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Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide Paperback – March 14, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Kaplan, Orthodox rabbi and author of Meditation and the Bible (Weiser, 1978) and Meditation and Kabbalah (Weiser, 1981), shows that meditation is consistent with traditional Jewish thought and practice. He then presents a guide to a variety of meditative techniques: mantra meditation (with suggested phrases and Bible verses to use as mantras); contemplation; visualization; experiencing nothingness (which he does not recommend for beginners); conversing with God; and prayer. His instructions are clear and explicit, and his advice is informed and sound, advocating that a simple 20-minute-a-day program can indeed help make the practitioner a better person and a better Jew, and develop a closer relationship to God and things spiritual. Recommended for general collections. Marcia G. Fuchs, Guilford Free Lib., Ct.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“The classic text for Jews who want to experience the meditative methods of their own spiritual tradition.”
—Daniel Goleman, author of The Meditative Mind
“[This is] the first book to read on the subject. It is a gentle, clear introduction and provides exercises and practices that can be used right away by any Jew who wants a deeper prayer experience.”
—Rodger Kamenetz, author of The Jew in the Lotus
“New and old davveners can learn from this sainted teacher how to deepen their holy processes . . . One can, with the help of God and the aid of this manual, tap into the Cosmic.”
—Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi
“A guide to Jewish prayer and meditation that is both grounded in the tradition and genuinely mind-expanding. For anyone seeking to connect with the spiritual side of Judaism, this book is essential.”
—William Novak
“At a time when Jews are rediscovering their hunger for spirituality, Kaplan’s clear and comprehensive book could well be one of the most important Jewish books of our time.
—Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken (March 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805210377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805210378
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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174 of 176 people found the following review helpful By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom VINE VOICE on November 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
As far as I know, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (may he rest in peace) was the first Orthodox rabbi to write about Jewish meditation for the general public. He did so because his own teachers recognized that American Jews in the 60s and 70s were growing up without knowledge of these traditions, and were therefore abandoning Judaism for other religions in order to be "more spiritual." Hence this and other books by Kaplan on Jewish meditation.
Kaplan's books are still considered to be among the most authentic on the market, and are kosher even among the Orthodox and Hasidic branches of Judaism. His first book, "Meditation and the Bible," came out in 1978, and explored the various meditation techniques that were hinted at in the Bible and expanded in other Jewish texts. This was followed by "Meditation and Kabbalah" (1982), which explained the techniques in greater detail and provided first-ever English translations of many basic Hebrew texts. Both of these books, however, were quite academic and not intended to be how-to guides. Hence the third book here, "A Practical Guide" to Jewish meditation, published in 1985.
I mention the first two books because, if you read only this one, it may strike you as just another "new age" hodge-podge of ideas. Far from it. Kaplan took his cues from the most Orthodox of the Orthodox, i.e., the traditionalist Jews who had not lost the pre-Holocaust knowledge of these techniques. In his first two books, he clearly lays out the theory, drawing upon centuries-old Hebrew texts and first-hand descriptions by Jewish "saints" of various eras. In "Jewish Meditation," he distills all this down into directions for actual daily practice.
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108 of 113 people found the following review helpful By mtk5150 on April 18, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not Jewish. I'm actually a Spirit-filled Christian. My branch of the Church tends to emphisize prayer, personal devotion, and intimacy with God. As a devout student of the Bible, I've always looked to the ancient Jewish Prophets and Mystics to learn how to grow closer to God. Years ago I came to the conclusion that deep spiritual meditation was at the center of their spiritual lives, yet I was not terribly familiar with what their meditations might have been like. The fear of being "new-agey" kept me from experimenting on my own and so I spent a great deal of time searching out the Bible for hints of what the people of Bible times did in meditation. I really didn't get much clarity on the matter until I read this book. Kaplan graciously spares his readers from spooky, impractical tecniques and gives intelligent, balanced explanations of the various forms of meditation that more than likely were employed by the greats in Scripture.
This book is an indespensible part of my spiritual library now. I will never be without it. Give someone you love this book; you'll be giving them a gift that will last forever.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Neal J. Pollock VINE VOICE on November 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
The late Aryeh Kaplan was a Rabbi, scholar, and Kabbalist. In addition to his valuable and readable commentaries on Sefer Yetzirah and Sefer Bahir, he wrote three books on meditation. The other two are: "Meditation and Kabbalah" and "Meditation and the Bible." From a practical perspective, "Jewish Meditation" is far and away the best, however, reading the other two provides one with a more inclusive, theoretical background and context within which to practice. This volume is quite valuable and a contribution to both meditation per se and to Jewish spiritual practices. It's rare to find an author who is both scholar and practitioner, so Kaplan's books on meditation and on Kabbalah are particularly valuable and accessible to the reader. Of course, they are not introductory books--of which there are innumerable versions in bookstores. It helps to have a solid background in the basics before tackling Kaplan's texts. But it isn't essential. Kaplan's texts are appropriate to both the serious student and the serious practitioner of meditation and of Kabbalah. They also demonstrate to contemporary people that Judaism is more than just laws and books and that spiritual practices are, indeed, the heart of Judaism as they are with other religions and belief systems. R. Kaplan's tragic death in an automobile accident was a great loss to Jewish understanding as well as, more generically, to Kabbalah, meditation, and modern spirituality.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on February 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
In this work, the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan explores the Jewish roots of meditation, as well as a practical on how to meditate according to Jewish tradition.

He points out how meditation is an ancient part of Jewish religious tradition, contrary to popular belief. How the synagogue was meant originally to be a meditative experience, and how much of Jewish prayer liturgy is meant to be a meditative type connection with the Creator.

He marvels at how so many Jews look outside their Judaism for spiritual enlightenment, while it is all available within their own spiritual tradition.

As Kaplan takes us on this journey of exploration he deals with such questions as `What is meditation?', `Why meditate' , the various types of meditation available and how to do them as well as a chapter on.

He makes an important point that in its deepest states mediation can free us of our own egos and subconscious association with G-D as a mirror image of ourselves , and therefore allow us to really experience G-D.

Musar, self-perfection, an important school in Jewish thought.

After reading this excellent work, you will never see Judaism, spirituality or meditation in the same way. It also can serve as a simple and helpful aid to begin your own meditation.
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