Thursday, September 24, 2009

Recommended Yom Kippur Reading

Out of all the Jewish theologians I admire – Eliezer Berkovitz, David Hartman, Yitz Greenberg - the one who moves me the most is Abraham Joshua Heschel. Whenever I fear that perhaps there is no objective meaning in the world, that we live in an unfeeling empty cosmos, that prayer is simply an exercise in futility, Heschel strengthens me.

Below is a moving article on Yom Kippur in which which he discusses his feelings towards the day and the need to channel what he terms as the ‘depth of human suffering into religious experience’.
“Lets talk about the ‘business’ of Yom Kippur…Everything is fine. Soon we will have helicopters in every courtyard… To make the mistake we are making is to forget how much anguish there is in every human being. Scratch the skin of any person and you come upon sorrow, frustration, unhappiness. People are pretentious. Everybody looks proud, inside he is heartbroken. We have not understood how to channel this depth of human suffering into religious experience. Forgive me for saying so, but we have developed Jewish sermons as if there were no personal problems….

We are all failures. At least one day a year we should recognize it. I have failed so often; I am sure those present here have also failed. We have much to be contrite about; we have missed opportunities. The sense of inadequacy ought to be at the very centre of the day”

Original from

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