Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Heschel and Social Justice

The Bay Area’s Lehrhaus is a hub for fearless Jewish learning.  Our heritage began 80 years ago when Martin Buber hired the young Abraham Joshua Heschel to become the co-director of the original Lehrhaus in pre-Nazi Germany.

In the face of Neo-Nazism we are compelled to share these words of Abraham Joshua Heschel from “Religion and Race,” in The Insecurity of Freedom.

There is an evil which most of us condone and are even guilty of: indifference to evil. We remain neutral, impartial, and not easily moved by the wrongs done unto other people. Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself; it is more universal, more contagious, more dangerous. A silent justification, it makes possible an evil erupting as an exception becoming the rule and being in turn accepted.

To understand and appreciate the contemporary relevance of Heschel, Lehrhaus has created a three-part course revealing the Jewish social justice imperative that defines Abraham Joshua Heschel, his thought and his actions. 

Required Texts: 
The Prophets and Abraham Joshua Heschel: Essential Writings



To participate Click Here

Syllabus

Fall Semester: Foundations

Book:

The Prophets: 

“What Manner of Man is the Prophet?” (Chapter 1, pages 3-33)

“Chastisement” (Chapter 10, pages 238-248) 

“Justice” (Chapter 11, pages 249-281)

Extras:

“The Theology of Pathos” (Chapters 10-12) and “Anthropopathy,” “Religion of Sympathy,” “Event and Experience,” and “Conclusions” (chapters 15, 18, 25, 28).

Handouts:

"Summer" and "Repentance" from, “Human — God’s Ineffable Name, ” Abraham Joshua Heschel

Maimonides: Mishne Torah, Book One: Knowledge, Laws Concerning Idolatry Chapter 1, Abraham, the Moral Philosopher

Hasidic Roots: Reb Abraham Joshua Heschel of Mezibizh (from the introduction to Heschel’s, “A Passion for Truth”)

“Hasidism as a New Approach to Torah,” from Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, pp. 33-39

The Rebbe: Menachem Mendl of Kotzk by Elie Wiesel

The Legend of The Baal Shem by Martin Buber


Winter Semester: Divine Pathos & Prophetic Action: Heschel as Religious Activist 

Book:

Abraham Joshua Heschel: Essential Writings

Handouts:

Shai Held, Chapter 4, “The Pathos of the Self-Transcendent God,” Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence (Dec. 2013), pp. 134-173

Edward K. Kaplan, “Prophetic Radicalism: Sacred Humanism & Social Action,” Holiness in Words: Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Poetics of Piety, pp. 100-113

Susannah Heschel, “Theological Affinities in the Writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King, Jr.” Conservative Judaism L: 2-3 (1998), 126-143

Spring Semester: Moral Outrage, War and Economics

Handouts:

Abraham Joshua Heschel, “The Moral Outrage of Vietnam,” Vietnam, Crisis of Conscience (1967), pp. 48-61

Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Death as Homecoming,” Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, pp. 366-379
Readings from, The Insecurity of Freedom "No Religion Is An Island: The Interfaith Legacy of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel"

To participate Click Here



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

From Religion in a Free Society, in “The Insecurity of Freedom” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1963

The most commanding idea that Judaism dares to think is that freedom, not necessity, is the source of all being. The universe was not caused, but created. Behind mind and matter, order and relations, the freedom of God obtains. The inevitable is not eternal. All compulsion is a result of choice. A tinge of that exemption from necessity is hiding in the folds of the human spirit.   We are not taught to feel accused, to bear a sense of boundless guilt.  We are asked to feel elated, bred to meet the tasks that never end.
         Judaism is forever engaged in a bitter battle against man’s deeply rooted belief in fatalism and its ensuing inertia in social, moral, and spiritual conditions.  Abraham started in rebellion against his father and the gods of his time.  His great distinction was not being loyal and conforming, but in defying and initiating.  He was loved by the Lord not for ancestral worship but because he taught his descendants to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right” (Genesis 18:19).

Abraham Joshua Heschel (January 11, 1907 – December 23, 1972)


From Religion in a Free Society, in “The Insecurity of Freedom” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1963

Saturday, June 24, 2017

In January of 1955 Heschel publishes The Insecurity of Freedom that includes the essay "The Vocation of the Cantor."

Thanks to Paul Albert of Berkeley we have a public file here: Vocation of the Cantor

Monday, October 20, 2014

From Religion in a Free Society, in “The Insecurity of Freedom” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1963

The most commanding idea that Judaism dares to think is that freedom, not necessity, is the source of all being. The universe was not caused, but created. Behind mind and matter, order and relations, the freedom of God obtains. The inevitable is not eternal. All compulsion is a result of choice. A tinge of that exemption from necessity is hiding in the folds of the human spirit.   We are not taught to feel accused, to bear a sense of boundless guilt.  We are asked to feel elated, bred to meet the tasks that never end.
         Judaism is forever engaged in a bitter battle against man’s deeply rooted belief in fatalism and its ensuing inertia in social, moral, and spiritual conditions.  Abraham started in rebellion against his father and the gods of his time.  His great distinction was not being loyal and conforming, but in defying and initiating.  He was loved by the Lord not for ancestral worship but because he taught his descendants to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right” (Genesis 18:19).

Abraham Joshua Heschel (January 11, 1907 – December 23, 1972)


From Religion in a Free Society, in “The Insecurity of Freedom” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1963

Monday, May 26, 2014

From Religion in a Free Society

       The most commanding idea that Judaism dares to think is that freedom, not necessity, is the source of all being. The universe was not caused, but created. Behind mind and matter, order and relations, the freedom of God obtains. The inevitable is not eternal. All compulsion is a result of choice. A tinge of that exemption from necessity is hiding in the folds of the human spirit. 
       We are not taught to feel accused, to bear a sense of boundless guilt.  We are asked to feel elated, bred to meet the tasks that never end.
       Judaism is forever engaged in a bitter battle against man’s deeply rooted belief in fatalism and its ensuing inertia in social, moral, and spiritual conditions.  Abraham started in rebellion against his father and the gods of his time.  His great distinction was not being loyal and conforming, but in defying and initiating.  He was loved by the Lord not for ancestral worship but because he taught his descendants to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right” (Genesis 18:19).


From Religion in a Free Society, in “The Insecurity of Freedom” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1963

Monday, March 24, 2014

We do not know what to pray for.


We do not know what to pray for.  Should we not pray for the ability to be shocked at atrocities committed by man, for the capacity to be dismayed at our inability to be dismayed? Prayer should be an act of catharsis or purgation of emotions, as well as a process of self-clarification, of examining priorities, of elucidating responsibility.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On Life

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.

The meaning of one’s life lies in one's perfecting the universe. One has to distinguish...and redeem the sparks of holiness scattered throughout the darkness of the world.