Kabbalah: The Way of the Jewish Mystic Audio Cassette – Audiobook, 1 Jun 1999
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About the Author
Perle Epstein, Ph.D., is a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov. As Perle Besserman, she is the author of Teachings of the Jewish Mystics and the Shambhala Guide to Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
I was on my early twenties, researching about spirituality, but nothing did fit in, I could not fully accept anything, until I touched this book, after five minutes of reading it I started to burn like fire, I knew all this even before the end, it was so magical discover that on my own tradition I had all the answers I was hoping to get. It was a life changer, never stopped to be guided by these teachings plus mitzvot afterwards. My family is secular, and I did not have a clue about this tradition, because they were so ignorant unfortunately.
So I am really glad I came across this book.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Enter Perle Epstein (now Perle Besserman). She was already doing a series on the various forms of mysticism, and had already covered Buddhism, Zen, etc., so she decided her next project would be on the mysticism of her own Jewish background.
(As an interesting aside: Like so many assimilated Jews of that era, Epstein came to mysticism and meditation through yoga and Hinduism first, and was not a religious Jew when she began the "Kabbalah" project. So, she had a two-fold struggle: (1) to find the teachings, and (2) to confront her own issues and stereotypes about the Orthodox Jews she was interviewing. The personal story of these struggles and how she collected the material for "Kabbalah" is told in "Pilgrimage: Adventures of a Wandering Jew" which, as far as I know, is out of print but well worth tracking down a copy.)
The influence of her Eastern studies and practical experience with Hindu gurus and Zen masters can be seen in "Kabbalah," such as the way she describes the 16th-century Safed community of Rabbi Isaac Luria as a "Jewish Shangri-la" and a sort of ashram community, -- which, in a sense, it was. This made the teachings very understandable people who were already familiar with the Eastern forms of meditation. In fact, it was the first popular book I know of that clearly identified some of the practices as forms of visualization, use of mantras, etc.
In my opinion, these types of cross-cultural comparisons are very helpful to Jews (and others) who want an introduction to how Jewish mysticism has been practiced down through the centuries. The book is not an academic tome, but is written in a clear popular, almost poetic style that I found a delight to read the first time around, and have returned to again and again. For many years during the 70's and 80's, this book was my #2 recommendation to Jewish beginners in kabbalah, as well as non-Jews wanting to know something about our spirituality. (my #1 recommendation was "9 1/2 Mystics" by Herbert Weiner).
I am delighted to see that Epstein's book is available again, so I can recommend it on my website.
This book is more a history of Kabbalistic though and practises since the middle ages.
If you want to learn the history of the Kabbalah this is a very good book, and is clearly written.
If you want to learn to practise the Kabbalah keep looking. This is the seventh Kabbalaistic book I have read, and I can not recommend any of the others in clear conscience. I have have heard good things about "9 1/2 mystics:..." but I have not read that one yet.
I will say one thing the "the tree of life" on page 15, and other places does not match the tree of life diagrams in other kabbalistic books I have read.
Please E-mail me if you have questions or comments about my review. Two Bears.
Wah doh Ogedoda (We give thanks Great Spirit)
heal and uplift perhaps the entire world, the entire soul, and yeah...
this book is where i would start, before even the torah, or the bible and really even as a substitute for those books
because it contains the essence of the teachings with what seems like an honest atttempt at the minimum
amount of ego manipulation and maybe it really is completely selfless, its effect is pure though the names are there, its apparent that its from something beyond all that
truly a sacred text
peace and love
She moves about from Abraham Abulafia’s system of breathing and visualization, to the Merkavah mystics of the first century, to the German Chassidim, or Pietists, who fasted and rolled naked in the snow. She is especially enamored of the Safed group of mystics who surrounded the Holy Ari in the fifteenth century, seeing it as a high water mark of Jewish mysticism never to be repeated.
Espstein is especially harsh on modern Hasidism. She has good things to say about the early years of the movement, but not much else for the last two-hundred years. The book ends on this sour note. Written in 1978, she despairs of how little Kabbalistic material there is for modern Jews to consume. Of course, this has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. She laments the paucity of materials, centers, movements in 1978; now she may not like the crass commercialization of Jewish mysticism. It is hard to say.
Perhaps Judaism needs as much mysticism as it can muster.
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