Earlier this week, Yossi Chajes, author and senior lecturer in the Department of Jewish History at the University of Haifa, was asked to lead a mini series at the University of Florida’s Hillel called “The Kabbalah Unveiled: A Mini Course on Jewish Mysticism.”
Not your typical Hillel crowd, the audience was mostly comprised of older men and women with the exception of a few college students, me being one of them. Not knowing much about the background of Kabbalah, I decided to test my knowledge at the first of four lectures called “Key Concepts in Kabbalah.”
But the concepts were anything but simple.
While I anticipated a lecture based on understanding the popular symbols like the ten Sefirot, Chajes stated that the simpler questions could be answered on Wikipedia. His lecture would dig even deeper. From discussing the history of Kabbalah to understanding its levels, he explained that Kabbalah was more than just a practice in Judaism but a different form of spirituality. Purposefully making people think beyond the literal text in the Torah, Chajes explained that the study of Kabbalah essentially allows the individual to examine its figurative meaning, to question the stories that have been passed down from one generation to the next, and to take into mind the different forces in life that draw us to make good and bad decisions.
While a click to the Google search engine might have answered a few of my questions, it was eye opening to witness a guest speaker who has no hesitancy in discussing the controversial form of Jewish mysticism.