translated and introduced by Morris M. Faierstein preface by Moshe Idel

'He said to me: Know that I do not yet have permission to tell you why you came into the world and who you are. If I would tell you the details of this matter, you would float in the air out of great joy. However, I will tell a little of what 1 am now allowed to tell you.' From Book of Visions

Jewish mystics, unlike those of other religions traditions, rarely described their mystical experiences explicitly in their works. To the extent that they do describe them, they are couched in highly symbolic language or ascribed to rabbinic figures of the Talmudic period (2nd-6th centuries). Rabbi Hayyim Vital (1542-1620), an influential figure in the school of Jewish mysticism known as Lurianic Kabbalah, is one of the most notable exceptions to this generalization. His Book of Visions is a full-fledged mystical autobiography in which he not only described his mystical experiences in great detail, but also wrestled with two issues central to all autobiographies-who he was and what his purpose was in the world.

Sharing many characteristics with Vital's work is Book of Secrets (Megillat Setarim) written by Rabbi Yizhak Isaac Safrin of Komarno, an important Hasidic master of the nineteenth century. Like Vital, Safrin saw himself as a potential messianic figure who had access to the mysteries of Heaven and direct contact with long dead figures of Jewish history.

These fascinating and unusual texts are translated here for the first time into English, enabling readers to discover for themselves the richness and depth of these mystical autobiographies.



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