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An unprecedented annotated anthology of the most important Jewish mystical works, A Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism Reader is designed to facilitate teaching these works to all levels of learners in adult education and college classroom settings. Daniel M. Horwitz’s insightful introductions and commentary accompany readings in the Talmud and Zohar and writings by Ba’al Shem Tov, Rav Kook, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and others.
Horwitz’s introduction describes five major types of Jewish mysticism and includes a brief chronology of their development, with a timeline. He begins with biblical prophecy and proceeds through the early mystical movements up through current beliefs. Chapters on key subjects characterize mystical expression through the ages, such as Creation and deveikut (“cleaving to God”); the role of Torah; the erotic; inclinations toward good and evil; magic; prayer and ritual; and more. Later chapters deal with Hasidism, the great mystical revival, and twentieth-century mystics, including Abraham Isaac Kook, Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, and Abraham Joshua Heschel. A final chapter addresses today’s controversies concerning mysticism’s place within Judaism and its potential for enriching the Jewish religion.
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