Page 159 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

Basic HTML Version

(Reconstructionist Press, 1957); AbrahamJoshua Heschel,
God in Search ofMan
(JPS, 1956) and Fritz Rothschild’s anthology
Between God and Man
(Harper and Row, 1959); Joseph B. So­
Halakhic Man
(JPS, 1983) and his essay “The Lonely
Man of Faith,” in the magazine
VII, 1-3 (1964-65); Emil
God'sPresence inHistory
(NYU Press, 1970); and for a
recent important work David Hartman,
A Living Covenant
Press, 1985).
This is, as I have said above, an ambitious reading plan, perhaps
even a “lifetime” plan. But, these matters are complicated by other
factors as well: one book may lead the reader into a new direction
and onto another path. People will develop their own areas of spe­
cial concern and large sections of the plan will then become irrel­
evant. Even more powerful may be the influence of teachers, for as
we have seen, reading and Jewish study are not always one and the
same thing. In this regard we might do well to consider the follow­
ing remarkable quotation which I recendy came upon. In his
, Moses Ibn Ezra, the great 12th century Spanish Hebrew
power, had the following to say about the reading of books: “Awise
teacher and skilled instructor should be more dear to you than
books. Turn to the books only if you can find no teacher.”Even to­
day, in an age of rapid communication and numerous publications,
these words may have something to say to us.
It’s not often that a writer has a chance to look back and update
work that was done years earlier. So I was grateful to the
for giving me the opportunity to add a few words to
my essay “A Lifetime of Reading” now a decade after its publica­
tion. During the past ten years we have seen many notable Jewish
books published and it would be difficult indeed to review them all
in this kind of short addendum. Suffice it to say that Jewish pub­
lishing is alive and well and that the focus of my earlier essay, Jew­
ish classical and religious sources and books about them, has
bloomed as well.
Lifetime ofReading