Yearnings of the SoulPsychological Thought in Modern Kabbalah

Yearnings of the SoulPsychological Thought in Modern Kabbalah

Jonathan Garb

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226295800

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

For the first time, Yearnings of the Soul: Psychological Thought in Modern Kabbalah takes up one of the most central topics in modern Kabbalah, as well as modern mysticism in general: Psychological thought. Tracing the manifold understandings of the soul and the heart over five centuries of kabbalistic writing, the book demonstrates that modern Kabbalah has a rich psychological thought of its own, and does not need to be interpreted through the lens of psychoanalysis. Rather, both psychoanalysis and modern Kabbalah are expressions of the process of European modernization. The modernization of Kabbalah is described as a multifaceted process that plays a central role in the development of modern Judaism, responding to socialism and existentialism and influencing the course of Zionism. One of the central claims of the book is that although the soul is usually perceived as divine in modern Kabbalah, nonetheless it is also made and remade through human activity. Through the central topic of psychological thought, readers are introduced to the rich variety of schools, developments, central figures and texts of modern Kabbalah (including Hasidism), from sixteenth century Galilee to twenty-first century New York. All along, close textual reading is combined with social scientific analysis, especially utilizing the tool of social psychology and engaging psychoanalytical thought. This analysis often leads into reflection on the socio-political implications of the historical developments traced here, especially in the twentieth century.