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Mystic Tales from the Zohar

by Aryeh Wineman

Bibliographic information

TitleMystic Tales from the Zohar
AuthorAryeh Wineman
PublisherVarda Books
Publication Date2001
SubjectJewish Religious Thought


Mystic Tales of the Zohar includes translations of eight of the most interesting and developed narratives found in the Zohar, the central medieval Jewish mystical text. The artful translation, together with commentaries and notes, reveals the richness of the Zohar. In addition to clear and comprehensive introduction to the Zohar, the book provides a glossary, notes, and a bibliography, making it accessible to the widest possible readership. The beautiful papercuts make this a wonderful giftbook.

About the Author 

Aryeh Wineman ---

Aryeh Wineman, a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, and of UCLA, where he earned a doctorate in Hebrew literature, is a specialist in Jewish mystic studies and their narrative tradition. His two works on the latter, Mystic Tales from the Zohar and Ethical Tales from the Kabbalah, both published by The Jewish Publication Society, are well regarded in academic and religious circles. He is rabbi at Temple Beth El in Troy, New York.



Introduction: On the Zoharic Society

Grief, Triumph, Expulsion

The Book of Adam: Two Accounts

The House of the World

Death Postponed

The Bridgedoms Silence

A Retelling of Jonah

A Tale of Sin and Repentance

A Childs Tears and His Fathers Resurrection

About the Papercut Art: The Ten Sefirot




Rabbi Hiyya bent down to the ground and bowed, kissing the dust and weeping. He cried out, Dust, dust, how utterly stubborn you are! How brazen you are, that in you all the delights of the eye wear out in a state of oblivion. All the pillars of light in the world you extinguish and shatter. Indeed, how very brazen are you! For the Holy Light that illuminated the world, the great master through whose merit the world continues to exist, decays and wears away within you.

Rabbi Simeon, the very light of light, the light of the worlds you perish in the dust, you who are responsible for sustaining the world.

Completely beside himself for a moment, he exclaimed, Dust, dust, be not proud, for the Pillars of the world will not be delivered into your hands; Rabbi Simeon will not wear away in you.

Still weeping, Rabbi Hiyya stood up and began walking together with Rabbi Yose. Beginning that day, he fasted for a total of forty days with the hope of being able to see Rabbi Simeon (in a vision). But instead, he was told, You are not permitted to see him. He wept and fasted another forty days; than, in a vision, he say Rabbi Simeon with his son, Rabbi Eleazar, with thousands listening to his words, as they were conversing on the very subject on which Rabbi Yose himself just spoken. He noticed many large winged heavenly beings upon whose wings Rabbi Simeon and his son, Rabbi Eleazar rose upward to the celestial academy of the heavenly firmament where those winged angels proceeded to wait for them. He perceived that the sages appeared brighter and brighter until their light was even more dazzling than that of the sun.

Rabbi Simeon then announced, Let Rabbi Hiyya enter and observe how the Holy One, blessed be He, will, in the future, renew the countenance of the righteous. Blessed is the one who has entered here without disgrace, and blessed is the one who, in that other world, stands as a Pillar of spiritual strength.

Rabbi Hiyya saw himself enter, as Rabbi Simeon rose up together with all the other Pillars who had been seated there. Embarrassed at this mark of honor accorded to him, he immediately seated himself at the feet of Rabbi Simeon. A voice was heard, Lower your eyes, and neither raise your head nor gaze. Looking downward, he sensed a bright light over in the distance. He again heard the same voice, which now uttered, You celestial ones, hidden, concealed, those with open eyes, those who roam throughout the world, gaze and observe. And you who are below, asleep, with eyes closed tight, awaken! Who among you, before your coming here, had transformed darkness into light, the bitter into sweet? Who among you had waited daily for that light which appears at the hour when the King remembers the Gazelle, and brings Her out of Exile, when He is majestically glorified and the kings of the world address hi as King? Whoever does not wait with such longing every day while in that other world can have no place here.


A translation of eight Zohar narratives, works central to the Kabbalah and displaying the core of the Jewish mystical tradition. Written in the 13th century, the tales convey the poetic mythmaking contained in mysticism, and Wineman's notes and detailed commentary enhance the appreciation of the homilies, such as the story of the book of Adam wherein Adam pleads to God for the return of a book lost during the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Includes papercut art illustrations. Lacks an index. Annotation c.

Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

The 13th-century Zohar, consisting of theosophical theories concerning the Godhead and the Torah, is the central text of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. Woven through it are several narrative passages or stories. Rabbi Wineman, a specialist in Jewish mystical studies, presents eight of these stories in his own translation, with notes and commentary. The tales deal with the themes of sin and repentance, death, exile, redemption, and resurrection. Wineman's commentary expertly elucidates these esoteric stories. He includes excellent essays on the Zohar and Kabbalistic theory, especially an explanation of the ten Sefirot, or aspects of the deity. There has been a recent upsurge of interest in Jewish mysticism, and the material in this book, while scholarly, can be readily understood by interested lay readers.

Robert A. Silver

Formerly with Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio

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