A Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism Reader


A Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism Reader

Daniel M. Horwitz

JPS Anthologies of Jewish Thought Series

612 pages
3 figures, 1 timeline


April 2016


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

April 2016


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

April 2016


$45.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

An unprecedented annotated anthology of the most important Jewish mystical works, A Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism Reader is designed to facilitate teaching these works to all levels of learners in adult education and college classroom settings. Daniel M. Horwitz’s insightful introductions and commentary accompany readings in the Talmud and Zohar and writings by Ba'al Shem Tov, Rav Kook, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and others. 

Horwitz’s introduction describes five major types of Jewish mysticism and includes a brief chronology of their development, with a timeline. He begins with biblical prophecy and proceeds through the early mystical movements up through current beliefs. Chapters on key subjects characterize mystical expression through the ages, such as Creation and deveikut (“cleaving to God”); the role of Torah; the erotic; inclinations toward good and evil; magic; prayer and ritual; and more. Later chapters deal with Hasidism, the great mystical revival, and twentieth-century mystics, including Abraham Isaac Kook, Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, and Abraham Joshua Heschel. A final chapter addresses today’s controversies concerning mysticism’s place within Judaism and its potential for enriching the Jewish religion.

Author Bio

Daniel M. Horwitz is chapel rabbi at Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston, Texas. He is a teacher at the Akiba Academy of Beth Yeshurun and the Houston Melton Adult Mini-School.


"Horowitz offers a very readable and enjoyable introduction to the broad expanse of Jewish mystical literature from biblical to modern times."—Mark Verman, Religious Studies Review

"Rabbi Horwitz has done a masterful job of collecting important excerpts from the vast storehouse of mystical literature, and annotated each selection with a perceptive analysis. This collection will remain the classic book of study on kabbalah and Jewish mysticism for decades to come."—Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins

“A gateway into the world of Jewish spirituality. . . . An important resource, very well done.”—Rabbi Jack Riemer, editor of The World of the High Holy Days

“Rabbi Horwitz has written a fine book of accessible scholarship, one that will be welcomed by rabbis, educators, and adult education classes. Strongly recommended.”—Rabbi Judith Abrams, the late former head of Maqom, School for Adult Talmud Study, and coauthor of The Messiah and the Jews

“Very solid, carefully thought-out, and well researched, making a very complicated subject quite accessible.”—Rabbi Dr. Byron L. Sherwin, the late former Distinguished Service Professor, Spertus Institute 

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Landmark Dates and Key Figures in Jewish Mysticism

Part 1. The Roots of Jewish Mysticism
1. What Is Jewish Mysticism?
2. Mysticism in the Bible

Part 2. Early Mystical Pursuits
3. Mysticism in the Talmud: Entering the Pardes
4. Song of Songs and Ma’aseh Merkavah
5. The Temple: The Meeting Place for God and His People
6. Ma’aseh Bereshit, Sefer Yetzirah, and Sefer ha-Bahir: The Roots of Kabbalah
7. Hasidei Ashkenaz: Mystical Moralism

Part 3. Basic Concepts in Kabbalah
8. The Ein Sof: That Which Is Endless
9. The Sefirot: Perceiving God
10. Deveikut: Cleaving to God
11. Tzorekh Gavoha: The Divine Need

Part 4. Further Developments in Kabbalah
12. Prophetic-Ecstatic Kabbalah: Abraham Abulafia
13. The Role of the Torah
14. Sexuality in Jewish Mysticism
15. Sin, Teshuvah, and the Yetzer ha-Ra: Tikkun
16. Lurianic Kabbalah
17. The Problem of Evil in Kabbalah
18. Mystical Experiences, Ascetic Practices

Part 5. Additional Issues in Kabbalah
19. Four Worlds, Four Levels of Soul: Death and Transmigration
20. Magic
21. Messianism
22. Prayer and Ritual in the Mystical Life

Part 6. Hasidism
23. The Ba’al Shem Tov and His Teachings
24. The Role of Prayer and the Ba’al Shem Tov’s Successors
25. The Growth of Hasidism and Its Search for Truth
26. Chabad Hasidism

Part 7. Mysticism, Action, and Reaction
27. Three Twentieth-Century Mystics
28. Concealment and Distortion of Jewish Mysticism

Suggestions for Further Reading

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