On Bereishis 27:27, Rashi makes the following comment:

כריח שדה אשר ברכו ה'. שֶׁנָּתַן בּוֹ רֵיחַ טוֹב וְזֶהוּ שְׂדֵה תַּפּוּחִים, כָּךְ דָּרְשׁוּ רַזִ"לִ:

The Artscroll Chumash Rashi set comments in a footnote (don't have the exact text in front of me) that this could be a reference to a Kabbalistic notion.

This got me thinking: Is there any information/indication about whether Rashi engaged in the study of Kabbalah?

  • I assume you're not looking for answers that say "of course he did[n't]"
    – Double AA
    Dec 3, 2019 at 0:25
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    As with judaism.stackexchange.com/q/40669/759 proving a negative is always difficult. You may want to consider judaism.stackexchange.com/a/44617/759
    – Double AA
    Dec 3, 2019 at 0:52
  • Certainly at least he didn't call it Kabbala. If he learned Maaseh Merkava or the like would be the question...
    – user6591
    Dec 3, 2019 at 0:55
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    – Alex
    Dec 3, 2019 at 3:04
  • THis is a tricky question. At that times Kabbalah wasn't separate teaching as it became some 300-400 years later when Zohar appeared. So Rashi was familiar with many books of that type but seemingly he didn't study "Kabbalah" separately.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 3, 2019 at 14:24

3 Answers 3


In his commentary on the Gemara, Rashi refers to Sefer Yetzirah several times. One example, on Menachos 29b:

אחת בה"י ואחת ביו"ד - חלק את שמו והטיף מכל אות ג' טיפין ומאותן טיפין נעשו מים ואש ואויר וכל העולם כולו וכן כתוב בספר יצירה:

The last phrase, וכן כתוב בספר יצירה ("and so it is written in Sefer Yetzirah") suggests that he actually studied the work, not just saw a reference to it elsewhere.

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    +1 this is a good source, but it begs the question of what the OP meant by Kabbala. There's still no evidence from this that Rashi would have meant by שְׂדֵה תַּפּוּחִים anything a modern Chasid might identify as the Kabbalistic meaning of that phrase. Sefer Yetzira itself need not imply Zohar/Lurianic Kabbalah. (For example R' Saadya Gaon wrote a commentary to Sefer Yetzira but also completely dismissed the concept of Gilgul as non-Jewish nonsense.)
    – Double AA
    Dec 3, 2019 at 2:26
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    @DoubleAA I assume that by 'Kabbala' the OP means Jewish mysticism in any of its forms, not necesarily Lurianic Kabbala. It's pretty clear from the quoted Rashi that he did consider Sefer Yetzira a legitimate mystical text.
    – simyou
    Dec 3, 2019 at 9:27
  • @DoubleAA "R' Saadya Gaon wrote a commentary to Sefer Yetzira but also completely dismissed the concept of Gilgul as non-Jewish nonsense." Specific source citation please... Dec 5, 2019 at 16:04
  • @YaacovDeane It's in his Emunos V'Deos, Maamar Mehus Hanefesh, here.
    – Meir
    Dec 5, 2019 at 16:43
  • @Meir If you are referencing Maamar 6, Chapter 8, Saadya Gaon is not saying there that he dismisses Gilgul (reincarnation) as nonsense. He is saying that those types of belief he outlines there are incorrect. I am assuming you are pointing to the idea of "uprooting" the soul of Reuven returning into Shimon, and then into Levi and then into Yehuda. But that isn't how Gilgul works and isn't what Jewish tradition teaches about the concept. (To see why that belief is wrong, look at Sefer HaGilgulim of the Ari z"l in the beginning.) Do you have another example to support DoubleAA's contention? Dec 5, 2019 at 20:25

Rashi on Succa 45a explains how to extract 72 names (of G-d) from the pesukim in parshas Beshalach. If that's not kabbalah, what is?

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    ברוך אתה לשמים שהחזרת לי אבדתי! I thought I remembered some Rashi in Sukkah related to this, but I couldn't place it.
    – Meir
    Dec 5, 2019 at 0:05
  • I can think of lots of things that would be reasonably construed as Kabbalah even if the term is taken to exclude this. This isn't even study per se but definition of concepts (various length names of God) alluded to already in the Talmud and [non-kabbalistic] Midrash. But for broad enough construals this would certainly seem relevant to the OP.
    – Double AA
    Dec 5, 2019 at 1:10

According to the Shem Hagedolim of the Chida, Rashi did know Kabbalah. He points to several examples from Rashi's commentary where he references Kabbalistic principles. Screenshot

In addition, the Chida quotes a manuscript of the Kabbalist R' Chaim Vital which says that Rashi returned after his death to teach his grandson the Rashbam secrets of Kabbalah he did not teach him while he was alive. screenshot

I couldn't find the book online so I had to use screenshots from a PDF.

  • @DoubleAA what do you think about this?
    – Mevakeish
    Jun 29, 2021 at 19:19

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