“Seek Me and Live” Hasidism and the Spiritual Journey
Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse / August 27, 2020
These three sessions explore the endless search for God as a key theme in medieval and early-modern Judaism, with a particular emphasis on Hasidism and Jewish mysticism. The sources with which we engage portray religious life as an unceasing quest toward the Divine, an endless journey in which exegesis, self-discovery and sacred community are braided and richly intertwined. They present a thrilling religious sensibility in which the intellectual, spiritual and existential journey toward God is far more than a means to an end.
Hasidic sources put stock in the quest itself as both personally transformative and cosmically significant. Rather than religious uprush being born only in the successful devekut, or communion with the Divine, for the Hasidic masters God may be revealed with potency and majesty along the path itself.Session 1 explores the idea of the spiritual quest in the Zohar and the writings of Maimonides, finishing up with a brief but powerful teachings preserved in the name of the Baal Shem Tov. We will consider how each of these works describe the journey to know God as infinite and unattainable, and yet, worth undertaking because the spiritual richness is found in the process rather than in some imagined goal.
Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse
Ariel Evan Mayse joined the faculty of Stanford University in 2017 as an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies and serves as the rabbi-in-residence at Atiq: Jewish Maker Institute (atiqmakers.org). Previously he was the Director of Jewish Studies and Visiting Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts. Mayse holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from Harvard University and rabbinic ordination from Beit Midrash Har'el in Israel. His most recent publications include Speaking Infinities: God and Language in the Teachings for Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritsh (University of Pennsylvania, 2020); Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community and Life in the Modern World (Brandeis University Press, 2020), edited with Sam Berrin Shonkoff, and The Language of Truth in the Mother Tongue (Magnes Press, 2020, in Hebrew).