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Paideia - The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden is a non-denominational academic framework that was established in 2000 with funding from the Swedish government.
Dedicated to the revival of Jewish culture in Europe, Paideia educates leaders for Europe - academicians, artists and community activists - towards fluency in the Jewish textual sources that have served as the wellsprings of Jewish civilization.
In renewing interpretation of Jewish text, Paideia is reviving a European Jewish voice long silenced by Communism and post-Holocaust trauma - a voice that can contribute to a culturally rich and pluralistic Europe.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov on Doubts and Heresy
The lecture focuses on the complex relationship of fascination and anxiety that the Hassidic master, R. Nachman of Breslav, displays vis a vis the magnitude of challenges and doubts that rationalist thought poses to religious belief. Alongside a biographical account of the threat that such doubts and challenges posed for R. Nachman personally, we discuss the more general metaphysical explanation he offers for their intensity, as well as the existentialist advice he recommends for believers striving to overcome them.
Nicham Ross is a lecturer in the Department of Jewish Thought at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Nicham received his PhD in Jewish Thought at Ben Gurion University and he specializes in researching identity and tradition in Jewish literature from the beginning of the 20th century.
Mirra Alfassa’s Road from the Cosmic Movement to Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram
The lecture examines the history and ideas of Mirra Alfassa (1878-1973), a Jewish artist of Sephardic origins, who became one of the most famous spiritual leaders in India, know, as the Mother. In the first decade of the 20th century Mirra Alfassa became active in the Cosmic Movement, an esoteric movement headed by a mysterious Jewish teacher, Max Theon (Eliezer Biemstein , c. 1848-1927). Later, Mirra Alfassa traveled with her second husband, Paul Richard, to Pondicherry, India and became affiliated with Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), the radical political activist who became a spiritual leader. Mirra, who cooperated with Aurobindo in the publication of the journal Arja, in which he presented the first formulations of his Integral Yoga, was recognized by Aurobindo as the incarnation of the divine female power, the cosmic Mother. Mirra Alfassa who established Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram, and later, the international spiritual city Auroville, became one of the most venerated spiritual teachers in India, and around the world. She resided in Pondicherry until her death in 1973.
The lecture will examine the life of Mirra Alfassa and her road from the cosmic movement to Sri Aurobindo’s ashram. It will discuss the impact of Max Theon’s esoteric ideas on Mirra Alfassa, her perceptions of Kabbalah, and the question of her Jewish identity.
Boaz Huss teaches Kabbalah at the Goren-Goldstein Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He is an expert of various areas of Kabbalah, including the Zohar and contemporary Kabbalah.
Read the related materials here: The (Jewish) Mother in an Indian Ashram
Assaf Tamari public lecture at Paideia Jan 2014: Lurianic Kabbalah: Man’s Personal Responsibility for God’s Fate
Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), whose name became synonymous with Safed’s sixteenth century spiritual renaissance, is not only one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Jewish thought, but also one of the most fascinating ones. His intricate and complex teachings, known as Lurianic Kabbalah, are deemed by many, kabbalists and scholars alike, as one of the crown jewels of kabbalistic thought, and their mark is deeply imprinted in a wide variety of Jewish religious currents ever since.
This lecture presents the Lurianic Kabbalah’s rich, graphic and highly dramatic myth about the God who fell apart, and created man so that he can complete God’s continuous process of restitution. A God who is dependent upon man for his own mending, and consequently for the restoration of harmony to the world. We shall discuss the different ways in which man is expected to perform his duties, the anthropological assumptions underlying them, and the unique messianic role Luria and his close disciple Rabbi Hayyim Vital believed they were to play in the redemptive process. Finally, we shall raise questions regarding the religious consciousness these views stem from and create.
Assaf Tamari is a doctoral student at the department for Jewish thought in Ben-Gurion University.
His main field of expertise is sixteenth-century Lurianic Kabbalah, and his research is focused on the Lurianic Body Discourse.