Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Re-Discovering Old Books

Inspired by Rabbi Lord Sack’s commentary, in his book ‘Lessons in Leadership, on the weekly reading portion** - “Shoftim” (Judges); I decided to revisit the books that had originally started me on the path of learning about Jewish mysticism.

My all-time favourite is ‘The Thirteen Petalled Rose’ by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. It’s not just a fantastic book on Kabbalah, but it a book of Kabbalah itself. I have lent the book out many times and each person who has persevered and read praised the clarity with which the concepts were communicated.

My next starter book goes at a slightly faster pace, but packs a lot in. This is ‘Inner Space’ by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Each time I read this book my level of understanding of the basics increases. The glassblower analogy that he gives on pp.17 about the different ‘levels’ of the soul really helped me to understand the unfolding of the levels of revelation of the human soul.

The third book is a slightly odd choice, ‘The Soul of the Matter’ by Gershon Winkler. The latter two chapters on ghosts, spirits, and dybbuks; we well as demons, magic, and superstition gave me much to think about (despite the brevity of the book).

There are lots of other really goods books on Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism. But there are no, in my opinion, many good introductory books that are packed with original thoughts and are at the same time very accessible.

** The five Books of Moses, also known as the Torah or Written Law (in contrast to the Oral law) is read each week in an annual cycle that starts and finishes after the Jewish New Year on the festival day called Simchat Torah.

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