Models in Kabbalah and Hasidism
Three basic models can be seen competing throughout the history of Jewish mysticism: the theosophical-theurgical one, represented most eminently by Zoharic literature and the Safedian Kabbalah; the ecstatic, expressed in the writings of R. Abraham Abulafia, R. Yiẓḥaq of Acre, and some ecstatic Kabbalists; and the magical model, which is not expressed in a distinct body of Jewish mystical literature, but is present in certain writings of the other two models. The theosophical-theurgical and ecstatic models were already articulated by the thirteenth century; the magic model entered Kabbalah relatively early, at the end of the same century, though more elaborate examples of it are found in Kabbalistic literature after the fifteenth century. This model, as well as the ecstatic one, became more prominent in the writings of R. Moshe Cordovero, and certain of his followers, and came to the attention of the founders of Hasidism. Openness toward the magical and ecstatic aspects of Jewish mysticism emerged in a period when the most widespread version of the theosophical-theurgical model, Lurianic Kabbalah, was thought by some Jewish mystics and by some of the first Hasidic masters to be problematic. Far from constituting a repudiation of Lurianism, held to be the most sacrosanct body of mystical literature among Jewish mystics, this weakening accompanied a reorientation of spiritual concerns that gave rise to the inclusion of an elaboration upon elements from the other forms of Jewish mysticism: the ecstatic and the magical.