The Art of Amaze­ment: Judais­m’s For­got­ten Spirituality

Alexan­der Seinfeld
  • Review
By – August 15, 2012
Take two iden­ti­cal pieces of fruit, such as orange slices or grapes. Eat the first piece of fruit as you nor­mal­ly would. 

Before eat­ing the sec­ond piece, take a few min­utes to exam­ine it close­ly. Notice its smell, col­orations, tex­ture, weight. Think about all the peo­ple involved in bring­ing the fruit into your home: the farmer, the pick­er, the pack­ager, those who designed and built the truck that hauled the fruit to your local super­mar­ket. Next, con­tem­plate the sun­shine that enabled the fruit to grow on its tree or vine in the first place. Think about the sun, how it has been radi­at­ing ener­gy for bil­lions of years, how it formed after the Big Bang, and the unfath­omable nature of time. 

Now bite into your sec­ond piece of fruit. Chew it slow­ly, appre­ci­at­ing its sweet­ness, juici­ness, the way it feels in your mouth. Con­sid­er the fact that some­thing that grows out of the ground is nour­ish­ing your body and help­ing to keep it attached to your soul. 

If you did the exer­cise cor­rect­ly, you’ve trans­formed a poten­tial­ly mun­dane expe­ri­ence into a tran­scen­dent one that fills you with awe. Infus­ing this wow” fac­tor into every­thing thing you see and do is the gift Rab­bi Alexan­der Sein­feld seeks to impart through this fas­ci­nat­ing and high­ly instruc­tive book. 

In addi­tion to the fruit con­tem­pla­tion and oth­er exer­cis­es, the author explains how var­i­ous Jew­ish med­i­ta­tion prac­tices and prayers enable us to derive joy and plea­sure in even the small­est of every­day occur­rences. Pep­pered with graph­ic illus­tra­tions, Hebrew trans­la­tions and translit­er­a­tions of prayers and psalms, lengthy foot­notes, and six appen­dices, The Art of Amaze­ment is an amaz­ing book — an unusu­al­ly potent resource that can enliv­en your spir­i­tu­al journey.
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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