Cover image for The journey home : discovering the deep spiritual wisdom of the Jewish tradition
The journey home : discovering the deep spiritual wisdom of the Jewish tradition
Hoffman, Lawrence A., 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Beacon Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
223 pages ; 24 cm
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BM723 .H642 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Discovering the Deep Spiritual Wisdom of the Jewish Tradition "Larry Hoffman is one of contemporary Judaism 's most perceptive and creative teachers." -Lawrence Kushner, author of Eyes Remade for Wonder Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman is widely recognized as a leader in bringing spiritual innovation into modern Jewish life and worship. Now, drawing on a lifetime of study, he explores the Jewish way of being in the world-the Jewish relationship to God and to questions of human purpose that lie just below the surface of biblical and rabbinic literature. This is Jewish spiritual wisdom-the wisdom that unites thousands of years of texts and ritual. In learned but accessible language Hoffman discusses: the importance of blessings, that quintessentially Jewish form of prayer, and what they reveal about the Jewish worldview the meaning of study in Jewish life, and what it tells us is sacred the spirituality of being a "landed" religion, and what Israel stands for in the Jewish imagination the significance of Jewish metaphors for shaping our lives how Judaism speaks spiritually even to the suffering The Journey Home is a book for spiritual seekers everywhere: Jews looking for the spiritual component of Judaism, Jews estranged from their roots, and non-Jews who wonder what Judaism has to say about life's great questions.

Author Notes

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman is professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College -- Jewish Institute of Religion. His studies on spirituality form the basis for "Synagogue 2000," an internationally recognized institute helping synagogues to become moral and spiritual centers for the twenty-first century. Hoffman writes a column on the weekly Torah portion that is syndicated in the U.S. and abroad, and lectures widely to Jewish and Christian audiences

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Hoffman, a professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College, posits that "spirituality is our way of being in the world, the system of connectedness by which we make sense of our lives." He believes that religious spirituality is reached only by "serious engagement with ancient texts that can be made to translate into spiritual answers for modern dilemmas." He explains the spirituality of Jewish metaphors, the significance of blessings, the spirituality of discovery through Torah study, and the spirituality of land (i.e., Israel). He also ponders the importance of spiritual thinking and how it relates to suffering. Hoffman's analysis of Jewish spiritual wisdom and its relevance to today's world is both lucid and perceptive. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

HWe can go home again but to a home we never knew we had, says Hoffman, author and professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College in New York. He defines home as the "deep-down insights of Jewish tradition: its liturgy of blessings; its metaphors that connect life's dots; its thrill of textual discovery; its rootedness in a sacred land; its honest spiritual thinking; and [during times of suffering] its insistence on the simple presence of human meeting." His book explores each of those concepts as a path of Jewish spirituality, which he redefines as "the system of connectedness by which we make sense of our lives." Through seamless excursions into history, law, comparative religion, art, music, literature, psychology, sociology and philosophy, he examines the Jewish way of "mapping reality" to meet our most important challenge: finding shape in our lives. Hoffman's powerful yet simple explanations of Jewish basics are often themselves rooted in metaphor: for example, he compares the stages of life to the books of the Torah (Genesis as childhood, Deuteronomy as old age). Reading the Mishnah (the Jewish legal code) for spirituality, he says, is like "reading the raw data of the Census Bureau for world history." Yet he manages to explain precisely why that, too, represents a spiritual undertaking: to master its incredible detail is to open one's eyes to the presence of God in minutiae. Hoffman's lucid and eloquent interpretations will appeal to Jewish and non-Jewish readers searching to understand Judaism and to "connect the dots" in their own lives. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Rabbi Hoffman is a respected author on matters of Judaism whose books include What Is a Jew? and Israel: A Spiritual Travel Guide. In this book he takes up the question of Jewish spirituality in an attempt to address the current climate of spiritual seeking, in which many members of traditional faiths find themselves unfulfilled and either augment their practice by borrowing from other traditions or abandon their tradition altogether. Hoffman's basic premise is that much of what passes for spirituality these days is superficial and unstructured compared with the richness of well-established traditions. Unfortunately, the text doesn't make a case for the spiritual richness of Judaism that is likely to satisfy the type of disaffected seeker Hoffman describes. His own understanding of the tradition and the fulfillment it affords him is, however, evident, and perceptive readers will find this inspiring. The real strength of the book is its overview and analysis of Judaism, which makes it a useful guide for non-Jews who want to understand what it means to be a practicing Jew. This title would work well for most public and academic collections but is not an essential purchase. Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Returning Home: Spirituality with Jewish Integrityp. 1
Chapter 2 Connecting the Dots: The Spirituality of Jewish Metaphorp. 19
Chapter 3 Living with Blessings: The Spirituality of Stewardshipp. 45
Chapter 4 Living by Torah: The Spirituality of Discoveryp. 68
Chapter 5 Having a Home: The Spirituality of Landednessp. 95
Chapter 6 Spiritual Thinking: The Spirituality of Translationp. 123
Chapter 7 When It Is Night: Spirituality for the Sufferingp. 160
Chapter 8 A Fourth Generation: Spirituality of Communityp. 189
Notesp. 215