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The Earth Is the Lord's: The Inner World of the Jew in Eastern Europe

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Powerfully and beautifully portrays a bygone Jewish culture. The story about the life of the Jews in Eastern Europe which has come to an end in our days is what I have tried to tell in this essay. I have not talked about their books, their art or institutions, but about their daily life, about their habits and customs, about their attitudes toward the basic things in life, Powerfully and beautifully portrays a bygone Jewish culture. The story about the life of the Jews in Eastern Europe which has come to an end in our days is what I have tried to tell in this essay. I have not talked about their books, their art or institutions, but about their daily life, about their habits and customs, about their attitudes toward the basic things in life, about the scale of values which directed their aspirations.... "In this period our people attained the highest degree of inwardness.... It was the golden period in Jewish history, in the history of the Jewish soul." --from The Earth Is the Lord's


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Powerfully and beautifully portrays a bygone Jewish culture. The story about the life of the Jews in Eastern Europe which has come to an end in our days is what I have tried to tell in this essay. I have not talked about their books, their art or institutions, but about their daily life, about their habits and customs, about their attitudes toward the basic things in life, Powerfully and beautifully portrays a bygone Jewish culture. The story about the life of the Jews in Eastern Europe which has come to an end in our days is what I have tried to tell in this essay. I have not talked about their books, their art or institutions, but about their daily life, about their habits and customs, about their attitudes toward the basic things in life, about the scale of values which directed their aspirations.... "In this period our people attained the highest degree of inwardness.... It was the golden period in Jewish history, in the history of the Jewish soul." --from The Earth Is the Lord's

30 review for The Earth Is the Lord's: The Inner World of the Jew in Eastern Europe

  1. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    I liked this book, which was recommended to me by a retired rabbi I hang out with sometimes. I am a little sceptical about the romanticisation of the lifestyle and treatment of Jews in Eastern Europe that led to this. But on the other hand, it is a beautiful depiction of the rewards of intellectual and religious commitment, and the writing is as always lovely. --- QUOTES I LIKED OR THOUGHT WERE INTERESTING --- "What [the Ashkenazic moralist or Hasid] sought was boundless fervor, praying and learn I liked this book, which was recommended to me by a retired rabbi I hang out with sometimes. I am a little sceptical about the romanticisation of the lifestyle and treatment of Jews in Eastern Europe that led to this. But on the other hand, it is a beautiful depiction of the rewards of intellectual and religious commitment, and the writing is as always lovely. --- QUOTES I LIKED OR THOUGHT WERE INTERESTING --- "What [the Ashkenazic moralist or Hasid] sought was boundless fervor, praying and learning without limit or end." (34) "Kept spiritually alive by a sense of the immense rather than by a sense of balance, he would not yield to the admonitions of the few systematically minded scholars in his midst. The passion for the unlimited could not be conditioned by a regard for proportion and measure." (36) "In the eyes of these people, knowledge was not a means for achieving power, but a way of clinging to the source of all reality." (49) "Study was a technique of sublimating feeling into thought." (52) "It is easy to belittle such an attitude of mind and to call it unpractical, unworldly. But what is nobler than the unpractical spirit? The soul is sustained by the regard for that which transcends all immediate purposes. The sense of the transcendent is the heart of culture, the very essence of humanity. A civilization that is devoted exclusively to the utilitarian is at bottom not different from barbarism. The world is sustained by unworldliness." (55) "Man has not advanced very far from the coast of chaos. A frantic call to disorder shrieks in the world. Where is the power that can offset the effect of that alluring call? The world cannot remain a vacuum. We are all either ministers of the sacred or slaves of evil. The only safeguard against constant danger is constant vigilance, constant guidance." (63) "There is a price to be paid by the Jew. He has to be exalted in order to be normal. In order to be a man, he has to be more than a man. To be a people, the Jews have to be more than a people." (64) "The meaning of a man's life lies in his perfecting the universe. He has to distinguish, gather and redeem the sparks of holiness scattered throughout the darkness of the world." (72)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    So, about 15-16 years ago, I was extremely interested in mysticism, including the kabbalah. A friend recommended a couple of books by Heschel: The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man , which I liked reasonably well, and this, which is self-congratulatory bullshit propaganda. I guess there's a chance I would have liked it OK if I'd gotten around to reading it when I bought it in 1998.... But I hope I would have known even then what's wrong with passages like this: It was not by accident that th So, about 15-16 years ago, I was extremely interested in mysticism, including the kabbalah. A friend recommended a couple of books by Heschel: The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man , which I liked reasonably well, and this, which is self-congratulatory bullshit propaganda. I guess there's a chance I would have liked it OK if I'd gotten around to reading it when I bought it in 1998.... But I hope I would have known even then what's wrong with passages like this: It was not by accident that the Jews of Eastern Europe thought little of worldly education. They resisted the stream of enlightenment which threatened to engulf the small province of Jewishness. They did not despise science. They believed, however, that a bit of spiritual nobility was a thousand times more valuable than all the secular sciences, that praying three times a day "My God, guard my tongue from evil" was more important than the study of physics, that meditating upon the Psalms filled man with more compassion than the study of Roman history. In other words, they were every bit as anti-intellectual, insular, and parochial as redneck American Christians, and there ain't nothing admirable, worth emulating, or even interesting in that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maurizio Manco

    "Un mondo è scomparso. Tutto ciò che rimane è un santuario nascosto nel regno dello spirito. Noi di questa generazione ne possediamo ancora la chiave, [...] la chiave del santuario che è anche il rifugio delle nostre anime abbandonate. Se noi smarriremo la chiave, sfuggiremo a noi stessi. [...] Noi siamo gli ultimi ebrei oppure quelli che consegneranno l'intero passato alle generazioni future. O perderemo l'eredità secolare o l'arricchiremo." (p. 103)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul H. Rogers

    Suberb One his best works. A summary of his thoughts. From the everyday to the sublime mixed and matched. Please read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adam Glantz

    A series of essays united by a common theme. Ashkenazic culture produced no architectural monuments, and its literature is difficult to comprehend by those from other backgrounds; but it grew at its own pace and according to its own norms, and was therefore authentic. Its values were egalitarian, emphasizing spiritual nourishment for all, rather than a grandeur only attainable by an elite few. Its mysticism colored all life's experiences and found many avenues of expression: the rationalism of p A series of essays united by a common theme. Ashkenazic culture produced no architectural monuments, and its literature is difficult to comprehend by those from other backgrounds; but it grew at its own pace and according to its own norms, and was therefore authentic. Its values were egalitarian, emphasizing spiritual nourishment for all, rather than a grandeur only attainable by an elite few. Its mysticism colored all life's experiences and found many avenues of expression: the rationalism of pilpul and the ecstasy of the Polish Hasidim. Though impaired by the Holocaust, Heschel recommends Ashkenazic values as a fire-brake against the superficiality endemic to modern life. One question that remains is why those disaffected with Ashkenazic religion have sought secular paths in recent centuries, like socialism and Zionism. Perhaps in an earlier era, intellectual pioneers would branch out into other aspects of religion, like Talmudism, Kabbalah, Hasidism, etc, whereas their post-Enlightenment descendants leave the religious quest all together.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    The overwhelming impression from this book is the passion with which Eastern European Jews experienced God. This was an every day matter for them, and involved every action of their lives. Their constant tension was to honor God, and not to slip by failing to observe with enthusiasm all of God's commandments. This was literally the purpose of their lives. Heschel writes beautifully and clearly. His other books - in particular The Sabbath, Between God and Man, and God in Search of Man - are all mo The overwhelming impression from this book is the passion with which Eastern European Jews experienced God. This was an every day matter for them, and involved every action of their lives. Their constant tension was to honor God, and not to slip by failing to observe with enthusiasm all of God's commandments. This was literally the purpose of their lives. Heschel writes beautifully and clearly. His other books - in particular The Sabbath, Between God and Man, and God in Search of Man - are all moving, emotional statements of what the Jewish faith meant to him and many other Jews in Poland, Lithuania and Russia. Anyone who wants to understand Judaism should consider reading Heschel.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    This is a great book that serves as an introduction to Heschel's thought. He admits that life for Eastern European Jews did not always look like how he portrayed it. There was mass persecution and poverty, but he wanted to focus on the spiritual fullness of the people. Unfortunately this life that he was raised in was completely wiped out during HaShoah. Well worth a read. Read a second time in May-June 2011.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    This is quite possibly my favorite book to date, that being said books that put you in a mystical state such as this one are all on that level. I am literally shocked that the Hasidim would reverberate with me personally on such a deep level. The mystics of judaism and islam are very similar. I want all muslims to read this book, yes I dream.

  9. 4 out of 5

    A.E. Reiff

    Always the tribes and folk peoples know the first priority is to survive, to live. If this is not a good time to mention this I apologize. In the first principle of survival, "...our people attained the highest degree of inwardness."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jasonlylescampbell

    A profound little book. The beauty of holiness, the idea of our lives being the song and our deeds singing to the world ... or creating havoc and chaos. I think there is much there for a Christian to face. Especially the meaninglessness that many feel about their lives in our times.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jean Kelly

    A memorial really to the murdered Eastern European Jews and their way of life.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Monika

  13. 4 out of 5

    William Guice

  14. 4 out of 5

    Noah G

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gail

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gerald

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ewa

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Danyell Robinson Boyd

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cady

  22. 4 out of 5

    Markaaronfox

  23. 4 out of 5

    Judy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Micah

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan Harrison

  26. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  27. 4 out of 5

    AJ S

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maciej

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael

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