Synopses & Reviews
This study of Hasidic mysticism and its kabbalistic roots provides and excellent introduction to Hasidism. Methodical in its approach, it discusses the theology, history, and major figures of Hasidism as well as its complex links to kabbalah, Shabbateanism, and post-Shabbatean texts. As such it opens a new window on the religious experience while also making a valuable contribution to the study of the eighteenth century as a key period in the formation of modern Jewry.
Widely regarded as the crowning jewel of Heberew maqama literature (rhymed prose interspersed with verse) this book introduces a somewhat roguish protagonist, Hever the Kenite, often disguised as a teacher, beggar, adventurer, debater, or magician. Whether preaching, spinning history or fantasy, or working a crowd, Hever the Kenite is ever the consummate storyteller and wordsmith enlightening or astounding his listeners. The author displays great scope, moving from prayers to tales of battlefield carnage, from philosophic reflection to droll satire targeting the pompous, the ignorant and the mean. David Simha Segal's translation captures the richness and wit of Judah Alharizi, an important Spanish medieval poet, and Segal's explications and analyses identify numerous allusions and illuminate the text's subtleties.