Originally published in The Jewish Book Review, 26th September 1990. Holy living: Saints and Saintliness in Judaism by Louis Jacobs (hardcover, 176 pages, $20) sounds like a strange title for a Jewish book, considering the fact that we don’t formally canonize our holiest sages. However, it is worth remembering that our Christian brethren borrowed most of the practices of their own faith from our people and we gave them good examples to create ... Continue Reading ➨
Holy Living: Saints and Saintliness in Judaism
The Hebrew term hasid is most comonly associated with the hasidic movement, but it has much earlier origins and is more technically used to refer to what may be described as the saint or saintly personality as found in Jewish history and tradition. Holy Living is the only in-depth study of this phenomenon. It offers a scholarly and sensitive portrait of the hasid as a theoretical type, and describes many individuals throughout history who have personified the essence of the hasid. Louis Jacobs, prolific author and highly regarded rabbi and scholar, has combed the literature to present a rich and complete profile of the hasid, which he maintains is a clearly identifiable type in Jewish life and thought. Drawing upon source material from Jewish literature and history--from the most ancient sources to present-day works--Rabbi Jacobs's book is rich with information and inspiration. He also demonstrates the significance of saintliness for religions in general, and analyzes how Jewish saintliness resembles and how it differs from saintliness in other religions.
Originally published in The Jewish Spectator, Winter 1990. A member of my congregation took issue with me for using the term saints in reference to Jewish righteous personalities. In the opinion of my critic, the term was Christian and ought not to be used in a Jewish context. Judaism certainly knows of holy persons. Hebrew terms vary (hasid, tzadik, kodesh). The word saint is a reasonable English rendering. Decades before, Louis Ginzberg had ... Continue Reading ➨