Heidegger and Kabbalah

Heidegger and Kabbalah

Hidden Gnosis and the Path of Poiēsis
Elliot R. Wolfson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04257-6
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While many scholars have noted Martin Heidegger's indebtedness to Christian mystical sources, as well as his affinity with Taoism and Buddhism, Elliot R. Wolfson expands connections between Heidegger's thought and kabbalistic material. By arguing that the Jewish esoteric tradition impacted Heidegger, Wolfson presents an alternative way of understanding the history of Western philosophy. Wolfson's comparison between Heidegger and kabbalah sheds light on key concepts such as hermeneutics, temporality, language, and being and nothingness, while yielding surprising reflections on their common philosophical ground. Given Heidegger's involvement with National Socialism and his use of antisemitic language, these innovative readings are all the more remarkable for their juxtaposition of incongruent fields of discourse. Wolfson's entanglement with Heidegger and kabbalah not only enhances understandings of both but, more profoundly, serves as an ethical corrective to their respective ethnocentrism and essentialism. Wolfson masterfully illustrates the redemptive capacity of thought to illuminate common ground in seemingly disparate philosophical traditions.

Author Bio

Elliot R. Wolfson is the Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is author of many books including, most recently, Giving Beyond the Gift: Apophasis and Overcoming Theomania and The Duplicity of Philosophy's Shadow: Heidegger, Nazism, and the Jewish Other.



A real intellectual wrestling with one of the towering figures of twentieth-century thought. It shows an important thinker at the top of his game: we learn about Heidegger and we learn about kabbalah, but most of all we are offered an original philosophical study on the nature of language, being, and the art of revelation and concealment.


 (Aaron W. Hughes, author of Rethinking Jewish Philosophy)


The Jewish Kabbalistic tradition, transmitted via the Christian Kabbalah to the German philosophical canon, entered Heidegger's thought through the back door without him having suspected it, where it lodged itself and shaped his core concepts. Such is the striking subterranean intellectual history that Elliot R. Wolfson excavates. The Kabbalistic side of the ledger is no less startling, for it turns out that Heidegger provides the key for a philosophical interpretation of the mythic imagery of the Jewish esoteric tradition. The spirited irony of this reciprocal illumination is like a digestif to a feast of texts and textual interlacings which many have suspected but none could elucidate except Wolfson.


 (Michael Fagenblat, author of A Covenant of Creatures: Levinas's Philosophy of Judaism)

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Belonging Together of the Foreign

1. Hermeneutic Circularity: Tradition as Genuine Repetition of Futural Past

2. Inceptual Thinking and Nonsystematic Atonality

3. Heidegger's Seyn/Nichts and Kabbalistic Ein Sof

4. imum, Lichtung, and Bestowing Refusal

5. Autogenesis, Nihilating Leap, and Otherness of the Not-Other

6. Temporalizing and Granting Timespace

7. Disclosive Language: Poiēsis and Apophatic Occlusion of Occlusion

8. Ethnolinguistic Enrootedness and Invocation of Historical Destiny