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A Passion for Truth (Jewish Lights Classic Reprint) Paperback – April 1, 1995
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Probably the best book on Hasidism to appear in the English language. -- Library Journal, September 15, 1995, and August 1973
Top Customer Reviews
Every thought resonates with Heschel's major "popular" statements of religion and Jewish philosophy, "God in Search of Man', and "Man is not Alone". It is obvious from reading this work that Heschel's own philosophy drew heavily on the Kotzker Rebbe's teachings - strip away the adornments and seek the essence and truth.
It is quite unfortunate that Heschel's major work on the Kotzker was never translated from the original Yiddish. Until such translation is published, this book alone provides both an incisive look at theological radicalism and a sense of the misdirection of most modern theories of religion.
The second part of the book compares the Kotzker with Kierkegaard. Putting doctrinal Jewish and Christian differences aside Heschel focuses on the great similarities between these two truth- seekers. Sarcastic at times, filled with irony towards themselves and humanity they each in his own way seek a religion of Truth. They both seek a religion of higher purity. Kierkegaard condemns Christendom as making little room for the true individual inward subjective Christian- the Kotzker cuts himself off from the masses seeking his guidance, and searches for truth by himself alone. These two individuals each of whom praises a kind of solitude and solitary quest for truth set themselves apart from the mass of mankind. Kierkegaard's renunciation of ordinary married life, his rejection of his fiancee Regina , are paralleled by the Kotzker's withdrawal into his own study away from the ways of the world. Still there are strong differences between the two.Read more ›
The Kotzker was apolitical and spent much of his life in solitude, while Heschel was a prolific writer and champion of social reform. What could the two have in common? And how could a hermit-like thinker's focus on the individual soul be relevant to an international catastrophe?
One answer is that the Kotzker was focused on shaking people out of their complacency; he believed that even seemingly pious Hasidim were too self-satisfied, too focused on self-interest rather than on avoiding spiritual stagnation. Similarly, Heschel, writing over a century later, was concerned that Jews were forgetting the atrocities of recent decades.
Another is that he emphasized the incomprehensibility of God, an understandable theme after the Holocaust. One Kotzker saying (presumably paraphrased by the author): "A God whom any Tom, Dick and Harry could comprehend, I would not believe in."
Heschel also contrasts the Kotzker with Kirkegaard, an equally grim Christian thinker. The major difference between the two seems to be that Kirkegaard was more ascetic in his writings, disdaining sex and reproduction. By contrast, even the most ascetic Jewish thinkers believed in Genesis' commandment to be fruitful and multiply.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Can't find a better formulation of the ideas of the Kotzker. Great legacy.Published 4 months ago by Zach
This book reads as one who loves Heschel would want it to read. Every topic is critical to the construction of a spiritual consciousness.Published 9 months ago by Ronald F.
This book examines the accounts of of two men one a Jewish Rabbi and one a Christian theologian message which calls attention to apathy and a lack contrition in not seeking Truth... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Candice Felice
A Passion For Truth is A.J. Heschel's exploration of Kierkegaard and the Kotzker Rebbe, two individuals known of their anti-social tendencies, and their extreme disregard for... Read morePublished on March 5, 2012 by Eric Maroney