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The Lord Is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-third Psalm Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 26, 2003

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Frequently Bought Together

The Lord Is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-third Psalm + When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Twentieth Anniversary Edition, with a New Preface by the Author + The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person (Jewish Encounters)
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (August 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400040566
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400040568
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Many people regard the 23rd Psalm as one of the most familiar and comforting passages in the Bible. Rabbi Kushner, bestselling author of the spiritual classic When Bad Things Happen to Good People, looks to the psalm as a microcosmic statement about God-its 57 Hebrew words, he says, present "an entire theology" about life and loss. The psalm begins in a place of perfect peace-the psalmist lacks for nothing, and is tended perfectly by God the shepherd-but that peace is shattered by "the shadow of death." Going phrase by phrase through the psalm, Kushner tackles serious questions: what does it mean to lack for nothing? Where is God when we suffer? Some of his interpretations are quite fresh and interesting; for example, "the straight paths" in which God leads the psalmist are anything but straight, he claims, noting that the Hebrew is more accurately rendered "roundabout ways that end up in the right direction." Ultimately, that phrase's message is about trusting God when the way does not seem straightforward. The psalm is not Pollyannaish, but realistic: as Kushner points out, the psalmist has enemies, has known failure and has probably lost a loved one. He draws heavily on rabbinic Judaism, but also references popular culture (including Woody Allen films), Freud, Michelangelo and other diverse sources. Kushner writes well and engagingly, and his tone will make readers feel personally welcomed into the rabbi's study for a comforting one-on-one chat.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Rabbi Kushner hasn't become any less literate since When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981) became so popular and beloved that its title was inducted into the American language, like Gone with the Wind and The Making of the President. Nor, as his explication of the most famous biblical psalm demonstrates, has he lost any of the pastoral talent that allows him to speak with cogency and comfort to Christians as well as Jews. He leads us through the famous song of consolation clause by clause, clearing up misconceptions; contrasting ancient, Renaissance, and modern understandings of terms (e.g., anoint); adducing contemporary happenings (e.g., the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing) and common feelings to show how the psalm's assertions and promises apply to our lives today; and gently, clearly disclosing systems of ethical behavior and religious faith that inform the great devotional poem. Perhaps the greatest overarching message of the psalm that Kushner wishes to inculcate is that it tells us that, though God does not prevent evil and suffering, He is always with each person who is wronged, each person who is suffering, and He will provide the resources of spirit to transcend fear and experience the ongoing holiness of life. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Have read this 3-4 times now.
Rabbi Harold S. Kushner is one of the best known authors of our time, having written the classic book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
Harold Kushner is insightful, learned and writes his thoughts in an easy to read format.
Cinda Hill

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By JAD on February 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Rabbi Harold S. Kushner is one of the best known authors of our time, having written the classic book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. This, his ninth book, was one of the top ten best selling religious books of the past year. As the title indicates, it is a study of Psalm 23, certainly the most beloved of all of the Psalms. Dr. Kushner writes with a pastor's heart and a special eye toward the healing wisdom to be found in that portion of God's Word.

If you are looking for a book about putting your spiritual life into meaningful practice, you might wish to read this book. It is filled with inspiration and encouragement for an ongoing trusting relationship with God. Kushner takes each phrase of the Psalm as his chapter headings, and verse by verse, provides insight and practical suggestions for how to make these truths come alive each day.

Throughout the book, Kushner utilizes his vast knowledge of the original Hebrew text to help the reader understand the nuances of the words such as "soul" and "cup". He explains the nuances of what the soul is and why the soul needs nourishing. He states, "The world asks so much of us. We give ourselves so totally to our work, to the task of raising our family and running a home that we often forget to take time to nourish our souls..." (page 61).

The fact that God helps us "feel safe in an unsafe world" (page 50) is the Psalmist's theme, repeated and emphasized in every line. Drawing from the world of science and literature, art and great works of theology, this deceptively small book is filled with encouragement and blessing.

Occasionally, Christians forgo reading Jewish authors, forgetting that Judaism is the forerunner of our own faith in Jesus Christ. That would be a mistake.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Susan Hersh-Gilbert on September 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
During the early summer, two of my best friends, both women in their 40's, died of breast cancer. I searched for books that would offer me help with my grieving, and a perspective on what I was going through. Most of the books I found were long on faith and hope, and short on thought.
And then I discovered two books, both recently published, that saved my life. These were Harold Kushner's "The Lord is My Shepherd" and Dennis Shulman's "The Genius of Genesis." I thank Harold Kushner and Dennis Shulman for giving me a way of understanding life and death in a broader context.
Both of these books tenderly guided me toward understanding and healing, and, for this, I am grateful.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Harold Kushner is probably best known for his popular book, 'When Bad Things Happen to Good People'. Kushner, a rabbi by profession, showed in that book that he could transcend the barriers that differences in religion can create, and reach a broad audience with general spiritual appeal. This text, 'The Lord is My Shepherd', of course comes from the 23rd psalm, a staple of liturgy, personal prayer and solace to Christians and Jews of all persuasions. As chaplain at a retirement centre, I find this psalm is very powerful almost universally among the residents; for those in the special care/Alzheimer unit, when often nothing else reaches in, this psalm is still there, on the lips of people who have forgotten the greater part of their lives - the words of this psalm still spring forth from their lips.
It is this kind of depth and healing power that Kushner writes of in this wonderful little book. Looking at the psalm line by line, he explores the depths and breadths of the meanings that come forth. In fifteen short lines that most people in the English-speaking world have committed to heart (Kushner remarks that there is likely no other chapter of the Bible that holds that distinction), there is power. People are resistant to language changes - the King James Version is still the preferred one here, partly because the language hasn't changed that much, and partly because the power of the cadence of the words, crafted so powerfully in the early modern English translation.
This psalm responds to a deep need in the human soul. It contains theology and spirituality, to be sure, but it in reality consists of images - calm waters, green grass, a caring and strong shepherd, the very definition of 'pastoral'.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on August 27, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I wasn't expecting much from this book when I picked it up. Beloved though its subject might be, how much can you say about a 15-line bit of verse - the 23rd Psalm ? But Rabbi Harold Kushner uses his compassion and intellect to unpack each line. Though informed by scholarship, this is not a dry scholarly exercise. Kushner uses each line as jumping-off point for a sermon on human v. divine nature, arguing that the heart of faith is not just believing in God, or thinking that God will fix our problems, but in feeling the assurance that God is present and hears us. To Kushner, comfort comes not from an assurance that God will save us from evil, but that with God we are never alone.

Along the way, we are treated to Kushner's insights about the Pieta, creative misinterpretations of Scripture, and a heavy dose of practical psychology, as gleaned from his own community and his audiences. The experience of his own son's death 20 years ago (of progeria, a rare genetic disorder that causes rapid aging and premature death) hangs over the entire work. Like the biblical Job, Kushner has wrestled with the meaning of death and how we can relate to God in the midst of death and suffering. Kushner's conclusions may challenge the easy answers grasped by some people of faith. But there is no doubt that he has walked through the valley of the shadow and emerged wiser and closer to God.

Kushner's reading of his own work (on the audio CD) is gentle, fatherly and soothing -- a glimpse into a soul full of holiness. A wonderful gift for any thoughtful Jew or Christian.
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More About the Author

Harold S. Kushner is Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts, where he lives. His books include the huge bestseller When Bad Things Happen To Good People and When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough.

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