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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 Hardcover – January 21, 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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A unique and 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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 329 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; First Edition edition (January 21, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805241434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805241433
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,300,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Jacob's "Book of Jewish Mystical Testimonies" is a far simpler work than the title would give lie to, similiar to the "Essential" spirituality books on the market (such as Matt's "Essential Kabbalah", or Thurman's "Essential Tibetan Buddhism"). It is an anthology of excerpts and letters written by Jewish mystics through the ages, though with a notable concentration of Lurianic and Chasidic mystics (as their writings are the most accessable today).

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.
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Format: Paperback
This was the first book I ever read about Jewish mysticism, and it has prompted me to read more. The book is very accessible to readers with only very basic biblical knowledge, and although many of the concepts and Hebrew terms are difficult to grasp, the compiler has added copious notes and an excellent glossary. The cost of the whole book is made worthwhile by the understanding gained of the Ezekiel throne vision provided in the first chapter. Fascinating! Some of the more recent Jewish mystics' writings are not quite as interesting, but if you enjoyed the mystical angle in the movie "Pi", I think you'll be enlightened by the descriptions of the techniques used by these "modern" mystics.
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By dave on December 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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