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Witnesses to the One: The Spiritual History of the Sh'ma Kindle Edition
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(Ravi Heschel is one of the biographical sketches contained herein.)
If any of us wonders what the Jewish connection to Sh'ma has been, how it has been connected to the world at large, Ravi Leo Baeck of the Nazi concentration camps is also given some thought in this text in a manner which I as a Christian have also been treated to among some Jewish friends. The author remarks how,
"Even though Jewish faith may have been shattered into fragments, there were those in the very heart of catastrophe who still felt God commanding them to live as righteous human beings. It is on the basis of these survivors' experiences that we are enabled to have faith as well."
For me the delivery of the Torah to the Gentiles by a roundabout way was introduced by Christian scriptures. But a comment from a Jewish carpenter to some Jews delivered in a very Euclidean formulaic expression to "search the scriptures, for in them you think, you have eternal life" seems to point to the Torah without any Christology involved.
Our book in hand quotes Amos 5:4, "Thus said YHVH to the House of Israel: Seek me, and you will live." Again a Christian gospel author includes Jesus praying in the second person for his followers, "this is eternal life, that they might know thee, the only true God."
When I read a portion from Mark's gospel where he's quoting Sh'ma, "hear oh Israel, the Lord, our Lord is one," I finally got it that the Jewish people didn't merely pray like that for the sake of a counting number. So that you can know, "Witnesses to the One" is a fine introduction to the unity of the Eternal 'one' as the people of God have seen him. Many thanks to the authors for preserving the memory of those who were willing to 'hear'.
I can imagine this book appealing to a range of readers, from those looking for new ways to connect with spiritual aspects of Judaism, to those who have a deep interest in ancient Jewish history and some of the great thinkers who helped make it. Even those of us who cling to the most traditional aspects of Judaism cannot ignore the progressive focus of this book: that to decide anew what being Jewish means, is in fact to follow in the great traditions passed from Moses to Maimonides, from the mystics to the ascetics, and from my generation to that of my children.
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