God Was in This Place & I, i Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality and Ultimate Meaning

God Was in This Place & I, i Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality and Ultimate Meaning

by Lawrence Kushner
     
 

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Selected as a Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC)
“Significant Jewish Book”

Jacob was running away from home. One night he lay down in the wilderness to sleep and had one of the great mystical experiences of Western religion. He dreamed there was a ladder, with angels ascending and descending, stretched between heaven and earth.

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Overview

Selected as a Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC)
“Significant Jewish Book”

Jacob was running away from home. One night he lay down in the wilderness to sleep and had one of the great mystical experiences of Western religion. He dreamed there was a ladder, with angels ascending and descending, stretched between heaven and earth. For thousands of years, people have tried to overhear what the messengers came down to tell Jacob, and us.

Now in a daring blend of scholarship and imagination, psychology and history, Lawrence Kushner gathers an inspiring range of interpretations of Genesis 28:16 given by sages, from Shmuel bar Nachmani in third-century Palestine to Hannah Rachel Werbermacher of Ludomir who lived in Poland two hundred years ago. Through a fascinating new literary genre and Kushner’s creative reconstruction of the teachers’ lives and times, we enter the study halls and sit at the feet of these spiritual masters to learn what each discovered about God’s Self and ourselves as they ascend and descend Jacob’s ladder.

In this illuminating journey, our spiritual guides ask and answer the fundamental questions of human experience: Who am I? Who is God? What is God’s role in history? What is the nature of evil? How should I relate to God and other people? Could the universe really have a self?

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner brilliantly reclaims a millennium of Jewish spirituality for contemporary seekers of all faiths and backgrounds. God Was in This Place & I, i Did Not Know is about God and about you; it is about discovering God’s place in the universe, and yours.

Editorial Reviews

Christian Century
"A combination of ancient wisdom, modern good sense, and the impetus for some do-it-yourself meaning-stalking."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The interpretations of the Genesis (28:16) account of Jacob's dream of a ladder with ascending and descending angels by seven historical rabbis--one, Hannah Rachel Werbermacher, who lived in Poland 200 years ago--are gathered here in an arresting interplay of ideas and backgrounds. According to Massachusetts rabbi Kushner ( The Book of Letters ), this collection of views is ``actually one long midrash, that is, fiction concealed beneath the apparent text of the biblical narrative.'' This imaginative volume is filled with reverence for the Hebrew word and the tradition that transmits as well the identity of its great teachers through the centuries. With considerable flexibility in blending ancient wisdom with contemporary illuminations, Kushner makes accessible to readers the richness and attractions of mystical inquiry. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Using a biblical verse (Genesis 28:16) as a starting point, Kushner, a Reform rabbi, introduces the reader to seven spiritual teachers of the 3rd to the 19th centuries who ``come alive'' in Kushner's presentation and offer midrashic interpretations of the verse. The book is not only an introduction to Jewish mysticism and to midrash, but also a profound exploration of the necessity of paying attention to God's presence, of the nature of evil, and of the dangers of egoism. These meditations can benefit Christians as well as Jews. Highly recommended for public libraries.
From the Publisher

"Kushner has taught me more about God and my own Christianity than any other teacher I have known…. A bold attempt to translate the flavor of mystical Judaism into the life of the twentieth-century person, Jew and non-Jew alike, and he has been successful."
Rev. Robert G. Trache, rector, St. Mark's Episcopal Church

"A brilliant fabric of classic rabbinic interpretations, medieval commentary, hasidic insights and literary criticism which warms us and sustains us."
Dr. Norman J. Cohen, emeritus professor of midrash, Hebrew Union College; author, Masking and Unmasking Ourselves: Interpreting Biblical Texts on Clothing and Identity

“We have another Buber here, a Heschel…. [Kushner] expresses the truly profound with joy, lightness and humor…. Anyone who loves The Book will love this book.”
Father M. Basil Pennington, Saint Joseph's Abbey

“This strong, imaginative, open and profound book invites reading, rereading, talking and absorbing. Readers will be amazed and moved by the depth of insights that one biblical phrase has evoked in Jewish consciousness throughout the centuries.”
Rabbi Rachel Cowan, executive director, Institute for Jewish Spirituality

“ A beautiful book which uses both reason and art … to bring the author and the reader closer to God.”
David Mamet, playwright, author, American Buffalo

“[Kushner] provides a taste of the spiritual experience and encourages more openness to moments of connection in our lives.”
Reform Judaism

“Rabbi Kushner is a beautiful storyteller.”
Los Angeles Times

“An arresting interplay of ideas and backgrounds. With considerable flexibility in blending ancient wisdom with contemporary illuminations, Kushner makes accessible to readers the richness and attractions of mystical inquiry.”
Publishers Weekly

“A profound exploration of the necessity of paying attention to God’s presence. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781879045057
Publisher:
Jewish Lights Publishing
Publication date:
09/01/1991
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

What People are saying about this

Rabbi Cowan
Strong, imaginative, open and profound.
Rachel Cowan
Strong, imaginative, open and profound.

Meet the Author

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner is one of the most widely read authors by people of all faiths on Jewish spiritual life. He is the best-selling author of such books as Invisible Lines of Connection: Sacred Stories of the Ordinary; God Was in This Place & I, i Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality and Ultimate Meaning; Honey from the Rock: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism; The Book of Letters: A Mystical Hebrew Alphabet; The Book of Miracles: A Young Person's Guide to Jewish Spiritual Awareness; The Book of Words: Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk; Eyes Remade for Wonder: A Lawrence Kushner Reader; I'm God, You're Not: Observations on Organized Religion and other Disguises of the Ego; Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians; The River of Light: Jewish Mystical Awareness; The Way Into Jewish Mystical Tradition; and co-author of Because Nothing Looks Like God; How Does God Make Things Happen?; Where Is God?; What Does God Look Like?; and In God's Hands. He is the Emanu-El Scholar at San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-El and an adjunct professor of Jewish mysticism and spirituality at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner is available to speak on the following topics:

• Jewish Mystical Imagination

• Rymanover’s Silent Aleph: What Really Happened on Sinai

• Zohar on Romance and Revelation

• What Makes Kabbalah Kabbalah

• Sacred Stories of the Ordinary: When God Makes a Surprise Appearance in Everyday Life

Click here to contact the author.

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