Float­ing Takes Faith: Ancient Wis­dom for a Mod­ern World

Rab­bi David J. Wolpe
  • Review
By – September 21, 2012

To read Float­ing Takes Faith is to taste a boun­ty of per­fect­ly ripened fruits with intrigu­ing­ly deli­cious fla­vors that linger on your tongue. The book is a com­pi­la­tion of thought-pro­vok­ing 200-word essays that Rab­bi David Wolpe wrote for The Jew­ish Week over the course of five years. 

Using short, punchy sen­tences, Rab­bi Wolpe dis­tills to their essence deep and com­plex ideas about God, Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, Israel, mar­riage, fam­i­ly, lead­er­ship, spir­i­tu­al growth, learn­ing, virtues, vices, anti-Semi­tism, death, and after­life. Rab­bi Wolpe gen­er­al­ly uses his essays to tack­le a big” ques­tion — What do we need in order to live?” Can feel­ings be leg­is­lat­ed?” Are we tru­ly at home in this world?” He often includes a quote or two from diverse sources, such as the Tal­mud, philoso­phers, Hasidic mas­ters, poets and comedians. 

The title essay focus­es on an appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion about Shab­bat: On one hand, we are sup­posed to strive for spir­i­tu­al­i­ty on Shab­bat, which takes work. On the oth­er hand, we are not sup­posed to work at all. The author solves the dilem­ma using a swim­ming anal­o­gy. Swim­ming requires us to kick, stroke, and move, he says. Float­ing asks us to be still, to trust the buoy­an­cy of the water. In the ocean, the swim­mer pro­pels his or her body under the wave. The floater ris­es on the crest. Sim­i­lar­ly, the one who works on him­self or her­self all week should aim to float on Shab­bat. Float­ing will car­ry you high­er than the often-stren­u­ous effort of the week…Shabbat asks us to trust the wave of God’s world.” 

Read­ing an essay in Float­ing Takes Faith is an effec­tive way to ele­vate your soul — in 60 sec­onds or less.

Robin K. Levin­son is an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and author of a dozen books, includ­ing the Gali Girls series of Jew­ish his­tor­i­cal fic­tion for chil­dren. She cur­rent­ly works as an assess­ment spe­cial­ist for a glob­al edu­ca­tion­al test­ing orga­ni­za­tion. She lives in Hamil­ton, NJ.

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