The Schocken Book of Jewish Mystical Testimonies: A Unique and Inspiring Collection of Accounts by People Who Have Encountered God from Biblical Times

Louis Jacobs, Author
Louis Jacobs, Author Schocken Books Inc $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4143-3
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Hardcover - 978-0-517-32959-7
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This anthology of inspiring and esoteric texts describing the human yearning to reach God shows a different and fascinating face of Judaism that is frequently glossed over, largely because the rational, intellectual side often overshadows the mystical. In fact, Jacobs defines Jewish mysticism as ""that aspect of the Jewish religious experience in which man's mind is in direct contact with God."" Even many Jewish mystics themselves tended to be reticent about describing their mystical encounters with God in personal terms, preferring to intellectualize the ecstatic. This collection of rare personal testimony, descriptions of peak religious experiences and examples of ecstatic prayer spans 2000 years, from Ezekiel's luminous vision to the writings of the Hasidic masters. Their fervent, vivid imagery, filled with rapture, radiance, awe and even erotic passion, is balanced by rigorous strictures detailed as necessary precursors to encounters with the divine. The ironic subtext here is that the authors, according to Jacobs, ""try to give expression to that which is really unutterable and even incomprehensible."" Jacobs, a British author of numerous books on Judaism and Jewish mysticism, provides a scholarly introduction and commentary on each text. (Jan.)
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