In the late twelfth century, at the height of the Middle Ages that saw the flowering of the mystical element in Christendom, the Rabbinic Judaism of southern Europe was transformed by the eruption of new, Gnostic attitudes and symbolism. This new movement, known as Kabbalah (literally the "Tradition"), was characterize by the symbol of the ten sefirot. By means of the sefirotic imagery, virtually the whole of everyday life was linked to the cosmic dimension in a novel and highly original fashion that stressed the dynamic, evolutionary element of the Godhead and the synergistic relationship between the human will and the action of God on earth. During a century of creativity, a detailed system of symbols and concepts was created by the author of the Sefer ha-Bahir, the Kabbalists of Provence, the lyyun circle, and the mystics of Provence and Castile that set the stage for the great Kabbalists of the Zohar generation.
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