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Wisdom of the Heart

The Teachings of Rabbi Ya'akov of Izbica-Radzyn

Authored by Ora Wiskind-Elper Ph.D.

Publication Year: 2010

"In this fascinating book, Ora Wiskind-Elper introduces us to a figure who was ahead of his time: the Hasidic leader Rabbi Ya‘akov Leiner of Izbica-Radzyn. Her translations and interpretation of his writings present the Rabbi’s central ideas in a compelling form to modern readers. Though Rabbi Ya‘akov 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 Ya‘akov fill four large volumes of commentary on the weekly Torah portions and the cycle of Jewish festivals—the traditional genre known as derashot. In exploring the diversity of the sources Rabbi Ya‘akov 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 Ya‘akov’s thought was extraordinary for its time and even for ours. Wiskind-Elper’s insights touch readers on many different levels—intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically. "

Published by: Jewish Publication Society


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Title Page/Copyright/Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

“Like mushrooms in the forest,” the contents of this book emerged in some unexplainable way amid the leaves, between the trees that fill my days. A debt of gratitude is owed to those who have given me the opportunity to teach—to Rabbis Yehuda Kopperman, Chaim Pollack, Mordecai Kopperman, and Devorah Rosenwasser of Michlalah College, Jerusalem; and to Carmi ...

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pp. xi-xxiii

These memories, written by R. Hayyim Simhah Leiner, preface the family history he compiled and first published in 1909.1 The grandfather of his childhood is Rabbi Ya‘akov Leiner, whose teachings are the subject of this book.2 R. Ya‘akov (1818–1878) was the rebbe and spiritual leader of a community of Hasidim in Izbica and then in Radzyn, located in the Podalski ...

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Chapter 1: A World of Opposites

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pp. 1-45

“‘Who,’” says Rabbi Ya‘akov, “is there to be questioned.” The teaching that follows, it seems to me, is seminal to our understanding of the Izbica- Radzyn Hasidic worldview. I would like to read it closely and draw from it some key concepts that will accompany us throughout the chapters to come.1 ...

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Chapter 2: Selfhood

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pp. 47-112

That inner center, wholly beyond our grasp, is what we call the Self. My essence, the “soul of my soul” will forever be a mystery to me, as unknowable as God is.2 And yet I, and you, spend our lives in search of that self. The will to grow, to realize what is uniquely ours, to discover the inborn germ of wholeness, our ...

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Chapter 3: Figures of the Feminine

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pp. 113-166

These “forms” we wear, the bodies we inhabit, says R. Ya‘akov, are windows opening onto the universe. They frame our vision, circumscribing that square of something beyond ourselves that each of us can, potentially, see and understand. The “garment” or levush that houses my soul is given, not chosen. I carry it with me always, in all my experiencing. It encloses and separates, and ...

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Chapter 4: Being Otherwise

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pp. 167-199

The secret brilliance of corporeity. In R. Ya‘akov’s readings, throughout his commentary, that difficult truth, so hard to hold onto, is continually discovered and rediscovered. Consistently, often in unexpected contexts, R. Ya‘akov seeks a revisioning of the body-soul relationship. The alternate understanding he offers entails a new valorization, in which a whole group ...


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pp. 201-249


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pp. 251-256


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pp. 257-273

E-ISBN-13: 9780827609501
Print-ISBN-13: 9780827608948

Page Count: 297
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 676698505
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Wisdom of the Heart

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Subject Headings

  • Leiner, Yaʻakov, 1818-1878 -- Teachings.
  • Hasidism -- Poland -- Izbica Lubelska.
  • Hasidism -- Poland -- Radzyń Podlaski.
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