Return to the Place: The Magic, Meditation, and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah


Product Details

Ben Yehuda Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.78 inches | 1.12 pounds

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About the Author

Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is a scholar, ritualist, poet, midrashist, and dreamworker. She is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic seminary, and cofounder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, a program in earth-based, embodied, feminist Jewish spiritual leadership. Her other works include Undertorah: An Earth-Based Kabbalah of Dreams; Return to the Place: The Magic, Meditation, and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah; The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons; and Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women. She and her family live in Manhattan.


Sefer Yetzirah has been called the foundational text of Jewish mysticism, but despite many scholarly attempts to explain it, readers still find its language baffling and its message indecipherable. Now Rabbi Jill Hammer has clarified the text for us all. Without ruining its mystery, she reveals its cosmic vision of "space, time, and body-soul." Beyond this, she has created a new-ancient meditative practice based on this mystical masterpiece. Her superb achievement is a gift for all of us!

-Dr. Daniel Matt, author of The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism

Rabbi Jill Hammer's Return to the Place: The Magic, Meditation, and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah is a major event - both for the Jewish world and far beyond it. As in all her writing, teaching, and spiritual leadership, Rabbi Hammer here displays her unique combination of scholarly rigor, spiritual depth, ritual innovation, and poetic virtuosity. Rabbi Hammer, one of the most original religious guides of our time, opens up for us a text that has fascinated mystics and philosophers for more than a millennium - and yet has remained deeply mysterious. Return to the Place shows us that the Sefer Yetzirah is a "doorway into the deep structure of creation" - with the power to transform the cosmos as well as each person's most intimate experience. She writes that her discovery of the Sefer Yetzirah made her feel she had "come home"; but her readers will feel that it is she who has given them a new "home" within the age-old traditions of Jewish and world spirituality.

-Dr. Nathaniel Berman, author of Divine and Demonic in the Poetic Mythology of the Zohar

Rabbi Jill Hammer's new opus, Return to the Place:: The Magic, Meditation, and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah, is a tour de force-at once scholarly, whimsical, deeply poetic, and eminently accessible. In it Hammer combines translation, commentary, and meditations with her uniquely seasoned sensibility, one that balances feminine and masculine, sensual and philosophical. Calling the Book of Creation an incantation, Hammer takes on a difficult assignment. She pushes back the heavy curtain that has kept this cryptic text hidden and impenetrable, and invites us into its cosmic landscapes. Hammer does this with graceful intelligence and without ever disavowing the physical body of the reader, or our capacity to embrace the body of the world. This volume is a rare gift that comes-echad ba-dor, once in a generation.

-Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, author of The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women's Wisdom

Like its subject, the mysterious Book of Creation, Return to the Place brilliantly defies categorization. It is a detailed commentary, a bold spirit-guide, and a valuable work of scholarship. It is both audacious and perspicacious. And no one could have written it but Rabbi Dr. Jill Hammer.

-Rabbi Dr. Jay Michaelson, author of Enlightenment by Trial and Error: Ten Years on the Slippery Slopes of Jewish Spirituality, Post-Modern Buddhism, and Other Mystical Heresies and Everything is God: The Radical Path of Non-Dual Judaism."