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Holy Fire » (1st Edition)

Book cover image of Holy Fire by Nehemiah Polen

Authors: Nehemiah Polen
ISBN-13: 9780765760265, ISBN-10: 0765760266
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Aronson, Jason Inc.
Date Published: April 1998
Edition: 1st Edition

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Author Biography: Nehemiah Polen

Book Synopsis

The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto is a journey into the mind and spirit of a sublime hasidic master in his moments of joy and tranquillity, and later, in his time of personal and communal catastrophe. The reader takes a voyage into the rich and variegated world of twentieth-century Hasidism in Poland, a world destroyed by the Holocaust. This is a volume inspired by a deeply sensitive and poetic individual of faith who is grappling with an unfolding disaster. While the Holocaust has engendered a voluminous body of religious and philosophical writings attempting to probe the issues this unfathomable period raises in all their enormity, virtually all were written after the war, when a modicum of distance and reflection is possible. Contemporaneous diaries and chronicles written as the events were happening concentrate on the descriptive accounts of the horrors. The Holy Fire, however, engages a sustained theological reflection and stands alone as an extended religious response from within the heart of darkness itself while the catastrophe takes place, and is, for this reason, an extraordinary document and an astonishing personal achievement.

Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader
1Rabbi Shapira's Origins, Life, and Work1
The War's Outbreak6
Activities During the War12
2General Characteristics of Esh Kodesh15
Absence of Politico-Historical References17
Teaching as Defiance: Noncontextual Derashot20
Interpretive Approach21
3Writing in the Darkness23
Derashot on the Creative Process24
4The Transformation of Suffering36
Transforming Fear into Awe37
Psychic Disintegration38
Encouragement to Service42
The Greatness of Israel44
Mutuality and Relationship49
Maintaining Joy53
Overcoming Survivor's Guilt58
Balancing Humility and Pride59
Self-Control in the Face of Din61
Suffering as Sacrificial Offering62
Preparing for Martyrdom: The World of Pure Thought67
5Faith Secure, Faith Transfigured70
Faith in Deliverance71
Protest within Faith94
6The Mystical Vision of Divine Weeping106
Sin and Chastisement106
Divine Suffering115
7Transmuting Evil122
Jacob and the Struggle with Esau's Angel124
The Serpent127
Sublimating Evil into Good130
Confronting and Transcending the Enemy133
The Triumph of the Good139
The Mutual Compassion of God and Israel141
The Last Months152
Index of Esh Kodesh Passages199
General Index203