Page 75 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 32

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SHERWIN / ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL
67
volume, written in a unique poetic prose, is a song for that which
was lost.
Man is Not Alone,
his philosophy of religion, perceives
religion as human piety responding to the ineffable marvel of
existence. I t offers a refreshing and compelling alternative to the
prevalent over-systematized and over-secularized philosophies of
religion.
God in Search of Man,
Heschel’s philosophy of Judaism,
perceives Judaism as being grounded in God’s search for human
righteousness rather than in the fulfillment of a psychological
need of man. Revelation, through which God reaches man and
communicates His plan for human fulfillment, becomes a central
postulate in Heschel’s thinking. A formulation of prophetic
revelation forms the core of both of
God in Search of Man
and
of his work on the prophets. The rabbinic understanding of reve­
lation is also the central theme of the second volume of Heschel’s
massive Hebrew work,
The Theology of Ancient Judaism.
In the
first volume, Heschel asserts that Rabbinic theology and conse­
quently, Jewish theology, is not monolithic, as many had claimed,
but is the product of an ongoing dialectical tension between a
mystical and a rational apprehension of Judaism.
HESCHEL ON PROPHECY
Although Heschel avoids the term “continuous revelation,” his
studies seem to convey that not only he, but also leading rabbis
of the Middle Ages, believed that prophecy did not cease with
the end of biblical prophecy. In his monograph “Prophecy in
the Middle Ages Until the Time of Maimonides,” Heschel ad­
duces much evidence that many medieval Jewish sages were con­
sidered by their contemporaries, and successors, and by them­
selves, to have had some form of revelatory experience.
A poignant combination of a poetic outcry and a philosophi­
cally cogent polemic against philosophies of hopelessness and
policies which encourage dehumanization, became still another
book,
Who is Man?
In 1967, when Jews throughout the world
struggled to verbalize a blessing of gratitude for the State of
Israel while simultaneously striving to respond cogently to anti-
Zionist rhetoric, it was Abraham Heschel who best managed to
articulate the thoughts of world Jewry. His
Israel: Echo of
Eternity
is both a tender serenade to Jerusalem and a powerful
polemic against apathy and hostility toward Israel.