11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 1999
Aryeh Kaplan Z''L, is the only kabbalist I've been able to understand. He uses every text in Jewish literature available to explain such mystical teachings. He is not afraid of showing some of the deepest secrets of G-d. The best of it is that you get the hebrew text, then the translation and finally his commentary, followed by many notes. He follows the kabbalistic teaching regarding: "Reveal one cubit, buy always hiding two".
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2007
Aryeh Kaplan's life work seems to have been to make the mysteries of the Kaballah accessible without cheapening or symplifying them. His other works - MEDITATION AND KABALLAH, SEFER YETZIRAH - go together with this to make a tritych of Kaballistic writing which is full of inisght and illumination. A truly liberating vision of religion which frees us from the dry, confining aridity of so much mainstream faith.
The Bahir is not as well known or as famous as the Zohar. Kaplan has therefore done us a service in translating it here. The text is clearly and lucidly rendered into English. Obscure and baffling as it is at first, Kaplan provides and exhaustive commentary but also shows us how to read it - non linearly, like a lattice, with passages referring and echoing off each other everywhere. The Bahir is a beautiful book, full of the joy, wisdom and divine humanism of the Kaballah. A real book of hope.
My only regret is that Kaplan never did a version of the Zohar itself. It would have been so helpful!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2009
Although the Sepher Yetzirah pre-dates the Book Bahir by possibly as much as a millennia, and other Jewish Mystical developments such as the Merkaba visionaries anticipate many aspects of medieval Kabbalah, the book Bahir was the first work to set many of the ground rules and symbols, as would be subsequently developed in the Zohar and other schools.
I mention this history, because Kaplan is a practising kaballist and he accepts many of the traditional claims as to the kaballah's extreme antiquity and it's divine origins. For an alternative, more objective and scholarly but nevertheless sympathetic understanding of the real history, the works of Gershom Scholem would be preferred.
Where Kaplan excels, is in connecting with the mystical reality behind the tradition. He knows his stuff and unlike other contemporary kaballist, Philip Berg, he is teaching the Kaballah as Kaballah, not as a New Age money making machine.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2014
Of course, the text of the Bahir itself is not the work of Rabbi Kaplan, but more than half of this book consists of his analyses of the text and guide notes thereon.
After reading the introduction I found myself actually reading a large portion of the commentary before realising that I had barely touched upon the text itself. The text is a beautiful treat of esoteric writing which would be understood by very few, the commentary itself attempts to elucidate this cryptic writing and for the most seems perfectly on point. It would be best read as intended, to take in the text on its own and see what can be understood through exploring the writing in a meditative state, The commentary can almost be read as a book in itself if you already have a form of understanding what is being explained, but even the commentary is of course speaking of concepts which require some form of mystical work and vision to truly understand. As someone who is most closely a Hermetist, it is fascinating to read into this area and see the way that the Jewish mystics have interpreted the universal workings and relationship to the Divine and also to explore the beautiful hieroglyphic language of Hebrew and the joyous coding of the Hebrew scripture. I am exploring this alongside study of the Zohar and Sepher Yetzirah, and though the concepts of Divinity may already be understood it is just beautiful to see it stated in such a way and fascinating to see it all stated in such an expansive manner and to learn more about such misunderstood Hebrew scripture which has been so unfortunately rejected by the so called "rationalists" in our world. Perhaps if these people were able to understand the Qabalistic keys then they would not so blindly reject the notion of "God" as can even in this sense be explained through modern science as it finally catches up with the truths of the Ancients.
It is plain to see, even more so from his work with the Sepher Yetzirah, that Rabbi Kaplan has truly been raised to the Greater Mind and he is one of the only writers on the subject of Qabalah with whose writing I can really connect. This is a subject which has been greatly diluted and profaned by the New Age movements even since the writers on the Golden Dawn. Many write on Qabalah, many hold the concepts in theory, but it seems that very few writers truly understand.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2002
As with his other texts reflection and meditation reveal more with each reading. It is difficult at the beginning and perplexing at times. However you are always compelled to return, and no visit is disappointing. Aryah Kaplan is a true teacher, I would recommend any of his texts.