Coming Soon- The Pearl and the Flame
The Pearl and the Flame:
A Journey into Jewish Wisdom, Ecological Thinking
& Healing in a Fragmented World
(forthcoming from Albion-Andalus Books, 2022)
Stay tuned for more details about how to purchase the Pearl and the Flame! To keep up to date with the latest updates, please subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media!
Woven through with stories of the author’s journey from a secular upbringing in Honolulu to Orthodox Judaism in Jerusalem, and back to his own spiritual path, The Pearl and the Flame brings a new integration of ecological thinking and core Jewish concepts. This new integration puts Judaism at the forefront of our struggles against current crises such as climate change, the culture of addiction, and social fragmentation. For centuries, Western civilization has controlled and manipulated the world by breaking things down into smallest parts. This approach has led to many amazing achievements of the modern world, but it has now brought us to the brink of environmental destruction and social fragmentation. In response, people have started turning to more holistic modern approaches such as ecology and systems thinking. Yet, these modern approaches can’t, by themselves, heal us. Judaism, along with other Indigenous and traditional cultures, has preserved the seeds of ways of thinking that existed before we learned to dissect the world: understanding through seeing patterns and relationships. The Pearl and the Flame offers a timely integration of old and new, helping us to move from isolation to connection.
Early Praise for The Pearl and the Flame
“There aren’t too many rabbis who can weave together pieces of wisdom from Wendell Berry (poet/philosopher), Mary Douglas (social anthropologist) and Kalonymous Kalman Shapira (the rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto). It reflects the genius of a book that is an antidote to an ever more fragmented world. Reb Natan’s vision of integration, of cosmic wholeness, of, what Margalit also calls “the Holy Source of All” is the kind of Torah we need in our world today.”
–Rabbi Sid Schwarz, Senior Fellow, Hazon; author, Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World
“Margalit has written a rich, engaging, and powerful book. As I read The Pearl and the Flame, I felt that I was sitting at the feet of a sage. It is filled with gems, among which were, for me, the focus on patterns/systems, Jewish teachings about relationships, cultures of control vs. cultures of relationship, and more. Much of what he writes resonates with Buddhist teachings and my own interests.”
–Christopher Ives, author of Zen on the Trail: Hiking as Pilgrimage
“Natan Margalit’s innovative book, The Pearl and the Flame, explores how ancient Jewish practices embody holistic, organic ways of thinking and doing. Now that technology and reductionist thinking have brought us to the edge of extinction, what we humans most need is to find ways to relate to the whole. Margalit suggests that Jewish tradition, which sees all sacred stories as connected and all individuals as part of a community, can support this paradigm shift and promote a needed ecological revolution. In a society where community and meaning are fraying, Judaism’s ancient ways can offer not only connection but a path to sustainability. Margalit’s book, full of down-to-earth personal stories as well as astute cultural observations, beautifully strings the pearls of Judaism and ecological thinking together to create a relevant and nourishing whole.”
–Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, author, The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons
“Rabbi Margalit reveals the root cause of all our suffering, environmental and social: the mistaken notion that we humans are apart from rather than a part of a greater wholeness. Drawing on contemporary science and ancient wisdom, The Pearl and the Flame, introduces us to a vibrant Judaism that overcomes this existential error and offers us a way to embrace all life in the greater Aliveness that is God.”
–Rabbi Rami Shapiro author of Judaism Without Tribalism
“The world is slowly coming to realize that nothing is separate from anything else, and more importantly, no one is separate from anyone else. In this wonderful book, Rabbi Natan Margalit catches the spirit of this growing movement and provides a profound articulation of our underlying unity.”
–Rev. Jon Paul Sydnor, PhD, Founder, The Nondualism Project
“Stunning! Bravo! It’s an important contribution, well written and very readable.”
–Rabbi David Jaffe, author, Changing the World from the Inside Out
“I am grateful to Rabbi Natan Margalit for writing a book that is both comprehensive and profound, connecting me through the wide reaches of sources from ancient to modern, to a path that is illuminated by the flame of truth and made beautiful by pearls of wisdom. The Pearl and The Flame is a treasure of erudite scholarship and personal insight that will delight as much as it informs.”
–Rabbi Shefa Gold, author, Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land
“Margalit’s deeply personal, The Pearl and the Flame, identifies holes in the modern soul and world that need to be addressed and, as remedies, offers up the wisdom of the ages found in Jewish writings and traditions, stressing connectedness, relationship, care, and emergence. It speaks to the same core of ideas that my own work has involved, but with a close tie to Jewish wisdom.”
–John Ehrenfeld, author, The Right Way to Flourish: Reconnecting with the Real World
“In this very original book that shimmers with insight, Rabbi Natan Margalit illuminates the radical ecological nature of ancient Jewish thinking. Through personal stories and exploration of the most cutting-edge ecological thinking, Rabbi Margalit brings to life the wisdom of the rabbis, who understood that the meaning of life is forged by creating connections. At this time of such brokenness, The Pearl and The Flame inspires us to find creative new ways to make the world whole again.”
–Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, founder Shomrei Adamah (first national Jewish environmental organization), author, The Promise of the Land: A Passover Haggadah
“In this part memoir, part 21st century spiritual manifesto, Natan Margalit, a Hawaiian-raised Jewish sage and ecological thinker and teacher, reframes three central concepts from Jewish tradition in light of cutting-edge scientific theories. Giving equal time to Gregory Bateson and the Baal Shem, Robin Wall Kimmerer and Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (and many others), including a deep dive into the kabbalah of composting, he creates a unique blend of spirituality and systems science, explaining the importance of key concepts such as emergence, embeddedness and tipping points and grounding them in Jewish language and spiritual tradition. His is an eloquent plea for bridging the particular and the universal, and coming together to make the deep connections between ideas, people and places, that will help us weather the conjoined crises that humanity is facing.”
–Dr. Jeremy Benstein, author, The Way into Judaism and the Environment, and co-founder of the Heschel Center for Sustainability.
“Natan Margalit’s book joins a growing body of literature on the systemic wisdom of traditional cultures. His warmly personal insights into Jewish teachings remind us that a truly holistic systems view must illuminate interactions across the human, natural, as well as spiritual worlds.”
–David Peter Stroh, author, Systems Thinking for Social Change
“In this timely and learned volume, scholar-educator Natan Margalit helps us reimagine our place within the sacred web of life.”
–Or N. Rose, Founding Director, The Miller Center for Interfaith Learning and Leadership, Hebrew College
Natan Margalit is a rabbi and scholar with 30 years of experience in teaching, writing, organizing and congregational leadership. Raised in Honolulu, as a young adult he spent 12 years in Israel where he received rabbinic ordination. He returned to the U.S. and earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies at U.C. Berkeley with focus areas in Talmud, Literary Theory, and Anthropology. He has taught at Bard College, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Hebrew College Rabbinical School, and now is chair of the Rabbinic Texts Department at the Aleph Ordination Program. He is also Director of the Earth-Based Judaism track of the A.O.P., and is founder of the non-profit Organic Torah. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.