Shai Held on Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence

I once gave a talk where I asked the audience: What do Heschel, Soloveitchik, and Pope John Paul II have in common? The answer is that they all used the writings of Max Scheler to defend in the modern world the role of sacred action. Heschel defended mizvot, Soloveitchik defended the halakhic man, and Pope John Paul II defended the prayer and sacraments. Scheler pointed toward the eternal nature in man that transcends the biological through the transformation process of religion on the self. Rabbi Shai Held in his new book Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence deals with the role of self-transcendence, prayer, and mizvot in Heschel’s thought- so go buy it.

Shai Held is Co-Founder, Dean and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar. Shai has a PhD in religion from Harvard; his main academic interests are in modern Jewish and Christian thought and in the history of Zionism. His book Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence is a clear exposition of Heschel’s thought on these topic and Held, in a clear and readable manner, situates Heschel within contemporary theology and philosophy of religion.

This blog was graced by a detailed interview with Rabbi Held two years ago that allow us to see the influences on his theological thinking. Held writes a thoughtful weekly essay on the parashah here that you can subscribe to for a weekly mailing.  People can sign up to receive his weekly essay on the parashah here:
https://docs.google.com/forms/ d/ 11MMeI3QQx5GaFFmEklk1wZfRwcOPN UiBMir_5pKQyS8/viewform

Back issues of his mailings, which only started this season, are available here. http://www.mechonhadar.org/shaiheld

There is another answer to the question: What do Heschel, Soloveitchik, and Pope John Paul II have in common? (someone actually called it out in that lecture) They were all born in Poland. Heschel was raised as a potential rebbe in the center of Polish Jewish life and went off to study poetry, aesthetics, as well as philosophy. Heschel’s personality and writings dripped heavily with real Polisher chassidus- Kotzk, Gur, and Reb Zadok. Later, when he entered the modern world, Heschel shined best as a Kotzker prophet by rising to the occasion when situated next to spiritual figures such as Hillel Zeitlin, Cardinal Bea, Daniel Berrigan, or Martin Luther King. This work dries Heschel off from the Hasidic outbursts and pietistic unpredictability in a way that will allow him to be apart of contemporary discussions of what God wants from us and what it means to lead a God centered life in 21st century America.

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1) What is the main theme of your new book?
Heschel wrote: “The greatest beauty grows at the greatest distance from the ego.”

The core of my argument is that the theme that animates Heschel’s whole body of work, the thread that connects almost everything he wrote, is a preoccupation with self-transcendence. Self-transcendence, for Heschel, means that I really internalize that my ego is not the center of the universe. As he puts it, “Faith is the beginning of the end of egocentricity.” This notion of self-transcendence is closely connected to what Heschel calls “transitive concern” (as opposed to “reflexive concern”)– the care and concern that one manifests for other selves.

You can’t live if you don’t have any concern for yourself, but you can’t be fully human, Heschel insists, if you care only for yourself. In the book, I show that for him self-transcendence is the highest spiritual level a human being can reach (what medieval philosophers would have called takhlit ma’alat ha-adam). The God of Tanakh, Heschel argues, is a God of transitive concern, a God who is beyond ego and who loves widows and orphans. Worshiping a self-transcendent God, we are (or ought to be) moved to strive for self-transcendence.

Self-transcendence is key to Heschel’s understanding of just about everything that matters to him– the nature of the good, the nature of God, the meaning of revelation, the project of prayer and spirituality, and the meaning of fighting for justice on behalf of the weak and downtrodden.

2) What is Heschel’s greatest theological theme?
He affirmed a God who is personal, who loves and cares, and whose love and concern extend to all of humanity.Sometimes Jews fall into the very dangerous trap of imagining God as just a big Jew. But the God of Tanakh is a universal God, even as He enters into a unique covenant with Israel. God cannot just be domesticated into a cosmic cheerleader for the Jews.

By the way, this is an important point of contact for Heschel and the Rambam. In very different ways, both are very preoccupied with creation as a theological category, and a focus on creation obviously opens the door to a more universalistic way of thinking than does an exclusive focus on Exodus or Sinai. Both Heschel and the Rambam begin with the human as opposed to the exclusively Jewish.

3) Do you feel that you are moving Heschel vibrant sense of God’s immanence to a more of a theology of transcendence and covenant?
Heschel does have a robust sense of God’s immanence, but he insists on God’s transcendence being fundamental. God is not the world, and the world is not God. The world is God’s, but it is decidedly not God. In that sense, Heschel is ever the biblical thinker, not the mystical one. At one point, he goes so far as to say that God is “essentially transcendent and only accidentally immanent.”
All of this is connected to another fundamental question. Was Heschel a mystic? If we interpret mysticism expansively to mean the view that human beings are capable of direct encounter with God, then Heschel is definitely a mystic.

But if we interpret mysticism in the narrower sense of believing the possibility of true mystical union and the dissolution of the self in God, then Heschel is not only not a mystic, he is an anti-mystic. He is, in this sense, a covenant theologian, not a mystic. I talk about this at length in the book– the self that transcends itself, for Heschel, nevertheless remains a self, separate from but eternally connected to God. (He has no sympathy at all for pantheism or monism, whether popular or philosophical).

4) How do you envision a hypothetical Maimonides- Heschel discussion?
One of the things I think mattered to Heschel most was his attack on the way the Rambam talks about God (or, maybe better, makes talking about God impossible). Heschel agrees that theology has to emphasize God’s otherness, but an exclusive focus on divine otherness, such that we can say nothing at all about who God is, leaves us without a God who can be said to care for the oppressed– and this, for Heschel, represents a complete abandonment of the God of the Bible.

The fascinating question he raises is: why is it that whenever people think they have achieved synthesis between philosophy and revelation, you look a little closer and you realize that revelation has essentially surrendered to philosophy? At the deepest level there is no give and take. I would put this in the following way: Heschel disputes the notion that one can arrive at a synthesis between scriptural, covenantal religion, on the one hand, and abstract philosophical monotheism on the other.
I often imagine Heschel and the Rambam exchanging barbs– the Rambam accuses Heschel of being an idolator (“What do you mean, God cares?”) and Heschel retorts that the Rambam flirts with atheism (a charge Michael Wyschogrod makes more or less explicitly).

For the Rambam the enemy was idolatry, and just as Moses shattered external idols, the Rambam will shatter internal pictures of God we have in our mind. For Heschel, in contrast, the enemy is indifference, the disregard of other people’s pain and suffering.

I agree with Heschel that the idea that one can fully synthesize Amos and Isaiah with Aristotle or Plato is a fantasy. But at the most fundamental level, I think the question about Heschel’s God– the God of pathos, the God who is outraged and wounded by every act of oppression by the strong against the weak– is not whether it’s Jewishly defensible (that question is much better posed to the Rambam than to Heschel), but whether it’s metaphysically believable in this day and age.

5) Heschel was know for exclaiming things like “Gevalt, prayer is a proof for God” or “prayer is not symbolism but God himself” How does your book develop this theme?
The last two chapters of my book are about Heschel’s approach to prayer. I explore two key elements:
First, the idea that prayer is an attempt to de-center the ego, to remember that the self is not the center of the universe.

This entails a radical re-orientation: instead of asking how the world can serve me and fulfill my every want, I now begin to ask how I can serve, what God needs me to do in the world. As Heschel puts it at one point, prayer is “the least expedient, the least worldly, the least practical” thing we do. The biggest obstacle to God being present in the world is human selfishness and egocentricity. Not coincidentally, Heschel much prefers prayers of praise to prayers of petition; he is more confident that the former facilitate moments of self-transcendence than the latter.

There is another crucial element to Heschel’s vision of prayer: the idea that since God is in exile, prayer is an attempt to bring God back, to open a space in the world where God can dwell. This is what I call the spiritual discipline of enabling immanence, making a space for God in our hearts and, through that, in the world more broadly.

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6) What is Heschel’s approach to Halakha?
Heschel believed that Halakha is fundamental to Jewish religious life, that it is an essential component of Avodat Hashem. But he was also passionately opposed to what he called pan-Halakhism or religious behaviorism. He insisted that a view of Judaism whereby being religious simply equals observing Halakha is a falsification of the Jewish tradition and is both morally dangerous and religiously bankrupt. There is no Halakha without Aggada (just as, he insists, there is no Aggada without Halakha), or else Halakha is just a set of rules with no larger meaning. The rules have to be about something.

But one doesn’t just need a theology; one needs to affirm a God worthy of worship. One can all too easily fall into the trap of worshiping a God who is small-hearted and small-minded. For example, a God who hates all the same people I do (as popular writer Anne Lamott so wonderfully puts it), or a God who does not love the oppressed but is instead used as a bludgeon to hurt them even further (cf. Vayikra Rabbah 32:8). One needs Halakha to be in conversation with a story, a narrative, a set of religious and moral imperatives and aspirations.

Nothing Heschel says about this is really new or revolutionary. That Jewish piety requires inwardness– one can start with Rabbenu Bachya; that the cultivation of virtue is fundamental– one should read the Rambam, Ramban, and the history of Musar; and that what God you worship matters.

Sometimes I imagine Heschel being inspired the old Hasidic canard about Misnagdim: “A hasid is a yerei shamayim, but a misnaged is a yerei shulkhan arukh.” I can imagine him saying: There is a lot of yirat Shulkhan Arukh nowadays, but how much Yirat Shamayim is there?

Implicitly, Heschel says something startling (it seems to me this should be pashut peshat, but it is anything but): you can be medakdek in a million mitzvot and still not have a clue what Avodat Hashem means. Avodat Hashem asks you to observe mitzvot, yes, but also to work on yourself to grow in love and compassion, to care for those who are vulnerable and suffering– just as God does. The Kotzker says that’s the essence of yiddishkeit– arbeitn af zikh. Who talks that way anymore?

7) How is Heschel a critic of materialistic society?
Modernity is all about homo faber, the human being who uses the world, who wants to be served rather than stepping forward to serve. The culture of technology blots out the voice of God’s command and the sense that the suffering of the other is my responsibility. Acquisitiveness, possessiveness, etc. are enemies of the spirit, and modernity only amplifies those very problematic impulses.

In brief, Heschel thinks that modernity is like acid for the capacity for self-transcendence. In general, he thinks there are two ways of carrying ourselves in the world– he calls them “the way of wonder” and “the way of expediency.” In the way of wonder, I realize that God and other people make a claim on me (probably the sentence he wrote more often than any other is “something is asked of us”), whereas in the way of expediency, I only ask how things and people (and ultimately God) can serve me. I instrumentalize the world and turn into a toolbox for the satisfaction of my own wants (the echoes of Heidegger’s critique of technology are clear).

Religion is not just another tool for my own satisfaction. God does not exist to serve me and give me everything I want; rather, God summons me and rips my selfishness to shreds.

8) Why do you think it’s important for Modern Orthodox Jews to read Heschel?
I think all Jews who are serious about piety and Avodat Hashem ought to read Heschel, because he lays down the gauntlet in the most powerful way: do you want to serve God? If Torah has not made you more compassionate, more gentle, more able to listen to the sufferings of another human being, then it is not Torah you have learned.

About Orthodoxy in particular: there is a tendency in certain circles to think that Halakha is the only thing, so much so that Halakha goes from being a core component of Avodat HaShem to being a kind of idol. Heschel provides a much-needed antidote to that form of spiritual illness and impoverishment.

Read Heschel and you are reminded again and again that Rahmana Liba Ba’ei, that God wants the heart, and that religion is about love. Love does not exclude law– ideally, in Judaism, it is thoroughly integrated with it– but law without a focus on love of neighbor and love of stranger is barren and bankrupt, plain and simple.

Modern Orthodoxy (or what used to be called that) is atheological– which is not the same thing as atheistic. It’s not that people don’t believe in God, necessarily (though there is no shortage of atheism), but that they don’t think about what that means, don’t engage with the deep questions faith raises, or they engage with theology in a childish manner. There is little meaningful theological discourse to speak of in Orthodoxy, and Heschel’s challenge is scary and threatening to many.

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9) What is your next book?
I am working on two books. The first is about gratitude and compassion as the two pivots of Jewish spirituality. Along the way, I develop the argument that religion ought to teach us to live with and embrace complexity rather than seeking to dissolve it. The second is an attempt to lay out a theory of human personhood and human dignity from a Jewish perspective, with a focus on what it means to talk about human beings as images of God.

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21 responses to “Shai Held on Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence

  1. Beautiful. Thanks.

  2. In lieu of barbs from the Rambam, Heschel was the object of contemptuous (some might say rude) remarks from Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who declined to support an initiative in 1971 to sponsor Hebrew translations of Heschel’s writings.

    Leibowitz expressed his view that Heschel was part of a “weak-sentimental-anthropocentric” approach to religion that was prevalent in America “among certain non-Jews who had lost their Christianity and Jews who wanted Judaism without Torah and mitzvot.” (Leibowitz’s remarks appeared in a September 9, 1971 letter published in the book “Ratziti l’shol otcha professor Leibowitz,” p. 165).

    Leibowitz did speak respectfully of Heschel’s Prophets, which he terms “one of the most important works of Jewish thought in recent generations.” But he said Heschel was “ruined” as soon as he went to America. “He failed to uphold in old age the promise of his youth.”

    I see that Shai Held discusses and contrasts Heschel and Leibowitz in a lengthy and interesting footnote in his new book.

  3. Thanks, Dr. Brill, for another enlightening post!

  4. Excellent post very enlightening and can serve a useful critique of Centrism

  5. Steven Aftergood. Thanks for your comments. I think there is a great deal at stake in the Heschel-Leibowitz divide, and it’s not only– or even primarily– about a Maimonidean God versus a Biblical one. As I discuss in the long footnote to which you allude, Heschel would have been appalled by Leibowitz’ insistence that self-transcendence involves a willingness to trump the ethical, or, more radically, that ethics has no intrinsic religious value because it inhabits the human side of the divine-human divide. Heschel would have argued that that kind of claim is an assault on biblical (and especially prophetic) religion. Self-transcendence means responding to the ethical, not transcending it. For those interested, here’s the key paragraph from that footnote:

    “Whereas Heschel consistently emphasizes the inextricability of religion and ethics, Leibowitz just as relentlessly insists upon their total separation. For Heschel, as we have seen, the goal of the spiritual life is to overcome selfishness and self-preoccupation. Morality, we might say, is found on the divine side of the divine-human divide; in choosing the ethical life, the human being escapes the prison of selfishness and obeys God’s ethical call. For Leibowitz, in contrast, the ethical falls unambiguously on the human side of the (stark and impermeable) divine-human barrier, and one who seeks to transcend the self must also transcend ethics (at least where obedience to divine command so requires). Put differently, we might say that whereas Heschel’s goal is the transcendence of *the self*, Leibowitz’s is, much more radically, the transcendence of *the human altogether* (though, again, Heschel would rebel at any suggestion that ethics can ever be properly categorized as merely human). It is indeed telling that whereas Leibowitz holds up the Aqedah as the paradigm of Jewish faith, Heschel places the prophetic encounter with God in its stead. In the former case, a stark tension is manifest between the theological and the ethical; in the latter case, a passionate marriage between the theological and the ethical is evinced. A commitment to self-transcendence, then, can entail radically different relationships to ethics–for Leibowitz, a de-centering of the ethical as merely human; for Heschel, a re-centering of the ethical as quintessentially divine.”

  6. Thanks, very informative.
    I didn’t understand the following Held statement (from end of Answer 4):
    “the question about Heschel’s God– the God of pathos, the God who is outraged and wounded by every act of oppression by the strong against the weak– is not whether it’s Jewishly defensible (that question is much better posed to the Rambam than to Heschel), but whether it’s metaphysically believable in this day and age.”

  7. JJ, thanks for your question. I’m sorry if my statement wasn’t sufficiently clear. As for the first part– the “Jewishly defensible” nature of Heschel’s thought– I was referring to the arguments one hears from time to time that Heschel’s focus on divine pathos (his idea that God actually suffers as a result of human choices) is somehow unJewish. The most famous example of this is an essay by R. Eliezer Berkovits in which he accuses Heschel of literal-mindedness and veers very close to calling him a Christian. It is an odd thing about R. Berkovits, for whom I have deep admiration: he was often a pretty ungenerous reader of people with whom he disagreed. Prof. Steven Katz has a long article in which he documents this very disturbing tendency of Berkovits’ in a whole series of the latter’s essays. I show in my book how and why R. Berkovits misunderstood and misrepresented Heschel’s thought, and I’m not the first to have done so (if anyone is interested I am happy to provide further references). Let me just be clear: my point here is not to be attacking R. Berkovits, who was a truly important thinker and rabbi; my point, rather, is to give an example of a certain strand of Heschel criticism.

    As for the second part, I was suggesting that the hard part of being a Heschelian for many is that it can be extremely difficult to affirm that there is a God who is offended by any slight of human dignity anywhere, a God who is disturbed by human cruelty and callousness to the point of pain, in a world so utterly overrun by barbarism and brutality. Obviously, there is a lot (a lot) to say about this, and much of the history of theology and philosophy of religion is directly and indirectly an attempt to grapple with it, but I was simply trying to point to the problem and how vexing it is, and in this context at least, to leave it at that.

    I hope that’s clearer. Thanks again for your question.

  8. He affirmed a God who is personal, who loves and cares, and whose love and concern extend to all of humanity.

    I don’t understand this statement. God can’t, or declines to, mitigate our suffering or to intervene in human history in all but the most macroscopic ways (if one accepts that he intervenes at all, or even exists). Life is horrendous most of the time for most of humanity, and even for those of us who are privileged, it isn’t all that great. What does it mean to say that he “loves” us? He’ll make it up to us in the afterlife? I have absolutely no interest in that. I would gladly sacrifice postmortem continuity for life to be less horrific now.

  9. Shai, I can’t wait to read your book. Do you deal with the criticism of traditionalist like the Rav or from what I have heard from Rav Hutner of Heschel not grounding Jewish Theology in Halacha (I guess a kin to Eliezer Berkowitz.) Also, they say that he didn’t really get the respect he deserved from the powers that be — aka the Talmudists — at JTS in his day. I don’t know the truth of the above. I am curious if you relate to the above.

  10. Todd, thanks so much for your interest in my book. I don’t deal with whatever R. Soloveitchik’s or R. Hutner’s criticisms might have been, because all we have is hearsay, and I didn’t want to get into that.

    I will say this: I think the notion that theology needs to be grounded in Halakha has been a common trope in Orthodox discourse since Soloveitchik said as much in The Halakhic Mind. But I often feel that that notion is used very lazily, and that people don’t take the trouble to figure out what Soloveitchik may have meant by it. For example, it’s true that R. Soloveitchik says that theology should be grounded in Halakhic sources (I don’t have the actual passage in front of me, so I hope I’m remembering it right) , but he also says emphatically in Ish HaHalakha that Genesis 1 is a Halakhic text. So it’s just not clear what the slogan means, or what it could mean. Is the theology of man as creator in HM, II, really more grounded in Halakha than Part 1 of God in Search of Man? I’m not sure, because I am not sure I (we) know quite what Soloveitchik meant, but I am skeptical. I once raised this question on an interdenominational listserve and people got very nervous, as if even asking that question was beyond the pale.

    As far as respect from JTS Talmud professors, that’s really beyond the scope of my book, which is about philosophy and theology and not really about Heschel’s life. You might look at Ed Kaplan’s biography for some of that.
    .

  11. “For Heschel, as we have seen, the goal of the spiritual life is to overcome selfishness and self-preoccupation.” This is true in the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe and other mussar greats; it seems pretty obvious and I believe most Orthodox Jews are aware that Halacha is the way or path, but not the goal. Why attack the Orthodox?

  12. I am not attacking the Orthodox. I am responding to a problem with which Jews have struggled for centuries: what happens when Halakha becomes an exclusive preoccupation, as it has in certain circles? Rabbenu Bahya felt this every bit as strongly as Heschel did. And I agree with you, as I state in the interview: on this point, there is no great chiddush in Heschel on this point. He is merely the most recent in a line of eloquent protesters against one of Judaism’s yetzer haras. (But don’t underestimate the Leibowitzian strand in contemporary frum culture. I have taught young adults from Orthodox backgrounds, American and Israeli, for almost two decades now, and the criticisms I hear along these lines are very common.)

    On this blog, I was asked to talk about what Heschel would say to the Modern Orthodox community; somewhere else I’d be glad to talk about what he’d say to Reform and Conservative Jews, or to secular ones, for that matter.

    It always makes me sad when either he or (lehavdil) I am accused of being anti-Orthodox. Like him, I don’t identify denominationally, and never mean to be attacking one group or grinding some sort of ideological axe. I really believe than when we encounter a true gadol, like Heschel, all communities wanting to inherit the masorah with integrity have what to learn. I hope this clarifies my intentions at least a bit.

    • Even for those for whom halacha is “an exclusive preoccupation”, they may not be missing the boat since it is the way that they are able to get beyond themselves and fully devote their effort to fulfilling Hashem’s will. I don’t believe I have ever met anyone who confuses halacha with Hashem; it is “you” who perhaps is making assumptions about their motivation or philosophy.

  13. The idea that we ought to transcend our ego, or self in current psychoanalytic jargon, depends what is included in the ego/self. Rabbi Held seems to include desires and ambitions plus self regarding ideals. Following Kohut and other self-psychologists we can think of the self as being driven by desires and ambitions, and pulled by our ideals, including other regarding ideals. When a person has the virtues of benevolence and sympathy as his ideal, there is no need to overcome or transcend the self. Rather once these ideals are internalized, helping others, concern for the poor and downtrodden becomes an intrinsic part of a life plan. Socialists and others who worked a lifetime on behalf of the poor were not known for their God centeredness. Their efforts were part of who they were.

    Even if working for others is understood as outside the ego, the leap to projecting the feeling for the other onto God, and then re-internalizing this projection as a norm, needs some extra justification. Even if God were indifferent to the cries of the sick and the hungry, we might still feel that it is a virtue if not an outright duty to help others at least in part. And conversely if God is benevolent, why must we be the same? He can afford to care, He is God, but we humans perhaps ought to take care of our self, since if we don’t who will? The grounding of sympathy and the other attitudes that lead to doing good are best seen as part of our moral education.

    Tikun haolam and other such grandiose projects are best understood as supererogatory. Not all of us must be preoccupied all the time with helping others. There must be some room for bourgeois pleasures and the study of Torah lishma. On Rabbi Held’s views it is not clear why after a certain point, helping others is supererogatory.

  14. EJ, thanks for your comments. First, it seems like you simply equate Heschel’s views with my own. They are not fully overlapping.

    Heschel unfortunately does not offer a developed theory of what self-transcendence does and doesn’t mean and of what it doesn’t require or entail (this is true of many philosophers who use the term). One thing that is clear is that he doesn’t think it means not having a self at all (an ideal which is neither desirable nor possible)– the focus is more on transcending selfishness than on moving beyond having a self at all. More positively, it’s about cultivating “transitive concern,” concern for the welfare of others.

    You write of the need to see certain commitments as supererogatory. I think Heschel would agree with you, but with one huge caveat: “Even if you’re right,” I imagine him saying, “that I place too little in the real of supererogation, most people place far too much there. Caring about the poor and downtrodden and acting to ameliorate their suffering is din, not lifnim mishurat hadin. And I have Isaiah and Amos and Moshe Rabbenu on my side.” (Tikkun Olam is not a term he uses at all, and I suspect he’d have regarded it as vague and amorphous and a tiny bit trite.)

    On another note, I have been toying with the idea of writing something about the role of laughter and play in theology and spirituality because I think they can often get completely neglected in religious writing. Just how and why that is would itself make for an interesting conversation.

    There is more to say here, obviously. Thanks again for your comments..

  15. I should have added: self-transcendence is not just about ethics, but ethics is arguable its highest manifestation. There is also the crucial spiritual (and psychological) work of realizing that my ego and my consciousness are not the center of the universe. In Heschel’s image, they are spokes, but not the bub, of the universe.

  16. I wonder if anyone has thought to compare Heschel to the Catholic thinker, Louis Dupre, especially in his book, “Transcendent Selfhod”.

  17. Without being subsumed by another society or system it is impossible to know if your effort is real because internal consistency cannot be measured in a comfortable environment.

    As Viktor Frenkel said (I normally spell that wrong) – something can only give light if it can endure being burnt (which I assume is a reference to the burning bush).

    Finding God in America will always be difficult exactly because the Jews have created a multi-dimensional society in the new world. Which is maybe why if you move from the old world to the new one, you may be construed as not having achieved your earlier potential.

  18. Shai, your response to Question #3 (immanence/transcendence) seems to me not to adequately cover the theological options, the perspective(s) found within Jewish mysticism (especially Chassidus), or the views of Rabbi Heschel, a”h. Alongside pantheism and monism, why do you not consider panentheism?

  19. Thanks for the question, Hayyim. You’re right. The issue here was simply space. In the book, I do talk about what panentheism is, and about why Heschel is not a panentheist. For a more sustained argument than mine for why Heschel is not a panentheist, see this article by John Merkle: http://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/scjr/article/view/1420

    Sorry I can’t write more at the moment. Thanks again for your important question.

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