If someone is a strict Rationalist, and does not believe in many forms of Jewish mysticism, how does one go about avoiding it? I ask because kabbalistic mysticism has infiltrated many halakhoth and practices without a clear distinction of what's going on.

An example would be Qiddush. Originally Qiddush began with "וַיְכֻלּוּ" but due to kabbalistic ideas of word numerology, the words "יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי" were added. Because there are halakhoth that say you can't say a partial verse, certain Rabbis/Communities also added "וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר " to make it so that you are saying a complete verse. So when you open up a siddur, there are many variations of Qiddush, but none of them retain the original begining with וַיְכֻלּוּ, they also make no mention of why the additions are there, or their history.

So when mysticism that one may severely disagree with has embedded itself so deeply in the tradition that one can't just open a siddur or a book and distinguish it, how does one go about building a life free of mysticism?

  • 2
    וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי is not a complete verse, and the reason that phrase was added has nothing to do with numerology AFAIK. Do you have any reason to suspect saying any verses from Genesis is original? I'd suspect it wasn't.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 18:32
  • Are you ok with "Go learn everything and see where the mysticism came in" as an answer? If not, you should edit to specify more precisely what you are looking for.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 18:34
  • 1
    @DoubleAA i would be happy with that answer if i were to be given a methodology with which i could learn these things. If i ask a Rabbi and he doesn't know, if i pick up a current halakhic book that doesn't mention it, then saying "go learn" isn't that helpful. If i asked how can i avoid getting the flu, an answer stating "Go and learn everything" isn't helpful. An answer saying "Go to a class on public health, take classes on biology and immunization" would be a much more helpful answer.
    – Aaron
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 18:38
  • You're never going to find one book that covers every possible issue... Go take classes on Judaism and Halacha. What you are proposing is a big undertaking.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 18:42
  • 2
    Your doubt is definitely misplaced. Perhaps you are simply asking rabbis who haven't spent time learning that particular sugya much (not surprising as it has very little halakhic relevance). Remember not everyone with the title 'rabbi' is an expert on all of halacha. Find a class that studies matters in depth from the original sources to modern practice.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


Study a halacha book. Check its sources, and look them up. Check their sources and look them up. Check their sources and look them up. Etc. You'll have an original source for every (or almost every) aspect of halacha. Study those original sources and all their descendants, and you'll be able to see which aspects of halacha come from kabala. (I've no source for saying this is a good method, but it seems like one to me.)

Caveat lector: I recommend this only as an exercise in talmud Tora and not as an exercise in (as you say) "building a life free of mysticism". As we see from the huge (albeit partial) list of halacha authorities who have incorporated mysticism in their halacha works, one shouldn't build a life free of mysticism. (At least, not as far as I can tell. Consult your rabbi for a practical ruling.)


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .