Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections

Overview

Leading scholars and teachers share their favorite texts of the Jewish mystical tradition—many available in English for the first time—and explore why these materials are meaningful and relevant to us today.

In this unique volume, some of Judaism's most insightful contemporary thinkers bring the words of sages past to bear on the present. They explore how we can become closer to God through our relationships ...

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Overview

Leading scholars and teachers share their favorite texts of the Jewish mystical tradition—many available in English for the first time—and explore why these materials are meaningful and relevant to us today.

In this unique volume, some of Judaism's most insightful contemporary thinkers bring the words of sages past to bear on the present. They explore how we can become closer to God through our relationships with others, our observance at home and our actions in the world, asking:

  • What do mitzvot have to do with mysticism?
  • Is spirituality selfish?
  • Can mysticism enhance community?

Organized thematically, each section focuses on how mysticism engages and complements the dimensions of religious life, including studying Torah, performing mitzvot and observing halakhah.

Contributors:

Yehonatan Chipman • Mimi Feigelson • Lawrence Fine • Eitan Fishbane • Michael Fishbane • Nancy Flam • Everett Gendler • Joel Hecker • Shai Held • Melila Hellner-Eshed • Barry W. Holtz • Jeremy Kalmanofsky • Judith A. Kates • Lawrence Kushner • Ebn Leader • Shaul Magid • Ron Margolin • Daniel Matt • Haviva Pedaya • Nehemia Polen • Neal and Carol Rose • Or N. Rose • Zalman Schachter-Shalomi • Jonathan P. Slater • Gordon Tucker • Sheila Peltz Weinberg • Chava Weissler

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A dazzling collection that displays the concerns and insights that animate the [mystical and Hasidic] texts and traditions…. A spiritual feast of religious meaning for those who enter its pages."
Rabbi David Ellenson, PhD, president, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion

"An illuminating and often moving collection that reflects the breadth and depth of contemporary interest in these texts as guides to Jewish spirituality and practice in our time."
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, author, The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical
Unconscious

“A landmark collection that deserves to be read and reread. The diverse insights draw the seeker into the wisdom of Judaism in a way that may draw them into the community of practice as well.”
Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author, Hasidic Tales: Annotated & Explained and Ecclesiastes: Annotated & Explained

“Illuminates and probes deeply in multiple fields while speaking to engaged spiritual seekers and scholars. Studded with gems, often overflowing with learning and insights. All who want to grow spiritually, live more deeply, to both connect to tradition and renew it will find something to nurture their souls in this book.”
Rabbi Irving Greenberg, founding president, Jewish Life Network; founding president, Clal: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership

“An orchard of spiritual pomegranates, tended by some of today's most gifted Jewish scholars. A delight to read.”
Jay Michaelson, author, Everything Is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism and God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spiritual Practice

Publishers Weekly
Insights into the significance of traditional Jewish mysticism for today's Jews take center stage in this intelligent but esoteric collection of articles from notable Jewish scholars of Kabbalah. Underscoring the relevance of centuries-old Kabbalistic texts and practices are 26 independent contributions divided into six sections including "Discovering God in All Reality"; "Spiritual Growth, Inner Transformation"; "Embodied Spiritual Practice"; "Prayer, Repentance, Healing"; and "Torah, Halakha, Mitsvot." The writers, collectively, look back to Nahman of Bratslav and other past luminaries of Kabbalah and Jewish thought while integrating the observations of contemporary heavyweights like Arthur Green to establish a more relevant and timely understanding of the subject. Rabbi Gordon Tucker invokes A.J. Heschel's writing to delve into how prophecy still lives for those who open their minds to it, and Joel Hecker infuses the ideas of the 18th-century Hasid Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl on sparks of holiness into a modern reflection on the latent spirituality of eating. This volume's focused and deeply religious essays may well be too heavy for dabblers, but will certainly delight scholars in the field. (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580237192
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/29/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,195,617
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence Fine, Irene Kaplan Leiwant Professor of Jewish Studies at Mount Holyoke College, is author of Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos: Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship, and other books.

Eitan Fishbane, PhD, a frequent scholar-in-residence and guest speaker at congregations across North America, is assistant professor of Jewish thought at The Jewish Theological Seminary; author of As Light Before Dawn: The Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist (Stanford University Press); and co-editor of Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections (Jewish Lights).

Eitan Fishbane is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Shabbat
  • Prayer
  • Spirituality
  • God and Theology
  • Mysticism
  • Ethics
  • Torah

Rabbi Or N. Rose is an associate dean at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. He is the coauthor of God in All Moments: Mystical and Practical Spiritual Wisdom from Hasidic Masters and coeditor of Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Call for Justice; Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections and Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from around the Maggid's Table, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (all Jewish Lights).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction xiii

Part One Discovering God in All Reality
"Pass Not Away": Yearning for a Seamless Life of Connection
Nancy Flam 3
Seeking the Sacred Self
Jeremy Kalmanofsky 15
Yitro, (Neo-)Hasidism, and a New American Piety
Shaul Magid 22

Part Two Spiritual Growth, Inner Transformation
Approaching the Thick Cloud: Working with Obstacles in Our Spiritual Growth
Sheila Peltz Weinberg 33
"Who Am I to Go to Pharoah?"
Lawrence Kushner 39
The Cry of Redemption
Judith A. Kates 46
"All This and Maybe": The Doubting Servant
Mimi Feigelson 51
Rabbi Nahum of Chernobyl and "Second Maturity"
Yehonatan Chipman 59

Part Three Embodied Spiritual Practice
Taking in the Torah of the Timeless Present
Gordon Tucker 67
Holiness in the Kitchen
Chava Weissler 72
Eating as a Spiritual Ecosystem
Joel Hecker 78
Loving God with the Evil Impulse
Daniel Matt 86

Part Four Compassion, Loving Others
“A Better Way of Being in the World, a Way of Compassion”
Jonathan P. Slater 93
Rabbi Nahman's “OD”: An Ode of Human Redemption
Everett Gendler 103
Spiritual Friendship: “Go Among People Who Are
Awake and Where a Light Shines Brightly”
Lawrence Fine 112
The Service of Love
Ebn Leader 119
The Splendid Bird: Reflections on Prayer and Community
Barry W. Holtz 129
Part Five Prayer, Repentance, Healing
Praying from the Depths
Melila Hellner-Eshed 137
The Tainted Produce: A Parable of Possibilities
Neal Rose and Carol Rose 145
Spiritual Wounds
Michael Fishbane 152
Sarah and Moses: God's Teachers of Compassion
Or N. Rose 162
Crisis and Repair, Trauma and Recovery
Haviva Pedaya 171

Part Six Torah, Halakhah, Mitzvot
Shabbat Candle Lighting
Eitan Fishbane 185
Why Do We Need the Mitzvot?
Ron Margolin 192
Jacob's Remedy: A Prayer for the Dislocated
Nehemia Polen 201
On Faith Beyond Perception: The Slonimer Rebbe
Shai Held 209

Conclusion: Teyku—Because Elijah Lives On!
Zalman Schachter-Shalomi 217
Suggestions for Further Reading 221

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