Heav­en­ly Torah as Refract­ed Through the Generations

Abra­ham Joshua Hes­chel; Gor­don Tuck­er and Leonard Levin, eds. and trans.
  • Review
October 24, 2011

Abra­ham Joshua Hes­chel was born one hun­dred years ago into an emi­nent rab­binic dynasty, whose ances­tors includ­ed great Torah schol­ars and Chas­sidic mas­ters. Yet, Hes­chel chose a unique path for him­self, as a the­olo­gian, a philoso­pher and a social activist, ulti­mate­ly excelling in all those endeavors. 

Includ­ing The Prophets, The Sab­bath, Man is Not Alone, and per­haps his most famous work, God in Search of Man, this body of lit­er­a­ture has led many to con­sid­er Hes­chel one of the most sig­nif­i­cant the­olo­gians of the 20th cen­tu­ry. But until now, Hes­chels’ mag­num opus, his ambi­tious three-vol­ume Torah Min HaShamay­im BeA­s­pak­lar­i­ah shel HaDorot” has been large­ly inac­ces­si­ble to all but the most advanced schol­ars of rab­binic Hebrew and discourse. 

With the pub­li­ca­tion of Rab­bis Gor­don Tuck­er and Leonard Levin’s slight­ly abridged and yet still-hefty trans­la­tion of Heschel’s mas­ter­piece, Heav­en­ly Torah: As Refract­ed through the Gen­er­a­tions, this is des­tined to change. 

The trans­la­tors have skill­ful­ly trans­formed Heschel’s com­plex study of the doc­trine of Divine rev­e­la­tion,” into an acces­si­ble text for stu­dents and schol­ars alike. The trans­la­tion itself is clear and avoids archa­ic ren­di­tions of dif­fi­cult texts. Impor­tant­ly, the trans­la­tors are care­ful to remain faith­ful to Heschel’s orig­i­nal Hebrew work.

Tuck­er and Levin deserve great cred­it for bring­ing this bril­liant work to the mod­ern stu­dent of Jew­ish the­ol­o­gy, and espe­cial­ly for their mas­ter­ful unpack­ing” and con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion of Heschel’s schol­ar­ly arguments.

Discussion Questions