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A personal reading of Rodger Kamenetz' "Burned Books",
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This review is from: Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka (Jewish Encounters) (Hardcover)
Rodger Kamenetz book is about my life too. And I did not write this book. But his observation that Kafka used a Talmudic thinking to write is documented brilliantly. His observation that Kafka lived an eternal Yom Kippur, being obsessed whether he is judged by every word he said, stemming from a perfectionism impossible to achieve, it's about me and others like me. Kafka never crossed the door of the Law, he never reached the Castle, he does not know the reason why K dies in the Trial. Yet these questions are part of his life, much beyond the oversimplification of Kafka as a scribe about an absurd world, where each time we have an argument with a boss, a teacher and a parent we feel identified.
Kafka has no answers, but an "unending analysis", same as Talmudic, Midrashic, and Mishnaic commentaries. Kafka's "The Trial", for example, embodies the particular techniques of rabbinic hermeneutics. These are dry words.At a personal level, the three levels of soul perceived by the humans, Nefesh (the animal soul), Ruach, the wind towards Nesahama, the spiritual soul, must be visible. Most people relate the word "soul" with Nefesh. If you listen to soul jazz music, you feel the Neshama
I never understood the Kafka's Metamorphosis, until my mother had a stroke trying to get a bottle of milk from the fridge. She became an insect-like and many people started treating her as an insect. "There must a treatment" she said to me. "I can not stay like this, for the rest of my days" It is this treatment that I was unable to find for her than haunts me even today.
Joseph Roth wrote, when in stress, we do not seek the knower, we seek the believer. My mother had a good medical care, but she had no hope, something that those miracle- rabbis . not the doctors, can give us. Hope, Believe, because there is something above us that we have no the capacity to understand. But Rabbi Nachman knows more secrets, he knows more than he is allowed to reveal. If he does reveal, he pays a dear price: his son, his wife and even his own life, were at stake.
I see how #1 on Amazon is the memoir of an ex president. #1 in Sales should be Roger Kamenetz book. But he writes for a special group of people that have experienced Kabbalah, not only read about it or attend the fad of it. Reading the book is easy, as I read a thriller. I am not the only one, but we are hardly as many as the the ex President readers or bass Rolling Stone player readers, speaking through the pen of professional ghost writers who beautify their lives beyond what they really are.
Rodger is also a ghost writer, but not for a human flesh person like George Bush or Keith Richard. He gives us the voice that come from somewhere, perhaps ultimately from the the Divine that both Rabbi Nachman faith and Kafka secularism accepted as real. Mr. Kamenetz has Ruach Neshama