The Doctrine of Evil and the ‘Shell’ in Lurianic Kabbalah
Isaiah Tishby, The Doctrine of Evil and the 'Shell' in Lurianic Kabbalah, Translated by David Solomon
(Sources and Studies in the Literature of Jewish Mysticism 72), 222 pages, ISBN 978-1-933379-50-0 IN ENGLISH.
The publication of an English translation of the foundational study of Lurianic Kabbalah by Isaiah Tishby is a major event for religious studies and all those who wish to gain a better understanding of Kabbalistic literature. Access to the Lurianic corpus is extremely limited given the dense and enigmatic style of the various Hebrew writings that comprise this immense corpus. There are very few programmatic studies of its central themes and most all of those are available only in Hebrew, often mirroring the opaque character of its sources. This may be inevitable for studies written in the language of the primary sources, which often boast a faithfulness to the original as they claim to preserve the multiple meanings contained within any expression or passage, but ultimately circumvent the difficult task of deciding on its contextual meaning. Isaiah Tishby advanced the study of this corpus with painstaking analysis and comparisons of all the major texts as he interpreted the main themes regarding the problem of evil. Even so, his contribution is taken to new heights in the meticulous translation of David Solomon who rendered both the Lurianic sources and Tishby's interpretations into a clear prose that provides unfettered access to what is arguably the most esoteric body of Kabbalistic literature. This was made possible because Solomon was trained in both the study of Kabbalistic texts and the art of translation and the volume before you displays his mastery of both. In this sense, the English translation before you is not the lesser shadow of the original Hebrew study, but perhaps a more important exposition of the study of Lurianic Kabbalah and its presentation of Tishby's contribution.