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This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation Hardcover – September, 2003


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This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation + Be Still and Get Going: A Jewish Meditation Practice for Real Life + One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316739081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316739085
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lew's exploration of the Days of Awe begins not with Rosh Hashanah-which is not featured until chapter six-but with Tisha B'Av and the month of Elul. These observances, Lew feels, set a tone of rigorous introspection in the Jewish calendar. He follows the story through Yom Kippur and Sukkot, drawing on Jewish tradition, his own experiences and a few Buddhist stories (Lew is a self-described "Zen rabbi") to take the reader on a journey of spiritual transformation-"from birth to death and back to renewal again." Lew is far more concerned with inner motivations and awareness than with external rituals, a refreshing and sometimes startling perspective. He is a perceptive thinker and a highly skilled writer, making this book a hard-hitting yet compassionate cry for spiritual renewal during the High Holy Days as well as the rest of the year.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The Days of Awe, the Jewish rituals observed each year between roughly mid-August and mid-October, include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the 10 days between the two High Holy days. Citing the Hebrew Bible, Talmud, Kabbalah, and other sources, Lew offers advice on how we can live our lives in a meaningful and joyful way through prayer and meditation. Author of One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi (1999), he writes of the importance of introspection and self-evaluation in this period of repentance and contemplation. His insights into how we can make the most of our time are astute and profound and should be of interest to readers of all faiths. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Written in a very readable manner.
rf
I think Rabbi Lew in his openness to Buddhism and other philosophies gives the reader a challenging combination of pragmatism and spirituality.
frankiefuchs
This is a powerful book about opening your heart.
Michael Gilbert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book, the kind I have been looking for. It is an easy read and yet has a lot of deep concepts that makes one think. This combination is rare. This books takes the reader on journey through the High Holy Days in ways that anyone can relate to and helps the reader get prepared for the Holidays themselves. I have not been able to get through any one chapter in one reading. As I read each section I get lost in contemplation and in thinking about the content. This is a must have for every Jewish library including both the novice and yeshivah educated and all in between.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gilbert on October 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a powerful book about opening your heart. Rabbi Lew combines Eastern philosophy with Jewish wisdom so that the reader enjoys the best of both worlds. The basic approach is that the Jewish High Holy Days provide us with an annual opportunity to acknowledge the dark shadows in our soul, accept our inevitable flaws, failings and transgressions, and emerge from the process fresh, whole and reinvigorated. Rabbi Lew writes beautifully and the message hits home. Highly recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on September 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Rabbi Alan Lew, z"l was a pulpit rabbi (conservative) and a long time practitioner of mediation. For a decade before he became a rabbi, he practiced Zen type mediation.

His other two works, One God Clapping, and Be Still and Get Going, reflect this ongoing commitment to being halakically Jewish and also practicing mediation techniques that are inspirited by Buddhist tradition.

This work, This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared is his most Jewish in the sense that he takes the specific content, practices, ideas and liturgy of the time period from Tisha b'Av and Sukkoth and provides a conceptual framework that allows for growth and depth to the High Holiday experience.

The book in informed by his eastern religious background, but not dominated by it. When Rabbi Lew expresses that this world is but a fleeting thing, a narrow bridge with darkness on either side, he simply expresses very well-known rabbinical dicta about existence.

Our existence IS fleeting. Our time is short. Rabbi Lew reminds us that waking up to the reality of our transitory nature can make us see reality and ourselves for what it/we truly are; it can help us to see what is important in this little crack of light between the two zones of darkness that is our life.

Sadly, Rabbi Lew passed away in 2009. Reading this book with that in mind places the work in an almost prophetic light; several times Rabbi Lew expresses how close he feels to death based on his experience as a pulpit rabbi. He realized, watching so many people die, that death awaits us at at anytime. Sadly, he was right. But he left us some deeply intelligent and humane works as a legacy.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Libby Cone on June 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is an invaluable book for preparation for the High Holidays; I think non-Jews would also benefit from Rabbi Lew's ideas. We go through life trying to shield ourselves from the inevitabilities of disappointment, death, and decay, at the same time insulating ourselves from joy and from the needs of others. Rabbi Lew focuses on the time from Tisha B'Av, the fast day commemorating the destruction of the Second Temple and other tragedies, to Sukkot, the harvest holiday where we acknowledge our vulnerabilities and celebrate joyfully in roofless shacks, having examined our lives, admitted our brokenness, forgiven slights against us and also forgiving ourselves. With additional Buddhist perspective that never falls into Buddhism Lite, this is a profound book that should be read over and over again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By josephina on August 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a must read for High Holiday preparations. No one writes as movingly on the topic as Alan Lew. I did a lot of research looking into several alternatives and all were bland compared to Lew's book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Judith D. Cohen on October 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thoroughly worthwhile read before and during the High Holidays and after. Highly recommended for anyone who wants a fuller understanding of what's possible for the mind and heart at this time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By frankiefuchs on September 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a wonderful amalgam of esoteric citations and real world experience. You can benefit from this book whether you are preparing for the High Holidays or want to know about "turning" to a more meaningful life. The theme here is how to live a conscious life instead of merely repeating patterns of behavior which are habits. It draws on traditional Jewish tradition as well as other spiritual paths. I think Rabbi Lew in his openness to Buddhism and other philosophies gives the reader a challenging combination of pragmatism and spirituality. Rarely have I reread such a book. I will refer to this again and again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Spaniard on December 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book fell into my hands at the very moment that I needed. The deailed composition, the vibrant style and the ascending rythm are breathtaking from beginning to end. Later I have read other books by the same author and I did not like them very much. But this one is really out of this world.
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This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation
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