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The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov is one of the greatest Jewish teachers of all time and the inspiration for much of what is alive today in Judaism, in all the denominations. Yet amazingly, this is the first comprehensive book in English about his life!

Yitzhak Buxbaum has researched everything available from hasidic and academic sources, in Hebrew and English. He has collected tales, teachings, and parables to produce a wonderful, inspiring "life-story." The book is not just "about" the Besht but a spiritual "scripture," like something written centuries ago. Accessible to everyone, it contains material that will be new to the most knowledgeable reader.

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Purchase Hardcover ($60.00)

Purchase Paperback ($30.00)

Praise for The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov

Yitzhak Buxbaum has produced a fascinating and inspiring portrait of the Baal Shem Tov. A truly rewarding reading experience.

Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet, eminent Lubavitch scholar and author, editor of the critical editions of the principal anthologies of the Baal Shem Tov's teachings Keter Shem Tov and Tzava'at HaRivash

Finally, all the Baal Shem Tov stories gathered together in one book! Not a book -- a sea of wisdom and inspiration, offering us a unique glimpse into the greatness of the father of Hasidism.

Rabbi Simon Jacobson, author of Toward a Meaningful Life

Buxbaum has used all the hasidic and scholarly sources, but I love the way he tells the Besht's story "from within." He has his finger on the pulse of the values that lie at the heart of the Baal Shem Tov's message and conveys them in words that speak to the heart of our generation.

Rabbi Arthur Green, author of Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow

An important book about one of Judaism's most important teachers. Truly an amazing work.

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Jewish Literacy

This is the scripture that should have been written about the Baal Shem Tov two hundred years ago. No one who wants to draw from the wellsprings of Hasidim should be without this book.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, author of Credo of a Modern Kabbalist

A definitive assembly of everything Beshtian.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, co-author of Filling Words with Light

This book is a holy of holies; truly worthy of the Besht.

Rabbi Miles Krassen, author of Uniter of Heaven and Earth

I love the book's devotional style, the way it opens the heart and soul, so that reading it is a spiritual experience. You feel you have been privileged to actually encounter the Baal Shem Tov himself. This is a holy book, to be treasured as such!

Melinda Ribner, author of Kabbalah Month by Month

The most comprehensive compilation of stories and teachings about this amazing Jewish avatar. While Buxbaum throws in dashes of a traditional devotional style that may be unfamiliar to some readers, they will soon adapt; I love what he's done.

Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, author of The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women's Wisdom

Jewish Tales of Holy Women

Hardcover $20

Paperback $18

What is a "holy woman," or a holy man for that matter? According to the Jewish mystics, a holy person is someone who has not lost the holiness that every baby is born with. Stories about Jewish holy women have rarely been collected in such an engaging and entertaining form. The tales display a specifically female Jewish spirituality, giving us a peek into a world of devotional beauty that focuses on kindness. These stories of laughter and tears, humility and bravery, striving and trance, have an appeal spanning the denominational spectrum: they are spiritual nourishment for the soul. The rabbis say there are both male and female angels and angels are on earth as well as in heaven. These tales enhance our appreciation of the female angels on earth.

"Your book is a GEM! Other than Chumash and its commentaries, no other book I have ever read has inspired me more. I love, love, love this collection. What a service you have rendered Jewish women, to provide us with so many holy role models. Kol hakavod to you!"

-- Sarah Rigler Levinsky, author of Holy Woman

"I picked your book-- Jewish Tales of Holy Women -- off the shelf yesterday, to put it back with the 'B's' and opened it up. I couldn't stop reading it. Dinner was late onto the table and the dishes didn't get done until I'd finished the whole book. Thank you! I've been recommending it to my customers based on other things I've read of yours. Now, I'll really push it. Thanks for a beautiful and inspirational book!"

- Ellen Bob, owner of Bob and Bob Judaica store in Palo Alto, California

Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy

Hardcover $20

Paperback $18

Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy reveals the happiness that awaits us if we strive for real spirituality. The stories are about pious rabbis and humble tailors, about dancing, singing, laughing, and crying, but their common denominator is always joyous ecstasy. Drawing us into a world of devotion, the tales allow us to taste the bliss that comes from a life lived from the very center of one's self. Each story comes alive in joy and produces a "holy shiver" that speaks to the soul.

"Dear Reb Yitzhak: Thank you for writing Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy. One story is simply better then another. Just reading about the ecstatic states of the story subjects lifts me up and brings me to joy! It is the nectar of Judaism!" - Reader, Ruth Schlossman


Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. (SpiritualityandPractice.com).

A Person is Like a Tree: A Sourcebook for Tu BeShvat Hardcover $38

Hardcover $38

A Person Is Like a Tree: A Sourcebook for Tu BeShvat is the only sourcebook available for celebrating the Jewish holiday of Tu BeShvat, also traditionally known as the "New Year of the Trees." The Tu BeShvat seder, created by kabbalists in sixteenth century Safed in Israel, is similar to the Passover seder and involves drinking four cups of wine and eating a great variety of fruits. The kabbalists sought, by their eating of fruit at the seder, to make a mystical tikkun (fixing) to repair the sin of Adam and Eve in eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Whereas most Jewish holidays are biblical in origin, and while Chanukah and Purim were instituted by the ancient rabbis, Tu BeShvat is the only holiday ordained by the kabbalists.

The Life and Teachings of Hillel

Hardcover $45

Paperback $45

The Life and Teachings of Hillel

Hillel is one of the greatest rabbis of the Jewish tradition, yet even knowledgeable people usually know only the same few stories and sayings of his -- about his teaching the Golden Rule to the gentile standing on one foot; his saying "if I am not for myself, who will be for me, and if I am for myself alone, who am I?" and so on. Many facets of Hillel's teaching and activity have been neglected and virtually "lost."

As it turns out, Hillel is a much more interesting figure than people might think; he is much more radically pious and "hasidic." We usually think that Hillel represents "normative Judaism." But "normative Judaism" is a mixture of Hillel and Shammai. Hillel is more of a "love-type." And he has a particular attraction for our generation, by representing the gentler, more loving side of Judaism that so many are searching for today.

An example of a Hillel story that most people don't know: The Talmud tells a tale about Hillel buying a horse, as charity, for a rich man who became poor, and also daily hiring for him a servant to run before the horse. Hillel realized that this once-rich man needed these things so his self-esteem would not crumble. One day, however, Hillel couldn't find a servant to hire, so he himself ran before the man's horse for three miles!

This story is perhaps the most radical act of humble loving service by any rabbi ancient or modern; it reminds one of the fiery Elijah or of the Baal Shem Tov. Yet it is almost unknown! There is much else about Hillel that too few people know. Hillel was not only the mild peacemaker; he also had a more fervent side. I expect that most readers will be charmed by Hillel's fiery gentleness.

The Life and Teachings of Hillel will also help people to understand that there are two ways in Judaism -- the path of fear of God and the path of love of God -- the paths of Hillel and Shammai. When a person with Hillelite inclinations understands the difference between the two ways, he will find it easier to direct himself along his path and to understand and not become upset with followers of the other path, modern-day "Shammaites."

Comments on The Life and Teachings of Hillel

"Buxbaum is a patient and generous religious teacher writing about Hillel in Hillel's own spirit. This book is filled with learning and profundity, allowing its subject to speak directly to the reader's heart."

Dr. Arthur Green, Author of
Seek My Face, Speak My Name, A Contemporary Jewish Theology

Jewish Spiritual Practices

Jewish Spiritual Practices explains the Jewish mystic path, whose goal is d'vekut, God-consciousness. The first section (approximately 75 pages) provides an overview of Jewish, generally hasidic, spirituality. The second section (approximately 500 pages) is divided into chapters on every religious and life activity -- how to have God-consciousness while studying Torah, while davvening, while walking, while working, while washing the dishes. Yitzhak has translated hundreds of hasidic teachings of the Rebbes about hanhagot, spiritual practices. The practices are explained in the larger context of the spiritual path toward the mystic goal. Many people are inspired by tales about the hasidic Rebbes. These are the practices that got the Rebbes to their exalted spiritual levels and which they taught to their followers. The information in this book is not available elsewhere, in Hebrew or in English. If you are on the Jewish spiritual path, you should have this book.

Some Comments on and Reviews of Jewish Spiritual Practices

"Once in a while I read a book that not only makes a profound impression but radically alters my lifestyle. Such a book is Jewish Spiritual Practices ...."

Jerusalem Post

"Yitzhak Buxbaum's Jewish Spiritual Practices is a gift to the Jewish world."

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

"Jewish Spiritual Practices is a very, very important book, one which the contemporary Jewish world has been in need of for many years. It is, to my knowledge, the first attempt at a comprehensive guidebook in English to the spiritual dimension of Halachic behavior-- written with the aim of clearly demonstrating exactly how a feeling of connection to G-d can be experienced by the average contemporary Jewish man and woman through the performance of the mitzvot."

(Lubavitch hasidic magazine)

"Jewish Spiritual Practices by Yitzhak Buxbaum ... recently was presented to the Dalai Lama by an American rabbi [Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi] who wanted to explain Jewish spirituality to the religious leader."

Publisher's Weekly

"[When in India] Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi presented the Dalai Lama with a gift: a Jewish book. Which book? Jewish Spiritual Practices, by Yitzhak Buxbaum. Why this book? 'Because it comes closer than any book I know to revealing the tantric practices in Judaism. This is transformational stuff, the real recipes for growth, not just nice insights,' said the Rabbi. And the Dalai Lama's reaction? 'After looking through some of it, he was surprised. He didn't realize that Judaism has so much to offer in this regard ...'."

New Age Retailer

"Mamash a rebbishe sefer!" (Like a book written by a rebbe!)

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

"The most important book written on Hasidism in a century."

Professor Samuel Dresner (Jewish Theological Seminary)

Storytelling & Spirituality in Judaism

Hardcover $38

Paperback $41

In Storytelling and Spirituality in Judaism, Yitzhak Buxbaum shows that storytelling has always been a prime vehicle for communicating spirituality and that some of the greatest Jewish teachers were expert storytellers. He notes that "[even the Torah starts] 'In the beginning . . .,' as if the Holy One, blessed be He, was an elder with a long white beard, who sat us on His knee and began: 'Once upon a time.'" In recent centuries, Hasidism revived sacred storytelling and the sacred story -- especially tales about tzaddikim (hasidic saints).

"There are those who enjoy stories and storytelling," says Buxbaum, "but in the back of their minds, think, 'After all, they're only stories.' But in the same way that the Western Wall of the Temple is not just a wall, a mere pile of stones, neither are the stories of the Torah or of the tzaddikim, 'just stories.' Holy stories are the light of the world."

Recent years have seen a revival of storytelling in America and in the Jewish community. Martin Buber, Elie Wiesel, and others spurred a keen interest in reading hasidic tales. Now people are also eager to hear and to tell them. We have much to learn, says Buxbaum, from Hasidism's "theology" of storytelling. Hasidic rebbes asked and answered the questions: What is the place of storytelling among spiritual practices? Why do stories captivate and charm us? How should they be told and listened to? What are their effects?

According to Hasidism, storytelling is a holy activity equal to Torah study or prayer. Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism and a master storyteller, said that telling and listening to holy stories is equivalent to the mystic study of and meditation on the Divine Chariot. Indeed, hasidic storytelling is not only inspirational but mystical as well. Hasidim even claim that God loves storytelling about tzaddikim.

Storytelling and Spirituality in Judaism, the first and only book about Jewish spiritual storytelling, will increase people's appreciation of hasidic tales by making them aware of their living, oral context, and will encourage involvement in spiritual storytelling. Containing delightful stories about storytelling and the author's own insights as an accomplished storyteller, it has a vital message for the Jewish community.

The Jewish Booklet Series
Real Davvening: Jewish Prayer as a Spiritual Practice and a Form of Meditation for Beginning and Experienced Davveners.
$15.00 - Soon to be back in print!

This is a book about the spiritual side of Jewish prayer. This booklet contains the teachings of the rabbis and rebbes about the spiritual side of davvening (Jewish prayer), how to "get somewhere" by davvening. It is written for both beginners and experienced davveners.

Learn to davven (pray) so that it moves you spiritually. Simple traditional meditation techniques can lift your praying easurably higher than before, until you actually taste and experience the nearness of God. That is what is called Real Davvening.

This booklet will open the gates before you to one of the most important Jewish spiritual practices; Prayer. It contains practical, easy-to-do teachings that will enliven your davvening and your Judaism.

An Open Heart: The Mystic Path of Loving People.

The Jewish mystic goal is to meet God in this lifetime, to experience at every moment the beauty, sweetness, and holiness of the Divine Presence. The path to the goal is devotion and fervent love for God. But only by loving people can you truly love God. Only by meeting people in the deepest way can you truly meet God. AN OPEN HEART guides you to the traditional texts that teach the Jewish mystic path of loving people.

Special: 10 Copies of "An Open Heart" for $100.00

Serach at the Seder: A Passover Haggadah Supplement