Before the First World War, Jiri Langer, a youth in Prague of Jewish parentage, suddenly packed his few belongings and to the consternation of his family, made a journey into a remote part of eastern Galicia, where he settled among the Chassidim, a strange, self-contained community of Jewish mystics.
This fascinating book grew out of his life and experience among these isolated people. He found ‘a little nation’ living in great poverty, who had deliberately cut themselves off from the mainstream of modern European civilisation, and lived their lives in a seemingly endless state of religious joy and exaltation; a people who had turned from Western materialism and had embraced a deeply spiritual and more brotherly way of life, which found joyful expression in song, dance, and a wonderful oral folk-literature.
Nine Gates is the legacy of Jiri Langer’s life among the Chassidim. He tells of their enthusiasm, their childlike faith, their ecstasies, their austerities, their feasts, their wonder-working Holy Rabbis, and their esoteric wisdom. The stories told of the saints of the Chassidim is one of their most precious possessions, and to relate them is an act of piety. A part of this book comprises a collection of these shrewd and earthy tales of the Holy men who ruled these little spiritual kingdoms generation after generation.
This book is not only a journey into the past, but also a picture of the way of life in a very remote part of Europe that has vanished forever. It will be of intense interest to students of mysticism and of comparative religion as well as a fascinating piece of autobiography.