Thursday, August 22, 2013
The Language of Truth
Rabbi Arthur Green took on a monumental task of culling, translating, and interpreting selections from Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter's Sefet Emet, or the Language of Truth. This original work by the Hasidic master covers several volumes; Green distills it to 407 pages, with the Hebrew original at the back of the book.
It is easy to see why Rabbi Green decided to take the Sefet Emet and translate it for a wider audience. It fits with Rabbi Green's conception of Jewish Renewal and Neo-Hasidism. In the selections Green has picked, the Sefet Emet is uncannily post-modern.
The book is concerned with the internal life of people, with universal themes of commonality, does not, generally, posit a vertical conception of God, but a panentheistic one. The Sefer Emet does what every true Torah book should do: it takes tradition as the jumping off point to greater explorations of the theme of Judaism in its own time. It adds novel twists to old traditions.
And Green is an excellent guide. He realizes our Jewish sensibilities are atrophied; his commentaries on the commentaries are vital to understanding this book.