In 1913, just before the outbreak of the First World War, a 19-year-old Czech Jew named Jiri Langer left his assimilated family to live in the remote village of Belz, Galicia (now Ukraine). He had gone to live under the Chassidic (or Hasidic) Rokeach dynasty, a line of Rabbis that survives to this day. Nine Gates is the record of Langer’s time amongst these isolated Chassidic mystics of Eastern Galicia, and a window into their world. Langer tells of their enthusiasm, their simple faith, their ecstasies, their austerities, their feasts, their wonder-working Holy Rabbis and their esoteric wisdom. Most of all, he recounts a collection of shrewd and earthy folk tales told by the holy men who ruled these little spiritual kingdoms for generation after generation.
Over 80 years since its original publication in Czech, this translation by Stephen Jolly remains the definitive English version of this towering work of Jewish introspection. Nine Gates is a document from another time and place, and yet it captures the same spirit of religious longing and exploration that attracts a growing number of seekers today.