The Question About the Existence of Jewish Mysticism: The Genealogy of Jewish Mysticism and the Theologies of Kabbalah Research offers a genealogical discussion of a common notion among scholars and the general public, which identifies Kabbalah and Hassidism with Jewish mysticism and considers it to be a national expression of a universal spiritual phenomenon. By means of critical analysis the author exposes the deep underpinnings of the continuing study of Jewish mysticism and the ramifications of how Kabbalah and Hassidism are currently perceived and interpreted. This critical discussion challenges the widespread assumptions regarding the study of mysticism, exposes how those assumptions were formulated, and reveals how they shaped the construction and study of the phenomena identified as Jewish mysticism.
The author discusses the historical contexts and the discursive processes that led to the construction of the concept of “Jewish mysticism.” He explores how this concept became an analytical category that dictates how Kabbalah and Hassidism are studied in academe and that influences how the public perceives them and how contemporary Kabbalistic and Hassidic movements are shaped. The book exposes the theological and political assumptions underlying the study of Jewish mysticism and shows how theological paradigms of research on the Kabbalah and Hassidism defined the boundaries of the field, directed the production of scientific knowledge, and determined the symbolic value of the research objects.