From Safed To Kotsk
Studies in Kabbalah and Hasidism
From Safed to Kotsk: Studies in Kabbalah and Hasidism, by Morris M. Faierstein, (Sources and Studies in the Literature of Jewish Mysticism 38), 246 pp., in English, ISBN 1-933379-43-X.
The essays in this volume cover three areas of research conducted over a period of twenty-five years. The first group of essays is related to the history of Safed and more particularly, the life and activities of Rabbi Hayyim Vital. For the most part, they expand upon topics that emerged from my editions (Hebrew and English Translation) of Rabbi Hayyim Vital’s mystical diary, Sefer Hezyonot. The essay on the first published account of a Dibbuk possession is a bridge to the second area, the relation of Kabbalah and early Modern Yiddish Literature. The larger theme of these few essays is a beginning attempt to show that kabbalistic themes and concepts were more widely disseminated and popularized than has been realized. For example, one essay shows that a Yiddish work aimed at a popular audience published in 1596 already has an extended discussion of the kabbalistic ritual of Tikkun Hazot. This is not a theoretical discussion; rather the author strongly encourages his readers, ordinary Jews, to perform this kabbalistic ritual. The last group of essays is largely concerned with a continuation my earlier work on Kotsk-Izbica Hasidism and the tensions between Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotsk and his erstwhile friend and disciple, Rabbi Mordecai Joseph of Izbica. Two essays discuss aspects of the teachings of the first and last leaders of Habad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi and Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneerson.
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