I am about to leave for a camping trip that won’t see me in front of a computer (Hallelujah!) until the beginning of January, at which time I will be back, and
teaching Intermediate Hebrew studying Modern Literary Arabic at Macquarie University Summer School! Given that I now have to approve comments from new readers before they are posted (thanks to some well-meaning spambots), I apologise in advance to anybody who may find themselves unable to leave feedback.
In the meantime, you might enjoy this truly outstanding article by Rabbi Shlomo Brody of Yeshivat haKotel. In it, he considers the role of the Zohar on Rabbi Yosef Karo’s formulation of the halakha, and appraises the author’s controversial Magid Mesharim as a treatise that testifies to his unifying of the two worlds:
Halakha and Kabbalah: Rabbi Joseph Karo’s Shulchan Aruch and Magid Mesharim
by Rabbi Shlomo Brody.
Amongst the great kabbalists and legalists produced in 16th century Safed, R. Yosef Karo clearly stands out as one of, if not the, most influential figure. Though his legal compendium Bet Yosef and code Shulchan Aruch, Karo helped shape the course of halakha for the next five centuries. Karo produced these works while the Zohar’s influence on the Jewish world greatly expanded, a process to which he contributed. In this essay, we will examine the impact of the Zohar on his halakhic jurisprudence. We will furthermore explore the influence of the personal revelation Karo received from his magid, as recorded in his spiritual diary Magid Mesharim.