September 2, i.e. Elul 13, was Hakham Yosef Chaim‘s 100th Yahrtzeit. He is better known as Ben Ish Chai after his most popular book. It “is a collection of homilies he gave over two years discussing the weekly Torah portion. Each chapter begins with a mystical discussion, usually explaining how a Kabbalistic interpretation of a certain verse relates to a particular halakha, and then continuing to expound on that halakha with definitive rulings.” (wikipedia) Here are two nice write-ups on the anniversary, one from Matzav.org and the other from Chabad.
Excerpt from a Forward article about a Rabbi Chaim Yosef Sharabi, and Israeli psychic who offers amulets and predictions.
Rabbi Chaim then set a laptop-sized book spine-down on the desk and instructed my relative to open the book at random — a clairvoyant methodology known as bibliomancy….The rabbi told me that the book he uses for bibliomancy is 800 years old and was passed down to him by family members. “It doesn’t have a name,” he said, lifting the red facsimile of the manuscript, whose original he says is hidden in a secret location in Israel. “Not everyone can touch a book like that,” his wife added. “This is not fortune telling. It’s between him and God.”
Kvond posted an entry on his Spinoza centered philosophy blog titled Frames/Sing in June to point out “the connection between some of Spinoza’s most elementary ideas, and the thesis that Spinoza was strongly influenced by concepts found in the Kabbalah and the Zohar.”
In it he extensively quotes by Henry Walter Brann‘s essay titled “Spinoza and Kabbalah“, in the book “Spinoza: Context, sources, and the early writings” edited by Genevieve Lloyd. The quote posits that Spinoza was influenced by Abraham (Alonzo) Herrera‘s book “Door of Heaven”, which was written in Spanish and translated into Hebrew by Isaac Aboab.
While I only add those anthologies to this site’s catalog where every essay has a connection to Kabbalah (hence Lloyd’s collection will not be included), but it is certainly worthy to mention here.
The following article at The LookOut News is the summary of an interview with (and short life story of) Bruria Finkel, an artist whose works are based on and in Kabbalah.
While Bruria Finkel is known in the local political arena as a tireless activist who ran for [Santa Monica] City Council 15 years ago, in artistic circles she’s known as a prominent artist whose symbolic works delve into the mysteries of the Kabbala.
A translator of the works of the 13th Century Spanish Kabbalist poet Abraham Abulafia, Finkel’s works were recently exhibited at Track 16 in Santa Monica, and she is currently looking for a permanent home for her bronze sculpture series, “The Divine Chariot,” in the appropriate space in her native Israel.
The journey that took Finkel from the Holy Land to Santa Monica and her lifelong fascination with Jewish mysticism seems to trace the full circle that has become a major symbol in her art.
Read the full article with pictures.
A few weeks ago the “Kabbbalah to Go” podcast restarted posting Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh‘s lectures as podcasts. Last March the site posted 3 lectures in four parts. Then there was a big break and now, since early Feburary, a new podcast appears approximately every week. In the most recent one he explains “the prohibition to eat the blood and certain choice fats of a kosher animal.” The site can be reached both via http://kabbalahtogo.podbean.com/ and at http://kabbalahtogo.com/ Yes, I know that a podcats is not a book. But this Lubavitcher rabbi has been a long term teacher of Kabbalah and wrote a dozen books on the topic as well, so this deserved an entry here. His most recent book in English was The Art of Education: Internalizing Ever-New Horizons.
I just read a review of Lamentations of Youth in the New York Sun. . The subtitle of the work tells you whay I am mentioning this book on this blog, it contains “The Diaries of Gershom Scholem, 1913-1919“. These yeas cover the period of ages between 16 and 22. The reviewer laments that the editor, Anthony David Skinner, edited out too much in his focus to show Scholem’s personal life. Nevertheless we still learn from this very private diaries how he felt about his father, the Zionist movement, women, friends (including his closest with Walter Benjamin), anti-Semitism, art, mathematics, Kabbalah … The review touches upon lots of his topics, but only reading the whole book could give a full picture of the young budding mind and body.
In the short segment from the History Channel’s program on Shabbati Tzvi we learn a bit about why the restrictions on who should study Kabbalah was created.
Nextbook published an interview yesterday with Yitzhak Buxbaum. He talks about his atheist phase in college and he shifted towards religion and mysticism, his relation to Judaism and how his gigantic book on “Jewish Spiritual Practices” was born. The interview is a good combination of details about his background, life story and inner development.
Buxbaum’s website is jewishspirit.com . He is the author of many books, all available there. Here is a short list of them (with links to Amazon.com)
And two booklets:
On a Hungarian forum on Kabbalah somebody posted a slightly ambiguous message indicating that there is a book written together by Micheal Laitman and Ervin Laszlo. I deeply respect Ervin for his work in the Club of Budapest. My father who worked together with Laszlo in various projects introduced the man and his body of work to me that I found noble and inspiring, although a bit too abstract for me. I was surprised to hear that he worked together with Laitman, the driving force behind Bnei Baruch. This is an organization with many branches and endeavors that is popularizing Kabbalah (or at least their understanding of it) through many channels.
I wanted to find out what book these people have written together. I did not succeed in my attempt. I learned that Laszlo gave two lectures in 2006 at a Bnei Baruch conference. (The audio, video and transcript is available from the bottom of this page. ) I also saw that at the bottom of the list of authors at KabbalaBooks.Info (a Bnei Baruch site) Laszlo is mentioned as someone who wrote “to one of Dr. Laitman’s publications Kabbalah Science and the Meaning of Life.” At the English description of the book itself I did not find Laszlo’s name mentioned. At the Hebrew edition, however, there are a few lines of praise from Ervin on Laitman’s work.
I would still like to find out whether they worked together more extensively, whether they actually produced a book or an article jointly. Any pointers appreciated.