Theosophical Kabbalah of the 11th to 14th centuries was distinguished by its use of symbolism. Although medieval Jewish tradition had a derivative artistic tradition at best, the literature of the Kabbalah was full of imagery. These images leant themselves to interpretation in what was ultimately a mysticism of language and the imagination. This paper will examine the relevance of Jungian interpretation of the Kabbalah’s theosophical system. The main sources for this comparison are the traditions of kabbalistic lexicons, which begin with Joseph Gikatilla’s Sha’arei Orah in the 13th century and continue to the 20th century. These lexicons are largely based in the central kabbalistic work The Zohar. In this literature, there are marked commonalities with the Jungian system and those of Jung’s disciples Erich Neumann and Joseph Campbell. This talk will demonstrate the relationship between the two systems, with examples from traditions of visual and religious art.
Pinchas Giller was brought up in Cocoa Beach, Florida. He was ordained at Yeshiva University and received his doctorate at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. Rabbi Giller has written extensively on Judaism and his field of expertise, Jewish Mysticism or Kabbalah. He has written four books, The Enlightened Will Shine: Symbolism and Theurgy in the Later Strata of the Zohar (State University of New York Press, 1993), Reading the Zohar (Oxford University Press 2000), Shalom Shar’abi and the Kabbalists of Beit El (Oxford University Press 2000) and Kabbalah: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum Press; 2012). He has also edited Beur Moshe al ha-Torah, a Bible commentary by his great-great Grandfather, the Vilna grammarian Moses Reicherson. Dr. Giller is chairman of the Jewish Studies department of the American Jewish University, Los Angeles.