Christian Kabbalah in Renaissance Italy

The Italian humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola was among the first of many Renaissance Christian thinkers to become interested in Jewish mysticism. David Navarro reviews a recent collection of essays on the subject:

As a humanist, Pico was exposed to ideas about magic and astrology, both of which were mainstream subjects in natural philosophy. Kabbalah was one of the movements Pico became involved with in order to prove the truth of Christianity. His main contribution is “to have conveyed to the Christian world a specific interpretation of the Jewish Kabbalah, and have given rise to a real and proper independent discipline that many imitators would have rendered more distant from its Jewish origin.” . . .

[The scholar] Moshe Idel examines . . . the strategy applied by Pico to bend Christianity to some central aspects of Kabbalah. The different Jewish esoteric doctrines represented a challenge to understanding the core of Jewish mysticism, and spread through various Jewish mystics during the 15th century in the Italian kingdoms. Pico’s methods for combining the hermeneutic strategies he acquired from these different movements are explained [by Idel], showing his approach to the use of Kabbalah in order to prove Christ’s messianic role and “convince Jews as to the correctness of Christian theology.”

Read more at Sephardic Horizons

More about: Christianity, Humanism, Italian Jewry, Italy, Kabbalah, Pico della Mirandola, Renaissance

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan