The Jewish religious calendar contains a kaleidoscope of intellectual and emotional stimuli – from the solemnity of the Days of Awe with their introspective fasting and shofar call of repentance to the merriment and indulgence of Purim; from the freedom and vicarious deliverance of the Passover Seder to the tearful elegies of Tishah B’Av when destruction, exile, and 2,000 years of accumulated tragedy are recalled.
All year long, the Jew travels within his calendar, reliving its history and re-absorbing its messages. From the Talmud to modern-day religious thinkers, the great minds of Judaism have interpreted the motifs of the festivals to reflect the needs and aspirations of the Jew. For hand in handwith the intricate detail of the commandments go the symbolism, inspiration, and motivation for greatness that they call forth in man.
What does Passover demand of us? What does the Exodus mean to American Jews who have never felt the sting of an oppressor’s lash? What is the relevance of Sinai in the 20th century? Of the bamboo-covered succah to one who has never felt a chill at night? Of the flickering Chanukah flames to one who is not threatened by paganism – or who is troubled by assimilation into a new culture that is as alluring as the Greek civilization of old?
This book presents a wide variety of authors and approaches, selected from the pages of Jewish Observer, the leading periodical of American Orthodoxy. The book has many parts, many viewpoints, many lessons, many sparks for independent thought and private exploration. In sum, they present a rounded picture of the greatness of the Jew as he lives with and within the holidays that mold his history and his life.
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