According to the minhag I follow, one who is not a talmid chacham should not study Jewish mysticism (maase merkavah, heichalot, kabbalah, et c.). Following this, would one be able to read non-Jewish mystical texts (for non-religious purposes, of course), or would the same restrictions apply?

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    What kind of non-Jewish mystical texts are you referring to?
    – Scimonster
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 20:27
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    Why would you think that it would be allowed at all? (Vayikra 19:26)
    – MTL
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 20:58
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    @NoachMiFrankfurt - You don't believe in the validity of the Zohar, right? So why would you want to study non-Jewish mystic texts, if you don't even accept the Jewish ones?
    – ezra
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 3:53
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    @Bach He did write clearly. Someone edited his question against his will and he reverted it. See the edit history of the question judaism.stackexchange.com/posts/50395/revisions
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 14:11
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    @Yaacov, see the comments above about your edit. Please take care in the future when editing others' posts not to change them accidentally.
    – MTL
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Non-Jewish mysticism is a very broad subject indeed. Almost every religion has something to teach on this subject, and a big part of this study has been influenced by the eastern religions, so you have to be careful with what you read.

Mysticism within the Abrahamic faiths should be fine as they do not constitute sifrei minus since they all believe in a personal god. However, Mysticism as has been taught by the eastern religions may constitute minus since its conception of god is wholly different than ours and, at least traditionally speaking, their ideas would be considered heretical according to Jewish law. (we can still make a case to allow it, since they do not promote a certain ideology, they merely discuss their mystical experiences and how to attain them, but that would be controversial indeed).

As for the waste of time aspect (which @ezra pointed out) it is not an issue at all, since it is a study of a particular wisdom of the gentiles and is part of the sifrei chachma (ספרי חכמה) which are permitted באקראי just like the study of philosophy and science.

  • Something being permitted doesn't make it not a waste of time. I suspect I can come up with a few good counterexamples to show that
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 13:57
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    "they all believe in a personal god" Why is that the relevant factor for determining if a religion's mysticism is "sifrei minus"?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 13:57
  • See edits to the question (which were applied while this answer had a non-positive score). You may want to consider revising and/or deleting this answer.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 14:09
  • It is simple. since it is a subject/wisdom studied just like any other non-jewish study (philosophy science) it cannot be considered a waste of time, unless you believe every non-jewish study is a waste of time!
    – Bach
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 14:14
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    That simply doesn't follow. It doesn't follow from believing some non-jewish's studies are a waste of time that all non-jewish studies are a waste of time. This is basic logic. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_example
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 14:21

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