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Open Secrets: The Letters of Reb Yerachmiel ben Yisrael Paperback – September 1, 2004
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Rami's writings also embody the basic principle of Reconstructionism that Jewish people invent Jewish religion. In Rami's case, he brings his experience of the non-dual Advaita, Zen, and Taoist traditions to his reading of Hasidism, the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature. For those of us who meditated or chanted our way through the late 60s and 70s, Rami's approach will feel familiar and his Judaism both natural and compelling.
OPEN SECRETS is a series of letters written by a fictitious Old World rabbi of the late 1800s or early 1900s to a student who has emigrated to America. The letters from "Reb Yerachmiel ben Israel" cover such matters as God, creation, human nature, evil, Torah, mitzvah, prayer, death, other religions, even Jesus! They are short letters, at most a few pages, and they are written in a homey style by a rabbi who who likely would have been impossible in his time and place but one we would all have loved to know and learn from.
Reb Yerachmiel is the rabbi Rami Shapiro says he would like to be, and therefore to whatever extent already is. All of Rami's books are worth reading, but OPEN SECRETS is one you will want to read and read again as its soul speaks to yours.
I can't recommend this book highly enough for Liberal Jews who perceive and relate to God as the Thou of Reality and who wish to repair the brokenness in themselves and in the world in a spirit of peace and joy.
Shapiro views all these subjects through a non-dualist, non-theist lens. He has a decidedly simple framework for Judaism. He cleverly calls the heart of Judaism tikkun and teshuvah. Tikkun is helping to repair the world, acting with kindness, love and generosity to people and things; while teshuvah is turning toward God, who is reality itself, and the ground of all being. The rest, as he quotes the famous Hillel quote, is commentary. Shapiro always challenges his readers to be humble, to look at the world from a different framework than traditional monotheism, and to reshape ourselves.
Shapiro talks about Judaism as being characterized by the inseparable qualities of tikkun (right action) and teshuvah (right attention). This is basic and practical nondual Judaism, as the following quotation demonstrates:
"You and I and all living things are the vessels of God, the embodiment of Elohut (Godhead). In this we are one with God, yet we imagine ourselves to be separate from God and this creates in us the idea of brokenness. The brokenness of the world starts as a process in the mind, but it doesn't end there. We go about the world breaking it up into smaller and smaller segments, each often at war with the rest, without ever realizing we are warring with ourselves.
"Tikkun is the process of putting things back together again."
If you want to learn about nonduality itself, or the nondual side of Judaism, read this book, and be entertained while you're at it.
One: Essential Writings on Nonduality