Levy, Naomi. “Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul“, Flatiron Books, 2017.
The Meaning and Purpose of Soul
Naomi Levy, a bestselling author and rabbi explores of the meaning and purpose of the soul having been inspired by the famous correspondence between Albert Einstein and a grieving rabbi. Einstein said that a person is part of the universe and limited in time and space. His thoughts, his feelings and his experiences are separate from the rest of him and “a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness…”
When Rabbi Naomi Levy came across this in a letter written by Einstein, she was shaken s she realized that what he says here totally captures what many believe to be the human condition. This human condition comes about when we are intimately connected and blind to this truth. Rabbi Levy wondered what had prompted Einstein, a man of science, to speak about such spiritual wisdom and she began a search that lasted for three years as she searched for the letter in which Einstein had written this. That search also became a journey into the mystery of the human soul. The result of that search is this book that contains universal truths that aid us in finding unity and reclaiming our souls. Levy’s journey now becomes our journey as we are urged to listen to and heed the voice that comes from within telling us that we must become who we were meant to me when we came into this world.
Rabbi Levy looks to her own personal stories, to Jewish life and traditions, and to the letter from Einstein to a grieving father to guide on how to live a meaningful and connected life.
I have always looked to whoever my rabbi is at a certain period of time as an example of wisdom and the power and profundity of Judaism. Of course, not all rabbis are powerful and profound but they do all possess a greater knowledge of Judaism than I do. Rabbis, I have been told, speak to us from the soul and that is exactly what Naomi Levy does here. She captures the human spirit through “historic journeys, present-day gestures of kindness, and understanding” and she does so in clear and clean prose that invites us to join her in her narrative. She shares wonderful stories of love, loss, suffering, and success and while this is her memoir, it is also a guide for us. I have always found fascinating that no one is really able to give a proper definition to “soul” yet we all search for it. After all, it is the search that teaches us what we need to know. Life is a series of opposites—birth and death, love and loss, faith and doubt. In to choose the best of the two, we see that they are connected by soul. Levy wrestles with the concept of soul and does so poetically and with humility and masterfulness. Her inspiration came from a letter written by Einstein to a rabbi who had just lost a child. She uses the words of Einstein to Rabbi Robert Marcus, and her relationship her own father to show us that the soul knows what we do not. She teaches us to see from within, from our souls and in doing so, we bless others and ourselves.
Just the story of the rabbi who initially wrote to Einstein makes us sit up and realize that there must be something greater out there and that this something is the elusive soul.