God in Search of Man : A Philosophy of Judaism


God in Search of Man : A Philosophy of Judaism
God in Search of Man : A Philosophy of Judaism
by Authors: Abraham Joshua Heschel
Released: 01 June, 1976
ISBN: 0374513317

Sales Rank: 29479

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God in Search of Man : A Philosophy of Judaism > Customer Review #1:
"Wherever we let God in"

The general assumption of people of the modern era has been that we must look for and search for and wait for God. The image is of Becketts Waiting for Godot. God has disappeared and is not part of our lives and we have to wait for God to return. Or if we are real searchers we would not wait, but would make the effort ourselves looking in various aspects of our experience to find the ultimate religious meaning. But Heschels premise here is the opposite one. God is actually looking for us. God wants us. I remember speaking with one of the most loving teachers of Hasidism of modern times, the late David Herzberg of blessed memory. When I asked him about the meaning of the religious concept Avodat Hashem service of God His answer surprised me because it was different from anyone elses. He said it was Gods service, Gods work what God does to help and connect with us. This is very much like what Heschel is saying here. God is calling out to us ,God is Present as the Kotzker Rebbe says wherever we let God in. Heschel was a great poetic and religious soul , who feels and teaches Gods searching for , and connecting with us. This is a tremendously inspiring and thought- provoking work. I will only say one more word. That as a poetic thinker Heschels meaning is something suggested and sublime, something we cannot be sure we understand. What we can understand is the underlying tone of holiness throughout this work.

God in Search of Man : A Philosophy of Judaism > Customer Review #2:
Different strokes for different folks

I think Heschel revealed a lot of himself in his works--more than other writers, perhaps. He seems to me to be very emotional regarding his opinions and beliefs. He came from an Eastern European Hasidic family whose ancestor was the Great Maggid of Mezerich. He was a leader in the Civil Rights movement as well as the Vietnam anti-war movement. He was on the faculty of the Jewish Theological Seminary, JTS, (of the Jewish Conservative movement). This is rather humorous, I think, since he was obviously quite the idealistic Liberal. He had a reputation as a mystic, causing him conflict with other JTS professors. He was a very forceful personality. IMHO he was very much a literary expressionist--putting his feelings into writing. He was also quite poetic--his books include many clever and beautiful turns of phrase. However, much of what he writes comes off as if they are sermons, as if he KNOWS. I respect his views, but dont often agree with them. This book doesnt read like philosophy to me (you can read "Between Kant and Kabbalah" by Mittleman on the Jewish philosopher Breuer, for example). As a scientist, I object to anyone dismissing the contributions of science in virtually any arena. Certainly psychology is a player in anything involving humans. As a mystic, I certainly agree that the Divine is ineffable. But people translate their contact with the Divine into human terms--mostly reflecting their individual propensities, biases, views, etc. That secondary process is psychological/scientific. Indeed, such communications have been compared to radio and television with a transmitter and receivers. Furthermore, research into ESP (Dr. Rhine etc.) shows considerable applicability in understanding the processes involved in communicating with higher powers (e.g. God). In addition, Heschel insists that the Bible be understood in terms of Biblical people. Certainly, such an approach can provide an historical or hagiographical context for the causes that produced beliefs and documents (e.g. The Torah). But, it is essentially irrelevant to todays individuals attempting to apply such beliefs and documents into their lives. It is obvious that praying, studying Torah, putting on Tefillin, etc. excites and completes Heschel, but that doesnt mean they do for everyone--and certainly not identically. He makes the common human mistake of assuming everyone is like him (or should be). I humbly disagree. Nevertheless, he did provide a differing point of view to be considered as well as a couple of good quotes for my collection.: 317: When superimposed as a yoke, as a dogma, as a fear, religion tends to violate rather than to nurture the spirit of man. Religion must be an altar upon which the fire of the soul may be kindled by holiness. p. 361: Every act done in agreement with the will of God is a mitzvah. Mostly, however, I have to say (though Im sure it will upset some people) that I found this particular book very boring. I liked "Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity" better.

God in Search of Man : A Philosophy of Judaism > Customer Review #3:
Some Reservations

When I was still interested in Orthodox Judaism I found Heschls book to be very refreshing because it offered a perspective on Judaism that seemed to be more based on reason and argumentation than many of the views fellow members of my synagogue were expounding to me. However, since then Ive fallen away from the religion. That doesnt mean that I wouldnt read an argument in favor of Gods existence but it does mean I view such arguments with a certain skepticism and emotional revulsion. This book fails to overcome that revulsion; it presents a one-sided, a-historical view of the Jewish faith centering on the so-called concrete event of revelation; it generally distorts common views and rejections of the Bible and for the large part ignores one of the most pressing issues for atheists today -- Biblical criticism, archaeological evidence, and the intolerance and close-mindedness of the religious outlook. This book claims to be a cogent argument for faith, but its really just bad philosophy. If youre looking for poetry and you can stomach the argumentation, however, there are a few nice turns of phrase, and the book is rightly praised for being clear and easy to follow. Works of true philosophy, however, are difficult to follow for a reason -- the ideas they express are nuanced and demanding; there are no nuances or demanding ideas here. Alex

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