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The Schocken Book of Jewish Mystical Testimonies: A unique and inspiring collection of accounts by people who have encountered God from Biblical times to the present Paperback – December 23, 1997
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The Schocken Book of Jewish Mystical Testimonies, edited by Louis Jacobs, is one of the oddest and most interesting books about Kaballah in print. Because, in general, Jewish mystics have been more interested in describing the spiritual realities they have discovered than in reflecting on how these mysteries affected them personally, there's precious little St. Catherine-style God-as-my-lover ecstasy in this book. Jewish Mystical Testimonies may be more useful as a resource for comparing the various techniques Jews have used to attain mystical vision than for learning about what mysticism feels like once the higher levels are reached. Alexander Susskind's urgent advocacy of the advantages of raising the hands in prayer, for instance, or Jacob of Marvege's teaching on the value of fasting, or Aaron Roth's insistence on the need for a personal guru to guide one toward greater illumination, all demonstrate the need for intentional, disciplined preparation before mystical experience can take place. --Michael Joseph Gross
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inspiring collection of accounts by people who have encountered God, from Biblical times to the present.
Foreword by Karen Armstrong
The Schocken Book of Jewish Mystical Testimonies brings together the few accounts we have by Jewish mystics of their encounters with the divine. The sources collected in this volume--spanning two thousand years and including material from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East--include depictions of peak religious experiences and visions, examples of ecstatic prayer, and counsel on how to keep company with the divine.
Supplemented with commentary by Louis Jacobs, one of the world's most knowledgeable scholars of Jewish mysticism, these accounts offer an exciting new window on Jewish religious experience and inspiration to spiritual seekers of all persuasions.
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Some of the most enjoyable parts included a letter attributed to the Baal Shem Tov (one of his few existant writings), a chapter from Maimonides' that explains the way to achieve prophethood (that gives lie to the idea that Maimonides was a rationalist foe of mysticism), a letter on the holiness of the Chasidic tzaddikim, and excerpts from the Zohar. Also included is an introduction from religion writer Karen Armstrong, who discusses these testimonies in the context of the world's mystical traditions.
Overall, a solid introduction to the varieties of Jewish religious experience.