"Every moment of calling and response is a model for each of us, who must learn how to discern the call of the other and react to it appropriately. We are each the Abrahams, the Moses, and the Samuels of our time, and we are challenged to hear the call and the cry as they did." So writes Norman J. Cohen (Self, Struggle & Change: Family Conflict Stories in Genesis and Their Healing Insights into Our Lives) in this important book. The author, a rabbi and professor of midrash, examines the word hineini ("Here I am") as it appears in the Bible 14 times. Cohen argues that the term represents the ability to respond to the other within relationships. Sometimes, as the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, and the prophets show, it means being present and receptive to the other. It can also signify acting on behalf of others or being willing to sacrifice for someone or something higher.
With great energy and enthusiasm, Cohen reveals how hineini gives these biblical characters ample opportunities for reflection and growth. He links the term to faith, humility transcending oneself, being accessible to others, seeing and being seen, and knowing the other in our lives. Then to amplify this already substantive interpretation of hineini, Cohen includes the stories and personal reflections of 11 other authors and spiritual teachers. In a time when many people are confused or numbed by the challenge of dealing with others, this resource with its ethical breadth and imaginative sweep is very timely indeed.