Zohar

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The Zohar (Hebrew: זֹהַר‎‎, lit Splendor or Radiance) is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah.[1] It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah (the five books of Moses) and scriptural interpretations as well as material on theosophic theology, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology. The Zohar contains a discussion of the nature of God, the origin and structure of the universe, the nature of souls, redemption, the relationship of Ego to Darkness and "true self" to "The Light of God," and the relationship between the "universal energy" and man. Its scriptural exegesis can be considered an esoteric form of the Rabbinic literature known as Midrash, which elaborates on the Torah.

The Zohar is mostly written in what has been described as an exalted, eccentric style of Aramaic, a language spoken in the Land of Israel during the Roman Period in the first centuries of the Common Era.

The Zohar first appeared in Spain in the 13th century, and was published by a Jewish writer named Moses de Leon. De Leon ascribed the work to Shimon bar Yochai, a rabbi of the 2nd century during the Roman persecution[2] who, according to Jewish legend,[3][4] hid in a cave for thirteen years studying the Torah and was inspired by the Prophet Elijah to write the Zohar. This accords with the traditional claim by adherents that Kabbalah is the concealed part of the Oral Torah.

While the traditional majority view in religious Judaism has been that the teachings of Kabbalah were revealed by God to Biblical figures such as Abraham and Moses and were then transmitted orally from the Biblical era until its redaction by Shimon ben Yochai, modern academic analysis of the Zohar, such as that by the 20th century religious historian Gershom Scholem, has theorized that De Leon was the actual author. The view of non-Orthodox Jewish denominations generally conforms to this latter view, and as such, most non-Orthodox Jews have long viewed the Zohar as pseudepigraphy and apocrypha while sometimes accepting that its contents may have meaning for modern Judaism. Jewish prayerbooks edited by non-Orthodox Jews may therefore contain excerpts from the Zohar and other kabbalistic works,[5] even if the editors don't literally believe that they are oral traditions from the time of Moses.

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