Kabbalists believed that God is impossible to comprehend. That there is a gap between how mankind can understand God and what God actually is. Kabbalists call this unknowable aspect of God Ein-Sof ("infinite" or "extends without end"). Rabbi Moses Cordovero described it as Before anything emanated, there was only Ein Sof. Ein Sof was all that existed. Similarly, after it … [Read more...]
Mysticism involves attempting to communicate with or directly experience the divine. Monks and nuns have often used meditation and prayer to induce mystical states but it can also involve esoteric practices like kabbalah. Read articles about mysticism below.
Mysticism is not new to Judaism. It dates back at least to the 6th century BCE with Ezekiel's visions of the divine chariot (called merkavah mysticism) in Isaiah. In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his … [Read more...]
Early in the 13th century, Pope Innocent III commissioned the Lateran Council to put in place new reforms. At the time, the Church was becoming increasingly wealthy. Priests lived in lavish monasteries and dressed in expensive clothing. Yet there was a backlash against such luxury. In particular, Jesus had mentioned that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a … [Read more...]
Another popular mystic of the 12th century, Bernard was born in 1090 and entered the monastery of Citeaux to escape the corruption of the world. He became very influential, preaching in the 2nd Crusade and even forcing Louis VII to divorce Eleanor of Aquitaine. … [Read more...]
Born in 1098, Hildegard of Bingen became one of the most famous mystics of the age. At a time when very few woman were literate and held status, Hildegard wrote over 300 letters and was widely respected for her mystical visions, medical knowledge, and musical compositions. The 10th child of a noble family, Hildegard was placed in the care of Jutta, sister of Count Meinhard … [Read more...]