Book Endorsements

“Seidman’s “The Oracle of Kabbalah” is a feast of honey, humor, cultural diversity, and an outrageous insistence on hope. Though well rooted in indigenous Jewish understandings, a thousand flowers of the world’s teachers, make this personal divination style one that promotes the Divine in Nature and community without losing the nobility of the individual.”
– Martin Prechtel, author of Secrets of the Talking Jaguar and Long Life, Honey in the Heart.


“In these wide-ranging, mystical, sometimes fanciful meditations on the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, Richard Seidman … offers the reader a contemporary installment of both Judaism’s millennial love affair with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and a clever invitation to enter the conversation.”
– Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of The Book of Letters.


“You don’t have to be Jewish to love The Oracle of Kabbalah. Richard Seidman has made the ancient wisdom and power of the Hebrew letters accesible to us all, so we can use it to help us better deal with the challenges of modern life.”
– Monte Farber and Amy Zerner, authors of The Enchanted Tarot


“Jewish sages teach that each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is an awesome universe. Richard Seidman gently guides readers to explore the use of these letters to open mysterious gates of wisdom hidden within each one of us. The Oracle of Kabbalah is an excellent tool for discovering the teachings of our own souls and is highly recommended.”
– Rabbi David A. Cooper, author of God is a Verb.


“These cards, grounded in ancient mystical knowledge, offer many doorways to the great mysterious, and the power of our own personal truth. To experience them is to realize the infinite depth and exquisite beauty of creation.”
– David Carson, co-author of The Medicine Cards.


“Richard Seidman offers us a direct, clear, and practical approach to the Divine Mystery. His understanding of the Hebrew Alef-Beit and his guidance in interpreting each letter ignites an inner lamp that can illumine the most shadowed corners of the soul.”
– Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, author of The Way of Solomon.

Testimonials

What has been your experience using The Oracle of Kabbalah? I welcome hearing your thoughts, perspectives, suggestions, and experiences regarding the book and cards.
– Richard Seidman

Click here to send me your comments

“It’s quite a different experience from other cards I’ve used, Tarot and Animal cards. I find them much gentler, much less able to be projected upon, which is a good thing. I make no assumptions about these cards, and they take me on a path. It’s like they’re pointing something out and then listening, instead of instructing.”
– A.M.W., Cambridge, MA

“I love your skillful weaving in the Zen and Mayan traditions with the teachings of the Kabbalah…There is a mutual illumination when the traditions are brought together as you do, and it is wonderful to see how you bring [Mayan teacher] Martín [Prechtel], and Zen, and Judaism together. You are a role model for me as I come to terms with my Protestant Christian (Puritan) ancestors.”
– J.P., West Newton, MA

“I have already expressed my appreciation and admiration of your book and how it has become my guide since I got it…[Now,] I felt compelled to write to you and express my gratitude for what appears to be a Divinely inspired project…Great writing and great research.”
– A.M., Ashland, OR

“The Oracle of Kabbalah has been a wonderful tool for me, helping me explore a wider spectrum of perspectives, emotions, and patterns of thought. Seidman’s insights into human nature transcend the boundaries of religion or theology, and embrace the full diversity and luminosity of the Divine.”
– S. H., Ashland, OR

“I’m grateful to Richard Seidman for providing me with both a compassionate form of guidance and a readily accessible introduction to these sacred letters. This is a book that I’ll refer to again and again.”
D.R., St. Petersburg, FL

“The Oracle of Kabbalah” raises the genre of divination cards to a seriously ecumenical level of mysticism, witty, touching, helpful and profound.”
R.C., Tacoma, WA

Book review in The Jewish Review – November, 2001 By Paul Haist

The Oracle of Kabbalah,” is, in the words of its author, “grounded in Judaism’s teachings, but also informed by Zen Buddhism and Native American teachings, by poetry and myth.” Richard Seidman hastens to add, however, for those inclined to hasty judgment, that, while his book is influenced by these other disciplines or realms of thought, it is no “new-age mish mash.”

“It is grounded in Jewish tradition. It really is a Jewish book,” he says with an earnestness verging on prayer.

“The Oracle of Kabbalah” is a book and card set. Each of the cards depicts a letter of the Hebrew alphabet plus one for the missing letter. Readers select cards and use the book to help them “ignite an inner lamp,” as one commentator puts it, “that can illuminate the most shadowed corners of the soul.” The cards and book introduce the reader to the mysteries of the Hebrew alphabet while simultaneously helping them to explore the mysteries of their life.

Seidman is an ex-Portlander who lives today in Ashland. He is best known here as the founder of Friends of Trees. He is a recipient of the Urban Forestry Medal awarded by the National Urban Forest Council. He was named a Community Hero by the City of Portland for his work on behalf of the environment. That honor won him the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch here. He is a quiet man, cloaked in a serenity that comes from deep inside and seems the consequence of a spiritual journey that has opened for him vistas uncommon in most contemporary Western experience. It is a journey that continues today and along which “The Oracle of Kabbalah,” is a significant milestone.

Seidman grew up in a Jewish family, but his childhood exposure to Judaism–he called it “stultifying”–left him eager only to leave it behind as soon as he finished his first call to the Torah at his bar mitzvah. “As a young person, I wasn¹t aware of aspects of Jewish practice that were really satisfying spiritually,” he said. Yearning for spiritual fulfillment, he looked many places. He studied Zen for years, Christian Science, then back to Buddhism. He joined in Native American ritual practice. He immersed himself in the mytho-poetic writings of moderns such as mythology scholar Joseph Campbell and the poets Michael Meade and Robert Bly.

And then, one Pesach–after 20 years of searching, he sat down to a seder table prepared by his friend Abby Layton of Portland. In the preface to his book, Seidman writes of that experience. “…at my friend Abby’s house, I first caught a glimpse of a Judasim that was fresh, vibrant and spiritually satisfying,” he writes. “The seder at Abby’s house was an eye-opener. Could Judaism actually be joyful, ecstatic, profound, practical, earth-based and nonsexist?”

He found the answer to his question and it was yes. His discovery was underscored by further reading, such as Rodger Kamenetz’s “The Jew in the Lotus.” Layton introduced him to Rabbi Aryeh Hirshfield who leads P’nai Or, the Jewish Renewal group in Portland. “Aryeh was living proof that an enlightened, humane, humorous and deeply spiritual Judaism is possible,” writes Seidman. This was contrary to his former view of Judaism as “sexist and anthrocentric.”

He said, “I realized through Aryeh’s teachings that this was limited thinking: to pigeonhole Judaism in this way.”

That wasn’t long ago. Then, in 1997, Seidman discovered and became intrigued by mystical teachings about the Hebrew alphabet. If this was not the seed of “The Oracle of Kabbalah,” it was a cutting that he grafted to his own tree of life, his spiritual inquiry. When Seidman talks about the Hebrew alphabet, he chooses words that conjure images of magical wonder.

“This is a facet of Kabbalism,” he said, “that teaches about the Hebrew letters and their elemental power as the energetic and vibrational building blocks of creation.” He adds, “Each letter of the aleph-beit is assumed by the kabbalist to have its own personality, its own profound magic, its own way of organizing the whole of existence around itself.” He turns to Torah to help shed light on what he means.

“At the start of Torah, G-d speaks the world into existence. “The letters (of the Aleph Beit) are G-d’s speech made manifest.” It may take some a leap of faith to get close to where Seidman lives with the Hebrew letters. He’s been at it a while and it is outside normal experience, arcane: “The power of the spoken word is represented in the written character,” said Seidman. “So, the written character becomes the distillation of the power of the speech.”

This is a challenging statement: printed letters as the essence of the power of speaking a world into existence. Seidman knows that the topic is hard to penetrate. He learned as much in his study. “Most writings about the Hebrew alphabet are arcane and dry,” he said. “My goal was to present traditional teachings about the letters in a way that is enjoyable and clear, practical and accessible.”

He succeeds by creating a participatory experience for the reader that “engages them in an immediate and personal way.” I tried it. I sat down with Seidman’s book and a friend. I contemplated an aspect of my life that has been important recently. I selected a card and, with my friend, explored its meanings and its application to my experience, using the scholarship of Seidman’s text.

This was an enlightening experience that left me better informed about myself and newly curious about a world of knowledge I never previously knew existed, let alone explored. It helped to open a door to useful insights about my own way of living in the world. Seidman’s book is a manual of practice that one can turn to again and again. Each time, the insights will be different, even when one selects letters previously chosen. This is because the process is informed by the evolving consciousness and experience of the participant.

Book Review in The Tampa Tribune – March 3, 2002

This enjoyable and educational book explores the symbolism behind the Aleph Beit, the Hebrew Alphabet. Author Seidman comes from a varied background, having seriously studied both Zen Buddhism and Jewish mysticism. This background serves him well in this endeavor. Seidman writes: “For each letter is an archetype and each letter is a koan and each letter is a dream and each letter is a poem.” Each chapter investigates a single letter, covering its history, meaning and symbolism. Seidman provides the basis of a “meditation” through his discussion, trying to lay the foundations for “unusual insight or intuitive perception” that may emerge from such a meditation. A set of cards displaying the letters (one letter per card) is also provided to facilitate contemplation. Readers of all world views should find this book to be spiritually rich.

Book Review in New Connexions – September/October, 2002

I must admit that I was surprised at the depth with which I connected with this elegantly simple little book and pack of cards. It has been my constant companion during the past three months, encouraging and challenging me through major surgery and the frustrating tedium of convalescence. Richard Seidman successfully marries the ancient rooted wisdom of mystical Judaism with the adventurous and inclusive spirit of the New Age.

Oracles and divination tools, such as this, offer alternative perspectives in the symbolic language of our right brain. By lifting us out of our habitual patterns, we, hopefully achieve more satisfying and holistic perceptions. The Oracle of the Kabala emerges from the folklore and the mystical teachings of the Hebrew alphabet. According to the earliest known book on Jewish mysticism, the Sefer Yetzirah (The Book of Creation), written more than fifteen centuries ago, God formed the entire universe through speaking aloud the twenty-two letters. “Out of nothingness, with the vibration of God¹s cosmic utterances, all things spring to life.”

Each letter is understood as an archetype and has its own personality, its own magic and its own way of organizing the whole of existence around itself. It has ways of combining with other letters to form new meanings, and the words with which we in turn, create our reality. The mysticism and profundity of meaning within the system of letters and numbers of the Kabala is a lifetime study in itself, but this Oracle of the Kabala encapsulates it in simple language. Magically, it tends to meet one where one is, emotionally and intellectually, on any given day. As a divination system it sheds new light onto whatever question it is asked. However, Richard borrows from other traditions, especially Zen, to clarify and amplify his themes, which allowed me to feel included in the Universal family even though I am not Jewish and have little exposure to traditional Judaism.

While the Oracle of the Kabbalah is not intended to foretell future events, it can provide a perspective on a present situation and show considerations to keep in mind when weighing possible courses of action. It seems to me that the secret lies in one¹s ability to form an accurate and perceptive question before consulting the Oracle. Vague and general questions get vague and general answers! The answer can only be as helpful as the question is precise. With this admonition in mind, I fully recommend this little book, both as a tool for divination and simply as a source of comfort and spiritual inspiration.

A portion of the profits from the book sales will be donated to Friends of Trees in Oregon, a wonderful gesture by the author, and one absolutely in keeping with the whole spirit and tone of the book. Thank you Richard Seidman. Shalom.

Reviewed by Jenny Swanpool.