What Is The Zohar?
Who has not heard of the Zohar, or “Book of Splendor”? But who really knows what it is?
The huge text, written in medieval Aramaic and Hebrew, is considered Jewish mysticism’s most important book. Its topics range from the nature of the Jewish soul to sinning, good and evil.
Jewish and secular scholars debate the author of the text. Tradition attributes it to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochi, who lived during the period of Roman persecution. According to one story, the rabbi sat in a cave for 13 years studying Torah with his son. During this time, he was inspired by the prophet Elijah to write the book. According to another, the teachings of Kabbalah were transmitted from teacher to teacher in a continuous chain from the Biblical era until its redaction by Rabbi bar Yochi in the first century C.E.
Academics have determined that the Zohar was authored by 13th century Spanish Jew Rabbi Moses de Leon and that it mostly combines his ideas and with contemporary kabbalistic elements.
Traditional Judaism discourages men from learning the Zohar until the age of 40, fearing it will be misinterpreted by anyone without a sufficient understanding of the Torah. Today it is a popular text for those pursuing Jewish studies and spirituality.