Embracing the ‘cloud of unknowing’: An artist’s journey from ultra Orthodox to Jewish mystic

National Post | Life

David Friedman moved from Denver to the Israeli city of Safed in 1979 to live as a Haredi, or ultra Orthodox Jew. At 29, he and his wife Miriam already had four children. He enrolled at a yeshiva where he drew a salary to study Talmud. It seemed like a splendid arrangement, a path into a life of spiritual consciousness. Friedman plunged into his studies headlong, mastering difficult texts in Hebrew and Aramaic. “It was my job,” he told me. “I was pretty serious about getting there on time, spending the whole day studying like we were supposed to do, and also serious about prayer.”

But as months and then years went by, he began to feel frustrated. “Everyone around me would rush through prayers and not get into it. Where were they going? They were staying in the yeshiva the whole day, so why rush?” Prayer started to feel…

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