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1 The Quest for the Mystical Reality: Reflections on the Ontological Provenance of the Hekhalot Hymns and Visions

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Chapter Summary

One of the most conspicuous features of the Hekhalot writings is their hymns. The unique provenance of these hymns makes them a major factor in establishing the epistemology and ontology of the mystical experiences described in the Hekhalot literature. The Hekhalot hymns and visions have increasingly drawn scholarly attention since the publication of G. Scholem's Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. This chapter focuses on a discussion of epistemological issues and the related question of the ontology that sustains the visionary experiences described in the Hekhalot hymns. It suggests a new context for the study of the Hekhalot materials, particularly their hymnic sections. This new context creates an axis that makes a connection between ontology and ritual practice. The mystic wishes to enter a state of mind in which he expects to gain a cognitive awareness of this ontological being.

Keywords: epistemological issues; Hekhalot hymns; Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism; mystical experiences; ontological being



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