Page 83 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 29

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77
B
erger
—R
abbi
N
ahm an
The School of Gershorn Scholem
A new and important gate to the understanding of Nahman’s
personality and thought was opened by the school of Gershom G.
Scholem. Already in 1928, Scholem published his pioneering bibli-
ography of Braslav works
Kuntres Ele Shemot.
In his
Major Trends
of Jewish Mysticism
(Jerusalem, 1941, p. 341), Scholem charac-
terizes Rabbi Nahman as “a man whose Kabbalistic terminology
conceals an almost modern hypersensitivity to problems.”
Scholem’s pupil, J. G. Weiss, first showed his interest in Rabbi
Nahman’s thought in a slender but discriminating anthology
Ma’agle Siah
(Jerusalem, 1947). Since then, in a series of probing
essays, he sought to forge a path to a deeper understanding of the
labyrinth of Nahman’s creative imagination and the chaotic cosmic
problems he desperately was trying to resolve. Most of Weiss’s
studies about Rabbi Nahman appeared in various festschriften:
A le Ayin
(Jerusalem, 1952), for Zalman Schocken, pp. 245-291;
Sefer ha-Yovel li-Khevod Gershom Sholem,
([Tarbiz, vol. 37]
Jerusalem, 1958, pp. 232-245);
Studies in Mysticism presented
to Gershom G. Scholem
(Jerusalem, 1967, Hebrew section, pp.
101-113), and
K iryath Sepher
(1965 and 1969-1970). Weiss’ last
lecture at University College, London, before his tragic death in
1969, was entitled “Sense and Non-Sense in Religion: The Case
of Rabbi Nahman.” There is a plan to issue his essays, including
those on early hasidism, in book form.
A novel approach to Rabbi Nahman and his tales is offered by
the essayist Isaiah Rabinowitz. In his
Shorashim u-Megamot
(Jeru-
salem, 1967) and his Yiddish essay in the
Goldene Keyt
(no. 69-70,
1970), he eloquently discusses Nahman the creative artist strug-
gling for self-expression through thought, word, image and music.
Abraham Berger in the forthcoming
Studies in Jewish Biblog-
raphy, History and Literature in Honor of I. Edward K iev
(New
York, Ktav, 1971), gives an interpretation, in the light of Kabbalah
and Nahman’s own insights, of the story of the “heart and the
well” in “The Tale of the Seven Beggars.” Elisheva Schoenfeld
discusses this tale from the viewpoint of agadah and comparative
folklore
(Laographia,
Athens 1965, pp. 459-465, and more fully
in
Yeda Am ,
1965, vol. 11, pp. 65-78).
A historical romance on Rabbi Nahman by Yohanan Twersky
(
Ha-lev weha-Herev
[The Heart and the Sword] Tel-Aviv, 1955)
is based on Nathan of Nemirov’s account of Nahman’s pilgrimage
to the Holy Land during Napoleon’s Egyptian Expedition. Zvi
Cahn’s
Shturmishe Doires
(Buenos Aires, 1959) is a “historical
novel.”
The life of the Braslaver hasidim in Berdichev toward the close
of the nineteenth century is portrayed broadly in Der Nister’s