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The Zohar is First Printed, 1558

Updated: Dec 4, 2020


On This Day in Jewish History: August 4th, 1558

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The Zohar was printed for the first time #onthisday, August 4th, 1558. The Zohar is the foundational text of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism).

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Zohar includes topics such as the nature of God, the creation of the world, the different commandments and holidays in Judaism, and the effects of exile on the Jewish nation. These ideas are often expressed in obscure ways and the meanings are not always clear.

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There is a debate as to the authorship of the Zohar. Traditionally, it is believed that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi, pictured here) wrote the Zohar while he was hiding in a cave for fourteen years around the year 70 CE. The ideas had been passed down the generations since Mt. Sinai before Rashbi wrote them down. This is still the belief held in most Jewish circles, especially in Orthodox communities.

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There are those, mostly in the academic world, who believe that the Zohar was actually written in the 13th century by Rabbi Moshe de Leon, a kabbalist in Spain.

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The first Zohar was printed in one volume in Cremona #onthisday, during the next three years a three-volume version would be printed in Mantua and another version would be printed in two-volumes in Slonika in 1597.

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Due to high level of the material found in the Zohar, many people believe that only those above the age of 40 and who are married should study it. There is a fear that if someone who has not already learned Torah and Halacha well enough, the Zohar will mislead them. The assumption is that by that age, one will have attained these prerequisites.

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This became the accepted custom after Shabtai Tzvi misled many Jews into thinking that he was the Messiah using teachings from the Zohar. Many Rabbis believed that if it had not been taught as widespread, they could have saved communities here.

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This custom has been relaxed in more recent years and while some Rabbis still believe in these prereqs, others say that anyone can learn the Zohar as long as they are careful not to be swept up in it and leave reality.


Text Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-zohar

Image Source: https://hiddurmitzvah.tumblr.com/image/65902077090

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✍: @rebeccaroth01

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#judaism#jewish#history#jewishhistory#jewishhistoryfanatics#onthisday#otd#otdjh#historyfanatics#historybuffs#Zohar#Rashbi#Kabbalah#Mysticism

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