The mystics of the historical truth: A metaphysical commentary on Gerschom Scholem's idea of Jewish history

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Gerschom Scholem's perception of metaphysical truth as a law of historical reality stood behind his study of the Kabbalah. The uncovering of this truth and deciphering of the mark it leaves upon historical reality, he believed, served as the main tools in the anchoring of the Kabbalah as part of the continuity of Jewish history. The effort involved in revealing the truth seems to be an outcome of its containing hidden dimensions. Despite its metaphysical nature, historical truth does not denote an abstract element detached from human beings' real experiences. Just as Scholem assumed that the mystical phenomenon was anchored to the historical reality of his time, he characterized the connection of mysticism to historical reality as "amazing" and "paradoxical." These expressions reflect his fundamental understanding of history as an arena that is not only a space of discovery but also of concealment and mystery. This means that to the extent that the appearances of historical reality conceal the metaphysical truth that serves as a sort of legislative idea for it, so too in the depths of this reality the discovery of metaphysical truth takes place, finding paths-sometimes different, paradoxical, or even incomprehensible-through which it is revealed also in the historical world of phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-156
Number of pages22
JournalReview of Rabbinic Judaism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 koninklijke brill nv, leiden.


  • Gerschom Scholem
  • Jewish history
  • Jewish mysticism
  • Kabbalah


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