There are times in life when we are caught utterly unprepared: a death in the family, the end of a relationship, a health crisis. These are the times when the solid ground we thought we stood on disappears beneath our feet, leaving us reeling and heartbroken, as we stumble back to our faith.
The Days of Awe encompass the weeks preceding Rosh Hashanah up to Yom Kippur, a period in which Jews take part in a series of rituals and prayers that reenact the journey of the soul through the world from birth to death. This is a period of contemplation and repentance, comparable to Lent and Ramadan. Yet, for Rabbi Alan Lew, the real purpose of this annual passage is for us to experience brokenheartedness and open our heart to God. In This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared, Lew has marked out a journey of seven distinct stages, one that draws on these rituals to awaken our soul and wholly transform us. Weaving together Torah readings, Buddhist parables, Jewish fables and stories from his own life, Lew lays bare the meanings of this ancient Jewish passage. He reveals the path from terror to acceptance, confusion to clarity, doubt to belief, and from complacency to awe.
In the tradition of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared enables believers of all faiths to reconnect to their faith with a passion and intimacy that will resonate throughout the year.
Lew's exploration of the Days of Awe begins not with Rosh Hashanah which is not featured until chapter six but with Tisha B'Av and the month of Elul. These observances, Lew feels, set a tone of rigorous introspection in the Jewish calendar. He follows the story through Yom Kippur and Sukkot, drawing on Jewish tradition, his own experiences and a few Buddhist stories (Lew is a self-described "Zen rabbi") to take the reader on a journey of spiritual transformation "from birth to death and back to renewal again." Lew is far more concerned with inner motivations and awareness than with external rituals, a refreshing and sometimes startling perspective. He is a perceptive thinker and a highly skilled writer, making this book a hard-hitting yet compassionate cry for spiritual renewal during the High Holy Days as well as the rest of the year.
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This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared
Loved this book. The insight into the Jewish High Holidays, intertwined with the Rabbi's personal experience and growth, weaknesses and strengths, made for a cathartic reading resulting in my own growth. Thank you for this book. Alan Lew must have been a special teacher.
I love this book
Everything about this book engaged me, from the clarity of the writing to the depth of the unpacking of the Jewish high holy days. As a Jewish woman, I was amazed by how my personal experience right at this moment in time resonated with the perceptiveness of the author. I have never had such a clear understanding of the transformative process of the Jewish holidays. This book totally helped me, and I thank the rabbi. I intend to give copies of this book to my adult children.