The following is a bibliography of basic works in English on Jewish mysticism, including Kabbala, Chassidism and Jewish meditation. It includes only works that we consider reliable and authoritative (although even many of these books have some shortcomings). There are more acceptable works than are listed here; these are the ones that we have found to be most useful. One has to exercise extra care when choosing reading material on this subject…

Many of the books on the market misinterpret Judaism - some innocently, some deliberately. This is especially true of books on Jewish mysticism. Therefore, one has to exercise extra care when choosing reading material on this subject.

For example, none of the books by Gershom Scholem or Martin Buber appear on our list. Despite the success these authors have had in popularizing Jewish mysticism, their works are either riddled with inaccuracies or plagued with the inevitable distortions of an author who is only academically involved in his subject, but remains uncommitted to its practice.

For a full academic critique of their approach in general, and the Zohar in particular, click here.

THE BAHIR (bilingual), by Rabbi Nehuniah ben HaKanah (1st century CE). Translated by R. Aryeh Kaplan. New York: Weiser 1979, 244 pp.
A mystical discussion of the Hebrew alphabet, the first verse of the Bible, the sefirot, and the soul.

SEFER YETZIRAH IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (bilingual), by Rabbi Akiva (2nd century CE).
Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1990.

A complete translation of this seminal work in Kabbala in all three of its extant versions. The text is explained both as a description of Creation and as a meditative guide, based both on standard commentaries and unpublished manuscripts. Historical introduction and appendices.

Translated by Leonard R. Glotzer. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1992, 258 pp.
A translation of Sefer Yetzira with explanations anthologized from the classic commentaries on this text. Historical introduction and appendices

ZOHAR, by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and students (2nd century CE).
Translated by Rabbi Moshe Miller. Morristown, NJ:Fiftieth Gate Publications, volume 1, 2000, 366 pp.

Annotated selections from the basic work of Kabbala. Detailed introduction covering the history and basic concepts of Kabbala. Volume 1 covers the first half of the first of the original's three volumes.

THE PALM TREE OF DEVORAH (Tomer Devorah; bilingual), by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (1522-1570).Translated by Rabbi Moshe Miller. Southfield, Michigan: Targum Press, 1993, 209 pp.
An ethical treatise devoted to a Kabbalistic understanding of the commandment to resemble G‑d. Includes explanatory endnotes.

SHENEI LUCHOT HABRIT (The Two Tablets of the Covenant), by Rabbi Yishayahu Horowitz (1565-1630).Translated by Eliyahu Munk. Brooklyn, NY:Lambda, 1992, 3 volumes, 1262 pp. plus appendices.
A selection of the Kabbalistic Torah commentaries of the early 17th century chief rabbi of Cracow, Frankfort and Jerusalem, constituting about one third of the original. The translation is, unfortunately, somewhat awkward.

DERECH HASHEM: THE WAY OF G-D (bilingual), by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto (1707-1746).Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. New York: Feldheim, 1983, 407 pp.
Synopsis of Jewish theology based on Kabbala

DISCOURSE ON REDEMPTION, by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto. Translated by Avraham Sutton. Jerusalem: 73 pp.
An annotated translation of Ma'amar HaGeulah, with extensive notes and commentary, plus 5 appendices (approximately one-third completed).

PENINEI AVIR YAAKOV: Torah Thoughts and Pearls of Wisdom from Rebbeinu Yaakov Abuchatzeira. Translated by M. Steinberger and E. Linas. Jerusalem: Yeshiva Ner Yitzhak (no date). 490 pp.
A topically-arranged anthology culled from 12 books of the most famous Moroccan kabbalist of all, Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeira (1807-1880), grandfather of our century's great "Baba Sali" - Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeira. Unfortunately, the high proportion of the kabbala content of the original has been significantly reduced

IN THE SHADOW OF THE LADDER: INTRODUCTIONS TO KABBALA, by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag.Translation and additional explanatory chapters by Mark and Yedidah Cohen. Safed, Israel: Nehora Press, 2002, 272 pp.
An impressively lucid translation of the introduction to the author's commentary on the Zohar, the Sulam ("ladder"), and his explanation of the teachings of the holy Ari, Talmud Esser Sefirot. Supplemented with lots of historical background and key definitions, as well as sincere personal testimony as to the benefits of the teachings contained within.

Translations of primary Kabbalistic sources with commentary on a variety of important topics in Kabbala.