Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Debut a Debut: Kabbalah

In honor of Valentines Day (and the fact that I didn't go to work today) I decided to feature a book that I wasn't originally planning to read and review for Debut a Debut...

Kabbalah: A Love Story by Lawrence Kushner

Fitting for a rabbi who has authored over a dozen books on Jewish mysticism and spirituality, Kushner's first work of fiction is an allegorical novel centered around Jewish mysticism.

Kalman Stern is a rabbi who teaches courses on mysticism at the college. A resounding failure in his personal life, Stern immerses himself in his work. His secret wish is to have a mystical experience just once before he dies. When a mysterious letter falls out of the binding of his copy of the Zohar (the master text of Kabbalah), Stern's life begins to change in unexpected ways...

An ambitious novel that falls short of meeting its full potential, Kabbalah is nonetheless potent. Multilayered and full, despite its short length, the novel introduces readers to some of the basics of Kabbalah (which is a real draw right now given the current interest in it thanks to the involvement of some high-powered celebrities in the Kabbalah Centre) even including an index of citations. More than that, though, Kabbalah poses thought-provoking questions, making it a book that bears rereading.

While fiction junkies may be somewhat disappointed with Kushner’s character development, Kabbalah is thoughtfully written. The way Kushner weaves together the various threads of his story -- as well how he allows different versions of the same event to be equally true -- illustrates in a very powerful way exactly what he is trying to elucidate in the novel.

More information on Kushner and his work can be found on his website.

And, since I seem to be on a cover kick lately, I should say that this book’s dust jacket is gorgeous.


  1. I'm so glad that you were able to read this in time to post. I was eager to hear what you had to say about it since it is such a fascinating little book.

    For anyone interested, they can see my review here.

    Thanks for taking care of the shipping for me!

  2. karen!,


    And o yes, that cover is lovely.

  3. Kabbalah is something I know almost nothing and something I was aiming to introduce it to myself. This review ahs increased my interest again. Yesterday I was looking Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler so now I think I’ll go and buy it :)

  4. Oh, Milan, Last Kabbalist is one of my favorites!!!! More historical mystery than a kabbalistic journey, though.

    I'll save this copy of Kabbalah for you-- it found its way to me, and my book club wants to read it. So when we're done, you can have it if you want.

  5. This book is cute, but really do lack of content regarding kabbalah. Have you had a look at this site ?