Sunday, October 23, 2022

The Essential Kabbalah. The Heart of Jewish Mysticism. Daniel C. Matt

The Essential Kabbalah. The Heart of Jewish Mysticism. Daniel C. Matt
The Essential Kabbalah. The Heart of Jewish Mysticism. Daniel C. Matt

"The Essential Kabbalah" by Dr. Daniel C. Matt is a good and very concise book on the subject.

"Daniel Matt's The Essential Kabbalah is all at once a striking anthology, an original meditation, and a mystic philosophy of life. Readers will return to this book again and again to see have they have grown, and to measure their souls against its deep, poetic wisdom."--David Wolpe, author of The Healer of Shattered Hearts: A Jewish View of God.

Daniel Matt's continued wonder at the confounding brilliance of kabbalistic writings is evident in this loving presentation of the key texts from the Jewish mystical tradition. This fine sampling of works from the earliest medieval European texts to 20th-century interpretations includes poems, symbolic stories, meditations, and ruminations by such important figures as Moses de Leon, Moses Cordovero, Isaac Luria, and Abraham Isaac Kook. Matt's translations have both a spareness and a poetic flair that makes reading these highly esoteric selections a richly moving experience.

The words of 14th-century mystic Shem Tov ibn Shem Tov, for example, are rendered with a startling immediacy: "How did God create the world? Like a person taking a deep breath and holding it, so that the small contains the large. Similarly God contracted his light to a divine handbreadth, and the world was left in darkness. In the darkness God carved cliffs and hewed rocks to clear the wondrous paths of wisdom." A short introduction traces the history of Kabbalah, explaining its salient concepts and symbols, and extensive notes provide background on the featured texts and writers. A brief bibliography is provided for those who will want to savor more of these extraordinary texts after tasting their richness in this collection.

A translation of the Kabbalah for the layperson includes a compact presentation of each primary text and features a practical analysis and vital historical information that offer insight into the various aspects of Jewish mysticism.

Daniel C. Matt has written many books and articles on Jewish spirituality, including Zohar:The Book of Enlightenment and God and the Big Bang. He is a professor of Jewish mysticism at the Center for Jewish Studies, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA.