Over the course of his last few books, Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman has been forging a very interesting path as an author, specializing in bringing very ‘high’ concepts and sources together, in a way that the English-speaking public can start to get more of a profound glimpse into some of the deeper workings of our faith.
His book on reincarnation, ‘Return Again’, is one of my all-time favourite reads, and I’ve re-read and recommended it to other people many times. So I was thrilled to spot Rav Trugman’s latest offering, called: ‘Prophecy and Divine Inspiration’ when it landed on the shelves of my local bookstore in Geula, a few weeks’ back.
The book is gorgeously-designed and laid out (something I’m paying more attention to, now that I’m up to that stage again with my own book), and the beautiful cover is a true feast for the eyes.
In the book itself, Rav Trugman gives the reader a whistle-stop tour of all things to do with prophets and prophecy, as they’re found in our religious sources. In terms of a historical and religious grounding in the basics of who the main prophets were in Judaism, and what their role was and continues to be, spiritually-speaking, the book cannot be faulted.
It’s meticulously researched, and all sources are footnoted, making it easier for the reader to go back and check in the original sources themselves, if they’re so minded.
Another thing that I liked about the book is how it takes the basic ideas of prophets and prophecies, and then jumps off in a few more original directions, like for example:
And a few other things, besides.
Which brings me to probably my only minor complaint about the book, which is that as someone with a bit more background in the religious basics, I would have liked to have had a section where Rav Trugman dealt with the individual’s experience of prophecy / Divine inspiration in our day.
He touches on that aspect briefly, when he shares the story of when he took a group out to the desert, and the awesomely spiritual experience they had there, which he felt touched at least a little on Divine inspiration.
Personally, I would have liked to have heard more about what Rav Trugman had to say about the modern Jew’s attempts to ‘know God’, and to engage Him in conversation, but I can appreciate that given the enormous scope of the book, and the already copious amount of material it contains, that realistically a more personal narrative will probably have to wait for the next volume.
So to sum up: This is a great primer, or introduction, to the subject of prophecy and Divine inspiration as found in our Jewish sources. It’s suitable for both novices who are new to these areas of Jewish thought, while also providing enough original material and insight to also satisfy the more seasoned Jewish spiritual seeker.
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