Why were we created? What is our purpose on earth? Why do the Jewish people suffer? How do we balance the requirements of the soul against those of the flesh? What happens when the Messiah comes? How can we become better people, and live more satisfying and fulfilling lives? The classic Jewish Sages deal constantly with these issues, but they speak in subtle ways, in a mystery-filled language known as Aggadata, which shrouds their teachings within a protective layer of legends, riddles, parables and cryptic debates. Foremost among the scholars to unravel the hidden wisdom of the Sages has been R. Eliyahu of Vilna, the towering eighteenth century genius known as the Gaon of Vilna. In a slim, little-known twenty page volume, modestly titled "Explanation of Several Aggados," he presents the keys which unlock many secrets of the Sages. But because the Gaon's style is itself so terse and compact, the book remains for the most part, an enigma. "The Juggler and the King" is an exciting explanation of the Gaon's powerful ideas. This volume is more then a mere translation; in it the mysterious hints and symbols of the Sages become accessible, lucidly and clearly, for the first time, stretching the mind, and delighting the heart.
by Aharon Feldman