168 - Chariot of Fire: Kabbalah

The rich symbolism of the Zohar and the spiritual practices of Abraham Abluafia feature in the mystical movement known as Kabbalah.

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Further Reading: 

• M. Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven: 1988).

• M. Idel, The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia (Albany: 1988).

• G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York:1941).

• G. Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, trans. A. Arkush (Princeton: 1987).

• I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar: an Anthology of Texts, trans. D. Goldstein, 3 vols (Oxford: 1989).

Thanks to Jeremy Brown for his helpful advice on this episode!


Berel Dov Lerner's picture

Book of Splendor?

Another quibble: I think you referred to Sefer HaBahir in English as *The Book of Splendor*, a title which, as far as I know, is always used to refer to the Zohar.Thus, Gershom Scholem's book of selected passages from the Zohar is titled *Zohar: The Book of Splendor*.

Peter Adamson's picture

Sefer ha Bahir

Hi there - Thanks for that note. I think I may have devised this translation myself on the basis that "Book of Brilliance" (a common translation) sounds awkward to my ear because of the unpleasant alliteration. I had forgotten that it creates a potential confusion with the Zohar. I guess the titles mean practically the same thing?

benAvram's picture


The root for bahir, BHR, implies a brightness like a flame is bright. It's specifically the light being indicated. Zohar's root, ZHR, implies an illumination. Metaphorically, to shed light on a subject as the word also can mean to instruct. In this word, it's more the effect of the light being emphasized. I believe they were meant to be similar, but they do carry different connotations.

Peter Adamson's picture


Right, the b-h-r root has the same meaning in Arabic. Anyway given the potential confusion I will translate it differently in the book version. Thanks again.