Emet Prize Laureates

Prof. Moshe Idel

2002 Laureates of Emet Prize

In Category: Humanities
In Field: Jewish philosophy

Jewish Philosophy

Prof. Moshe Idel

Jury Statement

“For a new breakthrough in understanding Jewish and general mysticism, and the raising of new insights regarding the relationship between kabbalah and other aspects of the Jewish religion.”


Prof. Moshe Idel was born in Romania in 1947.

In 1967 he studied for his bachelor’s degree in Hebrew literature and English at Haifa University. He received his PhD magna cum laude in Jewish philosophy and Kabbalah from Hebrew University in 1976. He taught at the universities in Haifa and Beersheva, at the Bezalel Academy of Art and at Hebrew University, where he was appointed a full professor.

For his doctoral dissertation, he studied the thought of R. Abraham Abulafia, a 13th century kabbalist who lived and worked in Spain and Italy, and founded “prophetic Kabbalah.” The scientific encounter with Abulafia’s method influenced his later path in research. Some of his research findings were published in his book Hasidim: Between Ecstasy and Magic. In his book Kabbalah: New Perspectives, he outlined the map of spiritual streams in Kabbalistic literature.

In his studies, he discovered essays by previously unknown Kabbalists. The knowledge and experience that he gained in studying Kabbalistic manuscripts enabled him to discover the “fingerprints” of the author in each essay. In-depth study of the early days of the Kabbalah in the 12th and 13th century enabled him to reveal methods and streams and conceptual contiguity between the thinking of the Talmud and Midrash sages with medieval Kabbalah.

His scientific achievements have been published in dozens of articles and books, many of which have appeared in foreign languages. Among the prominent awards he has won are the Haim Nahman Bialik Prize for Jewish Studies, the Gershom Scholem Prize for outstanding research in Kabbalah, the Israel Prize in Jewish Thought and the Hebrew University President’s Prize for outstanding research. He has also received honorary doctorates from universities in the United States and Romania, and served as a fellow and guest professor at different institutes, chairs and universities.