Parashat Vayechi: D’var Torah & Heschel Teaching – 1/7/23

D’var Torah (Rabbi Julie)

Introduction by Nick Levitin, Teaching on Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel by Rabbi Julie:

Because of his deep appreciation of Heschel’s teachings, Rabbi Julie asked Nick Levitin to make a brief introduction to her teaching session.

A Few Words on Heschel
By Nick Levitin

Some of you may remember, that several years ago, on Friday afternoons, I often sent out Shabbat Shalom email greetings to the congregation with quotes from Abraham Joshua Heschel. I was first introduced to Heschel’s teachings at NY’s Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. When he was younger, my beloved teacher, Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Z”L had been Heschel’s personal secretary for nine years. He loved him and loved to teach him. In fact his weekly class on Heschel’s The Prophets, was often attended by up to 30 people a week. The classes were captivating.

From the first moment I was introduced to Heschel’s work, I found the teacher that I didn’t know I had been yearning for. I loved his concept of radical amazement, his statement “Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me.”

As a young man, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out the meaning of life. In Judaism, with Marshall’s guidance, and Heschel’s teachings, I finally found what I was looking for.

Heschel invited me into a world rich with meaning and purpose.

He wrote:
“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.”

With the approach of Heschel’s 50th Yahrzeit, I am grateful for the opportunity say a few words about him.

Thank you, Rabbi Julie.


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