Thursday, July 26, 2012

Filling Words with Light

Filling Words with Light, by Lawrence Kushner and Nehemia Polen, is subtitled “Hasidic and Mystical Reflections on Jewish Prayer.”  And that is just what this work is.  This book is meant to be a companion to Jewish Lights My People’s Prayer Book, but it certainly is a stand-alone volume.

Kushner is a particularly adept student of what is now called neo-Hasidism.  He combs Hasidic sources, both old and new, to interpret parts of the prayer book from a  vantage that is decidedly non-dualistic and non-hierarchical.  His work a kind of deeply informed Reform Judaism; it is neither lazy nor dismissive about the need for a connection to the Jewish past.  It is just selective in the use of those sources (just like more Orthodox modern commentators) and aware of the need for new meanings to for old words.   

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