The Literary Core of the Kabbalah
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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.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-609-60306-X
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2000


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