Judaism, like all the great religions, has a strand within it that sees inward devotion, the opening of the human heart to God s presence, to be the purpose of its entire edifice of praxis, liturgy, and way of life. This voice is not always easy to hear in a tradition where so much attention is devoted to the "how" rather than the "why" of religious living. The devotional claim, certainly a key part of Judaism s biblical heritage, has reasserted itself in the teachings of individual mystics and in the emergence of religious movements over the long course of Jewish history. This volume represents Arthur Green s own quest for such a Judaism as a rabbi, as a scholar, and as a contemporary seeker.
This collection of essays brings together Green s scholarly writings, centered on the history of early Hasidism, and his highly personal approach to a rebirth of Jewish spirituality in our own day. In choosing to present them in this way he asserts a claim that they are all of a piece. They represent one man s attempt to wade through history and text, language and symbol, and an array of voices both past and present while always focusing on the essential questions: What does it mean to be a religious human being, and what does Judaism teach us about how to be one? This, the author considers to be the heart of the matter.