- Hardcover: 472 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press; Fourth Edition edition (October 21, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231146302
- ISBN-13: 978-0231146302
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menahem Mendel Schneerson Fourth Edition Edition
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Elliot R. Wolfson's new work is a masterful exposition of the phenomenology and ontology of Habad thought, particularly its bearing on messianic mysteries and consciousness. This study is an extraordinary integration of precise philology, philosophical comprehension, and the inner course of Habad theosophy as it flows through the discourses of its seven masters. Wolfson analyzes the climactic position of Rabbi Schneerson within this complex with exemplary and original insight. (Michael Fishbane, Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Chicago)
Elliot R. Wolfson's dark brilliance is itself an open secret, unfolding mesmerizing rhythms of chiastic paradox. The relevance of his commentary cannot be confined to the study of a particular movement, religion, or discipline. In this philosophical meditation on a controversial strand of recent messianism, a profound historical kabbalism appears edged with a postmodern Kafkaesque ironyin the legacy of a 'future that is already present as the present that is always future.' (Catherine Keller, Drew University, and author of Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming)
This highly original reading of Menachem Mendel Schneerson's messianic doctrine renders irrelevant much of the ongoing speculation and debate on the question of whether or not the Lubavitcher Rebbe, like the bulk of his following, believed that he was the Messiah. The book argues insightfully that beneath his well-attested endeavors to demonstrate the imminence the messianic advent, and his resort to the traditional language of Jewish messianic speculation, lays the paradoxical 'open secret' of a totally impersonal Messiah who, reflecting the nature of the infinite kabbalistic godhead itself, can be revealed in the world only by way of concealment. His advent is conceptualized as a universal expansion of spiritual consciousness, a nonevent that continuously occurs, has occurred, and will occur 'immediately, without delay, in actuality,' which effectively means beyond measurable time. (Ada Rapoport-Albert, University College London)
Wolfson's spiritual quest is contagious, and the intrepid reader will brave the many difficult passages in order to follow him (Lawrence Grossman Forward)
Every researcher or enlightened reader should be interested in this profound construction, in order to understand the most significant Jewish messianic phenomenon in the Jewish world of the last two generations. (Alon Dahan H-Judaic)
Wolfson has not only produced an excellent study of Rabbi Mena?em Mendel Schneerson's views, but he has argued convincingly that this work will serve as a paradigm for Jewish philosophic thought. (H.D. Uriel Smith Philosophy East and West)
Menahem Mendel Schneerson (1902–1994) was the seventh and seemingly last Rebbe of the Ḥabad–Lubavitch dynasty. Marked by conflicting tendencies, the thinker was a radical messianic visionary who promoted a conservative political agenda, a reclusive contemplative who built a hasidic sect into an international movement, and a man dedicated to the exposition of mysteries who nevertheless harbored many secrets. Schneerson astutely masked views that might be deemed heterodox by the canons of orthodoxy while engineering a fundamentalist ideology that could subvert traditional gender hierarchy, the halakhic distinction between permissible and forbidden, and the social-anthropological division between Jew and Gentile. Elliot R. Wolfson concentrates on Schneerson's apocalyptic sensibility and promotion of a mystical consciousness that undermines all discrimination. Situating Ḥabad thought within the evolution of kabbalistic mysticism, the history of Western philosophy, and Mahayana Buddhism, he articulates Schneerson's rich theology and profound philosophy, concentrating on the nature of apophatic embodiment, semiotic materiality, hypernomian transvaluation, nondifferentiated alterity, and atemporal temporality.
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Wolfson articulates Schneerson's rich theology and profound philosophy, concentrating on the nature of apophatic embodiment, semiotic materiality, hypernomian transvaluation, nondifferentiated alterity, and atemporal temporality;.
The subject is fascinating. The research is exhaustive. But so is the reader after just a few pages. Why can’t scholars learn to write? At least a good editor should have changed the innumerable lengthy and passive paragraphs into more short declarative sentences. Here’s just a few examples you’ll wade through.
Indeed, this act of enclothing (hitlabbeshut), epitomized in the zoharic sentiment that God and Torah are one, is the kabbalistic way of articulating the theopoetic mystery of incarnation, the paradox of the delimitation of the limitless, the ideational underpinning of the hal-akhic basis for the mystical ideal of devequt, communion with and conjunction to the divine through implementation of the commandments;
The typological parallel between the first and the final redeemer, a theme notably pronounced in the strata of zoharic literature known as Ra‘aya Meheimna and Tiqqunim, had a profound impact on later generations of kabbalists, including the luminaries of the sixteenth-century Safedian revival, theologians of seventeenth-century Sabbatianism, and Ḥasidic masters of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. ;
Then you get to the sentences themselves which needs a better editor to fix these:It should be noted; This is not to suggest that; though I hasten to add that it is plausible to say that;It would not be erroneous to think that ; The importance cannot be overstated-
Furthermore to add to the distractions my Kindle edition substitutes squares for words containing the letters ch, tz, ts etc.Try that for dozens of Chabads and Tzintzums.
Good luck on reading what could have been an excellent book.
I am rarely surprised by the intelligence and perspicacity of my students, indeed, I take it for granted. But I was truly amazed at how many in class really got into the book. We proceeded slowly and deeply and unpacked small enough chunks of Wolfson's thesis that they really got it. Earlier in the semester, we had discussed the idea of apophatic language--language that erases itself, like a person walking on a beach trailing a palm frond and obviating her footsteps--in relation to the Zohar, where the rose is and yet is not a rose, or a particular color is or is not that color (On apophasis generally, see "Mystical Languages of Unsaying" by Michael Anthony Sells). When Wolfson's language got tough (poetry can be difficult, as any English major knows) they pointed out to me the way in which the study itself was often couched in apophatic language that was performative or mimetic of the apophasis in the concepts themselves. As the title of this short review indicates, nothing truly good is easy, particularly when one speaks of concepts that are esoteric to begin with. This is a book worth going back to again and again in order to plumb its depths, which truly exist and which help counterbalance the heavily sociological approach generally taken with regard to Habad Hassidus with a true investigation of the "inside of the inside" of actual doctrine and theology. Kudos!