Kabbalah in Spain

From the 13th through the 15th century, the Iberian Peninsula was the home of most major kabbalists.

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Gikatilla, a disciple of Abulafia’s, was particularly interested in the workings of the sefirot. His project was a complex synthesis of Abulafia’s ecstatic kabbalah, the conservatism of the Barcelona circle as embodied in the writings of Nachmanides, and the poetic and intellectually rigorous work of a new figure on the scene, his own friend and protégé, Moses de Leon. It is de Leon who would reconfigure the entire world of kabbalah—indeed, the entire world of traditional Jewish thought—with a mammoth and magnificent work, the Zohar. Ironically, de Leon would receive little credit for his achievement until the twentieth century.

From ESSENTIAL JUDAISM by George Robinson.  Copyright (c) 2000 by George Robinson.  Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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George Robinson

George Robinson, author of Essential Judaism, is the recipient of a Simon Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish journalism from the American Jewish Press Association. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsday, Jewish Week, and The Detroit Jewish News.