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Kabbalah and Eros


Moshe Idel (View Bio)
Hardcover: Yale University Press, 2005.

Kabbalah and Eros

In this book, the world’s foremost scholar of Kabbalah explores the understanding of erotic love in Jewish mystical thought. Encompassing Jewish mystical literatures from those of late antiquity to works of Polish Hasidism, Moshe Idel highlights the diversity of Kabbalistic views on eros and distinguishes between the major forms of eroticism.

The author traces the main developments of a religious formula that reflects the union between a masculine divine attribute and a feminine divine attribute, and he asks why such an “erotic formula” was incorporated into the Jewish prayer book. Idel shows how Kabbalistic literature was influenced not only by rabbinic literature but also by Greek thought that helped introduce a wider understanding of eros. Addressing topics ranging from cosmic eros and androgyneity to the affinity between C. J. Jung and Kabbalah to feminist thought, Idel’s deeply learned study will be of consuming interest to scholars of religion, Judaism, and feminism.

Finalist for the 2005 National Jewish Book Awards

"This is another masterful study by Idel that all libraries serving religion and Judaica programs need to purchase. Highly recommended." — Choice

"The past few years have witnessed an explosion of new publications. For starters, three scholars of the post-Scholem generation—Moshe Idel, Rachel Elior and Elliot Wolfson—have published their magna opera…. Idel is an erudite scholar and an elliptical writer. But much as Scholem’s presentations of kabbalistic nonduality, messianism and symbolism were eventually translated to the popular world by such scholars as Matt and Green, so too do I expect Idel’s discussions of the infinity of Torah and polymorphous sexuality to be similarly conveyed to a wider audience." — Jay Michaelson, The Forward

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