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Kabbalah: The Way of The Jewish Mystic [Paperback]

By Perle Epstein (Author) & Edward Hoffman (Foreword by)
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Item description for Kabbalah: The Way of The Jewish Mystic by Perle Epstein & Edward Hoffman...

This pioneering, popular introduction to Jewish mysticism was the first survey written for a general audience, and it's now available in Shambhala Classics. Epstein presents the methods, schools, and legendary practitioners of Kabbalah, unraveling the web of ancient traditions hidden in such texts as the "Sefer Yetzirah " and the "Zohar." The words of the great Kabbalists appear throughout the book, giving instructions on practices such as contemplation of the Bible's secret teachings, ecstatic prayer, and intensive meditation.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Shambhala
Pages   166
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 5.95" Height: 0.58"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 13, 2001
Publisher   Shambhala
ISBN  1570627673  
ISBN13  9781570627675  

Availability  0 units.

More About Perle Epstein & Edward Hoffman

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Perle Epstein, Ph.D., is a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov. As Perle Besserman, she is the author of Teachings of the Jewish Mystics and the Shambhala Guide to Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism.

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Product Categories

2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Jewish Life
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > Cabala

Reviews - What do customers think about Kabbalah: The Way of The Jewish Mystic?

Good history...  Mar 29, 2003
I am a Christian...
I read this book because it was given to me by a friend. I wasnt disappointed... but it wasnt exactly enchanting either. Basically, this book gives a good history of the practices of Kaballah. However, the author mostly ignores the ancient practices, and skips to the middle ages. Basically, the Author outlines the three main practices of Kaballah, tells where they came from and gives a very general idea of how they are practiced. You wont find a guide to practicing Kaballah in here... and you wont find a guide to enhancing your own meditations. I did find it slightly helpful, and it gave me a few ideas for enhancing my meditations - but for the most part it isnt worth your time.
I wouldnt recommend this to Christians, because it only gives you a history from about the mid-ages onward. I was hoping to atleast find some insight into how the ancients practiced Kaballah, but the book only makes a few references to the ancients.
The only people i would recommend this book to are people who are only seeking a history of Kaballistic practices, and curiosity seekers looking to find out more about what Kaballah is and where it came from.
This wasn't what I was expecting  Jan 3, 2001
I bought this book believing it would teach how to practise the Kabbalah.

This book is more a history of Kabbalistic though and practises since the middle ages.

If you want to learn the history of the Kabbalah this is a very good book, and is clearly written.

If you want to learn to practise the Kabbalah keep looking. This is the seventh Kabbalaistic book I have read, and I can not recommend any of the others in clear conscience. I have have heard good things about "9 1/2 mystics:..." but I have not read that one yet.

I will say one thing the "the tree of life" on page 15, and other places does not match the tree of life diagrams in other kabbalistic books I have read.

Please E-mail me if you have questions or comments about my review. Two Bears.

Wah doh Ogedoda (We give thanks Great Spirit)

A great introduction to Jewish spirituality!  Oct 12, 1999
This book was first written back in the '60's and published in the early 70's, when so many Jews were going to Eastern religions in search of the spirituality that (they thought) was not in Judaism. At that point in time, there was -- hard as it is to believe now -- very little material available about Jewish mysticism for the popular-level English reader. Seekers either had to struggle through the post-Ph.D.-level heaviness of Gershom Scholem's academic style, or learn Hebrew and read the source texts. Either was a daunting task for the casual seeker who just wanted some authentic info about kabbalah and how the Jewish mystics practiced its forms of meditation, etc..

Enter Perle Epstein (now Perle Besserman). She was already doing a series on the various forms of mysticism, and had already covered Buddhism, Zen, etc., so she decided her next project would be on the mysticism of her own Jewish background.

(As an interesting aside: Like so many assimilated Jews of that era, Epstein came to mysticism and meditation through yoga and Hinduism first, and was not a religious Jew when she began the "Kabbalah" project. So, she had a two-fold struggle: (1) to find the teachings, and (2) to confront her own issues and stereotypes about the Orthodox Jews she was interviewing. The personal story of these struggles and how she collected the material for "Kabbalah" is told in "Pilgrimage: Adventures of a Wandering Jew" which, as far as I know, is out of print but well worth tracking down a copy.)

The influence of her Eastern studies and practical experience with Hindu gurus and Zen masters can be seen in "Kabbalah," such as the way she describes the 16th-century Safed community of Rabbi Isaac Luria as a "Jewish Shangri-la" and a sort of ashram community, -- which, in a sense, it was. This made the teachings very understandable people who were already familiar with the Eastern forms of meditation. In fact, it was the first popular book I know of that clearly identified some of the practices as forms of visualization, use of mantras, etc.

In my opinion, these types of cross-cultural comparisons are very helpful to Jews (and others) who want an introduction to how Jewish mysticism has been practiced down through the centuries. The book is not an academic tome, but is written in a clear popular, almost poetic style that I found a delight to read the first time around, and have returned to again and again. For many years during the 70's and 80's, this book was my #2 recommendation to Jewish beginners in kabbalah, as well as non-Jews wanting to know something about our spirituality. (my #1 recommendation was "9 1/2 Mystics" by Herbert Weiner).

I am delighted to see that Epstein's book is available again, so I can recommend it on my website.


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