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The Book of Words (Sefer Shel Devarim): Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk (The Kushner series) Paperback


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The Book of Words (Sefer Shel Devarim): Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk (The Kushner series) + The Book of Letters: A Mystical Hebrew Alphabet (Kushner)
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Product Details

  • Series: Kushner
  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Gemstone Pr (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580230202
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580230209
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,144,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Book of Words: Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk collects Rabbi Lawrence Kushner's inspiring, entertaining, unconventional definitions of 30 Hebrew words. "According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words," Kushner writes. "Not only are words the instrument of creation, in Judaism they are the primary reality itself." According to this belief, Kushner proceeds to meditate and play with spiritually charged words such as "Love," "Water," and some surprising choices such as "Garbage." Each short essay ends with a kavanah, or meditative exercise, designed to "help the reader 'live in the word.'" This book is among Kushner's best and is an excellent companion to Arthur Green's These Are The Words or to Kushner's own The Book of Letters. --Michael Joseph Gross

From Library Journal

Rabbi and rabbinic professor Kushner has written, designed, and illustrated this revitalization of Hebrew/English holy words, words full of re-creative power such as secrecy and faith , terror and life , and vision , and truth . Kushner's meditative reflections, supplemented by Biblical and Talmudic wisdom, reveal hidden power and contemporary relevance, as well as humor. Many of Kushner's thoughts may delight non-Jews as well as Jews with the enthusiasm for life and profound sense of the sacred, e.g., when he elaborates on the sacredness of laughter and finds Purim important especially because "it makes us laugh at ourselves." Recommended for public and seminary libraries.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I thought I understood the meaning of the words presented here, but Kushner's definitions really startled me, challenged me, and engaged me! His unconventional definitions brought new light to so many words I thought I understood, and all too often took for granted. He poignantly demonstrates how words, and the way we define and understand them, affect more than our vocabulary! This is a small book, but it is far from a 'quick read' because its words will enter your thoughts over and over, often when you least expect it, each time offering a new insight, each time helping you understand how the very words we use--and the way we define them--affect our lives and the lives of those around us. It is a book whose 'words' continue to influence long after you close its cover, a book for which I greatly thank the author.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Fred W Hood on January 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
About every week or so this book practically jumps off my shelf!Whenever I am looking for the best Hebrew word to use in a poem, review, or sermon, I check-out this good Rabbi's Hebrew words! For an occasional Columbia Seminary class in the Old Testament, in Walter Brueggemann's Psalms I found new interest in learning Hebrew aleph-beit.

From Rabbi Kushner's short two-page Introduction to his "Book of Words" he briefly describes in volunes of meaning: "According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words. God just spoke and the world became reality. (The Aramaic for "I create as I speak" is avara k'davara, or in magician's language, abracadabra.) Not only are words the instrument of creation, in Judaism they are primary reality itself." I Was Hooked by That!

The Hebrew words meaning most to me are, b'rahkah or blessing; hit-la-ha-voot or Ecstasy. Kushner stated: "There can be joy in silence or with tears...in their occasions joyous laughter turns out to be sacred." The word ecstasy also appears in Bernstein's
"Chichester Psalms," coming in the most dramatic moment!

The word for prayer has meant much: t'fee-lah as the Rabbi uses the phonetic spelling. In his last page for each word he writes a Kavanah or Living Spiritual Talk: "In prayer you need to know a 'script' so well that you can recite the words on 'auto-pilot' but not so well, that the words are habitual."

I soon passed onto his "Book of Letters," then, "God was in this Place and I, i did not know." Again, it was Awesome: A Mystery! What a forcefully creative writer! Retired Chap. Fred W Hood
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on May 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Kushner's The Book of Words tries to invest some common Hebrew words (mostly from the bible and liturgy) with new life and force.

This is a physically attractive book. A large, English word appears at the top of the page (Amnesia) followed by a Hebrew word which is often not a direct translation (d'vey'kut, clinging in Hebrew) and a further English translation (Unio Mystica); also on the same page, a part of Torah, and/or a section of the siddur, the Talmud, mishna, and a Kavanah section, a place to put the word into practice.

In several places Kushner comes close to a non-dual understand of Judaism. He views the self as an obstacle to knowing God; sees God as Being or the source of All Being and the only Existent. On page 96, he quotes Dov Baer of Mezritch at length: "Thus as long as you remain convinced that you are "something" preoccupied with your daily needs, then the Holy One cannot be present, for God is without end..."

This is excellent midrash. Kushner takes Jewish texts and by creative selection and ingenious translation creates new meanings to shopworn words, concepts, and ideas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By heykron on September 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is so much meaning hidden in Hebrew words, and this book is a wonderful beginning to the study of the depth and spirituality of the Hebrew language. Each word discussed is a life lesson that can be used and practiced starting today. The lesson of each word can be read over and over - and new insights are revealed. This book is by my bed - along with the companion book by Rabbi Kushner, The Book of Letters. By the way, you do not need to be able to read Hebrew to appreciate these beautiful books.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is full of insights and wisdom of terms we use to talk of spiritual growth and life. For example the word redemption, Kushner relates to exchange and tells a story of a childhood memory of his job of pasting green stamps into booklets to be exchanged for something useful, in spiritual talk it becomes taking what keeps us in bondage and exchanging that for what makes us a free man. Very insightful - good book.
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