Too Good to Miss #5
This past Shabbat, spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my grandsons in Baltimore, I read Rabbi Lawrence Kushner’s latest book, a novel entitled Kabbalah: A Love Story. On page ix, Rabbi Kushner acknowledged the advice and teaching of friends, including one Phil Miller. In all honestly, modesty and humility, I cannot recall anything I ever said to Rabbi Kushner so memorable as to warrant his thanks!
At first I found the book overwritten and filled with the clichés of novels nowadays, especially references in contemporary cultural icons, such as Starbucks coffee and the neon sign in front of (the now out-of-business) Tower Records. It was not an easy beginning for me, but, then, the Zohar does not begin easily either. One must wade through dense verbiage that conceals as much as it dresses up its complex concepts.
The pedant in me rankled at the introduction of a Zohar printed on blue paper in Livorno (Leghorn), Italy in 1647 by a printer named Mendoza. Hebrew printing did not begin there until 1659, and by a gentleman named Gabbai, with one Abraham ben Raphael Medola starting a second and more permanent press in 1740. Moreover, blue paper was used in Kapust, Koretz, and other East European towns in the Pale of Settlement in the first decade of the 19th century!
In addition, the surface plot and its cast characters seemed predictable and worthy of Hollywood … but within a short time such incongruity and triteness were reduced to cavils by the sweep of the book’s lesson.
Rabbi Kushner has taken a complex theosophic concept and couched it in wonderful, transparent language.
But the one who closes the book and think that the lesson is over has missed the book’s point!
I close, reminding you to keep in mind Psalm 92, verses. 6-7.