Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul

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Winner of the 2017 Nautilus Award in the Religion/Spirituality of Western Thought category

A bestselling author and rabbi’s profoundly affecting exploration of the meaning and purpose of the soul, inspired by the famous correspondence between Albert Einstein and a grieving rabbi.

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness...” —Albert Einstein

When Rabbi Naomi Levy came across this poignant letter by Einstein it shook her to her core. His words perfectly captured what she has come to believe about the human condition: That we are intimately connected, and that we are blind to this truth. Levy wondered what had elicited such spiritual wisdom from a man of science? Thus began a three-year search into the mystery of Einstein’s letter, and into the mystery of the human soul. What emerges is an inspiring, deeply affecting book for people of all faiths filled with universal truths that will help us reclaim our own souls and glimpse the unity that has been evading us. We all long to see more expansively, to live up to our gifts, to understand why we are here. Levy leads us on a breathtaking journey full of wisdom, empathy and humor, challenging us to wake up and heed the voice calling from within—a voice beckoning us to become who we were born be.

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About the author

NAOMI LEVY is the author of the national bestseller To Begin Again, as well as Talking to God and Hope Will Find You. She is the founder and leader of NASHUVA, a groundbreaking Jewish spiritual outreach movement based in L.A. Levy was named one of the top 50 rabbis in America by Newsweek and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, and on NPR.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Flatiron Books
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Published on
Sep 5, 2017
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781250058720
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Religious
Religion / Judaism / History
Religion / Religion & Science
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Sometime toward the middle of the twelfth century, it is supposed, an otherwise obscure figure, born a Jew in Cologne and later ordained as a priest in Cappenberg in Westphalia, wrote a Latin account of his conversion to Christianity. Known as the Opusculum, this book purportedly by "Herman, the former Jew" may well be the first autobiography to be written in the West after the Confessions of Saint Augustine. It may also be something else entirely.

In The Conversion of Herman the Jew the eminent French historian Jean-Claude Schmitt examines this singular text and the ways in which it has divided its readers. Where some have seen it as an authentic conversion narrative, others have asked whether it is not a complete fabrication forged by Christian clerics. For Schmitt the question is poorly posed. The work is at once true and fictional, and the search for its lone author—whether converted Jew or not—fruitless. Herman may well have existed and contributed to the writing of his life, but the Opusculum is a collective work, perhaps framed to meet a specific institutional agenda.

With agility and erudition, Schmitt examines the text to explore its meaning within the society and culture of its period and its participation in both a Christian and Jewish imaginary. What can it tell us about autobiography and subjectivity, about the function of dreams and the legitimacy of religious images, about individual and collective conversion, and about names and identities? In The Conversion of Herman the Jew Schmitt masterfully seizes upon the debates surrounding the Opusculum (the text of which is newly translated for this volume) to ponder more fundamentally the ways in which historians think and write.

The first complete and annotated English translation of Maimon’s influential and delightfully entertaining memoir

Solomon Maimon's autobiography has delighted readers for more than two hundred years, from Goethe, Schiller, and George Eliot to Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. The American poet and critic Adam Kirsch has named it one of the most crucial Jewish books of modern times. Here is the first complete and annotated English edition of this enduring and lively work.

Born into a down-on-its-luck provincial Jewish family in 1753, Maimon quickly distinguished himself as a prodigy in learning. Even as a young child, he chafed at the constraints of his Talmudic education and rabbinical training. He recounts how he sought stimulation in the Hasidic community and among students of the Kabbalah--and offers rare and often wickedly funny accounts of both. After a series of picaresque misadventures, Maimon reached Berlin, where he became part of the city's famed Jewish Enlightenment and achieved the philosophical education he so desperately wanted, winning acclaim for being the "sharpest" of Kant's critics, as Kant himself described him.

This new edition restores text cut from the abridged 1888 translation by J. Clark Murray, which has long been the only available English edition. Paul Reitter's translation is brilliantly sensitive to the subtleties of Maimon's prose while providing a fluid rendering that contemporary readers will enjoy, and is accompanied by an introduction and notes by Yitzhak Melamed and Abraham Socher that give invaluable insights into Maimon and his extraordinary life. The book also features an afterword by Gideon Freudenthal that provides an authoritative overview of Maimon's contribution to modern philosophy.

To Begin Again signals the arrival of an important new voice. In words that are as wise as they are comforting and as universal as they are specific, Rabbi Naomi Levy tells us how to survive, emotionally and spiritually, when we feel overwhelmed by grief, loss, or life itself. Her book provides a safe harbor where we can begin to reconstitute our lives.
Where do we find the strength to rebuild our lives after difficult times? Is it possible to recapture our hope? Our innocence? Our faith? The answers, never simple but always inspiring, are indeed found in this wonderful book.
Naomi Levy was a bright, cheerful fifteen-year-old girl who awoke to the devastating news that her father had been shot. His senseless murder shattered her belief in God and left her feeling helpless and full of rage. But, in time, she learned to fight her way through the darkness to conquer her heartbreaking pain. She describes, with humor and extraordinary honesty, how she managed to emerge victorious over sorrow.
Later, in her years as the rabbi of a congregation in Venice, California, Levy quickly learned that her own painful experiences were not unique. Many of her congregants had also suffered--divorce, addiction, rape, loss, illness. They too had searched long and hard for ways to bring joy back into their lives.
A natural and engaging storyteller, Levy weaves together her own story and the struggles of her congregants with the ancient lessons of great sages. She offers up exquisitely simple prayers, which--no matter what our religious beliefs--remind us that we are far, far stronger than we ever imagined. What emerges is a remarkable tapestry that teaches us how to mend our hearts and souls.
To Begin Again is a book that will be passed to friends when tragedy strikes, a book that will rest at our bedside tables during troubling times. It is a testament to the human spirit--to the undying strength that enables us to make our way through whatever darkness we may face and begin living once again.
“One of the greatest religious biographies ever written.” – Dennis Prager

In this enlightening biography, Joseph Telushkin offers a captivating portrait of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a towering figure who saw beyond conventional boundaries to turn his movement, Chabad-Lubavitch, into one of the most dynamic and widespread organizations ever seen in the Jewish world. At once an incisive work of history and a compendium of Rabbi Schneerson's teachings, Rebbe is the definitive guide to understanding one of the most vital, intriguing figures of the last centuries.

From his modest headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Rebbe advised some of the world's greatest leaders and shaped matters of state and society. Statesmen and artists as diverse as Ronald Reagan, Robert F. Kennedy, Yitzchak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Elie Wiesel, and Bob Dylan span the spectrum of those who sought his counsel.  Rebbe explores Schneerson's overarching philosophies against the backdrop of treacherous history, revealing his clandestine operations to rescue and sustain Jews in the Soviet Union, and his critical role in the expansion of the food stamp program throughout the United States. More broadly, it examines how he became in effect an ambassador for Jews globally, and how he came to be viewed by many as not only a spiritual archetype but a savior. Telushkin also delves deep into the more controversial aspects of the Rebbe's leadership, analyzing his views on modern science and territorial compromise in Israel, and how in the last years of his life, many of his followers believed that he would soon be revealed as the Messiah, a source of contention until this day.

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