Rabbi David Wolpe

Heschel’s confidence in the power of the tradition was a constant example throughout his life.

Sinai Temple
Los Angeles, California
A Jewish Perspective

How did Heschel and his thinking inspire your work, religious life, or civic engagement?

My parents told me when Heschel first arrived in his inaugural lecture, he began with a niggun. Everyone thought, at the intellectually charged JTS, that this was from another planet. Heschel’s confidence in the power of the tradition and his ability to transmit it, even in the face of incomprehension and ridicule, was a constant example throughout his life. And he triumphed.

What of Heschel lives in you?

In my rare best moments, his courage, his wonder, his eloquence, his audacity.

In our own lives the voice of God speaks slowly, a syllable at a time. Reaching the peak of years, dispelling some of our intimate illusions and learning how to spell the meaning of life-experiences backwards, some of us discover how the scattered syllables form a single phrase.

—Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man

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