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Nathaniel Berman

Brown University, Cogut Center for the Humanities

Nathaniel Berman is a doctoral candidate in Jewish Studies at University College London. His thesis focuses on the Zohar's vision of the demonic dimension, the Sitra Akhra. He has taught kabbalah in many settings, emphasizing the relationship between meditation and mythology. He is also the Rahel Varnhagen Professor of International Affairs, Law, and Modern Culture at Brown University's Cogut Center for the Humanities, where he co-directs the "Religion and Internationalism Project."

Descending into the Underworld

Kabbalah and Chassidut on a Universal Myth

Sacred Text & Thought, Spiritual Practice

From Orpheus and Persephone to Freud and Jung, descending into cosmic and spiritual depths as an essential step in religious quest is a central motif in world culture. In Judaism, this notion is central to much of Kabbalah and Chassidut. Thus, for the Zohar (book of Jewish Mysticism), engagement with the demonic dimension is indispensable for divine and personal redemption; for many Chassidic masters, “descent for the sake of ascent” is the only path to spiritual growth. This session explores this "Jewish underworld."

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