The Mysticism of Andalusia by Yamin Levy

The Mysticism of Andalusia by Yamin Levy

Exploring HaRambam’s Mystical Tradition

Between the years 900 and 1300 C.E. the Jewish communities of Western Asia, North Africa, and Andalusia (Southern Spain) produced some of the most remarkable works in the study of Talmud and halakha as well as parshanut haMiqra, Hebrew poetry, philology, theology, philosophy, and Jewish Mysticism. Unlike kabbalah, which emerged in Christian Europe, the Mysticism of Andalusia is grounded on precise Jewish theological and philosophical principles. It is a mysticism that is void of corporeality, superstition, and magic. Following in the tradition of early Yemenite scholarship, several highly regarded scholars such as Rabbi Dr. José Faur, Dr. David Blumenthal, Dr. Gad Freudenthal, as well as others and, to a certain extent, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, read the Moreh Nevuchim [the Rambam’s Guide of the Perplexed] as an exquisite work of Andalusian spirituality and Mysticism. In fact, as is documented in this book, the very first readers of the Moreh Nevuchim read it a guide to prophecy and mystical union with God.

Rabbi Dr. José Faur writes, “Hebrew mysticism is an anthropological dimension and the very purpose of the human race.” Indeed, in the rabbinic Jewish tradition nothing is more purposeful than the pursuit of God, union with the Divine, love and awe of God, and achieving human perfection and higher consciousness.

The Mysticism of Andalusia: Exploring HaRambam’s Mystical Tradition is an excellent introduction to the study of Moreh Nevuchim. It explores the Andalusian spiritual and mystical practices as presented in Rambam’s works. Topics like love and awe of God; proximity to God; silent meditation; reasons for mitzvoth; and spiritual aspects of Shabbath, tefillah, Keriat Shema, providence, the soul, and the afterlife as well as the role of the prophet are drawn from and explored through the writings of Rambam.

There is nothing like this in English or in Hebrew because up until recently we have been convinced by academic scholars that Mysticism must be fantastical, and that it must include angels and be superstitious, theurgic, and magical. Authentic Jewish Mysticism does not have to defy reason. In The Mysticism of Andalusia: Exploring Rambam’s Mystical Tradition the educated twenty-first century Jewish seeker will find in Rambam’s works a Jewish mystical practice that does not compromise one’s theological and philosophical principles.

Year first published: 2023

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