Modernity has provided more than enough reason to give up believing in holiness, still we have learned that to give up the struggle to achieve it means that we become less human. As we leave the twentieth century, we discover new reasons to return to old faith. We rediscover an urgent need to defend the sacred, even as our understanding differs from our ancestors. We choose not to retreat from the world, but to struggle within it, to stain ourselves with sin even as we seek to establish the good.
—from Chapter 13, “Humanity”
The cataclysm of the Holocaust seems to forbid speech. Yet even in the heart of that darkness, sparks of sacredness were kept alive. From these sparks, Rabbi Edward Feld suggests, Jews and others can renew a faith and find a language that recovers the holy even after experiencing the reign of a Kingdom of Night unimaginable to previous generations.
In a voice that is engaging, often poetic, Rabbi Edward Feld helps the modern reader understand events that span almost 4,000 years of the history of Judaism and the Jewish people. With rare clarity, insight, and gentleness, he offers a thought-provoking yet accessible study of the way tragedy has shaped Jewish history and the self-understanding of Jews.
The Spirit of Renewal explores four key events that reshaped religious expression, two ancient and two modern: the Babylonian exile; the Bar Kochba revolution; the Holocaust; and the establishment of the State of Israel.
The Spirit of Renewal shows how, even under the most traumatic of circumstances, Judaism survives, renewing itself and flourishing again. This profound and wise meditation opens the way to a powerful new understanding of the nature of God and the spiritual life.