Review: Kaplan’s Jewish Meditation

Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide
Aryeh Kaplan

A bit of a disappointment. I was hoping to find here a reading of Jewish spiritual life as mediation. What I found instead was a book that, in my opinion, tried to squeeze Jewish tradition into the mediation framework in order to keep Jews from turning “Jewbu” (Jewish Buddhist).

Jewish tradition is rich in contemplation and communal sharing and reflection, but perhaps it just doesn’t fit into a conception of mediation in which the goal is to empty the mind of thoughts. Perhaps that isn’t something Judaism has historically favored? Perhaps, instead, Judaism has emphasized a full mind, over flowing with the ideas of centuries of scholars and mystics.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, it’s part of what draws me to continue a Jewish practice. But it is a different thing than meditation in the Buddhist tradition. This books attempt to find within Judaism that which Buddhism offers seems misplaced.
Not recommended.

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