiger, had ignored the Kabbalah; it did not fit into their account of the Jewish religion as rational and worthy of respect by “enlightened” minds. The only exception was the historian Heinrich Graetz. He had paid substantial attention to its texts and to their most explosive exponent, the false Messiah Sabbatai Zevi, but Graetz had depicted the Kabbalah and all that flowed from it as an unworthy revolt from the underground of Jewish life against its reasonable, law-abiding, and learned mainstream. Scholem conducted a continuing polemic with Zunz, Geiger, and Graetz by bringing into view a Jewish past more varied, more vital, and more interesting than any idealized portrait could reveal.
from the Foreword by Arthur Hertzberg, 1995

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805210439
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/10/1995
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Gershom Scholem was a professor of Jewish mysticism at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem until his death in 1982. Among his most important works are Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, The Messianic Idea in Judaism, On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead, and editor of Zohar, the Book of Splendor: Basic Readings from the Kabbalah.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Arthur Hertzberg
Toward an Understanding of the Messianic Idea in Judaism
The Messianic Idea in Kabbalism
The Crisis of Tradition in Jewish Messianism
Redemption through Sin
The Crypto-Jewish Sect of the Dönmeh (Sabbatians) in Turkey
A Sabbatian Will from New York
The Neutralization of the Messianic Element in Early Hasidism
Devekut, Or Communion with God
Martin Buber's Interpretation of Hasidism
The Tradition of the Thirty-Six Hidden Just Men
The Star of David: History of a Symbol
Revelation and Tradition as Religious Categories in Judaism
The Science of Judaism—Then and Now
At the Completion of Buber's Translation of the Bible
On the 1930 Edition of Rosenzweig's Star of Redemption
The Politics of Mysticism: Isaac Breuer's New Kuzari
The Golem of Prague and the Golem of Rehovot

Sources and Acknowledgments

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