“If Hasidism begins in the life-enhancing spirituality of the Baal Shem Tov, it concludes in the tortuous, elitist and utterly fascinating career of Nahman of Bratslav (1722–1810) whose biography and teaching Arthur Green has set forth in his comprehensive, moving, and subtle study, Tormented Master.
“Arthur Green has managed to lead us through the thickets of the Bratslaver discourse with a grace and facility thus far unequaled in the English language literature on Hasidism. Tormented Master is a model of clarity and percipience, balancing awed respect and honor for its subject with a ruthless pursuit of documented truth. . . . Tormented Master is sufficiently open to the agonies of religion in general and the issues of modern religion in particular to make Nahman a thinker utterly relevant to our time.
“Nahman of Bratslav is unique in the history of Judaism, Green emphasizes, for having made the individual’s quest for intimacy with God the center of the religious way. He was a Kierkegaard before his time, believing in the utter abandon of the life of faith and the risk of paradoxicality. . . . He was, more than all others, the predecessor of Kafka, whose tales, like Nahman’s, have no explicit key and rankle, flush and irritate the spirit, compelling us—even in our failure to understand—to acknowledge their potency and challenge.”
—New York Times
“In this brilliant book, which can be read for joy and yet has all the qualities of high scholarship, Arthur Green explains why the place of the Bratslaver Master cannot be filled except by his immortal leadership.”
—Journal of Ecumenical Studies
“Tormented Master is a major triumph.”
—Journal of Religion
“This splendid biography of the illustrious Hasidic leader, Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav, is testimony to the maturation of American Jewish Studies. On every significant count—method, depth, knowledge, style, organization, sophistication—it is a triumph. No one seriously interested in Hasidism can afford to miss this volume.”