The Book of Words: Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk

The Book of Words: Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk

by Lawrence Kushner


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"According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words. God just spoke and the world became reality. (The Aramaic for 'I create as I speak' is avara k'davara, or in magician’s language, abracadabra.) ... This does not protect words from the numbing effects of overuse in any religious tradition.... We need to dust off the words, shake away the accretions, wonder again about what they originally might have meant and enable ourselves to live in the word."
—from the Introduction

With creativity and poetry (and occasional heresy) Kushner dusts off thirty classical Hebrew words, shakes them free of the effects of generations of overuse, "re-translates" them and liberates their ancient holy power. The result is a contemporary spiritual guide for your personal religious life.

According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words. God just spoke and the world came into being. Words therefore are not merely sounds signifying something else; they are instruments of creation, primary reality itself. They need only to be read, spoken and interpreted. And to know them is to know reality itself.

Kushner has designed the book himself, seamlessly blending graphics and content. In doing so he evokes the aesthetics of an ancient manuscript and a vision of our power to shape the future.

Each finely crafted chapter begins with a Hebrew word and Kushner’s provocative English translation. At the bottom of the page is a transliteration of the Hebrew along with its more customary English rendering. In addition to his own intriguing definition, he includes a biblical citation anchoring the word, along with a more recent text showing the word’s evolution. Finally, we are offered a personal, meditative exercise designed to enable you to “live in the word.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580230209
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 11/01/1993
Pages: 142
Sales rank: 903,194
Product dimensions: 2.36(w) x 3.54(h) x 0.41(d)

About the Author

Lawrence Kushner, author, lecturer and spiritual leader, is regarded as one of the most creative religious thinkers and writers in America. A commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, he has focused us on spiritual renewal with wisdom and humor. Through his books and lectures, people of every faith and background have found inspiration and new strength for spiritual search and growth. It has been said that some spiritual leaders blend religion and psychology to help us walk better on the ground, but Lawrence Kushner draws on the wisdom of the mystics to help us dance better on the ceiling.

Kushner's acclaimed books include I’m God; You’re Not: Observations on Organized Religion & Other Disguises of the Ego; Honey from the Rock: An Easy Introduction to Jewish Mysticism; Invisible Lines of Connection: Sacred Stories of the Ordinary; The Book of Letters: A Mystical Hebrew Alphabet; Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians; and In God’s Hands, an inspiring fable for children, with Gary Schmidt (all Jewish Lights).

Kushner served as rabbi at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts, for almost thirty years; he is currently the Emanu-El scholar at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, and an adjunct faculty member at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. He is fascinated by graphic design and computers (designing most of his Jewish Lights books). He enjoys Mozart, hanging around sailboats, and making his granddaughters giggle.

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Table of Contents


1. / AMNESIA / Unio Mysticia
2. / AWAKENING / Blessing
3. / BEING / The Sabbath Day
4. / BREATHING / The Name of God
5. / COMING HOME / Repentance
6. / DUES / Sacrifices
7. / EXCHANGE / Redemption
8. / FAMILY / Israel
9. / FREEDOM / Supervision
10. / GARBAGE / Gossip
11. / IMAGERY / Idolatry
12. / INTEGRITY / Sincerity
13. / LAUGHTER / Ecstasy
14. / LIFE / Story
15. / LOVE / One
16. / MONEY / Charity
17. / POISON / Grudge
18. / POLITICS / Repair
19. / REMEMBERING / Order
20. / RESPONSE / Divine Commandment
21. / SCRIPT / Prayer
22. / SECRECY / Faith
23. / SELF / Soul
24. / TABLE / Altar
25. / TERROR / Life
26. / VISION / Truth
27. / WATER / Purity
28. / THE WAY / The Law
29. / YEAST / The Evil Urge
30. / YOURSELF / Messiah


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