The David S. Lobel Visiting Scholar in Jewish Studies Lecture
In this lecture, we will explore the richness of the varying ways that Jews throughout generations, and of disparate worldviews and theologies, imagined divinity and cultivated modes of relationship with God--from incredibly mythical, concrete, and highly personal images to abstracted cosmic images of light and breath. We will highlight the unique role that Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition, has played in enriching the Jewish imaginal lexicon, concentrating especially on the mystical endeavor found in the Idrot. As told in the Zohar, the Idrot are the stories of the gatherings of the mystics in which profound mysteries of the Godhead are revealed and in which the participants in these gatherings are called upon to re-imagine, restore, reconnect, and reset the different faces of God and find themselves within their loving gaze. The stories of these sacred gatherings have been the focal point of my contemporary research and in this lecture I will invite you to learn more about the bold call, found in Zoharic literature, to expand Jewish religious language and to place upon humanity the responsibility of properly aligning the living faces of God in order to bring blessings to creation.
Melila Hellner-Eshed is a professor of Jewish mysticism and Zohar in the department of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.