"A fascinating story of Jewish spirit and myth...a Hasidic tale about
combating despair, finding hope, and transforming the world. It's a spiritual
adventure and a Jewish mystical epic."—Bruce
McCabe, Boston Globe
The great Jewish mystic, the Baal Shem Tov, found the Gates of the Forest, rediscovered the sacred fire, learned the ancient prayer, and, for the first time in nearly two millenia, spoke the ineffable Name.
Now, we have nothing left but the story. Can that possibly be enough"
"It will touch somewhere deep within you and leave you a slightly different person."—Lee Sonko, Massachusetts
"This is a story which speaks to Jew and Gentile, to any listener who has sought and questioned, erred and succeeded, stayed alone in the darkness, then emerged to tell the story, whatever that story might be."—The Second Story Review
"Universal appeal...directly out of the storytelling tradition of Jewish life."—Kansas City Star
"As a Christian minister I fight the platonic idea of many of my colleagues
that this world is to be forsaken for another realm. To search for the Divine
sparks among us is a better way to live as humans....Gives hope to the story
and to me personally."—Kent Busman, New York
"An inspirational tale!"—Boston Herald
"Explores the human dilemma of wanting to change the world while feeling inadequate to the task."—Boston Sunday Globe
Is it possible to heal the world?
In 1984, I heard a story that changed my life.
All my life, I had been trying unconsciously to reclaim
my connection—to the universe as a whole and to every other human. I was attempting
to find my place as just one person, but one who mattered in helping the world
There were many who offered me paths to this healing. Religious institutions. Political movements. Psychologies. All claiming to be able to guide me.
But again and again I found that, for all the good they did, the institutions themselves created new problems for me. Hierarchical leadership. Petty politics. Distortions that had crept in, like sexism and elitism. The lurking idea that humans are basically bad. All too often, these obstacles and distortions turned promising paths for me into dead ends.
Still, I believed what the great mystics have always told us. As part of the great miracle of life, we have the ability to advance the trend toward connection, toward empowerment"and away from despair.
The story I heard in 1984 arose from the Jewish mystical sect known as Hasidism"a
tradition filled with stories of wise, gentle men who spend their lives clinging
to the source of life in the universe. Yet this story went beyond the others….
I had to hear it again...
When I first heard the germ of The Soul of Hope, I never thought I would tell it. I only knew it was a story I had to hear again and again. It spoke to some deep yearning; it stimulated a dormant but eager part of myself.
I spent the next 13 years grappling with the issues the story brought up in my life, and the artistic issues of presenting this story to others.
The story, as I now tell it, is an epic. It takes place in heaven and on earth. It has dozens of characters. The main action spans seven generations, with flashbacks to the beginning of time.
But to me, The Soul of Hope is the most succinct way that I know to accurately portray the balance between two apparently contradictory truths. We are not yet all that we are meant to be; we are not fully capable of the task before us. But what we do matters enormously; and there is hope.
Who else has been changed by this story?
"A spiritual adventure filled with humor, joy, and pathos."—Ann Hall, Boston
"Brilliant...Lipman takes the time necessary to develop the richness and the simplicity of the story. He uses music judiciously throughout, and manages to capture the joy and wonder of the Baal Shem Tov while maintaining an overall solemnity in keeping with the epic nature of the tale."—The Second Story Review
"He deserved every second of the five minute standing ovation he received at the end. If you have never heard
it, you need to."—Jim Maroon, Texas
"I am grateful for your courage to bring such a work to life. I know it will continue to touch hearts and souls for it is a connector to the Divine."—Sr. Ellen Secci, csj, New York
"I loved it!...So very relevant to our times!"—Katie Green, Massachusetts
This audio recording:
contains the complete story on two cassettes or CDs
lasts two-and-a-quarter hours
features solo storytelling, with twelve-string guitar, flute, button-accordion, and percussion.
is punctuated with 50 brief musical pieces, composed especially for this recording.
Samael and the trials of Eliezer
The boy Israel
Rabbi Adam's son
The prayer of Shimon
The Most Holy Name
Bringing the Maschiach
Death of the Baal Shem Tov
The Maggid of Mezeritch
Elimelekh of Lizensk
Israel of Rizhin
Menachem-Mendl of Kotzk (the Kotzker rebbe)
"The first time I heard The Soul of Hope, I thought it was about the Baal Shem Tov.
The second time I heard it, I thought it was about Doug Lipman.
The third time I heard it, I thought it was about me." - Marni Gillard