A Palace of Pearls: The Stories of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

Oxford Univ. Aug. 2018. 456p. ed. by Howard Schwartz. illus. by Zann Jacobrown. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780190243562. $34.95. REL
Hasidic Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, also known as Reb Nachman of Bratslav, great-grandson of the revered founder of Hasidic Judaism Ba'al Shem Tov, died more than 200 years ago, yet his writings continue to intrigue, engage, and delight. These stories put Nachman chronologically at the front of the line of great Jewish storytellers such as Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer. A pious teacher of the Russian Pale of Settlement, Nachman told stories as a way to illustrate a direct experience of God through life itself. This collection, edited by Schwartz (Next Year in Jerusalem), features the first English translation of more than 100 allegorical fairy tales and folktales, often with a moral or religious bent. "People say that stories are good for putting people to sleep, but I say that stories are good for waking people up," says Nachman.
VERDICT Lovers of good tales well told will find plenty of gems here.

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