To be spiritual is to be amazed – Abraham Joshua Heschel

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.
Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually.
To be spiritual is to be amazed.― Abraham Joshua Heschel

A wonderful video and transcript – excerpt below – to read the full article go HERE

Abraham Joshua Heschel

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: This weekend of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, religious services are planned around the country to remember him and his legacy. Some of them will be in synagogues that are honoring both King and the late Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of King’s many courageous supporters. Heschel is widely considered to be one of the greatest American religious figures of the last century — a rabbi, theologian, social activist and mystic admired by Christians as well as Jews. He would have been 101 years old this month.

Our segment was produced by Steve Brand, a New York filmmaker who is completing a documentary on Heschel called “Praying With My Legs.” Brand gathered powerful recollections from those who had known Heschel and who wish his prophetic voice were still sounding.

Heschel marching with Dr. King Heschel marching in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Photo courtesy of AP Images)

It was his participation in the civil rights movement that first made Heschel widely known. In a famous photo of the Selma march in 1965, its leaders wearing garlands, Heschel was the white man with the prophet’s beard, two to the right of Dr. King. That was the occasion on which Heschel said he felt he was praying with his legs.

Rabbi ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL (from file footage, “The External Light,” NBC, 1972): God is either the father of all men or of no man, and the idea of judging a person in terms of black or brown or white is an eye disease.

ABERNETHY: Heschel also publicly and passionately opposed the war in Vietnam.

Rabbi HESCHEL (from file footage, “The External Light,” NBC, 1972): How can I pray when I have on my conscience the awareness that I am co-responsible for the death of innocent people in Vietnam? In a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible.

PETER A. GEFFEN (Founder, Abraham Joshua Heschel School, New York City): The war in Vietnam, for Heschel, was an ultimate act of dehumanization — to no longer even see that there was an enemy on the other side who was a human being. And Heschel was convinced that if I act with a disregard for the humanity of my fellow human beings, I am ultimately — I am really ultimately attacking God.

Dr. Susannah Heschel Dr. Susannah Heschel

ABERNETHY: Heschel’s daughter, Susannah, teaches Jewish studies at Dartmouth College.

Dr. SUSANNAH HESCHEL (Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Department of Religion, Dartmouth College): He upset a lot of people, because he felt his role was to go and tell people what they didn’t want to hear.

My father was sleepless over Vietnam. He would be up late at night — one, two, three in the morning — couldn’t sleep he was so upset. It was on his mind all the time.

ABERNETHY: Heschel’s experience of the Holocaust was one reason for his social activism. He had seen close up what racism and apathy can do, and how violence towards human beings often begins with the abuse of language.

Dr. HESCHEL: Hitler, he said, did not come to power with tanks and machine guns. Hitler came to power with words.

ABERNETHY: Heschel was raised in Warsaw and did graduate study in Berlin. Just six weeks before World War II, he was able to escape from Europe. Heschel’s late wife, Sylvia, remembered.

SYLVIA HESCHEL: There were sisters of his who were killed, and that was a very painful thing for him — very. His mother died of a heart attack as soon as the Nazis came to the door. She just fell to the ground. It was awful.

Sylvia Heschel Sylvia Heschel

ABERNETHY: But Heschel never blamed God.

Ms. HESCHEL: He said God didn’t do it. Man did it.

ABERNETHY: Heschel’s biographer is Edward Kaplan.

Professor EDWARD KAPLAN (Author, SPIRITUAL RADICAL: ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL IN AMERICA): There are moments when he talks about overcoming despair and overcoming gloom. But the response to the catastrophe is not to focus on the catastrophe but to focus on human possibilities.


Hear also The Spiritual Bond Between Heschel and King, The ‘Faitheist,’ and More

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