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Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism
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Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism
Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism
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Price:  $19.95

ISBN:  978-1-936597-33-8
Book Size:  6" x 9"
# of Pages:  200
Language:  English

This collection of essays by Leo Schaya (1916-1986), author of the much-acclaimed Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah, is only his second book to appear in English. Incorporating previously unpublished materials, this new work considers not just the Jewish mystical doctrine of the Kabbalah, but also the perennial and universal aspects that Schaya posits lie at the very heart of Judaism itself. Schaya demonstrates that beyond its outer forms, Judaism draws from the one great mysterious Source that gives life to all other authentic spiritual traditions.

  • Silver Medal in the “Religion/Philosophy” category of the 2014 Midwest Book Awards
  • Finalist in the “Religion: General” category of the USA “Best Books 2014” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
  • Finalist for 2015 Benjamin Franklin Award in the category “Religion”
  • Finalist for the 2014 Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award in the category “Religion”
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Detailed Description of Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism

Leo Schaya (1916-1986) was a brilliant author and editor whose only book to appear in English was the much-acclaimed The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah, which is often cited in books on Jewish mysticism. This new book, Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism, is a collection of writings by Schaya, including some previously unpublished material, that highlights the particular way in which Judaism expresses universal truths and concepts. Schaya explains in great depth and beauty how the God of Israel manifests His goodness, power, and mercy in multiple levels of creative emanations, which are the main focus of the Kabbalah. Even more, however, Schaya looks through Judaism’s particular forms and demonstrates that at its core Judaism reveals the same mysterious universal source from which all of the great religious traditions of the world draw their spiritual sustenance and energy.

This book brings together Schaya’s most essential writings (in English) on the subject of universal elements found in Judaism, along with a newly translated paper titled “The Worldview of the Kabbalah,” which has never been published before. In addition, there are helpful editor’s notes, a glossary, a detailed index, and biographical notes on the author. Editor Roger Gaetani contributed the Editor’s Preface to the book, and perennialist scholar, author, editor, translator, and philosopher Patrick Laude contributed the Foreword. These two pieces are important additions to analyses of Schaya’s work and writing.

Leo Schaya was a prolific author and editor of works on comparative religion and Judaism. He was born in Switzerland, but spent much of his life in Nancy, France. Schaya edited two different French language journals on Comparative Religion, Études Traditionnelles and Connaissance des Religions. A number of Schaya’s articles were translated and appeared in the English traditionalist journal Studies in Comparative Religion. Although widely published in his native German, and French, this is only his second book to be published in English.

  • Silver Medal in the “Religion/Philosophy” category of the 2014 Midwest Book Awards
  • Finalist in the “Religion: General” category of the USA “Best Books 2014” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
  • Finalist for 2015 Benjamin Franklin Award in the category “Religion”
  • Finalist for the 2014 Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award in the category “Religion”

About the Author(s)

Leo Schaya

Leo Schaya was a writer in the Traditionalist/Perennialist school. He was particularly known for his writings on Jewish esoterism, with his book The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah (1958) being one of the best known and often-quoted works in that field; however, he also was at home in the area of Sufi metaphysical interpretation. World Wisdom has published a collection of Schaya’s seminal work on his central theme, titled Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism (2014), which includes some previously unpublished material.

Leo Schaya's essay "Creation, the Image of God" is one of the articles collected in the anthology Seeing God Everywhere: Essays on Nature and the Sacred . Another essay, "On the Name "Allah" is included in Sufism: Love and Wisdom . An online sample of his writing, the essay "The Eliatic Function" (about the esoteric function of the prophet Elijah), which appeared in the important traditionalist journal Studies in Comparative Religion, can be read if you click here.

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Roger Gaetani

Roger Gaetani is an editor, educator, and student of world religions who lives in Bloomington, Indiana. He has co-edited, with Jean-Louis Michon , the World Wisdom anthology on Sufism, Sufism: Love and Wisdom . He directed and produced the DVD compilation of highlights of the 2006 conference on Traditionalism, Tradition in the Modern World: Sacred Web 2006 Conference , and has edited the book A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar by Amadou Hampâté Bâ. Roger Gaetani translated (from the original French) and edited the book Introduction to Sufism: The Inner Path of Islam, by Eric Geoffroy. Mr. Gaetani’s most recent contribution to World Wisdom is Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism by Leo Schaya, which he edited and for which he wrote the “Editor’s Preface.”

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Patrick Laude

Patrick Laude is a writer, editor, professor, and researcher in the fields of language, literature, symbolism, and mysticism. He is a professor at Georgetown University, currently at their School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Laude's writings have been published in the US and Europe in numerous journals. Dr. Laude's extensive contributions to World Wisdom include:

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Reviews of Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism

“A new collection presents the translated work of Leo Schaya, a leader in scholarship on Kabbalah and mysticism whose work often focuses on eternal interreligious commonalities. In Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism, editor Roger Gaetani synthesizes a vast body of work into an illuminating and engaging volume.

“Both Gaetani and Patrick Laude, the author of the foreword, share Schaya’s scholarly background in Islamic mysticism. Readers thus find that the universality suggested in the title relates to the continuity that Schaya notes between Judaism and the rest of the world’s traditions, and with Islam in particular.

“Schaya’s work makes frequent reference to the Sophia perennis, which functions as a bridge between traditions: ‘wisdom … comes down to us through the millennia, through various and complementary expressions … humanity always has this common spiritual language, despite differences of idiom or formal concept.’ He roots this common language in Semitic traditions, in Judaism particularly, never relinquishing the notion of one divine source of truth.

“Essays trade between mystical concepts central to both the Kabbalah and the Sophia perennis. One seeks common ties between Judaism and Eastern traditions, while others focus on theophany at Sinai, the significance of Elijah, and a Jerusalem temple embracing the needs of mankind.

“Judaic concepts are fleshed out lovingly and brought to bear across the human landscape, though Schaya also presents them as one part of a grand and continually unfolding story. Such presentations often take for granted working backgrounds in Judaism, and to some extent Islam, and the elegance of this work will often be best appreciated by those in the academic know.

“Gaetani warns that Schaya’s readership has been wont to complain that his work is too challenging, but readers would be remiss to balk at the passages that require concentration. Where Schaya veers into mystical explication—of the meaning of the Tetragrammaton, the manifestations of the sefirot, or the numerical significance of the Arabic construction of ‘Allah’—his work does become dense, but the artistry of his arguments still warrants admiration. Readers may comfort themselves with later reminders that mysticism isn’t open to all, anyhow, but ‘only to those who [enjoy] an extremely heightened state of inward preparedness.’

“These essays are ably directed by their editor, and the theme of interreligious connection dominates the most accessible portions of Schaya’s writing. Readers may thrill over poetic passages, which argue that ‘God is hidden in everything He creates, somewhat in the way light is contained in the innumerable reflections [of] a mirage,’ and through them will always return to notions of connectedness. A final chapter reemphasizes the notion that the path was paved by Judaism, and that Islamic mysticism brought humanity full-circle, offering footing on it to all mankind. Such arguments for inherent commonality may open roads for much needed dialogue between the traditions.

“This book is a thoughtful compilation through which readers may be glad to meet an underappreciated giant in monotheistic mysticism.”
ForeWord Reviews, from a review by Michelle Anne Schingler

“Schaya, little known in this country except as the author of The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah, is represented here by a group of essays on Kabbalah and mystical Judaism in general.… These writings can be difficult but reward the reader's labor … [and] they give evidence of the unusual mind of a true believer. Schaya's other work in English is much treasured; students of the Kabbalah should be delighted with this successor volume.”
Library Journal

Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah & Judaism is edited by Roger Gaetani and provides a fine collection of essays by the late Leo Schaya — only his second book to appear in English. It's a pick for any Judaic spirituality collection and considers the Jewish mysticism of the Kabbalah and how this may be related to universal spiritual energy. Chapters offer detailed analysis, consider Biblical writings and their authors, and provides scholars with a fine reference to Kabbalah and Judaic studies issues.”
California Bookwatch, a publication of Midwest Book Review

“[This work] constitutes a profoundly important contribution to the understanding of the depths of both Judaic and universal spiritual truth. May it result in the long overdue recognition of Schaya’s great importance for both scholars and seekers alike!”
Jacob Needleman, San Francisco State University, author of Finding My Religion

“Schaya was not only a scholar of Kabbalah and Judaism who was deeply attuned to the world of the Psalms,… [he] was, in spiritual temperament, an unconditional pilgrim of the Absolute endowed with an intense mystical love for the One.… The texts herein judiciously selected by Roger Gaetani from among Schaya’s most accessible works, offer a splendid testimony to the author’s inspiring focus on the One.”
Patrick Laude, Georgetown University, editor of Pray Without Ceasing: The Way of the Invocation in World Religions

“Judaism speaks the really Real and this wonderful collection and translation of the words of Leo Schaya helps readers hear the speaking. Here is Judaism for the seeker.”
Peter Ochs, University of Virginia, author of The Return to Scripture in Judaism and Christianity

“Judaism, perhaps on account of its focus on the destiny of a single people, figures relatively infrequently in the writings of the Perennialists—a circumstance which renders the publication of this collection of essays by Leo Schaya, characterised by Patrick Laude in his foreword as ‘the only major Perennialist author who hailed from a Jewish religious background’, all the more welcome. Of its nine chapters, three appeared as articles in the journal Studies in Comparative Religion, while three more are taken from Nancy Pearson’s translation of Schaya’s book The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah, published by Sophia Perennis in 2005. One chapter is based on the unpublished text of a lecture in German, translated here for the first time.

“As the title indicates, Schaya is concerned to explicate the universal dimension within Judaism: ‘what is fundamentally true of Judaism is also true of all genuine religions and traditions’. Considerable attention is accordingly given to Biblical figures notionally shared by all humanity: Adam (and his transcendent archetype Adam Qadmon), Enoch (especially in his transfigured iden tity as Metatron), Noah. In discussing Judaism’s relationship with the other two Abrahamic religions, Schaya sees the latter not merely as complements but in certain respects as fulfilments: ‘Islam freed monotheism from the necessity for ethnic “election”’; while Christianity offers to Judaism ‘the universalization of its messianism’. Schaya also finds counterparts to some of the doctrines of Judaism, and especially of the Kabbalah, in Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

“But Schaya is not an afficionado of comparatism for its own sake: his primary concern is always with the heart of his own tradition. It is in this spirit that he cherishes his Hasidic roots, and reveres the ‘great master’ Isaac Luria who was one of the chief spiritual ancestors of the Hasidim. While other writers may be cited once or twice, the book is pervaded by references to the Bible and the Zohar. Much of Schaya’s luminous exposition is centred upon images, ‘mythical’ in that word’s deepest sense—above all, the image of all the souls of Israel, past, present and still unborn, assembled in God’s presence at Sinai. This conception, he says, is ‘one of the most important teachings of the Kabbalah’.

“Schaya’s writing is often dense, but it is the density of passion: his words are charged with a spirit of love and wonder which it is difficult not to share. For him, despite all its rigours and perils, ‘the Kabbalah is like a fountain of youth in which one is spiritually reborn again and again on one’s inner path towards the infinite’. While lamenting the spiritual desiccation of our times, Schaya sees us as living amid possibilities—those possibilities which Temenos exists to serve. ‘From the upper fissures which represent so many apertures of the Good and of Grace opposing the evil surging up from the depths, there streams down a spiritual light that is able to illuminate the “hearts of the children” of Adam and lead them to the “hearts of the fathers”, the spirituality of the traditions’ [quoted from Schaya’s essay “The Mission of Elias”].”
The Temenos Academy Review

“Some readers may recall that [Leo Schaya] is the author of the much-acclaimed book The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah (1958), and was for a time editor of the French journal Études Traditionnelles (‘Traditional Studies’) and founding editor of Connaissance des Religions (‘Knowledge of Religions’). This new volume, which is only his second book to be published in English . . . is a collection of Schaya's writings on the central theme of the universal aspects revealed in Judaism, yet present in all the great religious traditions. This book also includes an informative Preface by the editor, Roger Gaetani, and a Foreword by Patrick Laude, a distinguished perennialist writer. Both of these pieces contribute important analyses of Schaya's work. . . . A unique and paramount feature of [Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism] is its exploration of the Jewish tradition by way of its mystical roots, which simultaneously elucidates its common ground with other religions. For, according to Schaya, each revelation aspires ‘to spiritualize man and finally reintegrate him with the Divine Absolute’ (p. 1). . . . It is our hope that this new collection of Schaya's work will allow readers who are within the fold of Judaism, as well as those from other faiths, to perceive the reality of our common heritage in the One, and then to think and act accordingly as a consequence.”
The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, from a review by Samuel Bendeck-Sotillos

Table of Contents

    Editor’s Preface by Roger Gaetani
    Foreword by Patrick Laude

    1.  Some Universal Aspects of Judaism
    2.  The Meaning of the Temple
    3.  The Mission of Elias
    4.  The Sinaitic Theophany According to the Jewish Tradition
    5.  Torah and Kabbalah
    6.  Creation, the Image of God
    7.  The Great Name of God
    8.  The Worldview of the Kabbalah
    9.  Contemplation and Action in Judaism and Islam

    List of Sources
    Biographical Notes

Selection from our Library about Universal Aspects of the Kabbalah and Judaism
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2Subject WW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
Some Universal Aspects of JudaismUniversal Aspects of the Kabbalah & JudaismSchaya, Leo Comparative Religion, Judaism, Metaphysics
Besides Biblical descriptions, author Leo Schaya turns to some Talmudic and rabbinical writings and oral traditions to give a general, but also a more esoteric, understanding of Jewish doctrines concerning the Temple of Jerusalem. Schaya reviews a number of aspects under which the Presence of God dwells within the physical Temple, but also, by extension and in an immanent sense, within the heart of the Jewish seeker after God. The symbolism of the Temple's features is related, Schaya tells us, to spiritual realities that come to inhabit man's inner reality as well.
The Meaning of the TempleUniversal Aspects of the Kabbalah & JudaismSchaya, Leo Judaism, Metaphysics, Symbolism, Tradition
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