Menachem Mendel

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Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel-100 years

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It is 100 years ago that Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel was born (January 11, 1907/25 Tevet 5667). My opinion of Heschel is far from objective, since I can say will full confidence that I would never have developed the commitment to Judaism and Jewish learning that I have now if it wasn’t for my exposure as a college student to Heschel’s writings. It was more of a chance meeting in the library stacks than any formal exposure. In Heschel’s writings I found a deep commitment to Torah and living a life of Torah which never lost sight of the image of God found in all human beings, a moving plea for the necessity of a halakhic life, but always stressing how this observance must be informed by aggadah. For those who are interested in an introduction to Heschel’s writings, I would suggest starting with some of his collected works such as Man’s Quest For God or Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity. A short article about Heschel can be found here. It is very appropriate that Heschel’s yarzheit is so close to Martin Luther King Day. Heschel saw King as a prophet who was sent by God to save America’s soul. It was Heschel who saw his marching with MLK for civil rights as a religious obligation which was no less holy and an example of worship than observing kashrut and shabbat. May their memories be for a blessing.

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