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You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism Hardcover – December 31, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics (and Other Wanderers) by Eric Elnes
"Gifts of the Dark Wood" by Eric Elnes
In clear and lucid prose that combines the heart of a mystic, the soul of a poet, and the mind of a biblical scholar, Dr. Eric Elnes demystifies the seven gifts bestowed in the Dark Wood. Learn more | See author page

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this compelling and engaging volume, Hirschfield urges people of all faiths to accept their differences while seeking commonality and reaching out to one another with love and forgiveness. As an Orthodox rabbi, Hirschfield bases his faith on Jewish tradition, yet he draws on his unusually varied upbringing in a secular home to implement his own strategies and theories for living a fulfilling life, and is not afraid to reference Jesus or Muhammad as great teachers. In his teens, Hirschfield joined a small group of fanatical Jewish settlers defending Hebron, but renounced that way of life after witnessing a scene of inexplicable and unrepentant violence. Now he posits that there is room for more than one religious or moral viewpoint to be correct. Hirschfield integrates this thesis with many personal anecdotes to keep the text alive and interesting. He shares his memories of participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for a synagogue rebuilt near Auschwitz, and he remembers taking part in a meeting of the Islamic Society of North America. At times, the text feels a bit longwinded, but Hirschfield's admirable objective of expanding ourselves to let others in comes across nicely and should attract a wide interfaith audience. (Jan.)
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“In a world that has experienced wars and terrorist attacks on a gigantic scale in the name of religion, a book like this is timely and important. Rabbi Hirschfield advocates dialogue instead of warfare, conflict resolution through debate and discussion, faith without fanaticism.” –Association of Jewish Libraries

“A wise and important story, engagingly told. I hope everyone, from the most piously committed to the most militantly atheist, reads it and absorbs its lessons.”
—Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

“Brad Hirschfield is one of the freshest and most innovative minds in religious thought today. From the ashes of Ground Zero to the summits of global leaders, he has pioneered a philosophy of using ancient texts to create coalitions of understanding and hope. Anyone committed to religious tolerance today must understand his ideas—and must put them to work.”
—Bruce Feiler, author of Walking the Bible and Where God Was Born

“Spiritual sojourners of all faiths seeking sincerity and authenticity of religion will benefit greatly from Rabbi Hirschfield’s candid testimony of his life’s journey. His visionary first-person narrative reveals that the man who makes the voyage—to the human core of tolerance, respect, generosity, and peace—discovers that the voyage makes the man.”
—Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America

“ ‘Through you all the families of the earth will be blessed,’ God says to Abraham in the Bible. Yet, for so much of history, the different religions have often turned the hardest of hearts to those who don’t accept all their teachings. Brad Hirschfield brings a unique understanding—forged in years of theological study and personal interreligious dialogues—of where so many great faiths have gone wrong, and what can be done to guarantee that the blessing God bestowed on Abraham can, after almost four thousand years, finally be achieved.”
—Joseph Telushkin, author of Jewish Literacy and A Code of Jewish Ethics

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (December 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307382974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307382979
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,558,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This timely and extremely important book shows us the way to a dialogue that goes beyond the old zero-sum games. The book is subtitled "Finding Faith Without Fanaticism," and Hirschfield -- a Rabbi and former gun-carrying member of the extremist wing of Israel's settler movement -- speaks with authority about his personal epiphany. It is easy to be pluralistic and believe in dialogue when one is an oppressed minority, staring at the barrel of a gun. But to have one's finger on the trigger and reach the same conclusion is rare, and far more compelling. Hirschfield powerfully describes his experiences and the alternative path he chose to pursue.
The remainder of the book elaborates on Hirschfield's central insight: that oftentimes we gain nearly as much from recognizing what we have in common as we do from debating our differences. Like many of our greatest teachers, Hirschfield imparts this lesson through an engaging combination of philosophical analysis, personal stories, and close and innovative reading of traditional Biblical texts. We follow Hirschfield as he travels to places where his views are presumably unwelcome -- to Berlin, to Moscow, to Fez, Morocco -- and learn from watching his examples.
The book's lessons are not reserved for geopolitics. Hirschfield writes persuasively and easily about interpersonal relationships as well, sharing stories from his own life, from Adam and Eve, and from The Cosby Show. Nor is the book's message concealed behind academic jargon. To the contrary: Hirschfield's writing is refreshingly conversational, casual without being dumbed-down.
Ultimately, the import of this book lies in the insight that there's more to being right than proving another wrong. It is a powerful affirmation that truth can be absolute -- real truth, not a watered-down simulacrum called "truth" -- but it need not be absolutist.
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Format: Hardcover
Being to the "right" of the author (both religiously and politically), I anticipated another in a line of Shalom Auslander- Richard Dawkins-Christopher Hitchens anti-religious rant against those who are orthodox in their beliefs. Surprisingly, Hirschfield actually validates those who believe, in all forms and ideals. What is new and even refreshing is the lessons he brings from a life of open voyage. Truthfully, we can find disagreement on the issues of intermarraige as well as eating lobster on shabbos- but I think Hirschfield would have it no other way.
Towards the end of the book, when Brad writes "idealism is a part of faith, or perhaps faith is the ultimate expression of idealism", he encapsulates the essence of belief and religion for so many. The striving for unprovable understanding, grasping the intangible. Simply, a must read philosphical treatise in under 250 peages.
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Format: Hardcover
Rabbi Hirschfield has written a highly accessible and personal account of the hard-learned lesson that one can have a deep and abiding faith WITHOUT the necessity of losing one's ability to maintain what Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has termed "the Dignity of Difference"--i.e. the ability to respect the possibility that an other can have legitimate faith and access to truth as well. This is an incredibly important lesson for our time. At a time in world history in which the secular pursuit of truth that has dominated the Western world for the past 400+ worlds is not yielding the promised fruit, and people are turning back to the faith traditions for ultimate answers to the questions of "Why?" and "Who am I?" (ie. questions of meaning and identity, respectively), there is a burning need to recognize and develop the positive values of religion and belief for humankind, and to minimize the risk of faith-driven mutually assured destruction. For, as Chief Rabbi Sacks has pointed out, the greatest and most powerful weapon of mass destruction is the human mind. And yet, at the same time, it is also the most powerful engine of hope for humanity.
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Format: Hardcover
In a day and age of increased faith and increased fanatacism, Brad Hirschfield has charted a course that allows for all of the positives of a faith-based life, while resisting extemism that in so many parts of the world appear to be linked to faith. Brad uses his personal experiences as a window for the rest of us to view these issues. It doesn't provide any easy answers - but it does help promote a thought process to both engage those whose views might be considered "foreign" to our own, while not permitting engagement to constitute approval at all times. It is a difficult, but based on Brad's book, possible, process.
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Format: Hardcover
In the realm of dialogue, where I both study and work, there is a lot of agreement and good feelings. We get together with like minded individuals who have different shades of skins, different gods, different sexual orientations, or nationalities and we all congratulate ourselves on our open spirits.

Unfortunately, that's not quite enough. It's not enough because you are preaching to the choir and where the conversation must happen is where you cannot find easy agreement, where you must struggle to deal with difference and must learn to let their "Thou" exist even if it is something you oppose.

Rabbi Hirschfield in this book (and even moreso if you hear him speak, I recently heard him speak to a crowd at a university that left nary an eye dry) explains how one may live a life and have a conversation that both honors the other and allows you to honor yourself as well. This is an important book, and I hope that those reading it go far beyond those who are normally a part of this conversation.
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