Rodger Kamenetz is a unique dude. His The Jew in the Lotus is a cult favorite about, as its title perhaps implies, his rediscovery of certain aspects of Judaism through the lens of Buddhism. And his newest book, Burnt Books, which drops today from Nextbook Press, is similarly out-there: It is about the parallel personal quests of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, a great 18th-century Hasidic rabbi, and Franz Kafka, the ultimate symbol of 20th-century alienation; and it is also about the personal quest these two figures sent Kamenetz on, as he hinted in this God & Co. video, and as he discussed in yesterday’s Vox Tablet podcast.
“Rabbi Nachman burned his writing in front of his followers’ eyes to teach a lesson,” Kamenetz wrote last month, on the occasion of the Florida pastor’s threat to burn a Koran. “The ultimate Torah is not a physical object, but a holy manifestation of the ineffable. To draw the primordial Torah down into letters and words is a supreme feat all in itself. Even if no one ever reads it.” Want more? Then check out the book.
Below the jump: Watch Kamenetz’s mishnah on his new work.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.