Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Silly and the Profound : Endless Light by Rabbi David Aaron

Rabbi David Aaron writes popular books about Kabbalah, and his Endless Light does not deviate from this path.  So for a reader looking for a book with some academic rigor, this is the wrong book for you.  Rabbi Aaron also lapses into obvious and simple stories to illustrate his points, a habit that can become annoying, and make the reader feel that he is dumbing things down far beyond the necessary level.
Rabbi Aaron's text has good points as well.  He takes very difficult and at times abstract concepts like tzimtzum, the contraction that created the universe in the Kabbalah of Isaac Luria, and makes some apt and lovely comparisons to romantic love and love toward one's children.  He takes the lofty ideas of this concept and brings them down to earth in ways that we can understand. 

He also makes strides in divorcing concepts that have very entrenched definitions.  For instance God is rendered HaShem. He is thus able to move the idea of God away from the old man in the sky image, and make the divine more a monist or pantheistic idea (although kept in reasonable check). He also firmly ties these ideas with Halakah, i.e. Jewish ritual practice.  For him, there is no meaningful Kabbalah without Torah.

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