Page 95 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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Recent Works in English
on Jewish Mysticism
r e c en t
yea r s
works have been appearing in English in in­
creasing numbers on themes of Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah and
Hasidism. All types of literary forms are represented in this
output: translations of Hebrew and Aramaic texts, descriptive
studies, histories, biographies and sociological monographs.
Many of these materials are intended for the serious scholar,
while others have greater appeal to the unsophisticated reader.
Th is heightened attention to mysticism no doubt reflects the
impact of contemporary mystics and philosophers, men of re­
nown like Martin Buber and Abraham J. Heschel. I t also ac­
counts for the interest in Kabbalah by friends and followers of
counter culture.
An attempt will be made in the following pages to comment
briefly on some of these materials. One or more titles will be
singled out in each category, calling attention to features of
special significance.
Literal translations of texts which use complex symbolic lan­
guage, like Moses C. Luzzatto’s
General Principles of Kabbalah
(New York, 1970), or
The Kabbalah: A Study of the Ten Lum i­
nous Emanations
(New York, 1973)—both published as part of
the ambitious program of the Research Centre of Kabbalah in
Jerusalem and New York to make major works of Jewish mysti­
cism accessible to the English reader—leave much to be desired
because they do not include an intelligible and systematic inter­
pretation of terminology. W ithout a clear perception of the
unique language of Kabbalah the reader may acquire an idea
of its picturesque, often obscure, symbolism, bu t remains mysti­
fied as to the real meaning of its teachings. Roy A. Rosenberg’s
The Anatomy of God
(New York, Ktav, 1973), a volume of
unusually interesting selections from Zohar, is another example
of this type of difficult translating.
Exponents of counter culture make indiscriminate use of the