THE THIRTEEN PETALLED ROSE by Adin Steinsaltz

THE THIRTEEN PETALLED ROSE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Essays in Jewish mysticism for--mystically minded Jews. Rabbi Steinsaltz is the world's leading Talmudist, and he speaks with immense authority on the Cabala and related topics, but he makes no concessions here to the secular reader, gentile or otherwise. He talks about angels and emanations, the Sefirot (channels of divine power), and the Kelipah Noga (""outer shell"" of reality), as if this fantastic Nco-Platonic cosmology were as logical and unexceptionable as alternate-side-of-the-street parking. He expounds the Bible with naive piety (""if only man . . . were able to forswear the sin of the Tree of Knowledge""), teaches an equally naive dualistic psychology (body is to soul as horse is to rider, etc.), and presents esoteric folklore with unblinking matter-of-factness. ""The morning hours,"" he tells us, ""are the well-favored ones; the afternoon is largely under the influence of the Sefirah of Gevurah, growing ever more stern as evening approaches."" Finally, Steinsaltz takes such a conservative stance towards the Torah (e.g., in his uncritical treatment of kashrut and his praise of traditional sexual morality) that only the devoutly Orthodox will be able to go along with him. Writing from Jerusalem, Steinsaltz makes barely a single reference to the world outside Israel or to the course of history since the destruction of the Second Temple. This testifies to the continuity and self-contained intensity of his faith, but it turns the uncommitted inquirer firmly out into the cold.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1980
ISBN: 0786721952
Publisher: Basic Books