These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

What Judaism Means to Me

Posted on March 19, 2012 by Derek Kwait

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I have been slowly making my way through Heschel’s God in Search of Man since I boarded the bus from Pittsburgh to New York en route to Pardes and Jerusalem last August. It’s going so slowly because, as usually happens when I read Heschel’s writing, it’s hard to read quickly when every sentence blows your mind. One section in particular, from page 300, particularly spoke to me as an almost perfect summary of everything I love about Judaism:

A degree of self-control is the prerequisite for creative living. Does not a work of art represent the triumph of form over inchoate matter? Emotion controlled by an idea? We suffer from the illusion of being mature as well as from a tendency to overestimate the degree of human perfectibility. No one is mature unless he has learned to be engaged in pursuits which require discipline and self-control, and human perfectibility is contingent upon the capacity for self-control.

When the mind is sore from bias and presumption, from its inability to halt the stream of overflowing vanity, from the imagination clawing in darkness toward silliness and sin, man begins to bless the Lord for the privilege of serving in faith and agreement with His will . Time is never idle; life is running out; but the law takes us by our hand and leads us home to an order of eternity.