Cover image for Making loss matter : creating meaning in difficult times
Making loss matter : creating meaning in difficult times
Wolpe, David J.
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Publication Information:
New York : Riverhead Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 226 pages ; 22 cm
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BM729.C6 W65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Each generation produces a powerful new teacher with a healing message on loss -- the mystery and difficulty that no one can avoid. The seventies produced Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. The eighties gave us Harold S. Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People. The nineties offer us David J. Wolpe, a rabbi whose eloquence, experience, intellect, and heart bring a new understanding of finding faith and creating meaning in difficult times.

It was the loss that surrounded Wolpe -- his father's father whom he never met, his mother's speech lost to a stroke, not being able to have more children, the relatives, the dreams, the love, the life -- that led him to become a rabbi. He did this not to ask why we lose so much, but how we can use the inevitable appearance of loss in our lives as a source of strength rather than a source of despair. "Could I, " he asked, "with the power of my own hand and heart, turn a painful, inexplicable loss into a generator of purpose and of hope?" The answer is a resounding "yes." Making Loss Matter is a beautifully written book that shares the wisdom of ancient stories, great rabbis, poets, philosophers and David's own experience as a rabbi, a son, a grandson, a husband, and a father to show us how to find faith in difficulty -- the faith, hope, and purpose which helps us survive.

Author Notes

David J. Wolpe has appeared numerous times on national radio and television and is featured in the popular AandE series Mysteries of the Bible. The rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, he was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and has taught there and at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. Wolpe is the author of four previous books.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Rabbi Wolpe quotes the Bible, the Talmud, the Midrash, and illustrious rabbis, scholars, and philosophers in examining different kinds of losses: love, home, youth, life, and more. He tells readers how to find faith, hope, and a purpose in life to help endure and survive difficult times. He writes about the importance of our homes and home life, of our dreams (from youth to old age), of our selves and self-discovery, of love, and of faith. He combines personal experiences with religious exegeses to advance his beliefs. Wolpe, author of four other books, addresses the reader with a keen sense of compassion and understanding. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

Early in his book, Wolpe, rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, shares a sobering thought: "Losses are the stuff of life. They will not miss you, they will not steer around those whom you love." The author's search for meaningful ways to deal with loss came soon after his wife, Ellie, was diagnosed with cancer. He admits that his "life was suddenly full of shadows," and he feared that his vibrant wife might die. As Wolpe struggles with his fear of loss and with the daily crises brought by Ellie's illness, he realizes that facing loss requires courage and love. Although he had been writing this book before his wife's illness, her cancer gave him a new perspective on facing suffering. Wolpe uses personal anecdotes, ancient stories of suffering and joy, the sagacious parables of rabbis and the wisdom of poets and philosophers to explore the nature of loss and the ways we can respond meaningfully to it. He notes that throughout life we experience a variety of losses, some trivial and others grave, such as the loss of home, dreams, self, faith, love and life. On the loss of dreams, for instance, Wolpe writes, "Dreams can ennoble us even when they fail.... Each dream can be a step on the ladder we climb in order to become the person we were meant to be." In order for loss to be meaningful, he contends, we must not run from it but incorporate its scars deeply in our lives, face it with faith and courage and celebrate the new identities that we derive from our experience. Although Wolpe really offers no new ideas about coping with loss, his easy manner and eloquent storytelling will help readers suffering from loss feel as if they have found a companion on their journeys. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Rabbi Wolpe weaves together a finely constructed tapestry of biblical stories, Western and Eastern philosophy and literature, and incidents from his own life to explain how to deal with the pain of personal loss, whether of love, life, home, faith, or dreams. Rabbi Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People could be considered the predecessor of Wolfe's discussion of personal loss and ways to turn it into strength and hope. Both rabbis write in a clear, straightforward style, accessible to Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike. However, by stressing his own life and losses, Wolfe gives depth and meaning to concepts that might otherwise remain abstract and theoretical. Wolpe's strength is in showing how a caring and direct approach to dealing with losses can reenergize the human spirit and give us courage to continue living life to the fullest. Strongly recommended for general religion/spiritual collections in most libraries.ÄOlga B. Wise, Compaq Computers Inc., Austin, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
1 Making Loss Matterp. 1
2 Homep. 23
3 Dreamsp. 49
4 Selfp. 83
5 Lovep. 119
6 Faithp. 151
7 Lifep. 185
Notesp. 215
Acknowledgmentsp. 221
Indexp. 222