You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism

( 4 )


Conflict is an opportunity to learn and grow–and often to grow closer to one another.

Brad Hirschfield knows what it means to be a fanatic; he was one. A former activist in the West Bank, he was committed to reconstructing the Jewish state within its biblical borders. Now he is devoted to teaching inclusiveness, celebrating diversity, and delivering a message of acceptance. In You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right, Rabbi Hirschfield uses his own spiritual journey to help...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$12.40 price
(Save 17%)$14.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (20) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $8.31   
  • Used (11) from $1.99   
Sending request ...


Conflict is an opportunity to learn and grow–and often to grow closer to one another.

Brad Hirschfield knows what it means to be a fanatic; he was one. A former activist in the West Bank, he was committed to reconstructing the Jewish state within its biblical borders. Now he is devoted to teaching inclusiveness, celebrating diversity, and delivering a message of acceptance. In You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right, Rabbi Hirschfield uses his own spiritual journey to help people of all faiths find acceptance and tolerance, as well as a path to peace, understanding, and hope that will appeal to the common wisdom of all religions.

Read More Show Less
  • Rabbi Brad Hirschfield
    Rabbi Brad Hirschfield  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In a world that has experienced wars and terrorist attacks on a gigantic scale in the name of religion, a book like this is timely and important. Rabbi Hirschfield advocates dialogue instead of warfare, conflict resolution through debate and discussion, faith without fanaticism.” –Association of Jewish Libraries

“A wise and important story, engagingly told. I hope everyone, from the most piously committed to the most militantly atheist, reads it and absorbs its lessons.”
—Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

“Brad Hirschfield is one of the freshest and most innovative minds in religious thought today. From the ashes of Ground Zero to the summits of global leaders, he has pioneered a philosophy of using ancient texts to create coalitions of understanding and hope. Anyone committed to religious tolerance today must understand his ideas—and must put them to work.”
—Bruce Feiler, author of Walking the Bible and Where God Was Born

“Spiritual sojourners of all faiths seeking sincerity and authenticity of religion will benefit greatly from Rabbi Hirschfield’s candid testimony of his life’s journey. His visionary first-person narrative reveals that the man who makes the voyage—to the human core of tolerance, respect, generosity, and peace—discovers that the voyage makes the man.”
—Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America

“ ‘Through you all the families of the earth will be blessed,’ God says to Abraham in the Bible. Yet, for so much of history, the different religions have often turned the hardest of hearts to those who don’t accept all their teachings. Brad Hirschfield brings a unique understanding—forged in years of theological study and personal interreligious dialogues—of where so many great faiths have gone wrong, and what can be done to guarantee that the blessing God bestowed on Abraham can, after almost four thousand years, finally be achieved.”
—Joseph Telushkin, author of Jewish Literacy and A Code of Jewish Ethics

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly

In this compelling and engaging volume, Hirschfield urges people of all faiths to accept their differences while seeking commonality and reaching out to one another with love and forgiveness. As an Orthodox rabbi, Hirschfield bases his faith on Jewish tradition, yet he draws on his unusually varied upbringing in a secular home to implement his own strategies and theories for living a fulfilling life, and is not afraid to reference Jesus or Muhammad as great teachers. In his teens, Hirschfield joined a small group of fanatical Jewish settlers defending Hebron, but renounced that way of life after witnessing a scene of inexplicable and unrepentant violence. Now he posits that there is room for more than one religious or moral viewpoint to be correct. Hirschfield integrates this thesis with many personal anecdotes to keep the text alive and interesting. He shares his memories of participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for a synagogue rebuilt near Auschwitz, and he remembers taking part in a meeting of the Islamic Society of North America. At times, the text feels a bit longwinded, but Hirschfield's admirable objective of expanding ourselves to let others in comes across nicely and should attract a wide interfaith audience. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307382986
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/10/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 401,436
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

RABBI BRAD HIRSCHFIELD is president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and a popular commentator on religion and society. Recognized by as one of our leading preachers and teachers, his blog, Windows & Doors, reaches more than three million individuals every month. He also writes the weekly “On Faith” column for the Washington Post and has been recognized by Newsweek as one of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Many Faces of Faith

Finding Faith Without Fanaticism

Faith can become something that's narrow, limiting, an either/or that is rigid and unyielding. That is what happened to me in Hebron. I don't think that this faith is true faith. It fact it may be precisely faith's opposite, an extremity of doubt that boomerangs into strident belief.

The essayist Michel de Montaigne wrote, "We are, I know not how, double within ourselves, with the result that we do not believe what we believe and cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn." An even clearer expression of the quixotic and paradoxical quality of faith is this brilliant insight by Reinhold Niebuhr: "Fanatic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt; it is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure."

I have been completely taken over by the intoxication of being "doubly sure." But I have come to know that the true meaning of faith is not to be found in these sureties or in a single absolute, but in competing absolutes. Faith is about a loving acceptance of the profound complexity of existence and creation. It is about abiding in mystery, in being unsure, while still being ready to act boldly.

This is how Abraham felt when he looked inside himself and left his home and country to venture forth to find what God said would be "the promised land." Abraham's journey was one of wandering, of not knowing, of discovering. He had nothing except faith--indelible, extraordinary faith.

The women in my family showed me this kind of faith. It is precisely the kind of faith that my great-grandmother had, although she was a devout atheist and the way she lived her life would be a deep disappointment--worse, an unforgivable transgression--to the orthodox Judaism which I practice. So be it. For me, it was my great-grandmother who taught me that faith has many faces.

The middle-class home in which I grew up on the North Shore of Chicago was deeply Jewish, though not conventionally religious. We didn't keep kosher. My father was agnostic, yet he asked my mother not to serve the nonkosher foods of pork and shellfish in the house, and not to mix meat and dairy at the same meal, prohibitions that are part of the laws of kashruth. Synagogue was someplace you went under duress and preferably not more than three or four times a year. Religion per se was not important. But we were deeply identified Jews joyfully engaged in the cultural life of the Jewish community, passionate about Israel, and my parents were also philanthropic. Part of their cultural DNA told them that part of being Jewish meant taking care of other human beings.

Through a strange quirk of faith, my younger brother and I were sent to a Jewish day school. My mother was spooked. My siblings, who are ten and twelve years older than I am, were in high school and the world seemed to be falling apart for people like my parents. Harvard and Princeton--the bastions of achievement and excellence on which they had staked not their lives but the lives of their children--were in the throes of the counterculture of the 1960s: drugs, rebellion, and antiwar demonstrations. Nice Jewish kids were turning on and dropping out. Children who have since become doctors, lawyers, scientists, and scholars were growing their hair long, parading around in torn jeans, smoking grass and worse, and occupying the administrative offices of the very institutions on which their futures hinged. In short, my parents thought, these kids were doing everything in their power to destroy their own lives (not to mention what my parents knew of civilization). That's why my younger brother and I were sent to a Jewish day school for the values, for stability, for tradition!

But my parents were startled when, in the seventh grade, I embraced their decision and became religiously observant. They were even more startled when I chose to go to the Ida Crown Jewish Academy, an orthodox high school in Chicago.

Why did I become an orthodox Jew? It's hard to say. I fell in love, and I can no more tell you exactly why than I can tell you why I fell in love with my wife. In both observant Judaism and my wife, I saw beauty and wisdom. I saw purpose, direction, focus, and meaning. I was euphoric, and I felt swallowed up.

I read omnivorously, trembling with excitement, on the edge of myself. I devoured every book about Judaism that I could find. I read Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the great philosopher-poets of Jewish life in the twentieth century, and Samson Raphael Hirsch, a nineteenth-century German Jew and leading rabbi who tried to integrate total commitment to Jewish tradition with his desire to live fully as a German. I read the Jewish Catalogue, a 1970s guide to making your own Judaism, and To Be a Jew: A Guide to Jewish Observance, an orthodox treatise by Rabbi Hayim Havely Donin. I wanted to learn everything that I could about being Jewish. Becoming an observant Jew was an expression of my passion and excitement.

I knew that my family considered itself part of the Conservative movement in Judaism (although they didn't live in a way that would pass muster with a Conservative rabbi). By becoming orthodox I was making a big leap. Orthodox Jews believe that the Bible is a direct gift from God, while Conservatives think it was inspired by God but produced by human beings. Orthodox Jews tend to be much stricter and more rigorous in Jewish ritual practice than Conservatives. This kind of devotion--this all-encompassing version of faith--was foreign to the Hirschfield home.

My parents were a bit perplexed by my desire to become ritually observant. But my great-grandmother, Sarah Plotkin, the matriarch of our family, was appalled. Sarah Plotkin lived to . . . ninety-eight? One hundred? We don't know. She was older than her husband, something we only discovered when she died, and lied about her age her whole life.

The Matriarch lived in Palm Springs. She liked it there: good climate, plenty of sun, dry. You didn't have to worry about mildew or shoveling snow. Two of her six kids lived with her. They were unmarried; they had been raised to wait on the queen.

My grandparents also lived in Palm Springs. When we visited them, after going out to dinner, we would go to bubbe's. Even in her nineties, bubbe didn't miss a trick. We all thought she was going blind and deaf, but my father used to say that if you dropped a twenty-dollar bill across the room, she could read the serial number going down and hear it hit the floor.

She sat in her special chair, a big Barcalounger with a handle on the side that operated a footrest. A diminutive woman with an iron will, she piled her white hair on top of her head to make herself look taller, and dressed in chartreuse, mauve, and apricot silk robes. She loved jewelry (rings and big gold bracelets) and male singers. She thought Tom Jones was sexy and wasn't afraid to say so into her nineties as Jones pranced around, live from Las Vegas, on her television.

One evening visit to bubbe was particularly memorable and important to me.

When I was twelve, I made the decision to wear a yarmulke (kippah) full time. The tradition of wearing a kippah in Judaism has mysterious origins. The first time that head covering is connected to piety is in a story in the Talmud (compiled from the second to the sixth centuries CE). A mother brings her errant son to a rabbi, who tells her to wrap the boy's head in a sudra, the Aramaic word for the head wrapping that rabbis wore. Then all will be well, he assures her.

What does the story mean? The rabbi may have been suggesting that if you dress like a priest or rabbi you will begin to feel like one. There is a connection between what you wear and what you feel, between how you look and who you are.

By the Middle Ages, when wearing a yarmulke was normative for male Jews, it had become a reminder of the immanence of God, keeping you aware of the sacred potential of each moment. But that's not all that it was about for me at twelve. I was declaring who I was to the world. It was an expression of the seriousness of my commitment. I was integrating the physical and spiritual, becoming on the outside who I felt like on the inside. I did it because it felt right. Now wearing a kippah has become like putting on my pants in morning. Not putting it on would be like going out into the world in my underwear.

No one else in my family wore a kippah except when they went to temple (which, again, was almost never), and I knew it would not go unnoticed by Sarah Plotkin with her hawklike eyes. I bent down to kiss her and she grabbed my hair. "I did not come to America for this foolishness!" she thundered, and tore the kippah off my head and threw it on the floor.

I had just made the commitment to become observant. I was excited about my choice, inspired, and perhaps a little bit tentative. But to my bubbe the yarmulke was ridiculous: the thundering voice of the Matriarch was calling me an idiot!

I was a deer in the headlights. My whole family, who already thought the kippah was weird, witnessed the scene. I was stunned and hurt, but mostly I was paralyzed. Speechless.

I'll never forget my mother, who stood up straight and said to her own grandmother, with a clear sense of the truth and rightness of her words, "No, bubbe. You are wrong. You came to America so that he could wear the kippah if that's what he wants to do."

That was a great moment for me, a monumental moment. I have studied with great rabbis, brilliant teachers, but at this moment my mother taught me more about the meaning of faith than any of them. She taught me the faith that can be built between a parent and child, in every parent who respects the choices of her children even if she does not agree with them. She was helping me be more like me, not a reflection of who she was. She was showing me a willingness to trust and to believe in the goodness and rightness of the person in front of her. That's a very powerful kind of faith.

My bubbe was also teaching me a different lesson. I couldn't see it at the time, of course, but I now know that the very thing she ridiculed was what her own life had been about--her own form of faith.

My great-grandparents had set off from Minsk to the United States in the 1890s. They did not do this because they were poor. My great-grandmother, an educated woman, came from a family with servants. My great-grandfather, Sam, was a cabinetmaker with a good living. He knew two things: that he wanted Sarah as his wife, and he wanted to go to America. He was successful here and eventually moved his family to Birmingham, Michigan--at the time, a restricted community. He had to buy his way into the area, paying off neighbors to make it acceptable for them to live next to a Jew. He was honored in the book Men Who Made Michigan, a dusty copy of which is still in my parents' home.

My great-grandparents betrayed all the rules of what it meant to be Jewish, and in doing so fulfilled a central commandment in the Bible: choose life!

In the Bible, Deuteronomy 30:19 says, "You should choose life in order that you should live." Jews who can't remember much about their Sunday-school education remember this: that it is permitted that you may break almost every law to save a life.

The rabbis in Minsk said to Sarah Plotkin, "Don't go to America, you will stop keeping kosher." And they were right! She did stop keeping kosher. She stopped observing Shabbat. She abandoned Jewish ritual life. But if my great-grandparents had been worried about ritual, they probably would have stayed in Minsk, and I, in all likelihood, would not be here today, having vanished in either the Holocaust or behind the Iron Curtain. Boarding that boat and setting off for a new world, as so many of our ancestors from so many countries did then (and so many people are still doing today), was living faith, choosing and committing to a better life. Which is what our traditions should do for each of us: help us imagine a better world and nurture our ability to get there.

What had possessed my great-grandparents as teenagers in Minsk, eight thousand miles from the California oasis of Palm Springs, to think that they could build a better life for themselves and their children and their children's children in a place where they couldn't even speak the language? What set them off on their long journey? It was the same voice deep inside them, intimately close and infinitely far, that said, as it once had to Abraham, "Go to the land that I will show you."

What act of faith could I engage in to match that? Faith is in its expressions, in the way we live. To live your faith is what my bubbe had done, and what I was trying to do with my kippah in my own way, and what my mother was doing when she let me make my own choices, believing in me and refusing to let my choices become a journey away from the love we shared.

The story of my deciding to become observant and wear a kippah is not a story about coming back to "real Judaism." It is the story about my great-grandparents' faith--in themselves, in the future, in the journey. Like Abraham, my great-grandparents walked away from everything they knew.

One of the many facets of true faith is the ability to wrestle with the big issues: What does my life mean? What does the future hold? It is about committing yourself passionately to the choices you make, although all too often that passion and commitment involves denigrating the choices of others. I understand that impulse. I think all of us can understand it. When you give yourself so fully to something, when you stake who you are on it, you had better be right! You feel you have found yourself and the way to live while all around you is the confusion and chaos of the world. And yet that's what life is like! It's messy and imperfect.

There are as many different kinds of faith as there are people. I learned this lesson early in my childhood.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter One The Many Faces of Faith 15

Finding Faith Without Fanaticism

Chapter Two Pilgrims, Tourists, and Seekers 37

Marrying Openness and Commitment

Chapter Three The Shadow Side of Faith 61

Learning That We Can Be Both Victims and Victimizers

Chapter Four Vengeance, Forgiveness, Justice, and Mercy 81

Recognizing the Sacredness of All Our Feelings

Chapter Five Keeping Score 105

Making Judgments Without Becoming Judgmental

Chapter Six Mosquechurchagogue 131

Finding Unity, Not Forcing Uniformity

Chapter Seven The Bishop of Auschwitz 155

When the Whole Really is Greater than the Sum of the Parts

Chapter Eight Adam and Eve Were Not the Cosbys 183

Learning That You Don't have to Disconnect Because you Disagree

Chapter Nine A Person's a Person, No Matter How Small 205

Talking about the Things that Matter Most in the Way that Hurts the Least

Chapter Ten The Footprints of the Messiah 227

Turning Our Deepest Dreams into an Everyday Reality

Bibliography 249

Acknowledgments 255

Index 263

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. What, if any, religion do you practice? What drew your group to this book? Are you the same religion as the other members of your group? If not, do you have any qualms about discussing religious issues with them? Were your feelings influenced by You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right?

2. On page 10, Hirschfield says “ultimately it is the fanaticism that kills, not the faith.” Discuss the role of fanaticism in world events–both abroad and here at home.

3. Reinhold Niebuhr said “Fanatic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt; it is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.” Do you think this is true? Why might a person who was unsure be more strident in defending his beliefs?

4. Share your favorite passage from You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right. What is its message? Why is it meaningful to you?

5. Hirschfield describes faith as “a loving acceptance of the profound complexity of existence and creation. It is about abiding in mystery. In being unsure.” How do you define faith?

6. What is the link between spareribs and honoring your mother and father? Discuss how this kind of unlikely connection, in which a seeming contradiction is actually a sacred teaching, could help people of all religions to better understand their own faith and that of their neighbors.

7. What is the difference between a pilgrim, a tourist, and a seeker? Which would you consider yourself? Are you content with that label?

8. Discuss the concepts of victim and victimizer. What danger lies in being a victim? A victimizer? Do you believe that people can be both at the same time?

9. In You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right, Hirschfield quotes this passage from The End of Faith by Sam Harris: “We must find a way to a time when faith,” writes Harris, “without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it. Given the present state of the world, there appears to be no other future worth wanting. It is imperative that we begin speaking plainly about the absurdity of most of our religious beliefs.” What do you think about this idea? Given that so much of the violence and war in the world is caused by conflicting religious beliefs, should mankind, as a whole, abandon faith? What do you think the result of such an action would be?

10. Discuss the concepts of forgiveness, justice, and vengeance in both personal relationships and interfaith relations. How are they linked and how are they different? Also, consider the role of mercy.

11. In chapter four, Hirschfield discusses the death penalty. What do you think of his ideas on the subject? What do you think of the death penalty in general?

12. Is it important to you that your children marry members of the religion you practice? Why or why not?

13. What do you think about the biblical teachings often called on to support and condemn gay marriage? What is your position on this issue and why? On page 145, Hirschfield calls for both sides of this issue–and other debates facing us in public life today–to admit that they might be wrong and the other side might be right. Do you think that’s possible? How would attitude affect public discourse on any subject? Would it be possible to think and act that way and still conduct the business of passing laws to govern the land?

14. Discuss Hirschfield’s experience at the Islamic Society of North America. In his position, would you have joined your hosts in prayer or simply observed from the doorway? Why? Do you believe in the possibility of lasting peace between Jews and Muslims?

15. The following quote appears on page 152: “The more traditionally religious you are, the more deeply modest and radically inclusive you should be. After all, if your tradition truly is the infinite gift of an infinite God, then how could there be only one way to understand it?” Do you agree with this statement? Do you think the teachings of most religions would agree with this statement?

16. In Chapter 7, Hirschfield deals with the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts by describing his experience at a ceremony to mark the reopening of a synagogue outside of the Polish town Oswiecim, called Auschwitz by the Nazis. How does his visit to a Catholic mass held in celebration of the reopening both surprise him and reconfirm his ideas about how we can best live together peacefully? What does the Bishop Ricoczy represent to the Rabbi?

17. On pages 199—200, Hirschfield writes: “If all I am is that which you are not, then I have given over control of my identity to you! It is precisely when I can connect to you while maintaining my personal integrity that I find out who I most deeply am.” What does this statement mean to you?

18. Do you think that saying both sides of the abortion debate “believe in the sanctity of life and the dignity of human beings” (page 202) oversimplifies the issue? Do you agree with the idea that both pro-life and pro-choice activists care about the same thing–although one group is focused on the mother and one on the unborn child?

19. Hirschfield translates the Hebrew word ezer k’negdo, used in Genesis to describe Eve as “a helper who is against him.” Does this make sense to you? How can someone help you and be against you at the same time? Is it possible to disagree with someone on life’s big issues and still connect with them?

20. In personal and political life, why is it important to engage those whose beliefs are the furthest removed from your own in conversation? Hirschfield declines an invitation to join a breakfast hosted by Iranian president Ahmadinejad. Why? In Hirschfield’s shoes, would you have attended?

21. On page 219, Hirschfield offers an interesting take on the motivating forces behind fanaticism and zealotry. What do you think of his idea?

22. Discuss the seven steps Hirschfield lays out to help us talk to each other in a way that guarantees that we put “the dignity of the person in front of us before the correctness of our own ideas.” The story begins on page 216.

23. What’s the difference between naïveté and idealism? Do you think Hirschfield is naïve? Idealistic? Correct? Would it be possible to live as he proposes?

24. Discuss the version of the coming–or return–of the Messiah found on page 239: “We could imagine a world when the Messiah comes where no people will be oppressed, where freedom to pursue what we most want will be guaranteed. We must remember, however, that the freedom to pursue what we want most doesn’t guarantee a happy outcome for all people. If one nation wants to dominate another, then suffering will continue. If one person needs to take advantage of another in order to feel strong, suffering will continue. If my being right demands that I struggle to ensure that everybody thinks you are wrong, the suffering will continue. The outcomes depend on us.”

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Inspiring, much needed message!

    Sticky tabs and underlining on several pages. Example- " about noticin the person in front of you before the ideology inside of you."
    The world needs much more of this message.
    Thank you for this important work, Rabbi Hirschfield.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2008

    A moving, essential read as we near the end of the first decade of the 21st century

    A moving, essential read as we near the end of the 1st decade of the 21st century and try to come to grips with reality 'i.e. life'and it's meaning. This brilliant work by Brad Hirschfield looks at his life with beautiful vignettes that connect the dots of one unique journey through life. It is a guide for us all to search for the pivotal moments in our own lives and turn them into meaningful acts of introspection, love and lovingkindness. This thought provoking book will have you reshaping and re-evaluating your world views--and ultimately lead to a world of greater understanding and mutual coexistence

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    A timely and important book

    This timely and extremely important book shows us the way to a dialogue that goes beyond the old zero-sum games. The book is subtitled 'Finding Faith Without Fanaticism,' and Hirschfield -- a Rabbi and former gun-carrying member of the extremist wing of Israel¿s settler movement -- speaks with authority about his personal epiphany. It is easy to be pluralistic and believe in dialogue when one is an oppressed minority, staring at the barrel of a gun. But to have one¿s finger on the trigger and reach the same conclusion is rare, and far more compelling. Hirschfield powerfully describes his experiences and the alternative path he chose to pursue. The remainder of the book elaborates on Hirschfield¿s central insight: that oftentimes we gain nearly as much from recognizing what we have in common as we do from debating our differences. Like many of our greatest teachers, Hirschfield imparts this lesson through an engaging combination of philosophical analysis, personal stories, and close and innovative reading of traditional Biblical texts. We follow Hirschfield as he travels to places where his views are presumably unwelcome -- to Berlin, to Moscow, to Fez, Morocco -- and learn from watching his examples. The book¿s lessons are not reserved for geopolitics. Hirschfield writes persuasively and easily about interpersonal relationships as well, sharing stories from his own life, from Adam and Eve, and from The Cosby Show. Nor is the book¿s message concealed behind academic jargon. To the contrary: Hirschfield¿s writing is refreshingly conversational, casual without being dumbed-down. Ultimately, the import of this book lies in the insight that there¿s more to being right than proving another wrong. It is a powerful affirmation that truth can be absolute -- real truth, not a watered-down simulacrum called 'truth' -- but it need not be absolutist.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    A reviewer

    In a day and age of increased faith and increased fanatacism, Brad Hirschfield has charted a course that allows for all of the positives of a faith-based life, while resisting extemism that in so many parts of the world appear to be linked to faith. Brad uses his personal experiences as a window for the rest of us to view these issues. It doesn't provide any easy answers - but it does help promote a thought process to both engage those whose views might be considered 'foreign' to our own, while not permitting engagement to constitute approval at all times. It is a difficult, but based on Brad's book, possible, process.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)