Review of The Jewish Art of Self Discovery

By Roger S. Kohn

The Library of Congress classifies this book under the first subject heading “Self-realization—Religious aspects—Judaism.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines “self-realization” as a term in philosophy which refers to “the fulfillment by one’s own efforts of the possibilities of development of the self.” According to the author’s preface, this book is his “attempt to find wholeness between three facets of life … our relationship to the Torah and G-d, our relationship to who we are, and our relationship to others.” Rapaport hopes that the reader “will develop a deeper understanding and connection in each of these relationships, and between them, and find greater wholeness in their lives.” Obviously, Rapaport goes well beyond the accepted meaning of self-discovery or self-realization to include Torah and the divine creator. The Jewish art of self discovery contains some eighty chapters, each consisting of one to two pages. The chapters have very secular titles (“Individuality,” “Awareness,” for example) except for one or two (“Daas” and “Working out our middos”), but the content is very focused on Judaism. The sources—rudimentarily referenced— are chiefly the Midrash, the Babylonian Talmud, several Hassidic masters, and the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides; there are also implicit references to Lurianic kabbalah… Each chapter ends with a “Reflection:” a series of three or four very brief questions to allow the reader to make the chapter more relevant to his or her self.

The review originally appears in the AJL Newsletter


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