THE HEALER OF SHATTERED HEARTS: A Jewish View of God by David J. Wolpe


Email this review


A beautifully crafted exposition of the major topics of rabbinical Jewish theology. With a rare and elegant writing style, Rabbi Wolpe, director of the Library of the Univ. of Judaism in LA., chooses the glass of the rabbinic midrash or Bible-centered fable to view and project the dynamism of Jewish faith. In the spirit of the midrashist, the individual believer is portrayed as an active participant in God's creation, revelation, and redemption. Explaining that there are no ""theological"" terms in rabbinic folklore and homiletics, Wolpe provides the reader with an experience--rather than a description--of God. We encounter a deity paradoxically aloof and intimate, lawgiving but liable, attending to every shattered heart yet lonely in exile. Without bite, Wolpe strikes blows against the self-defeating pursuit of happiness, the idolatory of art for art's sake, and the misinformed notion that Judaism is a stern, legalistic system of ritual performances. If Wolpe occasionally waxes overly rhetorical (""playthings of a coruscating world""), he makes amends with gems from Hasidic masters (""The only whole heart is a broken one"") and with observations like: ""Jewish heroes don't slay dragons--they mercifully tend sheep."" While the bibliography contains both marginal Jewish thinkers like Eugene Borowitz on the left and right-wing heavyweights like Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Wolpe's eloquent book bespeaks a new generation of confidently centrist and traditional Conservative Judaism. The author's impassioned erudition sounds the note of a truly modern Orthodoxy that is no longer the defensive balking of formerly observant backsliders. Many a grateful reader will anticipate further offerings from this fresh voice of dramatic, intelligent faith.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1990
Publisher: Henry Holt