Window of the Soul: The Kabbalah of Rabbi Isaac Luria

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Weiser Books, 2008 M03 1 - 224 pages
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In this deep and powerful book, the Kabbalah of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) is translated from the original passages of Hebrew. These luminous and sacred passages reveal the most profound teachings of the understanding of God and of our universe, inspired by the truth of the Torah. Some 400 years before Albert Einstein proposed his Theory of Relativity of the outer universe to the scientific community, Luria disclosed to his students his theory of the inner universe and its evolution within the mind of the Ineffable.

Seventy-seven years after the exile from Spain of the Jewish people, in a small settlement in upper Galilee called Safed, Isaac Luria was to answer not only the Jewish people's deepest questions of exile and homelessness, but to explain the inner worlds of the spirit and of their evolution that led to the ultimate birth of our cosmos. It is this evolution that reflects the origin and history of souls, according to the teachings of Rabbi Luria.

Whether we are the result of cosmic intention or accident, God has connected us to these answers and to the drama of creation that has made us. Window of the Soul is the first and only comprehensive selection of Isaac Luria's teachings from the original passages of Hebrew. It is beautifully written, it is original Kabbalah, and it opens doors in the human heart that have been locked for thousands of years.


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Window of the Soul: The Kabbalah of Rabbi Isaac Luria

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Isaac Luria (1534-72) was one of the most important exponents of the Jewish mysticism of the Kabbalah in the modern world. For Luria, whose name and teachings led to the founding of a new school of ... Read full review

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If you are interested in Jewish mysticism, the writings of Rabbi Isaac Luria, and the search for truths which may transcend the physical, scientific, and conventional, this book is a helpful start. It's brief, it quotes generously from the original sources, and gives enough introduction, background, and commentary to whet one's appetite.
It consists primarily of the writings of Chayyim Vital upon the Kabbalahistic teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria. Dunn provides context, commentary, and insight for the uninitiated.
The one disappointment would be at the start, where in an otherwise innocuous introduction he says at page 19: “Albert Einstein looked up at the great display of a clear night sky while walking with a friend and exclaimed: ‘Two things inspire me to awe – the starry heavens above and the moral universe within.’”
I believe Dunn is here mistaken. While it is by no means central to his argument, it is disconcerting to have a quotation misappropriated like this when a simple Google search could have caught the mistake.
If 20th century Einstein in fact said these words, he was quoting another great thinker, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) who much earlier wrote: “Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”
The quotation is too close to ascribe it to chance or parallel thinking. Einstein, knowingly or unknowingly, was influenced by or at least had heard the quotation from someone elsewhere and repeated it. Dunn should have caught this.
Who is this Rabbi Isaac Luria? In Hebrew he is called Yitzhak Lurya, and his nickname, so my psychiatrist friend Carlos tells me, is Ari, based upon the acronym for each of the first letters of Ashkenazi Rabbi Itzhak. Rabbi Luria was the child of an Ashkenazi Jew and Sephardic Jewess.
Rabbi Luria or Ari was akin to Socrates in that he gathered about himself eager disciples and delivered his lectures to be transcribed by conscientious pupils. He is not noted for voluminous writings but rather the teachings of his mouth as collected and preserved by Chaim Vital.
This explains why Dunn's book indicates that a co-author is Chaim Vital or Chayyim Vital or, as Google indicates, Hayyim Ben Joseph Vital. Remember that we are translating Hebrew into English, and so standardization is not entirely possible.
Despite the brief oversight noted above, this book is worth reading. I recommend it.
As we all know, Kabbalah is spoken of as an essential complement to the study of Torah, God's Law. And it is an obligation of Jews if they are to be counted as observant. Kabbalah is ancient, but not as ancient as the rest of Torah. It is embraced by many and at the same time said described by others as heterodox at best and heretical at worst.
I happen to be a Catholic Christian, and yet I find among the words/teachings/insights notions which bless me and bring peace and insight into my life. One need not be a kabbalah scholar, nor Jew, nor even a believer to benefit from familiarity with this area of learning.
Just what are some of these inspiring words of Kabbalah? Let me share just two rather typical examples of the sorts of truths we are talking about.
4 And then he chose through his divine will to emanate and to create.
5 He did this for compassion and mercy, because if there were no one among the worlds who might receive mercy from him, how would he be called compassionate and merciful?
Read with the Torah in one hand, one can see how the teachings of kabbalah can complement the life of a seeker of truth and peace.
David A. Pendleton


Foreword by Rabbi Ernesto V Yattah
Preparing for Kabbalah
The Ten Sefirot

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About the author (2008)

James Dunn is professor of foreign languages at San Antonio College in San Antonio, Texas. His private and most passionate work for over 25 years has been Judaic mysticism and Jungian depth psychology. He is also a retired intelligence officer, who was decorated many times for distinguished military service.

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