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A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters Hardcover – May 14, 2009


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A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters + Davening: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Prayer + Gate to the Heart: A Manual of Contemplative Jewish Practice
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: The Jewish Publication Society; 1st edition (May 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827608845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827608849
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #799,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the neo-Hasidic Jewish Renewal movement, and Miles-Yepez, his cofounder of the Sufi-Hasidic Inyati Maimuni Tariqat, a Jewish order of Sufis, have woven an engrossing and soulful reflection, rife with illustrative stories and accompanying explanations, on the Hasidic masters of 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century Europe. The flowing, almost conversational tone is intended for a larger, less traditional audience; the authors seek to engage the spectrum of Jews as well as non-Jews in discovery of the presence of God. To that end, they freely incorporate parallel Hindu, Buddhist and Sufi narratives and traditions. The authors bring to life anecdotes describing the lives and teachings of the various ba'alei shem (men of great name) and those closest to them, and especially that of the most famous, Yisra'el ben Eliezer, better known as the Ba'al Shem Tov, whose legacy inspires Hasidim to this day. This collaboration will delight readers of all backgrounds who are searching for a spirited and spiritual perspective on Hasidic evolution and lore. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Reb Zalman) has, almost single-handedly, brought living, formative, Hasidic spirituality to three generations of liberal Jews. Indeed, his astonishingly fecund ideas and stories have profoundly altered the landscape of American Judaism. In A Heart Afire, Zalman now shares with us the mother lode of his teaching and example. We are all ever in his debt."—Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Emanu-El Scholar at Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco. He is the author of Kabbalah: A Love Story and numerous books on Jewish spirituality.
(Rabbi Lawrence Kushner)

"This book is a brilliant anthology of early hasidic teaching, but it is much, much more. The teachings are embedded in Reb Zalman's profoundly felt, life-long practice of Jewish renewal, and his universalistic outlook that encompasses teachings from Sufism, Buddhism and depth psychology . . . This is a book to read and reread, absorb and cherish."—Rodger Kamenetz, author of The History of Last Night's Dream and The Jew in the Lotus.
(Rodger Kamenetz)

"A Heart Afire is a tour-de-force that will take its place beside the efforts of Buber and Wiesel to bring the deep spiritual practices, stories and perspective of Hassidic tradition to life and to be of service to contemporary readers of all persuasions. A must for homes and universities, this combination of historical perspective, clear, readable and inspiring translations brings a broader range of Hassidic masters to the reader's attention than has ever before been available."—Rabbi Goldie Milgram, author of Meaning & Mitzvah: Daily Practices for Reclaiming Judaism through Prayer, God, Torah, Hebrew, Mitzvot & Peoplehood; Reclaiming Judaism as a Spiritual Practice: Holy Days and Shabbat; among other recent books.
(Rabbi Goldie Milgram)

"An engrossing and soulful reflection, rife with illustrative stories and accompanying explanations . . . will delight readers of all backgrounds who are searching for a spirited and spiritual perspective on Hasidic evolution and lore."—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

"The interpretations in A Heart Afire are as rich and meaningful as the teaching and tales themselves in this intimate guide of Hasidism and Hasidic storytelling . . . As a bridge between both worlds, Reb Zalman, and his co-author and student Netanel Miles-Yepez, introduce the reader to rare and unique translations...with their own personal reflections on their meaning."—Jewish Media Review

(JewishMediaReview)

"His last two volumes speak to the genuine quality if our faith and given his reputation, should enable those who otherwise wouldn’t lift up a book on yiddishkeit, to read and learn of our Jewish traditions."—Jewish Star
(Jewish Star)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By W. A. Carpenter VINE VOICE on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This long book (400+ pages) by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez contains teachings from the first three generations of the Hasidic movement; especially the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch, and Elimelekh of Lizhensk.

But the book is much more than this as these teachings serve as a platform for the authors, especially Reb Zalman, to offer their own teachings from a modern Hasidic perspective, that of Jewish Renewal.

Although the book contains technical language from the early Hasidic literature and the Kaballah, the concepts are explained clearly and should be accessible to anyone with even a minimal background in Judaism. But there are also teachings of profound depth for those with an extensive background in these matters.

Early Hasidic masters were known for their ability to teach so that each student thought the rabbi was talking exclusively to him. This book achieves the more difficult task of doing this in a written form. I had the strange sense that certain sections of the book were written entirely for my benefit as they spoke exactly to my current concerns and problems.

An accessible and amazing book that should be in all Jewish libraries and read by anyone interested in Hasidism. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Hasidic tradition within Judaism is a rich and complex one. In "A Heart Afire: Stories And Teachings Of The Early Hasidic Masters", Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Reb Zalman, the father of the neo-Hasidic Jewish Renewal movement) and Netanel Miles-Yepez (co-founder of the Sufi-Hasidic Inayati-Maimuni Tariqat, which is the only Jewish order of Sufis in the world) present a 406-page compendium of teachings, stories, and commentaries by early Hasidic masters which they have translated and enhanced with additional commentary. Accessibly organized into three major sections (The Hidden Tradition and the Ba'al Shem Tov; The Circle of the Ba'al Shem and the Maggid of Mezritch; and The Circle of the Maggid and The Rebbe King). Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "A Heart Afire" is enriched w3ith an appendix, extensive notes, a glossary, a bibliography, an index, background information on the authors, and an explanation of how this book was written. "A Heart Afire" is a welcome and very highly recommended addition to personal, academic, and community library Judaic Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amitai on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The second of three works by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez on the history and inner, heart-teachings of hasidism from which neo-Hasidism and Jewish Renewal evolves from. Together, these three works form a profound foundation of teaching on the profundity of hasidic truths in an accessible and freeing, i.e., inspiring and heart-connected way. As "Wrapped in a Holy Flame" is, this work is detailed in its profundity yet broad in its scope covering numerous pivotal rabbis and personalities in the Hasidic lineage.

The other two works I strongly recommend, making somewhat of a trilogy of works on Hasidism by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez are "Wrapped in a Holy Flame" and "A Hidden Light."
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