The image of Abraham Joshua Heschel walking in pace with Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma is seared into the consciousness of every American Jew. Drawing on the Talmud, Jewish prophecy, and interreligious connections, he viewed God as vulnerable to the deeds of humans; as such, he also protested Vietnam, influenced Nostra aetate, formed a friendship with Reinhold Niebuhr, and became an inspiration to believers of all stripes.
Thunder in the Soul is a compendium of the radical rabbi’s teachings, compiled with his emphases on social justice, prophecy, prayer, and spirituality in mind. It draws from, among other works, The Sabbath, God in Search of Man, and The Prophets (a translation of his dissertation, written before he fled WWII Europe for the US). Its dual introductions help to center Heschel’s work in the concerns of today, including of racism, war, and poverty—ills credited with diminishing our humanity.
The book maintains the poetic cadences and relentless spirit of inquiry that dominated all of Heschel’s work, but distills his lovely and provocative arguments into snack-sized helpings for the seeker on the go. “The world … is crammed with marvel,” Heschel wrote; the same is true of this humble introduction to his work.
Michelle Anne Schingler
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