Mystical Vertigo: Contemporary Kabbalistic Hebrew Poetry Dancing Over the Divide

Mystical Vertigo: Contemporary Kabbalistic Hebrew Poetry Dancing Over the Divide

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Aubrey L. Glazer

Series: New Perspectives in Post-Rabbinic Judaism
ISBN: 9781618111661 (hardcover) / 9781618113757 (paper)
Pages: 306 pp.
Publication Date: March 2013

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Whether extroversive, introversive or some further hybrid, the process of the soul touching the fullness of its divine origins is itself undergoing transformation in the contemporary twenty-first century cultural matrices of Israel. Touching but not touching, or Touching God, what the mystics call mati v’lo mati, occurs throughout mystical poetics surrounding the unitive experience otherwise known as devekut. Rather than sketch out theological datum of the poetry at hand, this study seeks to explore the reality of devotional experience behind the poetic record and its correlations with contemporary Hasidic literature being written in Israel. From this collection of annotated translations, poetry returns to its conversation with pathways in thinking throughout Continental philosophy, revealing lost pathways of a vibrant Judaism. Selections include the devotional poetry of: Schulamith Hava HaLevi; Haya Esther; Haviva Pedaya; Zelda Schneerson Mishkovsky; Yonadav Kaplun; Haya Esther; Tamar Elad-Appelbaum; Agi Mishol; Admiel Kosman; and Binyamin Shevili.

Aubrey Glazer (PhD University of Toronto) is an independent scholar and a rabbi at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco. His book Contemporary Hebrew Mystical Poetry: How it Redeems Jewish Thinking (2009) has been awarded the Adele Mellen Prize for its distinguished contribution to scholarship. His most recent books are A New Physiognomy of Jewish Thinking: Critical Theory After Adorno as Applied to Jewish Thought ( 2011) and Mystical Vertigo: Contemporary Kabbalistic Hebrew Poetry Dancing Over the Divide (2013).

Aubrey Glazer is a relentless spiritual seeker whose scholarship conveys a deep search for concealed links, surprising facts, unconventional interpretations and new perspectives, awake at all time for traces of the divine. In this book he explores contemporary Israeli culture, mostly poetry, reading into the Israeli experience as a poetic spiritual text.
— Dr. Melila Hellner-Eshed, Shalom Hartman Institute
In an original post-modern voice, Aubrey Glazer captures the mystical yearnings that pulse within contemporary Israeli poetry. Glazer reveals the longing for devekut and intimate transcendence that shines through and reimagines this new lyric landscape, both absorbing and re-visioning the older mystical tradition.
— Eitan Fishbane, The Jewish Theological Seminary
A fascinating exploration of the intersection of Jewish mysticism and contemporary Israeli poetry. In reading this challenging book, one is compelled to question the familiar distinctions between religious and secular, traditional and radical, ethereal and earthly. Highly original, erudite, and provocative.
— Daniel C. Matt, author of the multi-volume annotated translation of the Zohar (The Zohar: Pritzker Edition)

Table of Contents

Shaul Magid


1. Touching God:
Vertigo, Exactitude and Degrees of Devekut
2. Why Contemporary Jewish Mysticism Needs Poetry
From Kosman’s “Our God” to ben Yitzhak’s IntegrEL Divinity “of All Worlds”
3. DissemiNation of Devekut:
How Culture Can Connect Deeper: Agi Mishol’s “Woman Martyr” and “Transistor Muezzin” 
4. Contrition as a Returning to Devekut: Binyamin Shevili’s Cycle “Contrition” 
5. Opening Secrecy: Is There Duplicity in Devekut?: Schulamith Hava HaLevy’s “Strange Fire” and “Impregnation”
6. Caught in the Infinity Catchers: Devekut as A Web of Discourse
Shai Tubaly “Come Here,” “I Came to God,” and “Infinity Catchers” 
7. Auto-erotic Cosmogeny as Devekut: Rebirthing God as Self in Haya Esther’s My Flesh Speaks G!d
8. (Hit)Devekut as Durée of the Godlover Disentangling Intuitive Time in Binyamin Shevili’s “HomosexuELity”
9. Parables and Prayers of Love and Rape: Devekut as Depth and Flow of Self in Tamar Elad-Appelbaum’s “Psalms for Jerusalem” 
10. Scent of Darkness: A Synesthetic Dissolution into Devekut
Yonadav Kaploun’s cycles “Scent of Darkness” and “A Window of Opportunity”
11. I Almost Vowed to Touch You: Breaking through Doubt to Daily Devekut Zelda Schneerson Mishkovsky’s “On that Night” 
12. Rebirthing Devekut from Darkness to Light: Haviva Pedaya’s “Gently Please,” “The Golden Molten Stream,”
“Sun-space,” “Crack the Sun,” and “Majesty Manacled” 
13. CODA:
Gross, Subtle and Secret Moments of Devekut

Elliot R. Wolfson

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