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Wrapped in a Holy Flame: Teachings and Tales of The Hasidic Masters Hardcover – April 7, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shalomi sets himself a difficult assignment with this book: to get to the heart of Hasidic inner life and spirituality. While he lauds both Gershom Scholem and Martin Buber for bringing Hasidism to the consciousness of modern readers, he thinks they did not venture far enough because neither participated in the vibrant musical and ritual life of the Hasidim, as he has. Hasidism, he writes, cannot be assessed by reference to texts alone, since it has always valued ecstatic experience over knowledge. The book, which contains lectures Shalomi delivered to audiences at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colo., is unevenly successful. The opening essay is dry and academic, but the book picks up steam from there. Shalomi includes stories from many different Hasidic masters, including Reb Nachman, the Ba'al Shem Tov and seven generations of Chabad rebbes (including Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last Lubavitcher rebbe, who died in 1994 and was one of Shalomi's teachers). The book is best when Shalomi personally engages with the texts, using the stories and teachings as catalysts to discuss key issues in Jewish spirituality.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Originating in Eastern Europe in the 18th century, Hasidism is a movement in Judaism that focuses on the joy of living and of dedicating one's life to God. Stressing social justice, this spiritual movement is based largely on parables and stories that encourage the potential for personal transformation. From the initial writings of the Ba'al Shem Tov to the 20th-century guru and artist Reb Shlomo Carlebach, this volume contains a chronological collection of the variety and diversity of voices that represent Hasidic teachings. Collected here are both the original works of the Hasidic masters in new translations—including teachings, tales, parables, prayers, and melodies—and a comprehensive introduction to the meaning and value of these classic stories. Rabbi Schacter-Shalomi, a leader within the Jewish Renewal Movement, tries to capture the essence of this spiritual movement by bringing many voices to this collection. Shore anecdotal biographical sketches precede each selection and vividly bring to life the masters and their teachings. As an introduction to Hasidism, this is a very useful sourcebook. Recommended for all Judaica collections.—Herbert E. Shapiro, Empire State Coll. of SUNY, Rochester (Library Journal, April 15, 2003)

This important book is a culmination of Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi's lifelong study of the Hasidic masters. Drawing from traditional Hasidic texts, modern studies of Hasidism and his own well-honed knowledge and intuition, the author portrays these teachers and rabbis as inspired individuals, wrestling with the eternal questions. It is, without doubt, the most important book about the Hasidic masters since Martin Buber's "Tales of the Hasidim." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 7, 2003)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787965731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787965730
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,651,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Schacter has written a very accessible presentation of the main philosophies of Hasidim. Rather than focus on the outward behavior of present sects, religious practices, or current political and socioeconomic conditions of Hasidim, he returns to the roots of Hasidism and exposes them for the layman (bot Jew and Gentile) to view. Most telling is his presentation of the evolution of CHABAD philosophy, often overlooked and overshadowed by its current practitioners' behaviour, demeanor, and "in your face" presence.
Boldly, the author includes in his roster of Hasidic masters Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and Rabbi Schlomo Carlebach - "modern" and non-Chasidic but acting as Rebbes to multitudes of Jews.
One can fault his lumping of Heschel and Buber together at the beginning of the book. Buber was a student and teacher of Hasidim; he explained it and made it somewhat accessible to the modern, Western world. Heschel was a Hasid; he was a Rebbe with a universal constituency. As a teacher, scholar, and social activist he brought his own Hasidut to the world.
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Format: Hardcover
Zalman Schacter- Shalomi presents in this book his own very personal view of Hasidism. He selects favorite texts, provides short biographies of figures who are personally of great importance to him. He provides one introduction which speaks in the language of what he calls, 'Jewish restoration' and another in which he speaks in the language of , the movement he himself is identified with, Jewish renewal.
He opens with a critique of the Hasidic approaches of Buber and Heschel who according to him do not go 'far enough' in their explorations. But Buber and Heschel each in his own way have a poetic power which makes their renderings and interpretations at a higher level of feeling, a deeper level of intensity, than his.
He knows Hasidism well , and he wishes to teach it not as a doctrine but as a practice as 'Hasidizing' In this work he provides translations of fundamental Hasidic texts, the Baal Shem Tov, Rav Pinhas of Koretz, Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Reb Nahman of Bratzlav.
He also writes movingly of Hillel Zeilin and the Piaszetner. He gives a short biography of Shlomo Carlebach who was a longtime friend, and who started outreach work with him at college campuses the bequest of the Lubavitch Rebbe.
One of the most beautiful sections of the book is his telling of his friendship with Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory. They met as boys of eleven . Zalman Schacter Shlomi tells of two parallel sacrifices made by Shlomo Carlebach. One is that he did not stay in Lakewood and become the heir of Rabbi Aharon Kotler because it was not enough for him to worry about his own spiritual development. After the Shoah ( the Holocaust) Reb Shlomo saw the Jewish world as destroyed and needed any kind of spiritual help it could get.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first of three works by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez on the history and inner, heart-teachings of hasidism from which neo-Hasidism and Jewish Renewal evolves from. Together, these three works form a profound foundation of teaching on the profundity of hasidic truths in an accessible and freeing, i.e., inspiring and heart-connected way. This work is detailed in its profundity yet broad in its scope covering numerous pivotal rabbis and personalities in the Hasidic lineage.

The other two works I strongly recommend, making somewhat of a trilogy of works on Hasidism by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez are "A Heart Afire" and "A Hidden Light."
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