Wisdom of the Heart
The Teachings of Rabbi Ya'akov of Izbica-Radzyn
A new way of understanding traditional Jewish texts
Read the recent article about Hasidism and this book in Jewish Ideas Daily
Ora Wiskind-Elper takes these texts seriously, presents intelligent and sensitive readings of difficult themes, and rigorously plumbs concepts and formulations that formed the basis of this approach within Hasidic thought. -- Jewish Book World
The strength of this book lies in Wiskind-Elpers detailed presentation of the Beit Yaakovs approach to traditional Jewish texts; her highlighting of his emphasis of the role of the feminine Jewish thought; and her discussion of his moving message that affirmed and elevated the needs of the body and physicality and communicated the need to come to grips with the suffering of the body. -- Tikkun
Written by a professor of Judaic studies in Jerusalem, Wisdom of the Heart proves a powerful read that shouldnt be overlooked. -- Midwest Book Review
In this fascinating book, Ora Wiskind-Elper introduces us to a figure who was ahead of his time: the Hasidic leader Rabbi Yaakov Leiner of Izbica-Radzyn. Her translations and interpretation of his writings present the Rabbis central ideas in a compelling form to modern readers.
Though Rabbi Yaakov lived a full century and a half ago, his teaching weaves midrash, medieval commentary, Kabbalah, and Hasidic thought together to create an innovative perspective on long-established Jewish concepts. His works, known as the Beit Yaakov fill four large volumes of commentary on the weekly Torah portions and the cycle of Jewish festivalsthe traditional genre known as derashot.
In exploring the diversity of the sources Rabbi Yaakov used for his reflections on Jewish life and spirituality, the author suggests he devoted uncommon attention to emotion, human, relationships, and gender issues. Thus, in many ways, Rabbi Yaakovs thought was extraordinary for its time and even for ours.
Wiskind-Elpers insights touch readers on many different levelsintellectually, emotionally, and psychologically.
About Ora Wiskind-Elper Ph.D.
Ora Wiskind-Elper is assistant professor at the Lander Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem and at Michlalah College, Jerusalem. She holds an MA in comparative literature and a PhD in Hebrew literature from Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Wiskind-Elper is author of Tradition and Fantasy in the Tales of Reb Nahman of Breslav, co-editor of Torah of the Mothers, and translator of numerous scholarly works from French, German, and Hebrew to English. She and her family live in Israel.