When we think about Judaism, we often focus on mechanical repetition and cookbook-like observances and rules. Yet, according to author Lewis D. Solomon, the ceremonies, rituals, and all the accompanying rules and regulations are the byways of Judaism, not its highways or its essence. For many, the ceremonies and rituals, although designed to open and touch the spiritual dimension of existence, often block their spiritual life and vitality. Jewish Spirituality: Revitalizing Judaism for the Twenty–First Century ...
When we think about Judaism, we often focus on mechanical repetition and cookbook-like observances and rules. Yet, according to author Lewis D. Solomon, the ceremonies, rituals, and all the accompanying rules and regulations are the byways of Judaism, not its highways or its essence. For many, the ceremonies and rituals, although designed to open and touch the spiritual dimension of existence, often block their spiritual life and vitality. Jewish Spirituality: Revitalizing Judaism for the Twenty–First Century offers the vision of a personal, intimate experience of a living God as the source of health, joy, love, abundance, and wholeness. It is designed to help us meet and surmount our daily problems as well as the crises we all face in living and, ultimately, in dying. True to its practical orientation, Jewish Spirituality focuses on an approach to living that is liberating, promotes and unfolds our inner human possibilities, and helps us realize our highest self as well as those of others around us.
In this examination of Jewish Spirituality, Professor Solomon looks at with new eyes the traditions we as Jews have lived with. He looks at the historical authenticity of practices that we take for granted, at the fallacies that have been handed down to us as unbreakable tradition. With great integrity and courage, he excavates the foundations of the mountains of Jewish lore upon which modern Judaism stands, and sifts through the past to find the value there for the present. What remains for him, as for me, is the core of Judaism, the great truth of our God-given spirituality, 'God is One.' The ideas Professor Solomon presents here amplify and illuminate the ways in which Jewish Spirituality can continue to be real and relevant and valid in our new age.
Solomon begins with the question, 'Why be Jewish in the twenty-first century?' and cautions readers—at least Jewish readers—that assimilation and intermarriage threaten Judaism in the United States. Conversely, he writes that we are witnessing a resurgence of traditional Judaism, marked by an emphasis on strict ritualism, the preservation of the ceremonial aspects of Judaism, a rigid body of observances and prohibitions, and the minutae of Jewish law. But he stresses the need for a fresh approach to Judaism in the new century. He writes that Judaism must offer some positive, affirmative identification beyond the Torah. Solomon provides an introduction to spiritual practices, and in succeeding chapters, deals with the themes of love and compassion, forgiveness, truthfulness, humility, joyfulness, optimism, and peace of mind. He explores the difficulties of facing a serious or terminal illness and of death and grieving. The author draws upon biblical texts and rabbinic Judaism )Talmud and Midrash) in this book that is highly relevant and unflinching in its approach to profound subjects; it is both timely and authoritative.
Lewis D. Solomon, an ordained rabbi, is the Theodore Rinehart Professor of Business Law at The George Washington University Law School, where he has taught corporate and tax law for over twenty years. He holds a B.A. from Cornell University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and is a member of the Bar of the State of New York. He received his ordination from the Rabbinical Studies Department of The New Seminary, has served as a guest rabbi at Jewish houses of worship, and has officiated at numerous life cycle events.