Book review: A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters (Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez)

Via on Jul 4, 2009


This collection is intended to bridge the gap between older and more recent Hasidic movements within the realm of Judaism, and to an extent help bring some awareness of the Hasidic culture to those unfamiliar with the group.

While the book is well-written and the stories interesting, some familiarity with not just the Hasidic culture, but with Judaism generally and even Kabbalah would likely bring greater understanding and appreciation to the text, an admission made by the authors themselves in the introduction. Nonetheless, A Heart Afire is a book that those interested in the Hasidim will appreciate indeed. From The Jewish Publication Society and available from your local, independent bookstore.  (Shop local, shop independent, and tell ’em you saw it on Elephant Journal… it makes a difference!)

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About Todd Mayville

Todd is a single dad of four diverse and lively kids, and is an English teacher and climbing team coach at a local public high school. A rock climber, cyclist and avid reader, Todd also practices yoga and meditation as often as he possibly can, which helps him stay at least a little centered and sane.


2 Responses to “Book review: A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters (Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez)”

  1. I was interested in this book because I've been discussing the philosophical similarities between Vedanta Yoga and Kabbalah with my Orthodox Jewish son. However, after browsing through this book on Amazon, I concluded it's not what I'm looking for. It appears to be more of a pure Hasidic text for the faithful than an insight into the universal nature of mysticism I was hoping for, and which some of the promotional materials seem to promise. Would you agree?

    Thanks for the review.

    Bob W. (

  2. Thanks, Todd. That's very helpful.

    Here's a very funny video on the topic:

    Kabbalah Crash Course

    Bob Weisenberg

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