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The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Vol. 1 Hardcover – October 28, 2003
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"...Thanks to Matt's achievement the English reader is able, for the first time, to appreciate the depth and complexity of this innovative and, at the same time, canonical mystical text."Journal of Jewish Studies
"While translation may be an art, it can also be genuine scholarship of the highest order. . . . Restoring the Zohar to our comprehension, these volumes are a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought."Koret Jewish Book Award,Philosophy and Thought, 2003-2004,The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Volumes I and II
"A powerfully poetic rendition of this spiritual masterpiece. . . . Matt's new Zohar is a classic already in its first two volumes. The edition alone, or the translation alone, or the commentary alone would be a major contribution. The whole is a work of art."Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"More than a translation, this projected twelve-volume Pritzker edition amounts to an encyclopedia of the Zohar and is set to become one of the single most important contributions to the topic in teh English-speaking world."Times Liiterary Supplement
"Daniel Matt's landmark translation of the Zohar from the original tongues into English is a tour de force of scholarship and linguistic imaginationin the service of heaven."Laurance Wieder, University of Virginia in Charlottesville
From the Inside Flap
Further information on the Zohar:
Sefer ha-Zohar, "The Book of Radiance," has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a running commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This translation begins and focuses here in what are projected to be ten volumes. Two subsequent volumes will cover other, shorter sections.
The Zohar’s commentary is composed in the form of a mystical novel. The hero is Rabbi Shim’on son of Yohai, a saintly disciple of Rabbi Akiva who lived in the second century in the land of Israel. In the Zohar, Rabbi Shim’on and his companions wander through the hills of Galilee, discovering and sharing secrets of Torah.
On one level, biblical figures such as Abraham and Sarah are the main characters, and the mystical companions interpret their words, actions, and personalities. On a deeper level, the text of the Bible is simply the starting point, a springboard for the imagination. For example, when God commands Abraham, Lekh lekha, Go forth... to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1), Rabbi El’azar ignores idiomatic usage and insists on reading the words more literally than they were intended, hyperliterally: Lekh lekha, Go to yourself! Search deep within to discover your true self.
At times, the companions themselves become the main characters, and we read about their dramatic mystical sessions with Rabbi Shim’on or their adventures on the road, for example, an encounter with a cantankerous old donkey driver who turns out to be a master of wisdom in disguise.
Ultimately, the plot of the Zohar focuses on the ten sefirot, the various stages of God’s inner life, aspects of divine personality, both feminine and masculine. By penetrating the literal surface of the Torah, the mystical commentators transform the biblical narrative into a biography of God. The entire Torah is read as one continuous divine name, expressing divine being. Even a seemingly insignificant verse can reveal the inner dynamics of the sefirot—how God feels, responds and acts, how She and He (the divine feminine and masculine) relate intimately with each other and with the world.
Top Customer Reviews
It's also important to note that this is the first translation of the Zohar based on a modern critical text. That means the Aramaic original used to translate from has been carefully compared and emended from old manuscript copies. While this Aramaic text is not reproduced in the book, it is available for free from the publisher, Stanford University Press. I printed it out, put it in a binder and shelve it next to the translation. The best of both worlds.
This tremendous work of scholarship will certainly be the standard translation of the Zohar for our generation.
The Zohar ('Splendor, radiance') is accepted as the most important work of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism and is one of the greatest hidden works of Judaism and Western culture. Revered next to the Torah and Talmud, the Zohar is not one book, but a span of awesome, esoteric literature, a Midrash, homily on the Torah written in the form of a mystical novel. In it a group of rabbis (the "Hevrah") wander through the hills of Galilee, discovering and sharing secrets of Torah, or teaching of the five books of Moses whose linguistic character is medieval or pseudo Aramaic and medieval Hebrew. A dazzling mystical dialectic of the nature of God, the origin and structure of the universe, the nature of souls, sin, redemption, good and evil, suffering and related topics present.Read more ›
First, the translation. While I am disappointed that the Aramaic text in not integrated into the volumes (it's available online), this new translation is fresh, adventuresome and witty. It strives, and often succeeds, in capturing the playful language of the original text. Just as important, it is forthright in revealing the frankly erotic flavor of Moses Deleon's vision of the divine dynamis.
Then there is Daniel Matt's commentary, which is remarkable on several counts. First, it is an amazing compendium of the traditional sources that inspired the Zohar. Virtually the entire scope of Biblical, rabbinic, and mystical traditions that DeLeon drew upon in writing the Zohar is obsessively documented in the notes. It is a fantastic treasure trove of Jewish mythic and mystical teachings. These citations alone make the commentary worth reading through carefully. Second, while Matt does an outstanding job of clarifying the meaning of the extraordinarily cryptic language, it is nice to see that he is modest enough to acknowledge in some places that his interpretations are tentative and - in a few places - that he too cannot really get the sense of what DeLeon was trying to say.
My only criticism of the commentary is the frequent repetition of information already given earlier. In many places as one goes deeper into the volumes, the same entry is simply replicated. I realize this is the result of two things: First, the Zohar itself tends toward obsessive repetition of key ideas and images.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The translator's deep knowledge of the many faceted (written) Hebrew tradition is apparent, and much of the commentary provides insight that can lead one of understanding to... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jeremy P.
When I purchased this book two years ago, I was pursuant of the many many mysteries of creation, ranging from the physics and science of the matter as part of my grad school... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Wonderful and brilliant translation with a lot of footnotes. You may still need to find a teacher to guide you through this English translation. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jonathan
great book. a little pricey but this is one of the most comprehensive versions of the Zohar.Published 9 months ago by Jack W.
Excellent , amazing book , definetly a deep spiritual information for those who look a connection spiritual realm.Published 11 months ago by randy centeno
Joyful academia. I think that phrase best describes Daniel Matt's translation – with commentary – of the Zohar. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Yitzhak HaLevy