This book is a sequel to "Understanding Jewish Mysticism" (Volume I). In it, the author presents more original texts in translation, some of them never having appeared before in print. Unit I presents texts from the philosophic-mystical tradition, including Maimonides, a Yemenite author, and Abraham Abulafia. Unit II presents texts from the Hasidic tradition, including stories, Hasidic prayer texts, and essays about various Hasidic rebbes. The author concludes the book with his own speculation on the future of Jewish mysticism as the end of the twentieth century approaches. The novelty of this book is best expressed in such chapters as "How to Write a Hasidic Story," "Split-Level Spirituality," "The Descent-Ascent of the Soul," and "Medieval Astrophysics and Metaphysics." The division of the Hasidic material into chapters is itself new and refreshing. The section "Retrospect and Prospect," which presents conclusions after two volumes of texts, will be of special interest to scholars in the history of religions, while the texts themselves will be read with interest by layperson and scholar alike. Throughout, the author again has accompanied the texts by an explicatory commentary intended for the intelligent lay reader.
by David R. Blumenthal