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The Soul in Jewish Mysticism: Opening the Heart to the Inner Life
March 19, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm$18
Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse
Jewish mysticism, and Hasidism in particular, may be described as an inward journey filled with longing for an immediate encounter with the Divine. Key to this quest is opening the heart and crossing the gateway that leads to the innermost realm of the human soul. This class will explore reflections on the nature and wisdom of the soul in Jewish spirituality from antiquity to the present, including mystical and philosophical thinking on the endurance of the soul in the afterlife, with a special emphasis on the relevance of these ideas for our contemporary devotional lives.
Ariel Evan Mayse joined the faculty of Stanford University in 2017 as an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies, after previously serving as the Director of Jewish Studies and Visiting Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts, and a research fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Michigan.
He holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from Harvard University and rabbinic ordination from Beit Midrash Har’el in Israel. Ariel’s research focuses on manuscript theory and the formation of early Hasidic literature, the renaissance of Jewish mysticism in the nineteenth and twentieth century and the relationship between spirituality and law in Jewish legal writings. His forthcoming book, entitled Speaking Infinities: Language, Devotion and Theology in the Teachings of Rabbi Dov Baer of Mezritsh explores the nature of language and the role of words in mystical experiences in the thought of an early Hasidic master.
And, together with his teacher Arthur Green, Ariel is co-editing a two-volume work called A New Hasidism: Roots and Branches. In this ground-breaking presentation of Neo-Hasidic philosophy, Green and Mayse draw together the writings of five great twentieth-century European and American Jewish thinkers—Hillel Zeitlin, Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Shlomo Carlebach, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, plus some of Green’s own youthful writings — sharing each of their reflections on the inner life of the individual and their dreams of creating Neo-Hasidic spiritual communities. A companion volume, A New Hasidism: Branches, offers essays in the Neo-Hasidic spirit by a wide variety of contemporary authors, addressing delicate issues: what constitutes halakhah, the legitimacy of other religions, women’s roles, and whether a new Hasidism needs a rebbe. Both volumes offer profound, heart-touching approaches to the universal question of what it means to be a religious person in the contemporary world, filtered through the rich forms and symbolic language of Jewish tradition.