Kabbalah is a tradition within Jewish mysticism that attempts to explain the relationship between the eternal (God, the unchanging creator) and the mortal (the universe, God’s creation). There is no single text or philosophy that defines Kabbalah; instead, it is a collection of philosophies, texts, and theories that build upon each other with the same goal. Kabbalah arose within the Jewish mystic tradition in twelfth- to thirteenth-century Spain and Southern France, and it was a primary influence in the development of Hasidic Judaism in the eighteenth century.
The study of Kabbalah—Jewish mystical texts—used to be limited just to certain men. In recent years, though, Kabbalah has gone from merely a fascination of esotericism to mainstream and for a hot minute even became a trend among some big-name celebs like Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, and Ariana Grande.
Some say Kabbalah goes all the way back to the beginning of time. Others say the first century. Here, we present a historical viewpoint of it going back to the thirteenth century in northern Spain, and how its influence has continued to shape Judaism today.