Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

pp 985-986

Kabbalah and Psychology

  • Charlotte MooreAffiliated withWest Chester University of Pennsylvania Email author 

Kabbalah is an esoteric form of Jewish mysticism that emerged in the twelfth century and that focused primarily on esoteric interpretations of the Torah. Kabbalists employed various forms of meditation and prayer to induce mystical states of consciousness and initiate a process of psycho-spiritual transformation.

The Kabbalists posited a tripartite division of the soul, not unlike the theories of Plato and Aristotle in ancient Greek philosophy (Tishby 1995, p. 128). In Kabbalah, the parts of the soul were called nefesh, ruach, and neshamah (Tishby 1995, p. 127). Some Kabbalists add to this the guph, or physical body (Halevi 1986, p. 35). The idea was that although the soul functions as a unity, it holds within it divisions, each with their own function and sefirotic attribution. Kabbalistic psychology seeks to understand the manner in which these divisions interact, with the goal of the psychological process being to balance these components such that the individual can receive and live ...

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