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Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  653 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Students of meditation are usually surprised to discover that a Jewish meditation tradition exists, and that it was an authentic and integral part of mainstream Judaism until the eighteenth century.
Jewish Meditation is a step-by-step introduction to meditation and the Jewish practice of meditation in particular. This practical guide covers such topics as mantra meditation
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 14th 1995 by Schocken (first published July 12th 1985)
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  653 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book had little practical advice to offer, unless you consider a kabalistic interpretation of Jewish prayer and liturgy to be practical. One strange affect that was repeated was the warning not to do certain meditations alone - implying that one might not be able to return from the land of nothingness or contact with God. As a physician and a sometime meditator and student of Zen, I have never heard of anyone who failed to come back from meditation. For most of us, the problem is getting th ...more
Steve Cran
Write a review...For such a thin book Rabbi Kaplan's book packs a wallup of information. The book discusses various meditation techniques as can be culled from ancient Jewish sources. Rabbi Kaplan discusses basic techniquwes as can be found in other forms of meditation. Such techniques as mantras, visualizing, and contemoplating. One can also use the words of the prayers as mantras or contenplation. Mundane activities with the proper frame of mind can be turned into acts of meditation that put a ...more
Jeffrey Cohan
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing

If you only read one book about Jewish meditation, this should be it. It is safe to say that this is the most authoritative book about Jewish meditation ever written in the English language.

How fortunate we are that Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, one of the most influential Orthodox rabbis of the 20th Century, left us this gift.

Today, it is widely believed, even among Jews, that meditation is derivative of Buddhism or Hinduism. While it is certainly true that meditation has roots in those Eastern religions
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: meditation
It is sad that today you see so many Jewish people searching for spiritual sustenance outside of Judaism. I always wondered why this is and then found this book. I think that the author is absolutely right. There is an ancient tradition of meditation in Judaism which is very helpful to spiritual growth. However, most Jewish people today don't know anything about this whatsoever. The author explains how this happened (the disappearance of meditation from Jewish practice) and how we can reinstitut ...more
Joshua Sierk
ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS I'VE EVER READ. changed my life. my prayer life, my thought life, my way of thinking, my attitude, my outlook. KAPLAN is a master of communication & of meditation.

this is not just about jewish meditation. it incorporates meditation techniques from all over the world, tracing their origins.

read this. it will make you think. ;)
Justin Green
What Is Meditation - Why Meditate? - Techniques - "States of Consciousness" - Jewish Meditation - Mantra Meditation - Contemplation - Visualization - Nothingness - Conversing with G-d - The Way of Prayer (Amidah)- Relating to G-d (Amidah) - Unification (Shema) - The Ladder (action, speech, thought, non-thought; as represented in the daily service) - In All Your Ways (Elevating ordinary actions, Blessings) - The Commandments (Mitzvot) - Between Man and Woman (Sex) - Remolding the Self (Musar).

Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. Aryeh Kaplan was a really amazing scholar who talks about how unfortunate it is that so many Jews go outside of Judaism for spiritual practice, like to Buddhism (or in the case of my family, a post 60's gurdjieff cult). But before the Jewish diasopra (late BC - early AD) there were a lot of different kinds of meditative practices and rituals built into Judaism, but according to Kaplan as the diaspora progressed the torah masters predicted that if the meditative practices went o ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion, yiddishkeit
I learned some things about Jewish religion in here which surprised me. Not like I thought I knew a lot before but I'm not a total newcomer, either.

The biggest difference from the kind of pop-buddhism you'd get from a mindfulness app is that Jewish Meditiation isn't trying to make you lose yourself completely, like blank out your identity, even when it is concentrating on nothingness.

I thought it was interesting how the visualization meditiations in the Jewish tradition involve letters or writin
Feb 19, 2012 added it
Without a true Jewish education, I was able to follow Mr Kaplan as he explored the ideas and concepts and practices of meditation through the Jewish Lense. As I continue to explore life's meaning...on day at a time...I am eager to learn and practice ways to enrich my experiences. Looking for a way to connect the yogic philosophy to my heritage, I came away with an enhanced awareness and practical advise.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
As someone who learned the practice of meditation in early childhood, I’ve always struggled to provide others instruction on how to find an entry into it when asked. This first half of this slim volume provides one of the best primers on mediation as thought directed by will, in laymen’s terms, that I’ve ever read. For those chapters alone I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in meditation, regardless of whether or not you have an interest in Judaism. The rest of the book then takes ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great introduction to meditation for anyone who isn't afraid of religious overtones, albeit from a strictly jewish orthodox perspective. While it doesn't bother me as much, other might be put off by the more overtly religious later chapters (which makes them generally not less insightfull and interesting). Kaplan gives you no charts with baby-steps, but enough information, to practice several types of meditation. In the end, this stuff is technically rather simple, but it takes a long time of ...more
Xavier Alexandre
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Judaism has a long tradition of meditation, although this is not widely known.

The methods are similar to the ones developed by Eastern religions, although their aims can differ, but not by much, aside from fundamentally different attitudes to the question of the existence of the self.

Aryeh Kaplan makes all this approachable. This book is as much a guide as a treasure of information on the who/what/how of Jewish meditation.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
It seems like Aryeh has a book out there for me (he seems to have profound knowledge), but the way this material was presented wasn't for me. It feels too cold/religious/academic for me. That being said, it does what it should do and will probably be liked a good deal by others
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have found that anything by Aryeh Kaplan is good and this is no exception. It is great to see a Jewish meditation tradition. The book gets a little too on the spiritual wishy-washy side of the practice for me personally but I understand that a lot of people are looking for exactly that.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Really interesting. I had no idea such a thing existed. It is fascinating to see how similar and yet how different it is in focus from the kind of meditation I am more familiar with.
Rudolf Lobo
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Good read
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Made me see my religion in a completely new light. I’m sorry I missed the age of Rabbi Kaplan.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: judaism, spirituality
Information packed pages about Jewish Meditation and prayer. Recommended reading for everyone, particularly Jews.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great for beginning meditations and anyone who aligns with Kabbalah/ judism/ or any practice of spirituality.
Rena Del
May 13, 2017 rated it liked it
interesting history and a helpful guide to meditation in prayer
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you are a student of meditation of any faith you want to read this book. If you are Jewish, practicing or not, and want to learn about meditation, you must read this book! Judaism had it all!
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first part of this book gives a brief overview of the role of meditation in Judaism, which is something I knew very little about and found very interesting. The second part goes through and describes different types of medication (mantra, contemplation, visualization), explains how to do them, and gives Jewish variations. The third part goes through different prayers and provides ideas to think about when saying different parts of the services and different words of the prayer. This was my f ...more
Jim George
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This little book is a great introductory primer to the world of meditation. The book begins with some basic concepts and some "How To" stuff, especially suitable for the novice. Then it proceeds to walk you through some more advanced techniques, suitable only to be learned under the tutelage and guidance of a master. The author is writing from a Jew's perspective, so he is pretty thorough while explaining Judaism's approach to meditation. From early Torah readings and teachings, to ideas shared ...more
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
n this work, the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan explores the Jewish roots of meditation, as well as a practical on how to meditate according to Jewish tradition.

He points out how meditation is an ancient part of Jewish religious tradition, contrary to popular belief. How the synagogue was meant originally to be a meditative experience, and how much of Jewish prayer liturgy is meant to be a meditative type connection with the Creator.

He marvels at how so many Jews look outside their Judaism for spiritua
Chelsea Wegrzyniak
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great introduction to both Jewish meditation and meditation in general. The first half or so of the book outlines the history of meditation in Judaism and basic meditation techniques. I really enjoyed the latter half of the book, as it explained how meditation can play a part in nearly every aspect of Jewish life. The discussion of the major prayers in Judaism and how to utilize them for meditating and spiritual experiences was particularly useful and emphasizes the importance of ...more
Jennifer Stoy
I'm not Jewish (my spouse is) but I think meditation is a great practice. So I read this. The first half is actually very relevant to anyone who wants to consider meditation as a spiritual practice, but as it goes along, it gets deeper into Jewish doctrine and schools of thoughts and methods that I think are (not surprisingly, given the book is about Jewish meditation) going to be of more interest to a Jewish person. So I'm not doing a star ranking because I am totally unqualified to do it, but ...more
Linda Thibodeau
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book for me in terms of working in my field and helping others adapt fearlessly to the concept of meditation. It's approach is faith based and helps the reader feel more at ease about mediation. Laced throughout the book is the concept of becoming closer and more connected to God. Loved this book.
I was really put off by the tone of voice of the author: formal, stiff, patriarchal, distant, admonishing. I think I'll return to this text at some point, as a source material, since I now see that he is of a different time and place from what I anticipated. The next time I pick it up I'll know what to expect and go from there.
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: judaica
This book was AMAZING! A perfect blend of the practical and the mystical. SO much to contemplate in this little volume. And it is all written VERY accessibly and clearly. A beginner would have no trouble with this.
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was a great introduction to the power and importance of meditation. It's interesting how little most people know about how interwoven Judaism is with meditation. This book is detailed and very intriguing.
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Born in New York City.
Rabbi and Physicist.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan ZT"L was a world-well-known author. In his short lifetime he wrote over over 50 books. He was born in the Bronx, New York City, and studied to the local Yeshiva. He later continued his training at different Yeshivot in Israel. As a graduate student, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan was described in a scientific "Who's Who" as the most promising young