Kaplan, Aryeh. The Living Torah; Jewish Meditation, A Practical Guide; Sefer Yetzirah, The Book of Creation, In Theory and Practice; The Bahir Illumination; Meditation and the Bible; Meditation and Kabbalah.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, ingrained in Orthodox Jewish practice and tradition, was nevertheless a pioneer and maverick who endured some controversy and criticism from within Orthodox circles. This was due to his being perhaps the earliest of modern Jewish teachers and writers to reveal to the general public aspects of traditional Jewish Meditation practices and related mystical teachings that had long been kept concealed within the province of secretive Kabalistic learning circles. His early works were the first cracking open of the floodgates that have since followed, resulting in the current glut of teachers and books on these subjects. He authored an incredible amount of thoroughly detailed and researched material in his relatively short life span. His writings are not as easily accessible to the casual reader as some other modern day authors on these subjects who followed him, such as Joseph Gelberman, Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, David Cooper, Arthur Green. He tends to be more on the dry, scholastic, academic side, although not quite as dense as the normal style of college professors or PhD candidates writing for scholastic journals or dissertations. This is because his scholasticism is obviously infused with the depths of personal experience, so his writings possess a potency that is lacking in mere intellectual exercises. But if you can stick with his writing and presentation style and wade through it a bit, you can be richly rewarded.
The Living Torah is his annotated translation of the Five Books of Moses and the related Haftorah portions. I have found that for any serious study of the Torah, particularly for those of us who know little biblical Hebrew and are relying on translations, it is important to compare at least two annotated translations. It is impossible for any translator to convey all of the nuances of meaning contained in the Hebrew, or the many “read-between-the-lines” extrapolations of meaning that have developed in the Talmud and other sources. Translators are constantly making difficult choices of what words to use in the primary text translation, and how extensive the annotations should be to provide alternatives and further elaboration and opinions. Anyone who reads only the main text of any translation without some supplementation via annotations or commentaries is barely scratching the surface of the rich texture of meaning and nuance. The primary text is almost like just a very brief outline or summary. There is no question that the choices translators make are influenced by their own prejudices, agendas and slants, and thus the need for reading more than one annotated translation. Kaplan’s version has gained a great deal of respect among many Jewish circles, and he honestly points out in his annotations many alternatives to what he selected for his primary translation. Many of his annotations are very brief, although he occasionally goes into great and intricate detail on some subjects.
His book on The Bahir is another on my extensive “to do” list. It looks like a treatment of this text similar to his treatment of the Sefer Yetzirah.