The mission of this book is to illuminate the Jewish spiritual path by utilizing ideas from Kabbalah regarding the Holy Name of Hashem, the Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh. As the author explains, the goal of the Jewish spiritual path is essentially to become closer to the infinite G-d by developing certain middos (good spiritual qualities).
The four letters of the Name represent four aspects of G-d, and also four levels of spiritual growth. Just as G-d has more “outward” or revealed aspects, and more “inward” or hidden aspects, so too the Jewish spiritual path begins with basic middos and advances to more elevated middos. Interestingly, the last letter of the Name corresponds to the more outward and lower level, while the first letter of the Name corresponds to the more inward and advanced level. It turns out that the Jewish spiritual path involves following the “way of the Name” or, in Hebrew, DerechHashem. Hence, the title of the book.
There is a leading belief in Kabbalah that the Tetragrammaton, the four lettered Hebrew name of God, serves as a model for the ideal of spiritual living. Each letter of the Name corresponds to a certain aspect of God and a specific phase of spiritual growth. At the same time, the four letters correspond to the four stages of the traditional Jewish morning prayer. This prayer serves as a spiritual exercise through which a person may cultivate the spiritual virtues associated with each of the four letters of God’s Name.
In “The Jewish Spiritual Path: The Way of the Name” by Rabbi Joshua Golding (Professor of Philosophy specializing in Philosophy of Religion and Jewish Philosophy at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky) combines a theoretical presentation of Kabbalistic concepts with practical guidance rooted in prayer to cultivate a deep spirituality based on the moral and mystical teachings of Judaism. “The Jewish Spiritual Path” provides both an extended commentary on prayer and an intellectually rigorous spiritual self-help book.
Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “The Jewish Spiritual Path” is an extraordinary study that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, making it a valued and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, rabbinical, community, and academic library Judaic Studies collections and supplemental studies lists.
Zvika Levy, Israel Prize-winning ‘father of lone soldiers,’ dies aged 70
Zvika (Zvi) Levy, an Israel Prize-winning social activist known as “the father of lone soldiers” in Israel, passed away on Saturday at age 70 after years of suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a muscular disease.
Levy founded the Lone Soldiers organization in 1997, which supports some 3,500 young people annually who leave their families, usually abroad, to volunteer for Israeli army service. The organization also serves more than 1,500 Israeli soldiers who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or are estranged from their parents.
After a long career in the paratroopers unit, he has looked after lone soldiers from more than 40 countries, with most coming from the former Soviet Union, the US, Europe, Ethiopia, and South America.
In the ceremony for the Israel Prize in 2017, Levy accepted his award from a wheelchair, to a standing ovation.
The author has had a career as a scholar, author, and
lecturer in Israel and the United States, and has written several books on
Judaism, and Jewish art and culture. The book begins with an introduction,
followed by eleven chapters. Each chapter is introduced with a quotation by
Maimonides, referred to in the book as Rambam. The underlying theme of each
chapter is the practice of healthy diet and exercise as consistent with halakhah (Jewish law). Both the
quotations of Rambam and the contemporary interpretation of those quotations
provide guidance for a holistic lifestyle that includes preventive medicine,
cleanliness, practicing good personal habits, avoiding inactivity, and diet and
exercise that extend life.
The tenth chapter is dedicated to outlining best practices for those over fifty, emphasizing diet and exercise as essential in order to maintain a rewarding quality of life into the senior years. In addition to Rambam’s advice, the author has included considerable medical research to support his thesis cited in the end notes. At the same time, the topic is presented in layman’s language, often summarizing the major points in brief terms.
This volume would be a welcome addition to any non-fiction adult collection.
Rabbi Soloveitchik was a great teacher and philosopher
whose views on Judaism and Zionism have influenced several generations of
modern Orthodox Jews, as well as the general Jewish community. Even non-Jews
have demonstrated interest in his ethical philosophy, such as the book written
by the Jesuit priest, Christian Rutishauser for his doctoral thesis: The Human Condition and
the Thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Jersey City, Ktav, 2013).
The essays edited by Kanarfogel and Schwartz examine Soloveitchik’s views of ethics, Biblical hermeneutics, love and cognition, and the history of the Tosafists. The essays are scholarly with copious footnotes, and they are aimed at experts in the field. For this reader, the most interesting contribution was the last in the book: a bibliographic review of the scholarship on Soloveitchik’s thought. Overall, the essays demonstrate that Soloveitchik’s writings on Jewish law and the human experience, while sometimes dated, will continue to apply today and in the future.
This book is recommended for all libraries; however, the scholarly nature of the book may limit its broad appeal.
The title Equality Lost is taken from Rav Henkin’s
brilliant first chapter which is a reading of how zilzul (disrespect and belittlement,
underestimation) by one person of another, in spite of their having been
created equal, has tragic results. The book is divided into three sections:
Torah commentary, Halacha, and Jewish Thought. Additionally, it includes a
biography of Rav Henkin’s grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin — the first
biographical account to appear in English. Henkin is extremely erudite, and his
book is punctuated by learned footnotes for following up with sources. This is
an important work, and welcome second edition for the English-reading public
unfamiliar with Henkin’s Hebrew writings.
In the Halacha section, Henkin demonstrates how to
interpret Halacha in regard to women in this age of feminism. Sensitivity is
given to Kol
voice of a woman) and women reciting kaddish and other prayers. He also deals with the conversion
to Judaism of children in non-observant homes, and the killing of captured
In the section on Jewish thought, great insights are offered into the role rechilut (tale bearing) played in the destruction of the second temple and the lessons to be learned regarding the state of Israel, and the true meaning of teshuvah related to current events. With regard to the glatt kosher ‘craze,’ Henkin demonstrates that what comes out of one’s mouth is more important than what goes into it.
Children react differently to traumatic events and helping them overcome trauma necessitates a different approach than with adults. After presenting clinical definitions of trauma and the signs and symptoms of trauma in children, Dr. Fried suggests four treatment approaches. He discusses the importance of letting the young patients tell their story in their own words and giving them the time and the space to do so. Play is also important, as it builds rapport and lets the child relax and disengage from memories of the trauma. Texture therapy and nature walks are also suggested. Education entails “stating the facts simply, naming emotions, and empowering parents.” The final approach, creativity, includes poetry, guided thinking, and writing, as well as other outlets. The final chapter talks about the resolution of trauma and the power of relationships. Several studies by experts are mentioned; none of them fully referenced.
Dr. Fried is a clinical psychologist with many years of experience of working with children dealing with trauma. The short volume is insightful and contains many suggestions for helping children cope with their emotions, but the target audience is hard to define. Other practitioners will be aware of these techniques through their schooling and practice. Non-practitioners may be interested because they are parents or relatives of traumatized children and are looking for ways to help them. The Jewish content consists of several unreferenced quotes from Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, referred to as “the Rav,” and a few biblical quotes. The short paragraph asserting that “storytelling brings the child closer to a relationship with the Ultimate Listener” discusses the benefits of prayer, which may be lost on a younger patient and may stir up additional feelings of abandonment (Where was God when this happened?).
While somewhat simplistic for the professional, the book may be useful to parents and would be suited to a resource center or Jewish community services library.