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The Art of Amazement Paperback – January 4, 2010
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About the Author
Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld received a B.A. in Classics and an M.A. in anthropology. He lived and studied in yeshivas with some of the most renowned Jewish mystics of our times. Currently he conducts Art of Amazement seminars around the world, and lives with his family in Baltimore, where he is working toward a Ph.D. in ancient Jewish texts. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
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Amazement is being able to see the beauty of Life in all its aspects, which is the achievement of any mystic path. If you seriously try to grasp fully the content of this book, you might be able to change your perspective on life for good.
Pros: Rabbi Seinfeld's writing style is engaging and colorful; it's a nicely written book. Also, the ideas presented therein, particularly after the first few chapters, of being mindful of and grateful for the sublime in our lives in specific ways is touching and important both to Judaism and to modern life. He also ends each chapter with specific exercises - both meditational and Jewish - that can help increase mindfulness and Jewish observance.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'm the ideal person to read - or review - the book. I have never been one to connect strongly with Eastern philosophy, for example, so the first few chapters - intended to draw in those who are perhaps so-called "JuBus" - were not appropriate for me but may be great for you.
I'd recommend the book strongly for anyone Jewish who has been interested in the mindfulness aspects of Buddhism and who feels he or she is lacking that feeling about Judaism, whether or not you're already observant. The mindfulness is there; we just weren't taught about it.
Several things make Seinfeld's book unusual or even unique. First of all, it's highly intellectual. At the end of each chapter, I felt a real sense of clarity and ownership of the ideas and practices taught. This may be because I actually did the exercises according to the instructions of each chapter. But for the first time in my reading and searching I feel like I have a healthy intellectual grasp of these terms that I've been trying to understand - God, life, meaning, spirituality, goodness, love -
Second, it's not dogmatic - coming from a secular (raised Reform) background, I have been trying to figure out how to become more connected to my Jewish roots without becoming "religious". This book has done it for me.
Third, the author's secular/Buddhist background has enabled him to write interesting footnotes comparing and contrasting Jewish thought and practice with these. This information is helpful to me as I'd always assumed that every great religion was saying basically the same thing and Seinfeld tactfully points out where that is not true.
Fourth, the book is incredibly thorough, full of nuggets of information that together have shown me a Judaism that is not a hodge-podge of traditions but rather an awesome - amazing - holistic system.
It's as if I'd been staring at the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle for a few years and suddenly somone showed me a picture of what they're supposed to look like when completed. Now I can start to put them together on my own.
The CD, which Amazon sent with the book for no extra cost, is Rabbi Seinfeld teaching the concepts in the book. It's high-quality - sounds like he's right in the room with you! It is a very effective tool, because after listening to the CD the book made sense and was easy to read (otherwise, I might have struggled with some sections that are quite deep in the philosophy/mysticism).
I also like the fact that the appendix includes email addresses to contact the author and others. I have found these resources very responsive to my questions.
In summary, the book is like a handbook. I carry it around with me and find myself re-reading some sections while waiting in line at the bank, etc - especially the chapter on love.
In some spots, the text is a little bit too deep for a layperson to understand right away. However, there are other moments which may enable you to reread such sections. It definitely has potential as a reference tool.