Moshe Idel, for example, writes that these 3 basic models can be discerned operating and competing throughout the whole history of Jewish mysticism, beyond the particular Kabbalistic background of the Middle Ages.

Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions.

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It forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation.

from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its later Christian, New Age, and Occultist syncretic adaptations.

Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal, and mysterious Ein Sof (infinity) and the mortal and finite universe (God's creation).

Historically, Kabbalah emerged, after earlier forms of Jewish mysticism, in 12th- to 13th-century Southern France and Spain, becoming reinterpreted in the Jewish mystical renaissance of 16th-century Ottoman Palestine.

It was popularised in the form of Hasidic Judaism from the 18th century onwards.

Kabbalah originally developed within the realm of Jewish tradition, and kabbalists often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings.

These teachings are held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature and their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.

Twentieth-century interest in Kabbalah has inspired cross-denominational Jewish renewal and contributed to wider non-Jewish contemporary spirituality, as well as engaging its flourishing emergence and historical re-emphasis through newly established academic investigation.

Modern academic-historical study of Jewish mysticism reserves the term "kabbalah" to designate the particular, distinctive doctrines that textually emerged fully expressed in the Middle Ages, as distinct from the earlier Merkabah mystical concepts and methods.

According to this descriptive categorisation, both versions of Kabbalistic theory, the medieval-Zoharic and the early-modern Lurianic together comprise the theosophical tradition in Kabbalah, while the meditative-ecstatic Kabbalah incorporates a parallel inter-related Medieval tradition.

A third tradition, related but more shunned, involves the magical aims of Practical Kabbalah.