Rosenberg (The Book of David, 1997, etc.) is one of the leading practitioners of New Age Judaism. Here he turns his
attention to the latest flavor of the month—Jewish mysticism.
If it's good enough for Madonna and Roseanne (who thankfully are not invoked in this otherwise relentlessly trend-tracing
volume), it's certainly good enough for the man who translated The Book of J (1990). Rosenberg likens the Kabbalah to the deep
ecology movement, to the search for cosmic consciousness, to Oprah Winfrey—in fact, to just about everything except what it
is (namely, a group of sacred texts that were written largely in response to the Hebrew Bible and postbiblical literature like the
Midrash). He invokes all the hot-button catchwords of the moment, calling the authors of the Kabbalah "our first postmodern
writers." Rosenberg divides his study into four sections, with a new translation of passages from the Zohar (the key work of
medieval Jewish mysticism) and other kabbalistic works bracketed by essays that ostensibly put them into an interpretive context.
Unfortunately, however, Rosenberg seems to assume a knowledge of Jewish medieval history on the part of his readers, never
explaining the circumstances of the embattled Jewish community that produced the Zohar nor the progression of events that
created the Christian and Jewish mystical works of the Renaissance in the first place. He is more concerned with linking mystical
works to dream interpretation and offering cryptic observations ("Ecosystems also resemble dreams, in that they encompass many
worlds") that shed little light upon his murky enterprise. After offering very free translations of apparently random passages from
the Zohar, Midrash Rabbah, and Sefer Yezirah, Rosenberg moves on to an interpretive essay that depends heavily upon
juxtapositions of texts that are entirely of his own devising. All of this is couched in a ponderous, self-regarding, self-aggrandizing
prose that grates on the reader.
A foolish book of no discernible use to any student of the Kabbalah.