A vast bounty of tales recounting mystical experiences among the rabbis can be found in the Talmud, the Zohar, Jewish folktales, and Hasidic lore. Now, in Gabriel's Palace, scholar Howard Schwartz has collected the greatest of these stories, sacred and secular, in a marvelously readable anthology.
Gabriel's Palace offers a treasury of 150 pithy and powerful tales, involving experiences of union with the divine, out-of-body travel, encounters with angels and demons, possession by spirits holy and pernicious, and more. Schwartz provides an informative introduction placing these remarkable tales firmly in the context of centuries of post-biblical Jewish tradition. The body of the text presents spellbinding tales from the Talmud, Zohar, the Hasidic masters, and an enormous range of other sources. Here are stories of Shimon bar Yohai, reputed to be the author of the Zohar; Isaac Luria, known as the Ari, who was the central figure among the Safed mystics of the 16th century; Israel ben Eliezer, known as Baal Shem Tov, who founded Hasidism; Elimelech of Lizensk, possessor of legendary mystical powers; and Nachman of Bratslav, the great storyteller whose wandering spirit is said to protect his followers to this day. Together, these tales paint a vivid picture of "a world of signs and symbols, where everything that took place had meaning, a world of mythic proportions....A world in which the spirits of the dead were no longer invisible, nor the angels," where the master and his disciples labor to repair the world so that the footsteps of the Messiah might be heard.
Drawn from rabbinic, kabbalistic, folk, and Hasidic sources, these collected tales form a rich genre all their own. In Gabriel's Palace, the powerful tradition of Jewish mysticism comes to life in clear, contemporary English.
"There are 80 pages of scholarly notes about the tales, and an extremely helpful Glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish words."--The Living Church
"Gabriel's Palace offers tales on such intriguing topics as meditation and spiritual growth, psychic phenomena like clairvoyance and precognition, dreamwork, healing, near-death and out-of-the-body experiences, and potent encounters with angelic and demonic forces. It is impossible to come away from this book without absobring a good deal of Jewish mystical teaching about these subjects, especially since Schwartz's simple but poetic style helps bring
the tales to contemporary life."--Gnosis Magazine
"150 rabbinic, Kabalistic, Hasidic, and other mystical folktales from the international Jewish tradition....Schwartz delivers another monumental masterpiece that will inform, illuminate, and entertain. Highly recommended."--Library Journal
"A wise book."--Sr. Anna M. Denbla, Spalding University
"In recent years Howard Schwartz, combining the accumulative skills of scholarship with the lucently pure voice of the storyteller, has become the preeminent Jewish folklorist in America. What the Grimm brothers and Martin Buber gave to the German language, what Italo Calvino gave to the Italian, Schwartz now gives to English: a landmark collection of tales that expands our common patrimony of legend and mystical treasure. Where Gabriel's Palace is
uniquely Jewish, however, is in its God-soaked search, under the light of Torah, for the saintly deed."--Cynthia Ozick, author of The Messiah of Stockholm and The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories
"Once in a while, a book appears that is truly important. Gabriel's Palace is just such a volume. Howard Schwartz has gathered the essential tales that reflect the very foundations of Jewish mystical thought. His writing, as always, is beautiful, his research is breathtaking, his contribution is extraordinary."--Arthur Kurzweil, author of From Generation to Generation
"Howard Schwartz, the foremost Jewish anthologist, has defined genres through his various collections of tales. In Elijah's Violin, he explored Jewish fairy tales; in Lilith's Cave he examined Jewish tales of the supernatural. Now, in Gabriel's Palace, he has collected mystical tales from a wide range of Jewish sources in the first book of its kind. These brief imaginative stories, written in a fluid oral style by a master
storyteller, are truly marvelous and miracle-filled. Through these stories, we see the circle forming, the mystical dance beginning, and we are drawn into the circle to continue the spiritual journey of the Jewish people."--Peninnah Schram, author of Jewish Stories One Generation Tells Another and Tales of Elijah the Prophet
"A handsome collection of little known tales, lyrical enough to read at children's bedtime and scholarly enough to be assigned in class."--Alan F. Segal, Professor of Religions, Barnard College, Columbia University
"Tales drawn from the long traditions of Jewish mysticism and retold by Schwartz in an incomparably beautiful style for modern readers....The stories have been painstakingly researched, collected, and retold....An excellent gift book, a rare treasure trove. It's fascinatingly appealing and enduring."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"You don't, of course, have to be Jewish to relish these sharp, clever, instructive anecdotes."--The Washington Post Book World
"[Schwartz is ] among the most important literary figures helping to advance [the Jewish mystical tradition]....Artfully retold....An illuminating glimpse into Jewish mystical thought through the ages."--Moment
"Schwartz is a spellbinding storyteller, and the stories he has collected here will grip and enchant the reader....Schwartz has collected the key legends of the Jewish mystical tradition....An enlightening introduction....The notes on the stories provide valuable background information and are accessible and illuminating. Schwartz is to be commended for both his insightful research and his clear and compelling use of language....Those who appreciate the power
of the tale will want to savor this unusual collection."--The Jerusalem Post
"Schwartz retells [these tales] in a poetic prose that captures not only the mystery and the miracles, but the contemporary reader as well....This is the definitive edition of Jewish mystical tales. It represents an enormous undertaking and a fine achievement. Scholars and researchers will find it indispensable. General readers will find it enchanting."--St. Louis Jewish Light
"[These] stories are told by a gifted writer and poet to be read and savored, and to provide inspiration for other storytellers....Schwartz has given a new and powerful expression to the ancient voice of the traditional Jewish storyteller, a voice which deserves to be heard--and indeed needs to be heard--in our generation."--The Sagarin Review (The St. Louis Jewish Literary Journal)
"Remarkable....An impressive work to house the various mystical themes and legends of Jewish literature, both sacred and secular....Serves not only as a resource for a particular genre of Jewish literature, but as a welcome stimulus for perceiving the interaction of the divine in everyday life."--Midstream
Gabriel's Palace provides us with an illuminating glimpse into Jewish mystical thought through the ages."--Edward Hoffman, Ph.D., Moment