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On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah





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On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts of the Kabbalah is Gershom Scholem's introduction to the essential terms of Jewish mysticism. His chapter on Shekhinah--the kabbalist symbol of the female element of the godhead--helps explain why Kabbalah has a growing following among women. His chapter on Gilgul, or reincarnation, is fascinating for its description of how a spiritual phenomenon is formed, following the process from revelation to writing to teaching. And his final chapter on Tselem, or the astral body, will make you think twice about laughing at Shirley MacLaine. The astral body, according to Kabbalah, is the spiritual nature of each human being--the image of God described in Genesis 1. Scholem quotes pages of medieval rabbis' fantastic discoveries of their astral bodies, such as the following:

When I wished to find knowledge of the secrets of Creation, I came upon a dark vault within the depths of the earth, filled with blowing winds.... Then there appeared to me in my sleep a shape of most wondrous beauty [giving me instructions on how to conduct myself in order to attain knowledge of the highest things]. I then said to him: "Who are you?" And he answered: "I am your perfected nature."
--Michael Joseph Gross

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