The Zohar is Judaism’s best-known mystical text. It is also one of Judaism’s most impenetrable texts, written in obscure Aramaic. The epochal Pritzker edition English translation attempts to make this Kabbalistic work more accessible to English speakers and free them from the errors and misrepresentations that exist in almost all popular accounts of the Zohar. However one will not really know the Zohar from a translation. Translations of Jewish works have been likened to “kissing the bride through a veil,” “eating raw wheat rather than the refined hallah,” and some have referred to “anyone who translates as a liar, but anyone who does not translate as a thief.” What may appear to be translucent is often a cleverly disguised opacity. Traditionally in Rabbinic culture understanding the Zohar requires many decades of study, and prohibitions abound in Rabbinic texts referring to the Kabbalah’s esoteric nature that requires not only a good foundation in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, familiarity with Rabbinic methods of interpretation, exposure to many more basic Rabbinic works, but also a maturity and ripeness for its dangerous areas of speculation. Still the American reader who wants a taste of this difficult text will find no better window into the Zoharic world than Matt’s translation. This third volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition wraps up the Zohar’s commentary on the book of Genesis. In this volume the reader may glimpse secret insights into well known biblical narratives including Jacob’s wrestling with the angel at Peniel, Joseph’s kidnapping by his brothers, his near seduction by Potiphar’s wife, his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams, his reunion with his brothers and father, etc.
David Levy (B.A. Haverford College, MLS UMCP, Ph.D. Baltimore Hebrew University) currently serves as the librarian at TC. LCW. David has published over 1,800 book reviews and various papers in Judaica library science including, most recently, “Halakhic Ethical Issues of the Online Environment” (AJL, 2011, Montreal) and “Teaching Judaica Library Science” (AJL, 2010 Seattle).