Foreword - The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism - Daniel Chanan Matt

The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism - Daniel Chanan Matt (1996)


KABBALAH, the Jewish mystical tradition, is precious and well hidden. Its symbolism, allusions, and multiple layers of meaning have attracted and confounded readers for centuries. Having studied Kabbalah for some twenty-five years, my attraction has not abated; my confoundedness has not been eliminated, but seasoned by wonder.

In this book I offer a selection of what I consider to be essential teachings from the immense trove of Kabbalah. I have translated the passages from the original Hebrew and Aramaic texts, and supplied notes to guide you through the maze. The introduction traces the history of Kabbalah and explains its salient concepts and symbols. A brief bibliography suggests titles for further study. In rendering the passages from Kabbalah into English, I have at times omitted material. I have taken the liberty of not indicating these omissions with ellipses, so as not to interrupt the flow of the translation. Precise citations are provided in the notes, so that interested readers can refer back to the original.

A number of friends and colleagues have been kind enough to offer advice or read parts of the manuscript. I would like to thank Arnold Eisen, Moshe Idel, Yehuda Liebes, Ehud Luz, and Elliot Wolfson. I am grateful to John Loudon, executive editor at Harper San Francisco, for inviting me to compose this book and for encouraging me along the way.