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November 27, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-27

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PURELY COMMENTARY

Heschel's Monumental 'Moral Codifications

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

w

hen God in Search of Man
first appeared in 1955, it
immediately assumed a first-
rank ethical guide for all faiths. Its
author, Abraham Joshua Heschel,
already the acknowledged multilingual
literary genius, was a front-rank
philosopher, teacher, interpreter of
Jewish tradition and lore. His
philosophical works reached out into all
spheres of modern thought, and was
shared alike by all faiths.
Now the reissued 1987 edition of
this great work again serves the
definitive encyclopedic purpose of
guiding readers to an understanding of
the highest purposes in life. It inspires
into faith and defines it. It explains
liberty and tradition. It makes the
aspirations for peace more understan-
dable. It elevates mankind to prayer
and defines the term.
Unlimited in scope, it also refutes
and rejects the oppressives and the
negatives. It has among its definitions
one for fundamentalism.
The new edition of God in Search of
Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, just
reissued by the new publisher on the
American scene, Jason Aronson, has
the added distinction of being introduc-
ed with a new foreword by the daughter
of the late Dr. Heschel, Susannah
Heschel, who is currently working on
her doctorate in religious studies at the
University of Pennsylvania. Her in-
troductory essay is a scholarly tribute
to her father. Her comments also are

Abraham Joshua Heschel

reminiscences in the course of which
she asserts:
The first third of God in
Search of Man is a description
of the inner spiritual life and the
path a religious person takes to
reach God's presence. There are
no exercises in meditation, no
calls for retreat from the world,
no mantras to recite. Rather, my
father speaks about human sen-
sibilities, qualities within
ourselves that we can cultivate
in response to the world around

us. I remember as a child walk-
ing with my father along Broad-
way, in dirty, noisy, grimy
streets, and then turning the
corner to go home, walking
down the hill toward Riverside
Drive, and seeing before us the
Hudson River and, sometimes, a
magnificent sunset. My father
would describe what we were
seeing, the wonder of God's
miracles in nature, the beauty of
a sunset which reminds us of
God's presence in the world. I
realized later, when I read his
books, how the words of his
writings and speech were one
and the same.
Perceiving God's presence is
our task, he writes, and he liv-
ed his life with that constant
awareness. He writes in God in
Search of Man that "the Bible is
a seed, God is the sun, but we
are the soil. Every generation is
expected to bring forth new
understanding and new realiza-
tion!' The understanding he
brought forth through his life
and work are immeasurable
gifts. What a miracle that his life
was spared. How blessed are we
who knew him.
Rabbi Heschel's immense
philosophically encyclopedic work has,
as has been indicated, many guidelines
for teachers and students alike. Ex-
emplary is this comment on liberty of
thought and action:
Our understanding of man
and his liberty has undergone

profound change in our time.
The problem of man is more
grave than we were able to
realize a generation ago. What
we used to sense in our worst
fears turned out to have been a
utopia compared with what has
happened in our own days. We
have discovered that reason
may be perverse, that science is
no security.
Is liberty alone, regardless of
what we do with it, regardless of
good and evil, of kindness and
cruelty, the highest good? Is
liberty an empty concept — the
ability to do what we please? Is
not the meaning of liberty con-
tingent upon its compatibility
with righteousness? There is no
freedom except the freedom
bestowed upon us by God; there
is no freedom without sanctity.
There is a universality to the great
work which already has a continuity of
influence in the search for faith and
devotion. There may be special interest
for the non-Jew, as there is for the
Jewish reader, in this analysis of
fundamentalism:
In our encounter with the Bi-
ble we may take either a fun-
damentalist attitude which
regards every word as literally
valid, making no distinction bet-
ween the eternal and the tem-
poral, and allowing no place for
personal or historic understan-
ding, or for the voice of the con-
science. Or we may take a ra-

Continued on Page 40

Food As An Asset Defining The Festivals

F

ood for thought" is a common
application to an ordinary
communicative expression. It has
a special value in Jewish literature for
children. Many of the books for the
young that are published to define
holidays give emphasis to the tradi-
tional delicacies associated with
festivals: matza for Passover, haman-
tash for Purim, kneidlach also for
Passover, blintzes for Shavout, latkes for
Chanukah. But much more accom-

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
(US PS 275-520) is published every Friday
with additional supplements the fourth
week of March, the fourth week of August
and the second week of November at
20300 Civic Center Drive, Southfield,
Michigan.

Second class postage paid at Southfield,
Michigan and additional mailing offices.

Postmaster: Send changes to:
DETROIT JEWISH NEWS, 20300 Civic
Center Drive, Suite 240, Southfield,
Michigan 48076

$24 per year
$26 per year out of state
60' single copy

Vol. XCII No. 14

2

November 27, 1987

FRIDAY, NOV. 27, 1987

panies the latter, if Madeline Wikler
and Judyth Groner are to be the in-
troducers of menus coined for their book
Miracle Means — Eight Nights of Food
'n Fun for Chanukah.
Chanukah is due here in a matter
of days and the new Kar-Ben Copies
book for children invites attention.
It is a good addition to the available
Chanukah books. Yet, it is so different
because it deals with foods in addition
to providing fun. It has much value in
its illustrations, and the explanations
of the historic significance of the Feast
of Lights is commendable. Since it deals
with foods, authors and the illustrator,
Chan Radin, do well with guidelines for
preparation of the delicacies and cau-
tion to be careful at the stove and in
training to be good chefs in all ways.
The fun is in the kinds of foods pro-
posed for the readers. Now the young
reader can have a "Dreidel Sandwich,"
"Candy Dreidels," "Aleph Beth
Pretzels," "Hanu-Cookies," "Cheese
Coins," "Sufganiyot (Doughnuts),"
"Maccabee Hero Sandwich" and many
more temptations.
The foods are the same, the titles
different. That's how the festival is in-
troduced. It's a way of teaching and

learning while eating. Therefore, the
"food also for thought."

'Adam and Eve':
Bible Narrative

B

ible stories are gaining popular-
ity in the increasing production
of children's books. Macmillan's
subsidiary, McElderly, exemplifies it in
the Adam and Eve adaptation by War-
wick Hutton, who also adds to the
book's charms as illustrator.
The author of this beautiful book,
with photos that dare acknowledgment
of realism, utilized the King James ver-
sion of the Bible translation. Macmillan
publishers understandably express
pride in producing this Bible-base book
for children.

'Dos Pintele Yid':
The

A

while back, in an earlier
column, I took delight in
dealing with nostalgic Jews,
with emphasis on "Dos Pintele Yid."

In his well-annotated Yiddish-
English-dictionary, the eminent scholar
Uriel Weinreich provides a definition
for it as "The quintescence of one's
Jewish identity."
Jews often search for a reunion with
the past. Assimilated Jews have often
been seen "stealing into" a house of
worship to hear a cantor chant the "Kol
Nidre" on Yom Kippur eve.
Many incidents are recordable
about the nostalgic. Some time before
his death, Supreme Court Justice Felix
Frankfurter expressed a desire that the
"Kaddish" be recited at his funeral.
Many experiences can be recorded
in the treatment of "nostalgia" about
weddings. Many mixed marriages are
marked by the "huppah," even when
priests as well as rabbis officiate.
Rabbi Samual Silver, now a
spiritual leader in a Reform congrega-
tion, who formerly had a pulpit in Stan-
ford, Conn., can relate many incidents
in the numerous occasions when he per-
formed mixed marriages. He now
relates an especially interesting event
in his column "Digest of the Yiddish
Press" in Gabriel Cohen's National
Jewish Post and Opinion.

Continued on Page 40

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