"Faith can be tested and found wanting. When it encounters undeserved suffering, it often founders and probably should. Faith is not a conquered peak but a daunting ascent; not a safe harbor but a long voyage. No one hands faith to us. There are only hands to hold as we search for it together," writes Rabbi Robert Kirschner, author of critical studies and translations of classical rabbinic texts and Program Director of the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
For many Jews, the words of the Torah are a distant hum in the background of contemporary chatter. Or as the author eloquently puts it, "The Hebrew Scriptures blink at us, like quasars, from a galactic distance." In this well-written collection of meditations, Kirschner catches some of the light from that these sources and presents it to us for our illumination.
Listening is a very important spiritual practice for Jews: "The miracle was not that God called to Moses from the burning bush. The miracle was that Moses heard him." One of the tricks of the Holy One is to constantly linger in ordinary things, places, and beings. This means that those on a spiritual path must always be on the alert for the Divine, looking everywhere and listening carefully. Kirschner reminds us of an ancient midrash: "Broken vessels are scorned by people but God uses them." He goes further to illustrate: "It was a limp, not an angel, that taught Jacob compassion; a stutter, not a speech, that taught Moses to be humble." The point is clear don't ever disdain the small stuff.
Kirschner mines the ore of the Jewish tradition with essays on gratitude, love, forgiveness, miracles, and the Messiah. The light that he generates with these pieces lingers with a warm glow.