Mopsik, Charles

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MOPSIK, CHARLES

MOPSIK, CHARLES (1956–2003), French scholar of Jewish mysticism. Mopsik was employed in the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (crns) and was instrumental in disseminating the serious study of Jewish mysticism in France in both academic and popular circles. He is best known for his translations of Zohar-related literature and central works of Castilian Kabbalah from the same period. He edited the series "Dix Paroles" (editions Verdier), establishing a library of annotated translations into French of classical Jewish texts. He also edited various Hebrew and Aramaic texts in their original, including works by Moses de León and Joseph Hamadan. Mopsik's scholarly career began with his dissertation on sexual symbolism and sexuality in Jewish sources, comprising a study and edition of the celebrated "Treatise on Holiness" (Iggeret ha-Kodesh). He further published numerous articles on sex and gender, including the posthumously issued collection of studies in English, Sex of the Soul. One of his unique contributions was to assert that in some kabbalistic works the category of sex applies to the soul even prior to its embodiment in the material world. Mopsik's field of inquiry ranged from ancient Jewish mysticism, including a volume on the so-called "iii Enoch" of the Heikhalot Literature, to kabbalistic texts in the early modern period, Lurianic and ḥasidic texts, and some reflections on the Holocaust. His magnum opus is his lengthy study on theurgy in Judaism, showing how the various forms of Jewish practice are seen to effect changes within the divine.

His works include (1) Lettre sur la sainteté. Étude préliminaire, traduction et commentaire, suivi d'une étude de Moshé Idel. 1986/1994; (2) Le Zohar: Traduction de l'araméen, introduction et notes. Genèse: vols. 1 (1981), 2 (1984), 3 (1991), 4 (1996); Le Livre de Ruth (1987); Cantique des Cantiques (1999); Lamentations (2000); (3) R. Joseph Gikatila, Le secret du mariage de David et Bethsabée, édition critique, traduction, introduction et notes, 1994/2003; (4) Les grands textes de la cabale: les rites qui font Dieu, 1993; and (5) Sex of the Soul: The Vicissitudes of Sexual Difference in Kabbalah, 2005.

[Daniel Abrams (2nd ed.)]

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