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Thunder in the Soul: To Be Known by God

Abraham Joshua Heschel (Edited by Robert Erlewine. Forward by Susannah Heschel)
Plough Publishing, 127 pages

Abraham Joshua Heschel was born in 1907 in Warsaw, Poland, into a lineage that included many rabbis. So, what could Heschel have to say to us in 2021? This is a man who became a rabbi, survived the Shoah and influenced generations of Jewish and Christian believers. He is widely known for his friendship with and counsel to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is not as widely known that he delivered the eulogy at Reinhold Niebuhr’s funeral and that Niebuhr considered him his best friend in his last years. Heschel probed the Talmud and the theological tradition of Judaism with an unflinching intellect that gave him the prophetic courage to speak against war, racial injustice and poverty — all from a deep theological foundation and living prayer. Seeking to understand the Sabbath, Christians turn to Heschel. Seeking to understand praying to God while being rooted in this world, Christians turn to Heschel. In this small collection of his writings from across his life, we get insight into his capacity to hold in balance a life of prayer and serious study of Scripture with prophetic action. The foreword by his daughter Susannah gives a wider perspective on the importance for reading Heschel in these troubled times in which inter-religious dialogue is as important as ever. In such dialogue, says Heschel, “what is urgently needed are ways helping one another in the terrible predicament of here and now by the courage to believe that the Word of the Lord endures forever as well as here and now; to nurture an openness to the spirit of the Psalms, reverence for the words of the prophets, and faithfulness to the Living God.”

 

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