Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Magical Mystical Tour

“A group of rabbis and Jewish mystics flew over Israel chanting prayers and blowing ritual ram horns in the belief that they would be able to stop the spread of swine flu in Israel.”

Daily Telegraph, UK
I’ve been cogitating over this news item for a while. How, I have been wondering, does one get to be a mystic? Does one go to Mystic College or Academy? Does one get a diploma to frame and hang on one’s mystic office wall? And how does one attract a paying clientele? Does one hang out a shingle, with an arrow pointing “Mystic Inside”?

And what exactly, does a mystic do? Of course, he mysticizes, but again, what exactly is involved? Does a mystic specialize? You know: mysticizing by word versus mysticizing by deed?

And note that the story speaks of “Jewish mystics.” How do they differ from, say, Christian mystics or Hindu ones? Do they, like unions, sometimes have demarcation disputes? With flare-ups and arguments: “I’ve got Yahweh—you stick to the Holy Ghost!”

And if there are circumscribed mystic areas, surely in this case the Christian mystics have the expertise. For a Jewish mystic this is certainly an unkosher undertaking.

But, then again, with all my thinking, I’m still mystified.

1 comment:

  1. Chuckle. Clever little piece. If you're up to hearing a serious response from The Good Rebitzen Ali, do read on: Mysticism (and I believe this is Thomas Aquinas' definition) refers to knowledge of G-d through experience. Esoteric experience. I suppose many of Wordsworth's poetry can be classified as mystical as it relates the speaker's attainment of a mystical union --a oneness-- with G-d. Jewish mysticism which began in ancient times and flourished in the Middle Ages because of the of the breakdown and questioning of Orthodoxy deals with arriving at Divine truths through visions, dreams, and meditation. Think about it: Freud believed dreams teach us truths about ourselves. Anyway, mysticism, as a discipline of scholarship, ecompasses reading the Bible and Talmud to discover deeper hidden meanings through letters, symbols, and numbers. That pesky close interpretive reading that we English professors live for. Only a mystic (aka a kabbalist) who has studied and mastered Torah and Talmud can embark on the journey to explore what is hidden in Judaic texts. Which is precisely why men were not even allowed to study Kabbalah, mysticism, and the Zohar texts until they were 40 years of age. And yes, there is a mystical component to Eastern religions which focus on "spirituality." (FYI: Madonna-esque Kabbalah is Krappalah). And on that note, I will fly away on my chariot...