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Tormented Master: The Life and Spiritual Quest of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (Jewish Lights Classic Reprint) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   408
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 1992
Publisher   Jewish Lights Publishing
ISBN  1879045117  
EAN  9781879045118  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The search for spiritual meaning drives great leaders in all religions. This classic work explores the personality and religious quest of Nahman of Bratslav (1772-1810), one of Hasidism's major figures. It unlocks the great themes of spiritual searching that make him a figure of universal religious importance. In this major biography, Dr. Arthur Green-teacher, scholar, and spiritual seeker-explores the great personal conflicts and inner torments that lay at the source of Nahman's teachings. He reveals Nahman to have been marked at an early age by an exaggerated sense of sin and morbidity that later characterized his life and thought. While subject to rapid mood swings and even paranoia, Nahman is a model of spiritual and personal struggle who speaks to all generations. Green's analysis of this troubled personality provides an important key to Nahman's famous tales, making his teachings accessible for people of all faiths, all backgrounds. "If there is any single feature about Nahman's tales, and indeed about Nahman's life as well, that makes them unique in the history of Judaism, it is just this: their essential motif is one of quest. Nahman, both as teller and as hero of these tales, is Nahman the seeker. He has already told us, outside the tales, of his refusal ever to stand on any one rung, of his call for constant growth, of his need to open himself up to ever-new and more demanding challenges to his faith. The tales now affirm this endless quest..."

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More About Arthur Green

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Rabbi Arthur Green is professor and rector of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton, MA.

Arthur Green was born in 1941.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
interesting book, but fatally flawed  Nov 19, 2007
Arthur Green's Tormented Master is a pioneer work that definitely needs another work of its stature to counter some of its deeply flawed statements about R. Nachman of Breslov.

Arthur Green presents a theory that R. Nachman preached a high value of doubt in God, to the point that one should ask God to shake his faith. This is an extraordinary understanding of R. Nachman's position. (And if we are going to speculate about psychological reasons for R. Nachman's teachings, I think that it is fair game to ask whether such statements, which so fly in the face or R. Nachman's explicit teachings as to be perverse, and which appear in the works of various academics, represent something in their personal issues with Breslov Hasidism.)

Yes, with all the hagiography flowing from the pens of Breslov Hasidim about their beloved mentor, it is refreshing to read someone analyze him as a human being of complexity with weaknesses as well as strngths. But Arthur Green writes an anti-hagiography that at times veers on the edge of and even topples into the absurd.

For example: when R. Nachman went to the land of Israel, he met a very strange young Arab who alternated extreme friendship with murderous wrath. R. Nachman stated that he feared this Arab's friendship more than his wrath.

From this, Arthur Green deduces that R. Nachman was homosexually attracted to this Arab.

Just as Gershom Scholem's writings on kabbalah have in recent years received majro substantive criticism (see, for instance, Moshe Idel's New Perspectives), so has the time come for many of the conclusions drawn in Tormented Master to be subjected to serious critique.
scholarly & enlightening  Nov 17, 2006
"Tormented Master" is a very insightful biography of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, an important Hasidic master from the late 18th century, whose stories and teachings are still popular today. The author, Arthur Green, has written a psychological profile of Nachman without which it would be impossible to fully understand Nachman's teachings.

I had read some of Nachman's work prior to picking up "Tormented Master," and had noted that many of his teachings address depressed states of mind and offer spiritual advice on how to overcome despair. It was not surprising, then, to read in Arthur Green's biography that Nachman suffered from protracted periods of serious depression that alternated with states of euphoria. On the one hand he was tortured by self doubt, while on the other hand he believed himself to be the Messiah. His behaviour was often inexplicably erratic, reflecting a personality that was haunted by chronic indecision; yet his conflicted choices (and alternating moods) were based on his interpretation of sacred and mystical texts. One day might find him ecstatic based on a verse from a particular psalm, only to be launched into despair a few days later after reading a commentary with negative implications. While one may interpret these reactions as that of a highly sensitive soul, the evidence Arthur Green has compiled seems to indicate that Nachman may have been manic depressive (even though the author never says this in so many words). At issue is whether Nachman was a victim of psychological processes that may have been largely out of his control and if so, whether his spiritual drive was largely fueled by a search for relief from the torments that he felt. (Separately, one may ask whether he was a tzaddik because of or in spite of the crippling states of mind that he experienced.) Ultimately, it is impossible to know whether he was responsible for creating his own unsettled states of mind or if his agitation resulted from biological tendencies that were aggravated by his environment and ideas.

After reading "Tormented Master," some may be tempted to dismiss Nachman's teachings as merely his process of working out a way of coping with and comprehending the alternating periods of despair and elation that he experienced. In my view, however, there is fundamental spiritual truth in much of his writings, and how he arrived at it is instructive. A good deal of his insights undoubtedly resulted from his psychic suffering and thus he tried (and recorded) every possible spiritual method to rouse himself from his depressive states. His prayers, sayings and tales were preserved because they contain important spiritual insights, and are inspiring and valuable tools for spiritual seekers.

Be prepared to spend some time reading "Tormented Master." It is very well written and exceptionally insightful, however, the subject matter is so complex that I found myself re-reading many sections and marking numerous passages for further review. There are also extensive footnotes that provide a treasure trove of information.

In short, very highly recommended.
An excellent intellectual biography   Nov 25, 2004
This work reveals a deep knowledge and understanding of the work of Rebbe Nahman. It should be of great value to all those who would have an intellectual understanding of the Rebbe. But it does not have the kind of ' inside feeling and devotion' that the Rebbe's close followers write of him with. And it does not r. In other words this work should lead you to the writings of Rabbi Nahman himself where you will enter a new world of feeling in connection with G-d.
A sensitively-written academic biography  Sep 12, 2000
This study of the life of the Breslover (Bratzlaver) Rebbe by Rabbi Arthur Green (Reconstructionist) is well-researched and very readable. Although some Breslover Chassidim did not like this academic approach to the life of their master, I found it to be quite good. Sometimes an "outsider" can see perspectives that the disciples have missed, and this is the case with "Tormented Master." It has interesting insights into the life and struggles of Rebbe Nachman, which, in turn, had a big influence on my own decision to become a Breslover. This book is also more accessible to the average non-Hasidic reader than some of the "official" Breslov materials, and can serve as an introduction to Hasidism in general. Rabbi Green (whom I have met in person), has a deep love of the Rebbe's teachings, which shines through in the pages of this book.

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