For any category, in general, what Jewish books should we have?
“The Jewish Mystical Tradition”, pb, Ben Zion Bokser, Jason Aronson Inc, 1994. 277 pages.
A comprehensive overview, with excerpts from important Kabbalistic works. Topics include mysticism in the Bible and Talmud, early mystical works such as Mystical Midrashim, Sefer Yezirah, and Sefer haBahir. Also covers Abraham Abulafia, The Zohar, Moses Cordovero, Isaac Luria, Judah Loew of Prague, Moses Hayyim Luzzato, the rise of Hasidism, and latter-day mystics.
“Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism”, pb, Gershom Scholem, 460 pages Schocken Books.
A seminal work in Kabbalah scholarship, by the world’s foremost authority on the subject. This volume is indispensable for anyone interested in the details of the Kabbalah’s history and development. It covers Jewish mysticism from its early beginnings to recent times.
“Kabbalah”, hc, Gershom Scholem, Jewish Publication Society. 492 pages.
The world’s foremost authority on Kabbalah presents in a single volume a summary of his life’s studies. Covers the historical development of the Kabbalah and Kabbalah in modern times, explanations of all the basic ideas, studies of the influence of Kabbalah on Judaism and on Christianity. Presents chapters on many related topics including the false messiahs Shabbetai Zevi and Jacob Frank; the Zohar, the Bahir, demonology, the Doenmeh (an Islamic/ Christian/ Jewish offshoot of the Shabbatean movement), Gematria (mystical numerology), gilgul (reincarnation), the Golem, Lilith, and more. Concludes with a series of brief biographies of the most influential Kabbalists.
“Inner Space: Introduction to Kabbalah, Meditation and Prophecy”, Aryeh Kaplan, Moznaim Publishing Corp., (1990) 254 pages.
Discusses the basis of Kabbalah, the Kabbalistic universes through which we may draw close to God, the interplay between the spiritual and the physical realism, and the concept of Divine Providence. Explores the Kabbalistic mysteries of Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot.
“Meditation and Kabbalah”, Aryeh Kaplan. Samuel Weiser, 1982.
Reveals the methodology of the ancient Kabbalists and stresses the meditative techniques that were essential to their discipline. Offers a lucid presentation of the mantras, mandalas and other devices, as well as a penetrating interpretation of their significance in light of contemporary meditative research. Also presents relevant portions of classic Jewish meditative texts.
“Zohar: Annotated & Explained” Daniel Chanan Matt and Andrew Harvey , Skylight Paths, 2002
“Daniel C. Matt brings together in one place the most important teachings from the Zohar, the cornerstone of Kabbalah-described as a mixture of theology, mystical psychology, anthropology, myth, and poetry-alongside facing-page stories, notes, and historical background that illuminate and explain the text. Ideal for the first-time reader with no prior knowledge of Jewish mysticism. Guides readers step-by-step through the texts that make up the Zohar-midrash, mystical fantasy, commentary, and Hebrew scripture-and explains the inner meanings of this sacred text, recognized by kabbalists as the most important work of mystical teaching, in a way that is both spiritually enlightening and intellectually fascinating.” (From the publisher)
“Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment” (Classics of Western Spirituality) Daniel Chanan Matt, Paulist Press, 1988.
An anthology of texts from the Zohar.
The Early Kabbalah (Classics of Western Spirituality) Joseph Dan, Paulist Press, 1986
“This is a wonderful introduction to the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition. Prof. Joseph Dan is one of the leading Kabbalah scholars alive today. In this book, he presents selections from the early Kabbalists, those of the late 12th and early 13th centuries, before the publication of the Zohar. This anthology contains brief and heavily annotated selections from the ‘Iyyun Circle, the Book Bahir (*Sefer ha-Bahir*), Rabbi Isaac the Blind of Provence, Rabbi Azriel of Gerona, Rabbi Jacob ben Sheshet of Gerona, and the Kohen brothers, Jacob and Isaac. These are the men who pave the way for the glories of the *Zohar*. These selections are rich in the symbols that later became prevalent in Kabbalah. This book is a particularly good beginning for someone who wants to study Kabbalah in its historical unfolding.” (Book review on Amazon.Com)
“The Wisdom of The Zohar: An Anthology of Texts”, 3 volume set, pb or hc, Ed. Isaiah Tishby, translated from the Hebrew by David Goldstein, The Littman Library.
“This classic and definitive three-volume work has been acclaimed as an indispensable guide to the Zohar, the fundamental work of Jewish mysticism: it won its author the Israel Prize, the Bialik Prize, and the Rothschild Prize. David Goldstein’s translation, awarded the Webber Prize for Translation from Hebrew, makes the complexities of the Zohar accessible to the English-speaking reader in all their poetry. The reader is first initiated into these complexities through Tishby’s book-length Introduction on the symbolism of the Zohar and its historical and literary background. Further explanations are provided throughout the work. Individual sections are devoted to all the main topics with which the Zohar deals, each section prefaced by its own detailed introduction and accompanied by extensive footnotes. There are also three indexes: an index of Zoharic references, expanded from the original Hebrew edition; a subject index; and an index of references to the Bible.”
The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Translated and commentary by Daniel C. Matt, Stanford University Press
“The first two volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, translated with commentary by Daniel C. Matt cover more than half of the Zohar’s commentary on the Book of Genesis (through Genesis 32:3). This is the first translation ever made from a critical Aramaic text of the Zohar, which has been established by Matt based on a wide range of original manuscripts. The extensive commentary, appearing at the bottom of each page, clarifies the kabbalistic symbolism and terminology, and cites sources and parallels from biblical, rabbinic, and kabbalistic texts. The translator’s introduction is accompanied by a second introduction written by Arthur Green, discussing the origin and significance of the Zohar.” (Publisher)
Professor Moshe Idel, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writes “Daniel Matt’s work is superior to any other available translation of the Zohar because of its superb poetic language, the exegetical contribution of its copious notes, and its superior underlying Aramaic text which was specially prepared by Dr. Matt from numerous original manuscripts.”