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Tyson Heisler
Tyson Heisler

Book Of Zohar - Kabbalah Media


Long before Kabbalah books lined multiple books shelves in bookstores, Jewish educators in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thought of copious ways of making Kabbalah more accessible for readers who were not acquainted with this lore. The book, Kabbalah in Print: The Study and Popularization of Jewish Mysticism in Early Modernity (SUNY Press, 2020), introduces the reader to an early seventeenth-century rabbi, Yissachar Baer, who lived and worked in Prague. Each of his four works seeks to illuminate a different facet of the Zohar (Book of Splendour), the medieval classic of kabbalistic speculation. His goal was to simplify the language of the Zohar as well as to assemble its halakhic teachings so Jews could enrich their daily observance of the commandments with the corresponding mystical explanation. He also wrote a short introduction to the study of Kabbalah and organized brief excerpts of the Zohar into an anthology. His works were important mediators of the Zohar and Kabbalah to Jewish and Christian readers alike.

Despite the focus by the popular media on the revival of Jewish instrumental klezmer music during the past decades, surprisingly little of a scholarly nature has been written until recently about either the klezmer tradition or its revival. Since 1999 a relatively large number of new book publications of both a scholarly and a popular nature have appeared. Besides the four volumes under review here, they include books by Rita Ottens and Joel Rubin, Moshe Beregovski, Seth Rogovoy, Mark Slobin, Zinovij Stoljar, and Yale Strom. It is hoped that the publication of these four works (and the other recent works not reviewed here) will open a broader discussion of the complex of issues surrounding klezmer and ḥasidic music and stimulate further research in these areas.

Pinchas Giller is one of the finest contemporary scholars of the zoharic corpus. His current study, Reading the Zohar, constitutes an excellent sequel to his earlier book, The Enlightened Will Shine. The Zohar certainly warrants the kind of thoughtful and serious reflection that Giller devotes to it, insofar as the Zohar is a massive, complex corpus consisting of some two dozen distinct strata. In Enlightened, Giller examined major themes in Tikkunei Zohar and Raעayaء Mehemnaء. Although these are rich and interesting compositions, chronologically they are among the latest and were undoubtedly written by someone other than whoever was responsible for the foundational writings of the Zohar. In Reading the Zohar, Giller is primarily concerned with three seminal aspects of the zoharic corpus: Sabaءde-mishpatim, cosmogonic descriptions that are preserved in various strata, and the four interconnected עIdrot texts. On its own, an analysis of such disparate and challenging sources would be an admirable undertaking. What makes Giller's study even more ambitious is that he also examines how these particular works were studied and interpreted. In particular, Giller is interested in how the kabbalists of Safed, most notably R. Moses Cordovero and R. Isaac Luria, incorporated these zoharic texts into their distinctive theosophical systems. 781b155fdc


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