“The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism” by Daniel C. Matt
Daniel C. Matt had studied Kabbalah for 25 years, and it shows in how he can describe such a complex religion into a relatively simple narrative. He also curates some of the most essential teachings from the huge trove of Kabbalah, translated himself the passages from the original Hebrew and Aramaic texts, alongside adding contextual explanations on the translations.
The result is this compact book filled with all the essential knowledge on Kabbalah, broken down into several neat short themes that make it easier to digest. The book finishes at about 59% of the way, with the remaining pages reserved for the explanation notes and a substantial list of “suggested reading”, for those who decide to read more about it.
But still, even with the clarity and neat organisation, any novice in Kabbalah could find it a little overwhelming, due to the unique style of the religion, the many beautiful descriptions of Ein Sof (the Creator or the Infinite), and especially with the sophisticated structure of the ten Sefirot and the many different meanings that contains them.
But this is a testament to the completeness of the book on the subject. And no need to worry, as the book patiently guides us step by step to introduce the many parts of this fascinating religion, in a tone that is easy to understand even to a complete newbie.