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Sparks of Wisdom from Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz

Adult; Spirituality/Inspirational; (Market)

Ancient Jewish Teachings Applied to a Modern World Drawing from his vast knowledge of Torah, Kabbalah, Talmud, and other ancient writings, Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz continues to teach us about the inner and outer world—more than 250 years after his passing. Rabbi Yaacov Barber, a master of inner wisdom, uses ancient and modern wisdom to inspire and motivate the Jewish community throughout the world. In Pearls of Wisdom, he uses his unique skills to transform Rabbi Eybeshitz’s eighteenth-century writings into modern terms so that even those with limited knowledge of Judaism can understand the profound and timeless teachings of this esteemed rabbi. With easy-to-navigate alphabetical entries, readers will explore searching questions like: Why did G-d create the world? • What is Jewish mysticism and how is it different from the mysticism of other religions? • What is the key to happiness? • Reincarnation: Is it a Jewish belief? • Where are today’s miracles? • What is meditation? • Why am I here? Why did G-d create me? • What are the two types of joy? • Which animal has the most spiritual energy and spiritual life force? • How does one become a prophet? • Love: How do you know when you are in it? • How many people are needed to save the world? • What are the two prerequisites for attaining happiness? • Before judging someone, what two questions should we ask ourselves? • Where should our greatest sense of bliss come from? • How can we change our negative behavior? • How do we measure our relationship with G-d? • How many ways can we give G-d a gift? Ancient teachings meet modern understanding in Pearls of Wisdom to provide practical guidance on the answers to these questions and more based on established Jewish teachings, laws, and code. Readers of all ages and all levels of knowledge will be able to access this essential Jewish wisdom.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.00 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Barber uses inspiration from ancient writings of Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz but takes them a step further. Barber’s work offers philosophical exploration, but also instructs readers on ways to apply the valuable ideas in daily life. 

Prose: Even though the writing is based on teachings of the Torah, Barber’s explanations are easy to understand and broadly relatable. His tone and words are comforting and therapeutic to the reader.

Originality: Barber brings a fresh and unique perspective to the ancient texts and teachings he presents.  

Character/Execution: Barber’s organization is spot on. He makes the text accessible by alphabetizing the entries according to topic; this enables readers to browse the teachings at their own pace.

Date Submitted: October 13, 2022

Barber’s rich second collection of writings and teachings from 18th century Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz continues the project of offering the English world its first translations of the work of the storied Kabbalist, but with an inviting twist. This time, demonstrating that it’s erroneous to believe that “the teachings of our great rabbis do not speak and address the issues that we face in the twenty-first century,” the material is arranged for reader accessibility, by topics (alphabetically ordered chapter titles include perennial concerns like “Conflict,” “Honesty,” “Marriage,” and “Punishment”), with Barber taking what he calls “the liberty” to translate with an eye for the “spirit of the ideas” rather than the direct literal translations of the earlier work, while also offering quick, clarifying commentary about how those ideas apply to contemporary life.

The result is illuminating and engaging, a user-friendly collection that’s no less profound than its predecessor but significantly more suited to browsing—and more welcoming to non-expert readers eager to make a connection to one of the great experts on Jewish law. This new approach means the language here is less rich, but Barber’s distillations of the rabbi’s teaching on topics like circumcision preserves the richness and power of the original writing, in prose that’s scrupulously clear and precise: “If Abraham and his descendants needed to be circumcised to reach perfection, why were they not born circumcised? God wanted man to play an active role in bringing himself and the world to a level of perfection.”

Barber’s helpful additions, clearly marked in italics, continue that spirit of lucidity, at times going beyond explanations to offer compelling fresh examples, surprising connections (he draws on Mark Twain in the excellent chapter on Israel), and of-our-age advice, when he notes, sensibly, in the chapter on “Fear” that some debilitating fears need to be treated by professionals. This second collection is companionable, often challenging in its ideas but always rewarding and never obscure.

Takeaway: An inviting collection of insights and teachings from a great 18th century rabbi, freshly translated into English.

Great for fans of: Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz’s Pearls of Wisdom, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A