Kabbalah & Messianism

Tikkun Leil Shavuot of R. Joseph Karo and the Epistle of Solomon ha-Levi Elkabetz

Tikkun Leil Shavout of R. Joseph Karo and R. Solomon ha-Levi Elkabetz is the first historic event, in which the mystical ritual of Tikkun (Repair) was performed. The event was documented by Elkabetz, whose secretive epistle is the focus of this paper.

A Lecture delivered at the 40th annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, WashingtonD.C., (22 of December, 2008).

Rabbi Joseph Karo and Sixteenth-Century Messianic Maimonideanism

The influence of Moses Maimonides on Rabbi Joseph Karo is significant in both Hallakha (Jewish law) and Kabbalah. In the Hallakhic field, Karo strengthened the dominance of Maimonides’ rulings although he refrained from determining Maimonides’ Mishne Torah as the exclusive source of ruling. In the field of Kabbalah, Karo formed his mystical experiences in accordance with Maimonides’ criteria of Mosaic prophecy, while bridging between philosophy and mysticism.
The Cultures of Maimonideanism, New Approaches to the History of Jewish Thought, James T. Robinson (ed.), Supplements to the Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, Volume 9, Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden Boston 2009, pp. 191-210.

Let Each Help his Neighbor, on the Origins of Tikkun Leil Shavuot

The Kabbalistic concept of Tikkun – repairing the world – began in the sixteenth century with a secretive gathering in the night of Shavuot 1533. The participants were the famous legislator, Rabbi Joseph Karo, the poet Solomon ha-Levi Elkabetz and their companions. They prayed and learned together, celebrating the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai in Shavuot. Yet, the appearance of the Shekhina was unexpected...
Ha'aretz , Literary Appendix (22.5.07).

Prophecy and Maggidism in the Life and Writings of R. Joseph Karo

The divine messenger that spoke through the mouth and throat of Rabbi Joseph Karo was an androgynous archangel that was sent from Heaven to teach him the secrets of the Torah and the secrets of previous incarnations (Gilgulim). The archangel sometimes identified itself as a male entity, called “the Preacher” after Moses’ prophecy that was called “The Speech.” Other times it appeared as a female entity, identified with the Mishnah, the Shechina, the Mother and the Lady.   

Frankfurter Judaistische Beiträge 33 (2006), eds. Margarete Schlüter and Annelies Kuyt, pp. 81-110.


Revealing the Secret of His Wives – R. Joseph Karo’s Concept of Reincarnation and Mystical Conception

Rabbi Joseph Karo gave mystical significance to his second marriage by seeking to amend his soul through the soul of his second wife. Karo was convinced that she possessed not one but two souls, the original being a masculine one, and the later - a feminine. This reincarnation, he believed, would repair his own soul and enable the matrimony.
Frankfurter Judaistische Beiträge 31 (2004), eds. Margarete Schlüter and Annelies Kuyt, pp. 91-104.