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This blog is dedicated to the exploration of mystical wisdom and life experience. It seeks to penetrate beyond the shadows and surfaces of our physical reality to discover vistas of unfathomable depth, beauty and meaning. These mystical realms are closer than you might imagine, for they exist in every multifold aspect of the observed empiricial world, as they do within the consciousness of the observer. In the infinite silence and contracted light, within the ethereal mirage of every passing moment, the eternal search begins and ends...

Friday, 1 February 2008

PHONE SEX & BIBLIOGRAPHIES: THE REAL THING II

I received several positive responses and expressions of gratitude after posting The Real Thing. Many of those messages were appreciative of my candour, while for others it was an eye-opener as to the true breadth of the Jewish mystical tradition. I am not in the habit of doing sequels, and it is not because of pandering to popularity that I am making an exception here. Rather, it is because there was a significant omission in the first article which I would like to rectify.
In the summer of 1989, when we were still living in the Old City of Tsfat, for a Shabbat weekend we hosted a young man who worked for an advertising firm in Los Angeles. I don’t remember exactly what got us on to the topic—and I know this must seem suspect here—but, somehow, over our Sunday morning coffee at the kitchen table, we entered into a conversation about phone sex. It seemed that Gerry (not his actual name) was into phone sex in a big way. Don’t forget this was still the eighties, when the cell phones were clunkers twice the size they are now and the phone sex phenomenon was at its inception.
What I found most unusual about Gerry was not only his predilection to phone sex but rather his dogged preference to it over the “real thing”. According to him, the practice offered a more titillating experience of pure fantasy superior to the mundane realities of human interaction. Furthermore, one was not bound by any commitments; it was pure pleasure void of any emotional attachment and the subsequent pain that, according to him, invariably followed.
Needless to say, his comments were startling to me, particularly at that time given the very insular and particular concerns of a Hasidic lifestyle in the Old City, in many ways a reflection of the shteitl culture centuries before. Of course, having come of age in the 60’s and 70’s I was no stranger to sexual experimentation, though admittedly quite tame and innocent compared to what goes on these days. While I did not consider myself a prude, however, I felt there was something distasteful and perverse in Gerry’s remarks.
I tried in vain to point out that his comparison of phone sex with sexual intercourse was an invalid premise at the onset. Whereas regular, old-fashioned sex involved some form of direct contact of two or more human bodies, what was referred to as “phone sex” was simply masturbation accompanied by audio stimulation from a voice on the other end of the telephone line. That female voice was only a remote, indirect participant in the act of sexual pleasure; she was no more real in the audio sense than the Playboy centrefold, also an icon of male sexual fantasy, was in the visual.
My reasoned arguments, however, fell on deaf ears. He claimed I was being judgemental and moralistic. If a woman’s voice over the phone wires could succeed in triggering greater pleasure than could be attained through direct sexual stimulation with an actual person, then that was entirely his prerogative to choose that option. I had to concede to him on that point. There is a modern, Hebrew saying “טאם וריח אי אפשר להתוכח על” (“Concerning tastes and odours, it is impossible to argue.”), which basically means you will have a hard time convincing a chocoholic on the virtues of vanilla. The awkward conversation became an awkward silence, as Gerry finished his breakfast and left to catch the morning bus to Jerusalem. We never heard from him again. It could very well be, given that there seemed to be some psychological barriers and fears obstructing his emotions, that he is now a middle-aged loner still making desperate phone calls to continually relive his self-absorbed, paradisaical fantasies. Alternatively, he could have met the right person who enabled him to overcome these mysterious personal issues. Probably we will never know.
The reason I mention this incident is that it came to mind during a visit the other day to Borders in Downtown Perth. My wife had gone to the adjacent Myers department store to take advantage of of the January sales. I was given an hour or so to browse in the bookstore. After looking for The Mirror of Simple Souls by Marguerite Porète, which was not in stock, I found myself standing in front of the paltry section devoted to books on kabbalah. I understand that I am living in Perth and not Jerusalem, Brooklyn or London, where the selection would certainly have been greater. Yet, it was disappointing to see that there was not one single classical text of kabbalah on the shelves. The most prominent book with the most copies was Yehuda Berg’s The Power of Kabbalah: Technology for the Soul. Having over an hour to kill, I began “scanning” it. (I have to admit that I cheated and read a fair bit, as well.)
When it was finally time to leave, I had browsed about three-quarters of the book. There was nothing at all there that was incorrect or offensive. In fact, as I have said before, there was much in it that would be of great benefit to those who had no notion of what kabbalah entailed. Yet, simultaneously, I found it a mystery how such a book had proven inspirational to so many. In terms of depth, profundity and wisdom, I felt it did not come close to the works of the late Aryeh Kaplan, to give but one example. Then I remembered something interesting from my prior conversation with a teacher from the LA Kabbalah Centre. In response to my suggestion that the pop-kabbalah presented by the Centre was an adulteration of Jewish mysticism’s original intent and function, he had replied that because most people were incapable of engaging directly with the original, it was necessary to “extract the consciousness” of kabbalah and present that indirect version as a palatable alternative.
It was there and then in Borders that I remembered my conversation with Gerry two decades before.
That notion of having to “extract the consciousness” did not sit well with me. After all, what remains of any entity once its consciousness is “extracted”?
Before leaving the bookstore, I turned to the back of the book to see if the author had given a proper bibliography of his sources. There I found a resource guide (I think it was referred to as a “products” listing) to further one’s spiritual journey into this extraction of kabbalistic consciousness. Of course, every single product listed there was a either a Berg family publication or DVD. It was then I decided to write this sequel and include a bibliography for English speakers that would truly assist those who would like to engage in direct contact with kabbalistic sources rather than a diluted extract poured down their throats.
When I began researching this bibliography, I was amazed at the sheer volume that is out there on the market nowadays. Lately, Providence University-- a fitting name in this enterprise-- has published a slew of kabbalah classics by Chaim Vital, Abraham Abulafia, Moshe Cordevero and others. I have delineated three categories: General Reading, Classic Texts and Critical Histories. Ideally, I believe a student of an integral kabbalah should be learning from each. I have deliberately limited each category to 18 books, eighteen being the gematria of חי, i.e. “life”. Three times eighteen is 54, which is the gematria of נד, meaning “movement”, which, from the time of Merkava mysticism onwards has been the aim of kabbalah: to awaken people from spiritual slumber and get them to move. Any book descriptions marked with an asterisk are from Amazon; the few brief one-liners are my own summations.
A story is told of a poor woman who earned her meagre living selling apples. Once she came to pour out her heart to the Divrei Chaim, Rabbi Chaim Halberstam, the 19th century Hasidic master and mystic. Her apples were not selling; she was convinced they were of inferior quality. She complained bitterly to the Rebbe about her mounting debts and poverty. The next morning the Divrei Chaim arrived at the marketplace and finding the stall where the woman sold her apples, stepped inside and began proclaiming in a loud voice: “Delicious, crisp apples for sale! Delicious, crisp apples for sale!” In no time at all, the curious sight of the Divrei Chaim advertising apples attracted a crowd of eager shoppers. Three days later the woman again paid a visit to the Rebbe. With a smile across her face, she told him that she had paid back all of her debts and her apples were selling so well, she could hardly keep abreast with the demand. “You see,” he replied, “your apples were always good. Somebody just had to let the people know that.”
I am not so pretentious as to compare myself with the Divrei Chaim, but my intent in publishing this bibliography is similar to his in praising the poor woman’s apples. I just want people to know. Of course, there is far more out there than I have included in this listing, but at least this can be a start.
I need to add one word of caution here. For anyone who prefers the experience of direct engagement in kabbalistic texts, it is imperative to learn Hebrew to truly do so. Even the best English translations do not cut the ice when compared to the delivery and nuance of the original language. In the analogy I have given so far, these English translations might be analogised to sexual intercourse with a condom. It’s not 100% completely direct contact, but, for those whose preference lies in that direction, it beats phone sex hands down (no pun intended).
Finally, for those of you who might think I am being cheeky and provocative to use sexuality as a metaphor for something as sacred as Divine awareness, the following is a quote from the great Maimonides from the Mishneh Torah (1:10:5), the first major code of Jewish law, on the way in which a person must fulfil the commandment to love God: “What is the love of God that is befitting? It is to love God with a great and exceeding love, so strong that one’s soul should be knit up with the love of God such that it is continually enraptured by it, like love-sick individuals whose minds are at no time free from a passion for a particular woman, and enraptured by her at all times…even more intense should be the love of God in the hearts of those who love Him; they should be enraptured by this love at all times.”
Though I have yet to read the book-- it’s in my current Amazon order -- I have been told that in The Mirror of Simple Souls Marguerite Porète, from the viewpoint of a woman and Christian mystic, similarly expresses those sentiments and that same burning passion.

GENERAL READING

1) INNER SPACE: INTRODUCTION TO KABBALAH, MEDITATION AND PROPHECY by R. Aryeh Kaplan
An outstanding overview of kabbalah, Ain Sof, the Sefirot and their relationship to the prophetic experience.
Publisher: Moznaim Pub Corp (June 1990)
ISBN-10: 0940118564
ISBN-13: 978-0940118560

2) MEDITATION AND KABBALAH by R. Aryeh Kaplan
Kaplan’s groundbreaking work examines the meditative traditions throughout the historical evolution of kabbalah.
Publisher: Weiser Books (May 1989)
ISBN-10: 0877286167
ISBN-13: 978-0877286165

3) MEDITATION AND THE BIBLE by R. Aryeh Kaplan
Kaplan analyses the scriptural origins of meditative and mystical practice.
Publisher: Weiser Books; New Ed edition (June 1978)
ISBN-10: 0877286175
ISBN-13: 978-0877286172

4) JEWISH MEDITATION: A PRACTICAL GUIDE by R. Aryeh Kaplan
*Kaplan, Orthodox rabbi and author of Meditation and the Bible (Weiser, 1978) and Meditation and Kabbalah (Weiser, 1981), shows that meditation is consistent with traditional Jewish thought and practice. He then presents a guide to a variety of meditative techniques: mantra meditation (with suggested phrases and Bible verses to use as mantras); contemplation; visualization; experiencing nothingness (which he does not recommend for beginners); conversing with God; and prayer. His instructions are clear and explicit, and his advice is informed and sound, advocating that a simple 20-minute-a-day program can indeed help make the practitioner a better person and a better Jew, and develop a closer relationship to God and things spiritual.
Publisher: Schocken (March 14, 1995)
ISBN-10: 0805210377
ISBN-13: 978-0805210378

5) KABBALAH OF CREATION: THE MYSTICISM OF ISAAC LURIA by Eliahu Klein (Editor, Translator)
*Kabbalah of Creation is a new translation of the early Kabbalah of Rabbi Isaac Luria, founder of the most influential Jewish mystical school of the last 400 years. Living in relative obscurity in Northern Galilee, Luria experienced a powerful epiphany that influenced his lyrical, influential text. Poetically and meditatively described, the range of subjects includes the revelation of the Godhead's light in the world and its relationship to every aspect of the human life cycle, including lovemaking, conception, gestation, birth, and maturation.
Publisher: North Atlantic Books (July 13, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1556435428
ISBN-13: 978-1556435423

6) IMMORTALITY, RESURRECTION AND THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE: A KABBALISTIC VIEW by R. Aryeh Kaplan
This is fascinating collection of lectures presented to the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists.
Publisher: Ktav Publishing House (January 1993)
ISBN-10: 0881253456
ISBN-13: 978-0881253450

7) THE THIRTEEN PETALLED ROSE by Adin Steinsaltz
* ”The Thirteen Petalled Rose”, written by the world-renowned scholar Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, is based on the structures and assumptions of kabbalah, the largely esoteric theological system that deals with the relationships between man, Torah, the Commandments, and God. As Rabbi Steinsaltz teaches, kabbalah is the official theology of the Jewish people. While The Thirteen Petalled Rose can be viewed as an introduction to the essence of Jewish existence and belief, its author does not attempt to justify Judaism according to external criteria. It is not meant to be a book about its subject, but rather a book that grows out of its own world, the world of kabbalah. While most primers deal with practical matters, this volume touches largely upon issues of the soul
Publisher: Jason Aronson (April 28, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0876684509
ISBN-13: 978-0876684504

8) THE KABBALAH OF THE ARI Z'AL, ACCORDING TO THE RAMHAL by Rabbi Raphael Afilalo
*The book of the Ramchal [R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto]"The Essentials of the Tree of Life" is a summary of the master work of the Ari Z'al; "The Etz Hayim" (The Tree of Life). It describes the evolution of the worlds, the Sephirot and the Partsufim, in a clear and concise language, which only retains the essential. Divided into ten chapters, it starts with the first manifestation of the creation, the superior worlds, the Sephirot, until explaining to us the systems of reincarnation of the souls.
Publisher: Kabbalah Editions; 1 edition (November 2004)
ISBN-10: 2923241010
ISBN-13: 978-2923241012

9) ENDLESS LIGHT: THE ANCIENT PATH OF KABBALAH by R. David Aaron
*After years of careful study, David Aaron helps us find the answers to life's questions as revealed in the Kabbalah, the mystical tradition of Judaism. Unlike other works on the Kabbalah, which are often academic, abstract, and unrelated to our everyday challenges and concerns, Endless Light is a thought-provoking, practical guide that illuminates our path in life. Rich in personal stories and anecdotes, Endless Light offers a deeper awareness of ourselves, our inner conflicts, and the way we understand and receive life's bounteous gifts. Drawing upon the profound, timeless teachings of the ancients as well as on his own contemporary insights, David Aaron helps truth-seekers of all faiths to enrich their lives, strengthen their faith, and enjoy more meaningful relationships.
Publisher: Berkley Trade; Berkley Trade Pbk. Ed edition (November 1, 1998)
ISBN-10: 0425166295
ISBN-13: 978-0425166291

10) SEEING GOD: TEN LIFE-CHANGING LESSONS OF THE KABBALAH by Rabbi David Aaron
* “Seeing God” by Rabbi David Aaron presents as its subtitle promises "Ten Life-Changing Lessons of the Kabbalah." Aaron, whose founding of the Isralight Institute in Jerusalem helped establish him as one of today's most popular spirituality gurus, writes in a crisp, clear style that offers eminently practical advice for those who wish to see God in their daily lives. The book's first chapter, "Getting Rid of God," does away with "the male, Zeus-like avenger floating about in heaven," which Aaron calls "a childish and counterproductive" concept. In place of "God," Aaron offers Hashem, a Hebrew term that means "the name," which stands for "Ultimate Reality Who embraces everything and fills everything"--a theological and lexical shift that emphasizes divine immanence in the world. Seeing God then elaborates 10 qualities of Hashem, derived from the Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical text. Readers are encouraged to acknowledge and emulate these qualities, which range from Gevurah (kindness) to Malhut (communal consciousness). Each chapter concludes with "Seeing Exercises" and questions for contemplation ("Can you think of three things that you have done to bring justice into the world?"), whose purpose is to demonstrate that "Hashem is right here, right now, waiting to be seen, wanting to be known." --Michael Joseph Gross
Publisher: Tarcher (January 8, 2001)
ISBN-10: 1585420808
ISBN-13: 978-1585420803

11) KABBALAH: THE WAY OF THE JEWISH MYSTIC (Shambhala Classics) by Perle Epstein
*This pioneering, popular introduction to Jewish mysticism was the first survey written for a general audience, and it's now available in Shambhala Classics. Epstein presents the methods, schools, and legendary practitioners of Kabbalah, unraveling the web of ancient traditions hidden in such texts as the Sefer Yetzirah and the Zohar. The words of the great Kabbalists appear throughout the book, giving instructions on practices such as contemplation of the Bible's secret teachings, ecstatic prayer, and intensive meditation.
Publisher: Shambhala (February 13, 2001)
ISBN-10: 1570627673
ISBN-13: 978-1570627675

12) PRACTICAL KABBALAH: A GUIDE TO JEWISH WISDOM FOR EVERYDAY LIFE by R. Laibl Wolf
* The first section, "Spirit Moves" explores the tradition of Kabbalah, tracing its roots to the Bible and comparing many of its traditions to Eastern religions, suggesting they originated in the same beliefs. The second section, "Flows of Mind and Emotion," devotes a chapter to each of the sefirot--three of which relate to the mind, the other seven to emotion--to show how you can use these tenets to improve your life. For instance, Tiferet relates to a wise heart, and its chapter concentrates on ideas such as "inner balance for wellness," truth and beauty, and compassion using the teachings of Maimonides and the Bible, a Hasidic tale, an exercise, a meditation, and even some thoughts on Deepak Chopra.
Publisher: Three Rivers Press (June 15, 1999)
ISBN-10: 0609803786
ISBN-13: 978-0609803783

13) BASIC CONCEPTS IN KABBALAH by Rav Michael Laitman PhD
* By reading in this book, one develops internal observations and approaches that did not previously exist within. This book is intended for contemplation of spiritual terms. To the extent that we are integrated with these terms, we begin to unveil the spiritual structure that surrounds us, almost as if a mist had been lifted.
Publisher: Bnei Baruch/Laitman Kabbalah (June 15, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0973826886
ISBN-13: 978-0973826883

14) GARDEN OF THE SOULS: REBBE NACHMAN ON SUFFERING by Avraham Greenbaum
“This is a beautiful translation of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov's treatise, "Garden of the Souls," which he wrote after the death of his young son. The Garden of Souls is the mystical Garden of Eden, where souls come from and return to after death. The book explores the question of suffering and the death of the innocent, in a beautiful, poetic prose that will inspire anyone -- Jewish or not -- who is recovering from grief, or who is thinking deeply about why "bad things happen to good people." An excellent intro to Breslov Hasidic thought, too!”—R. Yonassan Gershom
Publisher: Breslov Research Institute (April 1990)
ISBN-10: 0930213394
ISBN-13: 978-0930213398

15) THE WINGS OF THE SUN: TRADITIONAL JEWISH HEALING IN THEORY AND PRACTICE by Avraham Greenbaum
*This book is an exploration of the Jewish healing tradition as taught in the Bible, Talmud, Midrash and Kabbalah, and especially in the writings of the outstanding Chassidic luminary, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810).
Publisher: Moznaim Pub Corp (January 1, 1995)
ISBN-10: 9659012047
ISBN-13: 978-9659012046

16) IN THE SHADOW OF THE LADDER: INTRODUCTIONS TO KABBALAH
by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag( Mark Cohen PhD and Yedidah Cohan, translators)
This authentic translation into English of two Kabbalah texts written in Hebrew asks deeply personal questions about the essence of an individual and the existence of a soul. Discussing the experience of an individual and the role of humans in creation, it offers an understanding of the places of evil, suffering, compassion, and joy in the full experience of divine love. The Kabbalah is presented here not as an esoteric study limited to the divinely inspired, but as a universal pathway of the spirit. Coming from the West rather than the East, this book fills a long-awaited gap as it teaches an essential spirituality within the conceptual framework of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Publisher: Nehora Press (April 1, 2003)
ISBN-10: 9657222087
ISBN-13: 978-9657222089

17) ECSTATIC KABBALAH by David A. Cooper
* Kabbalah—the secret is out! From Madonna’s controversial conversion to the Dalai Lama’s acknowledgment and support, this mystical tradition is gaining unprecedented recognition. But how do we put this powerful and esoteric worldview into practice? With The Ecstatic Kabbalah, Rabbi David Cooper— author of God Is a Verb (100,000 copies sold), and a renowned leader of the Jewish meditation movement—provides practical exercises on the path toward "mending the soul," the fundamental Jewish experience that brings union with the Divine. With meditation techniques for both beginning and advanced practitioners, The Ecstatic Kabbalah guides listeners into awareness of the "presence of light" with experiential practices for touching the four worlds of mystical Judaism: • Physical—breath work and mind-body harmonization • Emotional—tone the divine names as an expression of devotion • Mental—learn the histories of these techniques • Spiritual—stabilize your connection with divine presence Finally, the long-sequestered doors of Kabbalah are open to all listeners, as they are invited to dwell in the embrace of the Divine with The Ecstatic Kabbalah’s practices of daily renewal.
Publisher: Sounds True; Har/Com edition (September 2005)
ISBN-10: 1591793440
ISBN-13: 978-1591793441

18) GOD IS A VERB by David Cooper
* Embraced by celebrities from Madonna to Jeff Goldblum to Elizabeth Taylor, covered extensively in the pages of Time and Entertainment Weekly, Kabbalah--a Jewish mystical tradition dating back centuries--has taken its place alongside Buddhism as a spiritual practice for modern Western seekers. This book--written by the rabbi who authored the bestselling audiotape series The Mystical Kabbalah--is the first to bring Kabbalah to a wide audience. Earning great praise from critics, God Is a Verb promises to do for Judaism what The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying did for Buddhism, infusing an ancient tradition with new life and popularizing its ideas among an entirely new generation.
Publisher: Riverhead Books, 1997.
ISBN-10: 1573226947


CLASSIC TEXTS

1) SHAAREI TSEDEK-- GATES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS by Shem, Tov Sefardi
Book Description
*As Moshe Idel demonstrated, this book is incorrectly attributed to Rabbi Shem Tov Sefardi de Leon. Its apparently true author is a direct disciple of Avraham Abulafia, Natan ben Saadyah Harar. He describes instructions he received from his teacher, believed to be Aubulafia himself, along with his ecstatic experiences. This gives the book unparalleled importance, as auto-biographical works in Kabbalah are extremely rare. Additionally, he explains in detail many kabbalistic techniques, the very ones he employed to reach his prophetical states. The full text is a reconstruction based upon the four original known manuscripts, which in general have some notable differences or omissions.
Publisher: Providence University (February 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1897352077
ISBN-13: 978-1897352076

2) SULAM HA-ALIYAH—LADDER OF ASCENT by R. Yehuda Albotini
Book Description
*Gematria, the process of calculating the numerical value of letters, words, and phrases, has for centuries been an integral component of kabbalistic studies. The Tseruf, a species of Gematria, is a complex system of combining and rearranging Hebrew letters to discover new and profound meaning in the significations of words and phrases. In Sulam Aliyah, Rabbi Yehuda Albotini, who served as a Rabbi in Jerusalem during the years of 1500-1520, explains these principles of combinations, or Tserufim, with both pious humility and mathematical precision. Subsequently, a meditation upon the various, new arrangements results in an influx of insight or Divine Inspiration from the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit), a species of revelation through which the Prophets attained an ecstatic vision of God.
Publisher: Providence University (March 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1897352085
ISBN-13: 978-1897352083

3) NER ELOHIM – CANDLE OF GOD by Avraham Abulafia
*In "Ner Elohim" Abulafia lays down the foundations of his entire system of prophetic Kabbalah. It begins with an interpretation of the Blessing of the Priests, where Abulafia explains that the effect of the blessing depends on the knowledge of holy names, their composition, and their function. This leads him to describe the basic principles behind the workings of holy names and letter combinations, as outlined in the fundamental kabbalistic text of Sefer Yetzira, since "formation cannot exist without the combination of letters".
Publisher: Providence University (March 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1897352093
ISBN-13: 978-1897352090

4) SEFER HA-OT—THE BOOK OF THE SIGN by Avraham Abulafia
*This is one of the rare autobiographic books in Kabbalah. Abulafia relates his experiences and visions, some of which are really frightening. Most notable are his encounters with angels.
Publisher: Providence University (March 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1897352050
ISBN-13: 978-1897352052

5) THE BAHIR (THE ILLUMINATION)
Translation and commentary by R. Aryeh Kaplan
The oldest kabbalistic text with non-dual Gnostic overtones attributed to the Tannah (Mishnaic sage) Nehuniya ben Ha-kanah.
Publisher: Weiser Books (April 1989)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0877286183
ISBN-13: 978-0877286189

6) SEFER YETZIRAH (THE BOOK OF CREATION)
Translation and commentary by R. Aryeh Kaplan
The second oldest kabbalistic text, attributed by some to the patriarch Abraham, it explains the origin of the 32 Paths of Wisdom (10 sefirot and 22 Hebrew letters)
Publisher: Weiser Books; Rev Sub edition (May 1997)
ISBN-10: 0877288550
ISBN-13: 978-0877288558

7) SEPHER REZIEL HAMELACH (THE BOOK OF RAZIEL THE ANGEL)
*The long-awaited first English translation from ancient Hebrew of the rare and complete 1701 Amsterdam edition, of this famous magical text. According to Hebrew legend, the Sepher Rezial was given to Adam in the Garden of Eden, by the hand of God. The myth suggests that this diverse compendium of ancient Hebrew lore was the first book ever written. Includes an explanatory text on the holy names of God, the divisions of Heaven and Hell, and the names and hierarchy of the angels and spirits.
Publisher: Weiser Books (December 2000)
ISBN-10: 1578631688
ISBN-13: 978-1578631681

8) PALM TREE OF DEVORAH by Moshe Cordovero
* A classic work of Jewish philosophy and Mussar by the famed Safed Kabbalist. Hebrew text with facing, new, annotated translation.
Publisher: Targum (1994)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1568710275
ISBN-13: 978-1568710273

9) THE ZOHAR: PRITZKER EDITION, Vol. 1-4 by Daniel C. Matt
*The first two [4] volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, translated with commentary by Daniel C. Matt, cover more than half of the Zohar’s commentary on the Book of Genesis (through Genesis 32:3). This is the first translation ever made from a critical Aramaic text of the Zohar, which has been established by Professor Matt based on a wide range of original manuscripts. The extensive commentary, appearing at the bottom of each page, clarifies the kabbalistic symbolism and terminology, and cites sources and parallels from biblical, rabbinic, and kabbalistic texts. The translator’s introduction is accompanied by a second introduction written by Arthur Green, discussing the origin and significance of the Zohar. Please see the Zohar Home Page for ancillary materials, including the publication schedule, press release, Aramaic text, questions, and answers.
Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (October 29, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0804747474
ISBN-13: 978-0804747479

10) DAAT TEVNOTH: THE KNOWING HEART by R. Moses Chaim Luzzato
A poetic dialogue between the Soul and the Intellect on the mysteries of existence.
Publisher: Feldheim Pub (June 1982)
ISBN-10: 0873063457
ISBN-13: 978-0873063456

11) WAY OF G-D: DERECH HASHEM by R. Moshe Chayim Luzzatto
* Explores Divine regulation of the world. With Rabbi Yosef Begun's marginal notes.
Publisher: Feldheim; 5 edition (January 1, 1984)
ISBN-10: 0873063449
ISBN-13: 978-0873063449

12) KTAVIM CHADASHIM - NEW WRITINGS by R. Chaim Vital
*Ktavim Chadashim contains many unpublished works by Chaim Vital, the foremost disciple of the Ari (Isaac Luria). Here, for the first time, we publish two main sections in English, which are the commentary on Brit Menucha (Covenant of Rest), and the secret fourth part of Shaarei Kedusha (Gates of Holiness). The commentary on Brit Menucha deals with Kabbalah Ma'asit (Practical Kabbalah). It is much more than a simple commentary, because it contains names of angels that are not found in the original Brit Menucha, along with precise instructions concerning their usage. The fourth part of Shaarei Kedusha deals with the practical ways to force Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Divine Inspiration) to descend upon us, thus allowing us to reach prophecy and the world to come. Vital even explains the 72 Names of God, with their angels.
Publisher: Providence University (March 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1897352069
ISBN-13: 978-1897352069

13) SHAAREI KEDUSHA - GATES OF HOLINESS by R. Chaim Vital
*This book of prophetic Kabbalah teaches how to create the "external" and "internal" environment for successfully receiving the "Spirit of Propechy". It presents a clear, precise and revolutionary method for the one who feels the call but has gotten lost along the way and failed to reach the state of enlightenment.
Publisher: Providence University (March 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1897352042
ISBN-13: 978-1897352045

14) SEFER HA-GORALOT - THE BOOK OF ORACLES by R. Chaim Vital
* In times of need, the authorities of Israel consulted an Oracle (Goral) to learn the will of Ha-Shem (the Lord) and to receive answers to their questions. Conceived by Ahitophel, special adviser of King David, the Goraloth elicit the intercession of 117 Angels in order to receive an answer directly from God concerning matters which we take at heart.
Publisher: Providence University (March 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1897352166
ISBN-13: 978-1897352168

15) BRIT MENUCHA - COVENANT OF REST by Avraham ben Yitzchak of Granada
*Known only in restricted circles and closely guarded from unworthy hands, this is one of the most secret books of Kabbalah. It carefully describes the upper worlds in a very ethereal and symbolical language. It uses practical methods and pronunciations of the Divine Names that were employed by the High Priest in the Temple. It describes the names of Angels and Demons, and also explains how to summon them. This text is written for advanced readers who are at the conclusion of their kabbalistic formation.
Publisher: Providence University (March 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1897352018
ISBN-13: 978-1897352014

16) SECRETS OF THE FUTURE TEMPLE - MISHKNEY ELYON ("DWELLINGS OF THE SUPREME") by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, R. Avraham Greenbaum (Editor)
*Clear English translation of this kabbalistic classic + diagrams of the Temple, Altar, with extensive overview tracing the Temple vision.
Publisher: Moznaim Pub Corp (January 1, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9659012012
ISBN-13: 978-9659012015

17) THE TALES OF RABBI NACHMAN OF BRATSLAV by R. Adin Steinsaltz
Rabbi Nachman's tales were originally told in Yiddish. They were recorded by his outstanding pupil, Rabbi Nathan, who translated them into Hebrew and published them after Rabbi Nachman's death. While these tales are structurally similar to folk or fairy tales, they include highly compressed and clearly defined Torah teachings expressed in literary and poetic form. Rabbi Nachman's stories are a medium for conveying hidden aspects of Torah, yet in such a veiled way that the content is not outwardly apparent. These complex allegories, intended by their author to have several dimensions, are presented here by Rabbi Steinsaltz with his own commentary, pointing the way for the modern reader to begin to grasp Rabbi Nachman's profound tales.
Publisher: Jason Aronson (April 28, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0876681836
ISBN-13: 978-0876681831

18) OPENING THE TANYA: DISCOVERING THE MORAL AND MYSTICAL TEACHINGS OF A CLASSIC WORK OF KABBALAH by Adin Steinsaltz
*Written by the great Hasidic master Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in the late eighteenth century, the Tanya is considered to be one of the most extraordinary books of moral teachings ever written. A seminal document in the study of Kabbalah, the Tanya explores and solves the dilemmas of the human soul by arriving at the root causes of its struggles. Though it is a classic Jewish spiritual text, the Tanya and its present commentary take a broad and comprehensive approach that is not specific to Judaism nor tied to a particular personality type or time or point of view. Opening the Tanya is a groundbreaking book that offers a definitive introduction, explanation, and commentary upon the Tanya. As relevant today as it was when it was first written more than two hundred years ago, the Tanya helps us to see the many thousands of complexities, doubts, and drives within us as expressions of a single basic problem, the struggle between our Godly Soul and our Animal Soul.
Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (August 20, 2003)
ISBN-10: 078796798X
ISBN-13: 978-0787967987


CRITICAL HISTORIES

1) MAJOR TRENDS IN JEWISH MYSTICISM by Gershom Scholem
*A collection of lectures on the features of the movement of mysticism that began in antiquity and continues in Hasidism today.
Publisher: Schocken (May 2, 1995)
ISBN-10: 0805210423
ISBN-13: 978-0805210422

2) ORIGINS OF THE KABBALAH by Gershom Gerhard Scholem
* This book has been a classic in its field since it was first issued in 1950, and it still stands as uniquely authoritative and intriguingly instructive. . . . [It is] a monument of revelation and insight bridging anthropology, religion, sociology, and history.
Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 1, 1991)
ISBN-10: 0691020477
ISBN-13: 978-0691020471

3) KABBALAH by Gershon Scholem
As always, Scholem is unsurpassed in his encompassing perspective on the history of Jewish mysticism.
Publisher: Plume (April 1, 1978)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0452010071
ISBN-13: 978-0452010079

4) ON THE MYSTICAL SHAPE OF THE GODHEAD: BASIC CONCEPTS IN THE KABBALAH by Gershom Scholem
* “Scholem, who died in 1982, has long been recognized as the leading scholar of Jewish mysticism. These six Eranos Society lectures, published in 1962, complement those included in his On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism (1965) and treat some of the most basic concepts in the Kabbalah: the mystical shape of the godhead ( shi'ur komah ), good and evil ( sitra ahra ), the righteous one ( tsaddik ), the feminine element in divinity ( shekhinah ), the transmigration of souls ( gilgul ), and the concept of the astral body ( tselem ). As ever, Scholem's treatment is complex and stylistically brilliant as he systematically analyzes the history and intellectual background of these critical ideas. Highly recommended for academic libraries and where there is interest in the Kabbalah.” - Marcia G. Fuchs, Guilford Free Lib., Ct.
Publisher: Schocken; New Ed edition (February 25, 1997)
ISBN-10: 0805210814
ISBN-13: 978-0805210811

5) THE MESSIANIC IDEA IN JUDAISM: AND OTHER ESSAYS ON JEWISH SPIRITUALITY by Gershom Scholem
This is an authoritative history on the development of the Messianic concept in Jewish history and spirituality.
Publisher: Schocken (May 10, 1995)
ISBN-10: 0805210431
ISBN-13: 978-0805210439

6) JEWISH MYSTICISM: THE INFINITE EXPRESSION OF FREEDOM by Rachel Elior,
I am not familiar with this one, but the author is a professor of world renown at Hebrew U. and it appears to be a fascinating topic.
Judith Nave, and Arthur B. Millman
Publisher: Littman Library of Jewish (May 31, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1874774676
ISBN-13: 978-1874774679

7) THE THREE TEMPLES: ON THE EMERGENCE OF JEWISH MYSTICISM by Rachel Elior
Publisher: Littman Library of Jewish; New Ed edition (August 30, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1904113338
ISBN-13: 978-1904113331

8) THE EARLY KABBALAH (CLASSICS OF WESTERN SPIRITUALITY) by Joseph Dan (Editor), Ronald C. Kiener
* In the late twelfth century, at the height of the Middle Ages that saw the flowering of the mystical element in Christendom, the Rabbinic Judaism of southern Europe was transformed by the eruption of new, Gnostic attitudes and symbolism. This new movement, known as Kabbalah (literally the 'Tradition'), was characterized by the symbol of the ten sefirot. By means of the sefirotic imagery, virtually the whole of everyday life was linked to the cosmic dimension in a novel and highly original fashion that stressed the dynamic, evolutionary element of the Godhead and the synergistic relationship between the human will and the action of God on earth. During a century of creativity, a detailed system of symbols and concepts was created by the author of the Sefer ha-Bahir, the Kabbalists of Provence, the Iyyun circle, and the mystics of Provence and Castile that set the stage for the great Kabbalists of the Zohar generation.
Publisher: Paulist Press (June 1986)
ISBN-10: 0809127695
ISBN-13: 978-0809127696

9) KABBALAH: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION by Joseph Dan
* “Professor Dan is one of the leading scholars of Jewish mysticism in the world today. He combines deep erudition with methodological sophistication and clarity of exposition. He is the ideal person to write a short introduction to the study of the Kabbalah."--Shaye J. D. Cohen, Harvard University
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (May 4, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0195327055
ISBN-13: 978-0195327052

10) THE HEART AND THE FOUNTAIN: AN ANTHOLOGY OF JEWISH MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES by Joseph Dan
* “Dan is the Gershom Scholem Professor of Kabbalah at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, winner of the Israel Prize in 1997, a leading authority on Jewish mysticism, and the author of more than 50 books. With such credentials, he makes a fitting editor of a collection intended as an introduction to Kabbalah, an esoteric tradition in Judaism concerning the divine that was given to Moses on Mount Sinai and transmitted secretly through the generations. After an excellent introduction that discusses Jewish mysticism as a whole and then contrasts it with Christian mysticism, Dan presents 25 meaningful excerpts, some from classic texts like the Palm Tree of Devorah, the Zohar, and the mystical prayer of Rabbi Israel Ba'al Shem Tov, others from contemporary poetry. .. Dan's writing is lucid and engaging, bringing an expert's view to a subject that has, unfortunately, been subsumed into popular culture. Highly recommended for large public libraries or where there is an interest in spirituality.” --Idelle Rudman, Touro Coll. Lib., NY
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (September 10, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0195139798
ISBN-13: 978-0195139792

11) BEHOLDERS OF DIVINE SECRETS: MYSTICISM AND MYTH IN THE HEKHALOT AND MERKAVAH LITERATURE by Vita Daphna Arbel
* A wide-ranging exploration of the Hekhalot and Merkavah literature, a mystical Jewish tradition from late antiquity, including a discussion of the possible cultural context of this material's creators.
Publisher: State University of New York Press (October 2003)
ISBN-10: 0791457249
ISBN-13: 978-0791457245

12) KABBALAH AND EROS by Moshe Idel
In this book, the world’s foremost scholar of Kabbalah explores the understanding of erotic love in Jewish mystical thought. Encompassing Jewish mystical literatures from those of late antiquity to works of Polish Hasidism, Moshe Idel highlights the diversity of Kabbalistic views on eros and distinguishes between the major forms of eroticism. The author traces the main developments of a religious formula that reflects the union between a masculine divine attribute and a feminine divine attribute, and he asks why such an “erotic formula” was incorporated into the Jewish prayer book. Idel shows how Kabbalistic literature was influenced not only by rabbinic literature but also by Greek thought that helped introduce a wider understanding of eros. Addressing topics ranging from cosmic eros and androgyneity to the affinity between C. J. Jung and Kabbalah to feminist thought, Idel’s deeply learned study will be of consuming interest to scholars of religion, Judaism, and feminism.
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press (August 22, 2005)
ISBN-10: 030010832X
ISBN-13: 978-0300108323

13) KABBALAH: NEW PERSPECTIVES by Moshe Idel
* “This major reinterpretation of Jewish Kabbalah and mysticism offers new perspectives on its origin, development, and relationship to general mystical writing from antiquity to the modern era. Idel, author of more than 25 works on this subject, analyses in detail two major streams, ecstatic or anthropocentric Kabbalah and theosophical-theurgical or theocentric Kabbalah, also showing how they have intertwined. Using manuscripts and esoteric medieval and early modern works, he examines mystical experience through such factors as total union with God and such techniques of mysticism as the visualization of colors and prayer. The technical nature of this important work and the absence of a glossary of Hebrew terms restrict its use to subject collections.” Maurice Tuchman, Hebrew Coll. Lib., Brookline, Mass.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Publisher: Yale University Press (September 10, 1990)
ISBN-10: 0300046995
ISBN-13: 978-0300046991

14) A GUIDE TO THE ZOHAR (ZOHAR: THE PRITZKER EDITIONS) by Arthur Green
* The Zohar is the great medieval compendium of Jewish esoteric and mystical teaching, and the basis of the kabbalistic faith. It is, however, a notoriously difficult text, full of hidden codes, concealed meanings, obscure symbols, and ecstatic expression. This illuminating study, based upon the last several decades of modern Zohar scholarship, unravels the historical and intellectual origins of this rich text and provides an excellent introduction to its themes, complex symbolism, narrative structure, and language. A Guide to the Zohar is thus an invaluable companion to the Zohar itself, as well as a useful resource for scholars and students interested in mystical literature, particularly that of the west, from the Middle Ages to the present.
Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (December 18, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0804749086
ISBN-13: 978-0804749084

15) KETER by Arthur Green
Keter is a close reading of fifty relatively brief Jewish texts, tracing the motif of divine coronation from Jewish esoteric writings of late antiquity to the Zohar, written in thirteenth-century Spain. In the course of this investigation Arthur Green draws a wide arc including Talmudic, Midrashic, liturgical, Merkavah, German Hasidic, and Kabbalistic works, showing through this single theme the spectrum of devotional, mystical, and magical views held by various circles of Jews over the course of a millennium or more.. …As a whole, Keter takes the reader on an exciting tour of the interior landscapes of the Jewish imagination, offering some remarkable insights into the nature of mystical and symbolic thinking in the Jewish tradition.
Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 7, 1997)
ISBN-10: 0691043728
ISBN-13: 978-0691043722

16) SHALOM SHAR'ABI AND THE KABBALISTS OF BEIT EL by Pinchas Giller
* Prof. Pinchas Giller offers a wide-ranging overview of the most influential school of kabbalah in modernity, the Jerusalem kabbalists of the Beit El Yeshivah. The school is associated with the writings and personality of a charismatic Yemenite rabbi, Shalom Shar'abi. Shar'abi's activity overwhelmed the Jerusalem Kabbalah of the eighteenth century, and his acolytes are the most active mystics in contemporary Middle Eastern Jewry to this day. Today, this meditative tradition is rising in popularity in Jerusalem, New York, and Los Angeles, both among traditional Beit El kabbalists and members of the notorious Kabbalah Learning Centers. After providing the historical setting, Giller examines the characteristic mystical practices of the Beit El School. … The first book in the English language to address the character and spread of Jewish mysticism through the Middle East in early modernity, it will be a guidepost for further study of this vast topic.
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (January 22, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0195328809
ISBN-13: 978-0195328806

17) THE ESSENTIAL KABBALAH: HEART OF JEWISH MYSTICISM by Daniel C. Matt
*Kabbalah is the deeply spiritual study of the soul and internal mysteries of Jewish philosophy clothed in allegory and requiring extensive knowledge of the Torah and Talmud. Publisher: HarperOne; 1st edition (June 14, 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062511637
ISBN-13: 978-0062511638

18) SAFED SPIRITUALITY: RULES OF MYSTICAL PIETY, THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM (Classics of Western Spirituality) by Lawrence Fine , Louis Jacobs
*Collected here are the Hanhagot of Moses Cordovero, Abraham Galante, Abraham be Eliezer ha-Levi Berukhim, Joseph Karo, and Isaac Luria, plus the mystical-ethical treatise, Reshit Hokhmah (The Beginning of Wisdom) by Elijah de Vidas. In these writings the unique blend of kabbalistic tradition and messianic enthusiasm, which is characteristic of Safed spirituality, comes alive. The importance of the Safed tradition for today is perhaps best summed up by Louis Jacobs' description of the Safed mystics as "mighty God seekers; at times perhaps, over-credulous and superstitious from the contemporary point of view, but daring stormers of the heavens." Their intense devotional piety, their efforts to imbue even the most mundane event with religious meaning and their insistence on the cosmic significance of all human action make their thought a relevant, stimulating source of spiritual insight for our age.
Publisher: Paulist Press; New Ed edition (January 1, 1984)
ISBN-10: 0809126125
ISBN-13: 978-080912612

2 comments:

ulrich said...

Thanks, for important piece, important in manys ways.

I suggested it to several friends, and lists that I moderate (some xtian, monastic, interfaith).

Hope you found the Marguerite Porete! (discussed on 2 lists I moderate).
Je vous remercie beaucoup!
John (hermit monk)

williamsmith said...

Everyday people are reporting their wonderful experiences on health benefits of Yoga, the transformation of being, taking you beyond the here and now. In one wonderful session of Yoga, people get to practice a number of things, some Yoga poses (asanas) breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation and chanting. In Yoga you get to learn basic terms like Mudras, Bandhas and Chakras. Best of all, Yoga is fun and relaxing while, at the same time, being delectably challenging to beginners.Derived from the Sanskrit root “Yujir Yogey” meaning to unite, to yoke, to join, to put together, Yoga is not about mind over body. On the other hand, Yoga is about developing harmony between them. In Yoga, you use your mind to perceive (diagnose) and guide (heal) your body. Never control, let alone force it!
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