The Rise of the Holy Spirit in Sixteenth-Century Kabbalah

Adam Afterman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the development and transformation of the holy spirit within Jewish mysticism. It begins with a brief analysis of primary trends concerning the holy spirit in biblical, rabbinic, and medieval Jewish texts that served as crucial material for the holy spirit's ascendence in sixteenth-century Jewish mysticism. Following, it examines the writings of leading Jewish mystics: Moses Cordovero, Elijah de Vidas, and aayyim Vital, who resided in the remote Galilean town of Safed. These luminaries each developed the concept of the holy spirit along a spectrum of pneumatic, fusionary, mystical, and revelatory experiences. Ultimately, they transformed the holy spirit into the peak experience of Jewish mystical life - experienced as prophecy, sanctification, and embodiment. This article highlights an important, yet understudied, Jewish mystical phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-242
Number of pages24
JournalHarvard Theological Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Elijah de Vidas
  • Jewish mysticism
  • Jewish thought
  • Moses Cordovero
  • ayyim Vital
  • holy spirit
  • pneumatology
  • ruaa haqqodes


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