Filling Words with Light: Hasidic and Mystical Reflections on Jewish Prayerby Lawrence Kushner
In Filling Words with Light Lawrence Kushner and Nehemia Polen lead readers through the traditional prayer book, offering fresh insights and meditations that bring/i>
Jewish mystics teach that every word a person utters in prayer should radiate light. Even the letters of the words of prayer carry sparks of the Divine that yearn to join together in holiness.
In Filling Words with Light Lawrence Kushner and Nehemia Polen lead readers through the traditional prayer book, offering fresh insights and meditations that bring their words to life. Written for beginners and advanced readers alike, this accessible spiritual companion provides a window into the liturgy for worshipers of all backgrounds.
Filling Words with Light: Hasidic and Mystical Reflections on Jewish Prayer. By Lawrence Kushner and Nehenia Polen. Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, VT 05091: $21.99. I54 pages.
Reform rabbi Kushner and Orthodox rabbi Polen have joined together to provide a window into the liturgy for people of all backgrouhds. They offer fresh insights and meditations that bring the traditional prayer book to life.
The mystics taught that the words of prayer carry sparks of the Divine that yearn to join together in holiness. Making the transition from rote recitation to enlightened prayer can be difficult and the two rabbis provide the help that task needs.
Like many people, I have heard a lot about the Kabbalah, but I never actually studied it. Filling Words With Light is a good place to start. With its anecdotal style and sparing, well-glossed use of Hebrew, it initiates the reader gently into the mysteries of the Torah, Zohar and Talmud. While its logic was often alien to me, I was impressed by the love of language, and the way seemingly willful misreading of sacred texts could yield powerful and often beautiful new ideas; and also by the sophistication of pre-modern Jewish thought. There is great diversity of thought here, from numerological systems to meditative journeys, and even if you find much to disagree with, it will make you think.
"A wonderful collection of insights into prayer, collected and reworked by a team of contemporary masters. Will add depth and insight to your prayer life!"
Rabbi Arthur Green, author of Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow and These Are the Words: A Vocabulary of Jewish Spiritual Life
“Kushner and Polen are unparalleled in their ability to translate the most arcane and difficult insights of Hasidic masters into terms that are stunningly applicable to the human condition. Each and every page is testimony to their affection for the sages they cite and their regard for the prayers those sages address. For a spiritual commentary on the prayer book, this is the book to own.”
Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, editor of the My People's Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries series
“This book will surely open the heart of anyone opening a prayer book. The inspiring gems of insight by two great scholars seem to literally sparkle right off the pages. So much wisdom, made so accessible.”
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, editor of The Women’s Torah Commentary and The Women’s Haftarah Commentary
- Turner Publishing Company
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Meet the Author
Lawrence Kushner, author, lecturer and spiritual leader, is regarded as one of the most creative religious thinkers and writers in America. A commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, he has focused us on spiritual renewal with wisdom and humor. Through his books and lectures, people of every faith and background have found inspiration and new strength for spiritual search and growth. It has been said that some spiritual leaders blend religion and psychology to help us walk better on the ground, but Lawrence Kushner draws on the wisdom of the mystics to help us dance better on the ceiling.
Kushner's acclaimed books include I’m God; You’re Not: Observations on Organized Religion & Other Disguises of the Ego; Honey from the Rock: An Easy Introduction to Jewish Mysticism; Invisible Lines of Connection: Sacred Stories of the Ordinary; The Book of Letters: A Mystical Hebrew Alphabet; Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians; and In God’s Hands, an inspiring fable for children, with Gary Schmidt (all Jewish Lights).
Kushner served as rabbi at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts, for almost thirty years; he is currently the Emanu-El scholar at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, and an adjunct faculty member at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. He is fascinated by graphic design and computers (designing most of his Jewish Lights books). He enjoys Mozart, hanging around sailboats, and making his granddaughters giggle.
Rabbi Nehemia Polen is professor of Jewish thought at Hebrew College. He is the author of The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto and The Rebbe's Daughter, recipient of a National Jewish Book Award. He is also a contributor to the award-winning My People's Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries (Jewish Lights).
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