David J. Wolpe’s The Healer of Shattered Hearts: The Jewish View of God, covers a broad range of topics, but it’s overwhelming emphasis is to “rescue” the view of a personal God in Judaism. Of course, he has great background material. This is the biblical and rabbinical view of God, and it was only when Judaism began forays into formal mysticism and modernity that other views started to push out the personal God (making for odd disjunctures: a liturgy loaded with reference to a personal God, while most Jews no longer believer in such an entity.)
An admirable goal. There is still a role for the personal God in Judaism. Who is willing to give up the story of Abraham arguing with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah? Who doesn’t want to conceive of a personal God, especially when we are in crisis or need?
Unfortunately, Wolpe’s book just doesn’t rise up to the challenge. There are interesting ideas here, like his concept of “normal mysticism” but the rest of the book is dominated by flat prose and ideas that are not quite gripping enough for the enormity of the ideas.