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Hasidic Tales: Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Illuminations) Paperback – October 1, 2003

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Hasidic Tales: Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Illuminations) + The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality
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Product Details

  • Series: SkyLight Illuminations
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: SkyLight Paths; 1 edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893361861
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893361867
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Like an seasoned Hasid from the emerging future paradigm, Rami tells the stories from the heart. His insightful comments help the contemporary intellect to realize what the soul intuitively knows." Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, author of Wrapped in a Holy Flame and First Steps to a New Jewish Spirit "Rami Shapiro has given us two gifts, an illuminating contemporary rendering of this timeless spiritual classic, along with commentary of everyday, personal stories that reveal the joy-filled wisdom. I loved it!" Sylvia Boorstein, author of That s Funny,You Don t Look Buddhist "Brings alive the holy sparks of spirituality in modern Judaism, offering practical, clear exercises designed to reawaken and nurture one s soul. This is an essential guide for anyone who wishes to tap the wellsprings of the heart of Jewish practice." Rabbi David A. Cooper, author of Silence, Simplicity & Solitude --.

About the Author

Rami Shapiro, a renowned teacher of spirituality across faith traditions and a noted theologian, is a popular speaker on the topics of religion, theology and spirituality. He is author of the award-winning The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice; Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice and Hasidic Tales: Annotated and Explained; among other books.

Rami Shapiro is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Writing—The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice
  • Stop Playing God: 12 Steps as Spiritual Practice
  • Biblical Wisdom for Post-biblical Times: An Exploration of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job
  • The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Cultivating Compassion in Daily Life
  • Hasidic Wisdom: An Exploration of Hasidic Storytelling, Theology and Contemplative Practice
  • Saints and Sages: Biblical Prophets, Ancient Rabbis and the Building of a Just World

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
This is a cherished volume for me one which I read frequently.
S. murugananda
Shapiro's background is very unusual, I think this makes his writing of the stories that much more to the point.
a reader
When I listen to you, I hear that your mind wanders from one thought to another.
Israel Drazin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Rabbi Shapiro translates, annotates, and explains over 80 legendary tales that focus on the founder of the modern Chassidic movement, Israel ben Eliezer (1698-1760), known as the Baal Shem Tov, the Master of the Good Name, and the Chasidic rabbis who followed him. The stories are sometimes mystical, magical, unnatural, impossible, and paradoxical. But this does not diminish them in any way. The sticking parabolic nature of the legends helps turn the reader's mind from their facts to their message, and the interesting, unnatural legends are seen as true.

Shapiro gives his readers a twenty-five page introduction, which includes detailed information about the each of the rabbis mentioned in the tales. He presents the legends on the right hand pages and a brief description of the rabbi mentioned in the story, an explanation of terms, and a synopsis of the story's message on the adjacent left side.

Here are some synopses of his stories that admittedly fail to capture the beauty of the fully told tale. A woman gets lost in a forest. She meets a man and asks for directions, but he admits that he is also lost. She says, "You got lost by going one way while I got lost going another way. Let's share what we know about the wrong paths, and then we may find one together that succeeds." This teaches that we are all lost in one way or another, but if we share knowledge we can reach our goal.

A student returned from visiting his rabbi over the holiday. A scoffer asked him what he learnt. He said that he learnt the command "Thou shalt not steal." The scoffer laughed, "We learnt this without needing to take a long tedious trip." The student replied, "You learnt not to steal from others. I learnt not to steal from myself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on June 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Rabbi Rami Shapiro promotes a non-dualist form of Judaism, and here, in this carefully chosen selection of tales from Hasidic sources, Rabbi Shapiro shows us how this form of the religion looks both in theory and practice.

There is informal theology here: examples of how the early Hasids viewed the world as simply an extension of God (or, in some, if not most readings, as God-Itself) and practical, how a non-dual Jew should act and behave in a world where all we see is specious duality.

This seemingly simple book is actually quite profound. It invites the reader to view the world from an entirely new prospective from common, waking reality. Even if the reader gets a small glimpse of this world, it is well worth the effort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dibias Ramos on November 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
this book with stories is very liberating spiritually. It's a very lighthearted way to look at the invisible qualities of life and very enlightening. If you want to know more about the roots of your faith, this book should definitley be in your library!!!
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By watzizname VINE VOICE on September 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of stories written by and for Hasidic Jews, which I, a Gentile, read for the purpose of gaining insight into Hasidism. I had found that every Hasidic Jew I had become acquainted with turned out to be very likable, which aroused my curiosity, because I had confused Hasidism with Jewish Fundamentalism, something it most definitely isn't! It is more akin in spirit, I think, to Zen Buddhism, albeit definitely theistic (or panentheistic).

These tales also are reminiscent of the parables of the Jewish prophet of more than a millenium and a half earlier, Yeshua bar Miriam, better known today by the distorted version of his name (with every component phoneme changed) after it passed from his native Aramaic thru Greek, Latin, and finally into English, where it came out 'Jesus.' Had he been born in the mid-eighteenth century or later, Jesus might well have become a Hasid.

Altho I grew up hearing occasional casual remarks disparaging of Jews, I never got acquainted with any until college, where I discovered that about 40% of the students I found most likable turned out to be from the 5% of the students who were Jewish, an experience which preindisposed me to become bigoted against Jews.

These tales, delightful in themselves, conveyed to me much of the essence of Hasidism. While some of them may have more relevance for you if you're Jewish, you definitely don't have to be Jewish to appreciate and enjoy them, and Rabbi Shapiro's notes are very helpful. Thank you, Rabbi Shapiro.

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Hasidic Tales is yet another awful book by Shapiro. Books on Hasids are rather popular and everybody seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. Shapiro, in his several books, seemingly can't get enough of telling us that he is a Buddhist with a Talis (Jewish Prayer Shawl), or that he did not understand the Jewish Sabbath until the Dalai Lama clarified it (see his book Minyan). The latter revelation, though, stated with stark seriousness provides great amusement. In the introduction to this book, Shapiro informs us that he decided to become a rabbi at the urging of his Zen Buddhist master.

Shapiro's "great sage", Mordechai Kaplan was the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. Kaplan, once an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi floated into Conservative Judaism. When his ideas were rejected out of hand by Jewish theologians, he created his own sect, perhaps more out of spite then revelation. It is anybody's guess what Reconstructionism is but Kaplan rejected God as an agent in the world and sought to replace God with "Jewish Civilization" -- whatever that is. His sect was created in the 60's -- the "Death of God" decade, though unfortunately God made a comeback in the 70s. SHapiro was a Reconstructionist congregationalist rabbi in Miami for a considerable period of time.

I do not condemn Shapiro for any theological belief he chooses to embrace. That is not a judgment for me to make. But here is the problem. The Hasids believe that there is an active God and no leaf falls from a tree without it being part of God's grand plan. The Reconstructionist view of God and the Hasidic view of God are total polar opposites.
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