The Zohar: Pritzk­er Edi­tion, Vol­ume Five

Daniel Matt, trans. and commentary
  • Review
By – August 26, 2011
Jew­ish mys­ti­cism was over­looked for many years in both tra­di­tion­al and aca­d­e­m­ic study. Its return to promi­nence sug­gests a renewed inter­est in spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and in the wis­dom Jew­ish tra­di­tion offers. Some­times, how­ev­er, that pop­u­lar­iza­tion has come at a cost. Daniel Matt’s out­stand­ing trans­la­tion and com­men­tary on the Zohar recon­nects this pop­u­lar inter­est with a strong aca­d­e­m­ic and tex­tu­al basis.

The trans­la­tion is detailed and well researched through­out. The com­men­tary, by offer­ing Rab­binic and Clas­si­cal par­al­lels, helps explain the some­times cod­ed or obscure lan­guage used by the author(s) of the Zohar. Matt’s own expla­na­tions do bring in tech­ni­cal mys­ti­cal ter­mi­nol­o­gy includ­ing ref­er­ences to the Sefirot, but only in a way that illu­mines rather than obscures the text. 

Vol­ume 5 includes the famous Sava De-Mish­pa­tim, an account of an old don­key dri­ver who turns out to be far more knowl­edge­able in Torah than the Sages in the Zohar expect. Usu­al­ly cit­ed in bits and pieces, this pas­sage in its whole con­text shows itself to be far more dense, rich, and mov­ing when viewed as one with Matt’s notes and com­men­taries. Vol­ume 5 is an out­stand­ing addi­tion to what is becom­ing the defin­i­tive trans­la­tion of Zohar.
David Booth is the Rab­bi of Con­gre­ga­tion Kol Emeth in Palo Alto. He has pub­lished numer­ous arti­cles in both schol­ar­ly and pop­u­lar pub­li­ca­tions. He was a fea­tured speak­er at the FJMC Inter­na­tion­al Con­ven­tion in 2001.

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