22 Jul 2010
Last week I wrote about a recently published book by Mr. Zvi Mark, a Senior Lecturer at Bar Ilan University and Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem is a busy scholar, “The Scroll of Secrets“. Today I am happy to cover another books of his that was published in its original Hebrew in 2003 and for the first time in English last June , “Mysticism and Madness: The Religious Thought of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav.” The official description of the book reads:
This work offers a systematic description of the highly interesting mystical doctrine of one of the most influential thinkers in Jewish mysticism. Two hundred years since Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav’s demise, his philosophical writings and literary creation remain lively and provocative materials in both Jewish culture and the New-Age movement. Key elements of Rabbi Nachman’s magic and magnetic force are illuminated in this research, which presents Bratslavian mysticism as a unique link in the history of Jewish mysticism. The mystical worldview is the axis of this book, but its branches stretch out to key issues in the Bratslavian world such as belief and imagination, dreams and the land of Israel, melodies and song.
The Robert and Arlene Kogod Library of Judaic Studies publishes new research which provides new directions for modern Jewish thought and life and which serves to enhance the quality of dialogue between classical sources and the modern world.This book series reflects the mission of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a pluralistic research and leadership institute, at the forefront of Jewish thought and education. It empowers scholars, rabbis, educators and layleaders to develop new and diverse voices within the tradition, laying foundations for the future of Jewish life in Israel and around the world.
Rabbi Zvi Leshem‘s review of the book appeared in February in the Jerusalem Post. I didn’t find any other review, but has seen this reposted at half a dozen sites. The review mentions previous biographies of Rabbi Nachman and how Marks ahift the focus from their existentialist focus to “Nahman’s major concern remains that of his other hassidic colleagues, finding a path to God for himself and for his followers.” The review then summarizes further contributions of the book to the study of this important figure.
Read the full review and then read the book. Don’t let it scare you that on the linked Amazon page the price for a copy of the book ranges between $110 and $150. That’s for the hardcver version, but frmo there the paperback is linked to and you could get for between $22 and $38.