Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Kabbalah and Psychology

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_9035

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 sefiroticattribution. 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...

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  1. Halevi, Z. (1986). Psychology & Kabbalah. York Beach: Samuel Weiser.Google Scholar
  2. Hoffman, E. (1992). The way of splendor: Jewish mysticism and modern psychology. Northvale: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  3. Tishby, I. (1995). The doctrine of man in the Zohar. In L. Fine (Ed.), Essential papers on Kabbalah (pp. 109–153). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.West Chester University of PennsylvaniaWest ChesterUSA