About this book
Rabbi Jill Hammer has taken an ancient Jewish mystical text and transformed it into a contemporary guide for meditative practice. In Return to the Place, Rabbi Hammer guides the reader through the story of creation as the ancient text of the Sefer Yetzirah draws readers in and invites them to become participants in the book’s vibrant incantations, bringing the Creator’s sacred energy into the world.
The Sefer Yetzirah is a creation story like none other, describing the creation of the world in cryptic, mystical, poetic text. Rabbi Jill Hammer has taken a fresh look at this text that scholars believe goes back to the sixth century CE, embracing this text with healing intention.
Through guided meditations at each step along the way, Rabbi Hammer allows readers to dig deeply into the text to experience the potential power of these ancient writings. Hammer builds a thought-provoking bridge from the past to the present—translating the text and focusing on its key aspects to give readers a relevant focus for contemplation.
“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
“A tour de force —at once scholarly, whimsical, deeply poetic, and eminently accessible. Hammer combines translation, commentary, and meditations with her uniquely seasoned sensibility, one that balances feminine and masculine, sensual and philosophical.”
—Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, author of The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women’s Wisdom
“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.”
—Dr. Nathaniel Berman, author of Divine and Demonic in the Poetic Mythology of the Zohar
“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 Everything is God: The Radical Path of Non-Dual Judaism
All the meditations in the book are available in text and audio at https://returntotheplace.com