Featured Books

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Yearnings of the Soul: Psychological Thought in Modern Kabbalah

Returning psychology to its roots as an attempt to understand the soul, Jonathan Garb traces the manifold interactions between psychology and spirituality that have arisen over five centuries of Kabbalistic writing, from sixteenth-century Galilee to twenty-first-century New York. In doing so, he shows just how rich Kabbalah’s psychological tradition is and how much it can offer to the corpus of modern psychological knowledge. Garb follows the gradual disappearance of the soul from modern philosophy while drawing attention to its continued persistence as a topic in literature and popular culture. He pays close attention to James Hillman’s “archetypal psychology,” using it to engage critically with the psychoanalytic tradition and reflect anew on the cultural and political implications of the return of the soul to contemporary psychology. Comparing Kabbalistic thought to adjacent developments in Catholic, Protestant, and other popular expressions of mysticism, Garb offers a thought-provoking argument for the continued relevance of religion to the study of psychology. 

"In writing on psychology and kabbalah, the way forward is to release our dependence on psychoanalysis, and instead bring to the forefront the indigenous PSYCHOLOGICAL theories developed in the Kabbalistic world that shared the modern period with psychology."

 
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Hasidism Reappraised

Hasidism has been a seminal force and source of controversy in the Jewish world since its inception in the second half of the eighteenth century. Edited by Ada Rapoport-Albert, this landmark volume is the first comprehensive critical study of hasidism in English, and offers a wide-ranging treatment of the subject in all its aspects by twenty-eight leading scholars. The volume is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Weiss, and its opening section assesses his contribution to the study of hasidism in the context of his relationship with Gershom Scholem and Scholem's long-standing influence on the field. The remaining contributions are arranged thematically under seven headings: the social history of hasidism; the social functions of mystical ideals in the hasidic movement; distinctive outlooks and schools of thought within hasidism; the hasidic tale; the history of hasidic historiography; contemporary hasidism; and the present state of research on hasidism. The book also incorporates an extensive introduction that places the various articles in their intellectual context, as well as a bibliography of hasidic sources and contemporary scholarly literature.

"HASIDISM IS DISTINGUISHABLE FROM ALL OTHER SCHOOLS OF JEWISH ESOTERIC SPIRITUALITY IN HAVING FUSED TOGETHER TWO DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED POLES OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE: INTENSELY PERSONAL, RECLUSIVE MYSTICAL FLIGHT FROM THE WORLD, AND ROBUST INVOLVEMENT IN MUNDANE HUMAN AFFAIRS."

 

Mystical Sociology: Toward Cosmic Social Theory

Moving from social theory to the teachings and practices of the Jewish mystical tradition, Philip Wexler makes a powerful argument for the opening of a new horizon for sociology in particular, and for the human sciences more generally. "Historically," he writes, "culture changes, and along with it its reflexive,  disciplinary representations." Sociologists now agree that contemporary society is entering a post-secular phase and it follows that new ways of thinking must also emerge within the academy to reflect these changes in social life. In this pioneering book the classical tradition of sociology is once again aligned with the religious interests and influences that marked its earliest stages, but now with a view to the present and to the future rather than to the past. This provides the foundation from which to look towards Jewish mysticism - particularly its social face in Hasidism - as a source of novel interpretations of social dynamics, and for alternative adaptive social practices that can meet the social challenges of the present.

"THE INTELLECTUAL WORK OF SIMULTANEOUSLY EMPHASIZING THE RELIGIOUS ROOTS OF MODERN SOCIAL THEORY AND THEIR RELEVANCE NOW... AND TO PLACE IT INTO CONCEPTUAL DIALOGUE WITH MYSTICAL SOURCES THAT ADDRESS SIMILAR ISSUES—IS NO SMALL CHALLENGE."

 
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A Dream Interpreted Within a Dream: Oneiropoiesis and the prism of the imagination

Dreams have attracted the curiosity of humankind for millennia. In A Dream Interpreted Within a Dream, Elliot Wolfson guides the reader through contemporary philosophical and scientific models to the archaic wisdom that the dream state and waking reality are on an equal phenomenal footing--that the phenomenal world is the dream from which one must awaken by waking to the dream that one is merely dreaming that one is awake. By interpreting the dream within the dream, one ascertains the wakeful character of the dream and the dreamful character of wakefulness. Assuming that the manner in which the act of dreaming is interpreted may illuminate the way the interpreter comprehends human nature more generally, Wolfson draws on psychoanalysis, phenomenology, and neuroscience to elucidate the phenomenon of dreaming in a vast array of biblical, rabbinic, philosophical, and kabbalistic texts. The dream emerges as an avenue for a deep reeximantion of the basic assumptions we bring to the table when we think about reality.

"To be Enlightened means to peer through—and not to abolish—the veneer of nature by PERCEIVING that all that exists is but a veil by which the enframing light beyond the veil is manifestly hidden in the hidden manifestation of that veil."