“By His Light: Character and Values in the Service of God” by Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein— The Development of the Religious Personality

Lichtenstein, Aharon. “By His Light: Character and Values in the Service of God”, Maggid, 2017. Maggid, 2017

The Development of the Religious Personality

Amos Lassen

Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein advocates a life that is centered on God but his is also recognizes there are many ways to reach that goal. the development of the religious personality. He understands and respects that both the Jewish value system and human experience are multi-layered and multifaceted and he looks at the relevant issues from a wide perspective.

Rabbi Lichtenstein’s essays show his firm commitment to Halakha as well as a solid grounding in Torah study. We also sense his deep spirituality, a profound moral sensitivity, and a keen awareness of both the challenges and opportunities of modernity. I love this because so many others do not take the times into consideration. Rabbi Lichtenstein enlightens us as he analyzes many topics including -character refinement, openness and insularity, commandment and choice, secular studies, Torah and career, setting religious priorities, religion and morality, trust in God, the Holocaust, the State of Israel, Jewish solidarity and repentance. It is a pleasurable experience to read about these and I really love that the reading takes us to thinking.

Bringing together character, ethics and psychology and sharing his thoughts in a sophisticated manner makes this volume more than a read—it is a total experience.

This is the first book by Rabbi Lichtenstein that I have read so I really cannot compare it to anything else by him. I feel as if I have been awakened from a long sleep and now see so much in a new light. I wish that I had the ability to be as in touch with the human condition as is Rabbi Lichtenstein who lives a pure life of faith. He is able to find just the right balance. He begins with looking at the merits of

a life of working vs. a life of learning while most of the book looks at questions involving man’s relationship to God, issues of repentance, connectivity and so forth. In the last chapter, we get a look at “Centrist Orthodoxy” and its place in the world.

 

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