The Lost Princess
& Other Kabbalistic Tales of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
By Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
Jewish Lights Publishing, 2005, 337 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - May 1, 2011
This volume has twelve of Rebbe Nachman's tales with elaborate notes by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan that explain the mystical references that he sees in the stories. See also my reviews of The Empty Chair and The Seven Beggars for other information about Rebbe Nachman and his teachings and for a discussion about the positive and negative reports about his tales.
As written in the other reviews, people differ on whether or not Rebbe Nachman's tales are profound. In this volume, his disciple Rabbi Nathan, Rebbe Nachman's disciple, claims that this is a "holy book" in fact "Holy of Holies" and the stories in it contain "the secrets of the Torah. One should not think that these are simple stories." He writes that Rebbe Nachman told these tales "to teach us how to serve God." They contain "great secrets and moral guidance."
What are these secrets? Rebbe Nachman believes that God is made up of ten parts that became disentangled and that humans have a duty to help put God together again, for God cannot do it alone. One of the ten divine pieces is feminine. "The Lost Princess" in the title tale is this tenth section that is disassociated from the other fragments, is lost, and needs to be found, and reassembled. Thus Rebbe Nachman's God is not the all-powerful monotheistic deity, but a Humpty Dumpty-type polytheistic being that needs to be put together again, who relies on humans to help in the assembly, who teaches that the messianic age will not occur until He is complete again.
Whether you accept his mystical notions or not and whether you are convinced that Rebbe Nachman's tales are profound and contain the truth, you will enjoy them as interesting tales.