'A Damaged Mirror' is the true story of a non-Jewish American woman who started to have lots of 'Auschwitz flashbacks'. I don't want to give the whole game away, but she ended up converting to Judaism, and managed to track down the previous owner of her 'Auschwitz memories' in the Holocaust records.
The previous owner of this woman's soul had died a horrible, traumatic death as part of Auschwitz' infamous 'Sonderkommando', the Jewish inmates who were given the soul-destroying job of cleaning out the gas chambers, and cremating the remains.
The man in question had lost his faith in Auschwitz, as did so many others. But God gave him a second chance to make good, by reincarnating part of his soul in a new body.
I have to tell you, I read an awful lot of books, but few of them have made as big an impact on me as 'A Damaged Mirror'. I learned so many profound spiritual lessons from the story, and I felt the book changed my perspective on life in a fundamental way.
Because firstly, it really brought home to me that everything we do in life is meaningful - even the 'small' every day choices that seem to be so mundane and pointless - and secondly, because it underlined the fact that God never gives up on a single one of us.
Even if we didn't make the correct decision last time round, He keeps giving us repeated chances to get it right.
Another reason the book made a huge impact on me is because I believe that there is a lot of unfinished spiritual business still hanging over the Jewish people's head, on account of the Holocaust. (See this article on the Holocaust and reincarnations, by Sarah Yocheved Rigler).
I'll write more on this elsewhere, but I think the spiritual scars of being hunted to extermination by the Nazis (even though God didn't let them succeed, ultimately) traumatized a whole generation to their core - regardless of whether they actually experienced the death camps first hand.
And if that wasn't enough, then the subsequent upheavals that dislocated most of Sephardic Jewry after World War II, and the wars fought in Israel subsequently, have done a wonderful job of traumatizing all the other sectors of Jewish society.
But back to the Holocaust: how do you let yourself care deeply for other people again, when so many members of your community, your family, your nation, got killed in such a horrible way? How do you trust God's goodness again? How can you keep going without cracking up or breaking down?
The answer is that you can't, really, unless you have rock-solid emuna. And if your emuna is not up to scratch, then your next best option is to throw your feelings and emotions into the deep-freeze, and to go through life as some sort of spiritual-teflon zombie, on automatic pilot.
That's what happened to most of our grandparents' generation, bar the ones that really had the incredible spiritual strength to continue to feel, even through all that pain and suffering.
In turn, they raised children in increasingly sterile, materialistic environments, where keeping up appearances became an ingrained habit, another relic leftover from the devastating war - even if there's a Blitz happening, even if you have no food to eat, even if your dad just got killed on the Western Front, - the Stiff Upper Lip still reigns supreme! No moaning, whining, complaining, crying or feeling, thank you very much!
IE: No empathy, compassion or genuine emotion.
That was the atmosphere our parents grew up in. And now, here we are in 2015, and we're next inline.
We, who grew up with women's lib, and absent working mothers, and TV 24/7. We who haven't seen a genuine emotion (apart from anger or plastic happiness) for 60 years.
The test, the challenge, today is to feel. To find a way to thaw our hearts of stone, and to trust God again.
Rebbe Nachman foresaw this test more than 200 years' ago, when he called his particular branch of chassidut 'Breslov', which spells out lev basar, or 'heart of flesh', in Hebrew.
That's our test. That's our challenge. And when I read 'A Damaged Mirror', I realised it was the same test and challenge 70 years' ago, too. And that God, in His wisdom and kindness, is giving us all another chance to somehow do it differently, and to somehow get it right, this time round.
Rivka Levy's Books: