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JPH130- The Mystical Doctrine of Tzimtzum in Historical Perspective



In exploring the development and significance of the seminal kabbalistic concept of tzimtzum in the history of the Hasidic movement and beyond, students will also build critical tools for the study of religious texts and doctrines in their historical context. Students will learn about ideas and texts, but also about real people who lived in the real world; people with different kinds of personalities and different ways of thinking; people whose intellectual preoccupations and debates had a decisive impact on Jewish history and on what it means to live as a Jew today.



Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • think and write independently about the significance and meaning of mystical concepts in the Kabbalistic and Hasidic tradition, both from a historical point of view and from a personal point of view

  • think and write critically about conflicting traditions and interpretations over the course of Jewish history in general, and in Hasidic history in particular  

  • describe how and why the concept of tzimtzum in particular has been such a central topic of ongoing debate and innovative thought throughout the history of Hasidism

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