Moshe Idel (Hebrew: משה אידל; born January 19, 1947) is a Romanian-Israeli historian and philosopher of Jewish mysticism. He is Emeritus Max Cooper Professor in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and a Senior Researcher at the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Life and scholarship
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Born in Târgu Neamț, Romania, in 1947, Idel was a precocious child, with a passion for reading which made him read all the books in the town, cooperative, then High school Library, in addition to buying more books with the money earned by singing at weddings. Although the Holocaust did not directly affect the Jewish population of Târgu Neamț, they were affected by the so-called “population displacements”. In 1963 he immigrated with his family to Israel, settling in Haifa.
Enrolled at the Hebrew University, he studied under Shlomo Pines and Gershom Scholem. After earning his doctorate with a thesis on Abraham Abulafia, he eventually succeeded Scholem to the chair of Jewish Thought. He has served as visiting Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, UCLA, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and the Collège de France.
Idel has undertaken a systematic revision of the history and analysis of Jewish mysticism. His explorations of the mythical, theurgical, mystical, and messianic dimensions of Judaism have been attentive to history, sociology, and anthropology, while rejecting a naïve historicist approach to Judaism. His 1988 work, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (Yale University Press), is said to have revolutionised Kabbalah studies. His historical and phenomenological studies of rabbinic, philosophic, kabbalistic, and Hasidic texts have transformed the understanding of Jewish intellectual history and highlighted the close relationship between magic, mysticism, and liturgy. He is also a three-time fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.
In 1999, Idel was awarded the Israel Prize for excellent achievement in the field of Jewish philosophy, and in 2002 the EMET Prize for Jewish Thought. In 2003, he received the Koret Award for Jewish philosophy for his book Absorbing Perfections. He has been conferred honorary doctorates by the universities of Yale, Budapest, Haifa, Cluj, Iasi and Bucharest. In 1993, he received the Bialik Prize for Jewish thought.
- 1989: National Jewish Book Award in Scholarship for Kabbalah: New Perspectives
- 2007: National Jewish Book Award in Scholarship for Ben: sonship and Jewish mysticism
The following is a list of Idel’s publications in English.
- Kabbalah: New Perspectives (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1988).
- The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia (tr. from the Hebrew by Jonathan Chipman. Albany, State University of New York Press, 1988).
- Studies in Ecstatic Kabbalah [Albany, N.Y., State University of New York Press, 1988]
- Language, Torah and Hermeneutics in Abraham Abulafia (tr. Menahem Kallus. Albany, State University of New York Press, 1989).
- Golem: Jewish magical and mystical traditions on the artificial anthropoid (Albany, State University of New York Press, 1990).
- Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic (SUNY Press, Albany, 1994).
- Mystical Union and Monotheistic Faith, An Ecumenical Dialogue, eds. M. Idel, B. McGinn (New York, Macmillan, 1989; 2nd edn, Continuum, 1996).
- Messianic Mystics (Yale University Press, New Haven, London, 1998).
- Jewish Mystical Leaders and Leadership, eds. M. Idel, M. Ostow (Jason Aronson, Northvale, 1998).
- Abraham Abulafia, An Ecstatic Kabbalist, Two Studies (ed. Moshe Lazar, Labyrinthos, CA, 2002).
- Absorbing Perfections, Kabbalah and Interpretation (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2002).
- Ascensions on High in Jewish Mysticism: Pillars, Lines, Ladders (CEU, Budapest, 2005).
- Enchanted Chains: Techniques and Rituals in Jewish Mysticism (The Cherub Press, Los Angeles, 2005).
- Kabbalah and Eros (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2005).
- Ben: Sonship and Jewish Mysticism (Continuum, London, New York, 2007)
- Old Worlds, New Mirrors, On Jewish Mysticism and Twentieth-Century Thought (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2009).
- Kabbalah in Italy 1280-1510 (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2011).
- Saturn’s Jews, On the Witches’ Sabbat and Sabbateanism (Continuum, London, New York, 2011).
- Mircea Eliade: From Myth to Magic (Peter Lang, New York, 2014).
- Representing God, eds. H. Samuelson-Tirosh, A. Hughes (Leiden, Brill, 2014).
- Vocal Rites and Broken Theologies: Cleaving to Vocables in R. Israel Ba'al Shem Tov's Mysticism (Crossroad, New York, 2020).
- Prof. Adam Afterman, Tel-Aviv University
- Dr. Avishai Bar-Asher, Hebrew University
- Prof. Jonathan Garb, Hebrew University
- Dr. Batsheva Goldman-Ida, Tel-Aviv Museum of Art
- Dr. Iris Felix, Hebrew University
- Prof. Yuval Harari, Ben-Gurion University
- Prof. Boaz Huss, Ben-Gurion University
- Dr. Menachem Kallus, Haifa University
- Dr. Tsippi Kauffman z”l, Bar-Ilan University
- Dr. Zvi Leshem, Gershom Scholem Collection, National Library of Israel
- Dr. Esther Liebes, formerly Gershom Scholem Collection, National Library of Israel
- Prof. Ron Margolin, Tel-Aviv University
- Prof. Zvi Mark, Bar-Ilan University
- Prof. Ronit Meroz, Tel-Aviv University
- Dr. Elke Morlok, Goethe University
- Prof. Haviva Pedaya, Ben-Gurion University
- Prof. Daniel Reiser, Herzog College
- Prof. Michael Schneider z”l, Bar-Ilan University
- Dr Sandra Valabreque-Peri, researcher and artist
- Dr. Ron Wachs, Herzog College
- Prof. Tzahi Weiss, the Open University of Israel
- Garb, Jonathan (2007). "Moshe Idel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2nd ed. Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved via Biography in Context database, 2016-12-10.
- "Moshe Idel: Representing God". brill.com. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
- Charles Mopsik, Moshé Idel, lauréat du prix Israël, Association Charles Mopsik, en ligne
- katzcenterupenn. "Moshe Idel". Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Retrieved 2020-07-29.
- Institute, Shalom Hartman. "Faculty - Shalom Hartman Institute". hartman.org.il. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
- "Focus Newspaper - Autumn 2003". research.haifa.ac.il. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
- "List of recipients 1933-2004" (PDF). Tel Aviv Municipality (in Hebrew). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 17, 2007.
- "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 2020-01-24.
- Myers, David N. (2012). A Novel Look at Moshe Idel's East-West Problem. The Jewish Quarterly Review, 102(2), 289-296. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41480288
- Liska, Vivian. (2012). On Getting It Right. The Jewish Quarterly Review, 102(2), 297-301. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41480289
- Shahar, Galili. (2012). Fragments and Demons: A Strong Reading. The Jewish Quarterly Review, 102(2), 302-310. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41480290