Abraham Heschel's Analysis

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Abraham Heschel, a Jewish theologian who lived from 1907-1972, wrote in the introduction to his book The Prophets that, “The prophet was an individual who said No to his society, condemning its habits and assumptions, its complacency, waywardness, and syncretism.” (Heschel, The Prophets, p. xxix) To Heschel, the prophets’ message of justice was a reaction to God’s divine concern for the human race. Their harsh message challenged everyone from priests to kings. When Heschel was a child, he was surrounded by strong faiths. A distinguished leader in the Jewish community, his father focused his teachings mainly on poverty. His mother had so much respect in the community that people would ask her to pray for them. At age nine Heschel’s father…show more content…
He describes the prophets of the Old Testament as having a, “...breathless impatience with injustice…” (Heschel, The Prophets, p. 4) This impatience that Heschel shares with the prophets stems from a prophet's understanding of God’s perspective. The prophet not only sees the world like God does, but also understands God’s emotions. Amos described God’s calling as irresistible, “When the Sovereign Lord speaks, who can keep from proclaiming his message?” (3:8) Heschel felt this irresistible calling from God. “God follows me everywhere like a shudder. I yearn for rest, but within me sounds the call: “Come!” (Heschel, The Ineffable Name.., p.23) The horrors in the world kept him up at night and made him physically sick. Some went on with life happily, under the impression that oppression did not exist, or at least, did not affect them. Like the prophets, Heschel was unable to remain naive to the man’s suffering. “Dark is the world for me, for all of its cities and stars. If not for the few signs of God’s radiance, who could stand such agony, such darkness?” (Heschel, Introduction at Concord) God’s concern for humanity is seen through Heschel, and he felt the overwhelming emotional response from God. In 1967, he boldly spoke against the Vietnam war saying that, “Remember that blood of the innocent cries forever.” Understanding God’s passion for his people, the…show more content…
He had no intent to gloss over difficult topics. When he wrote about racism he tried to open society’s eyes to how cruel racism is. “Few of us realize how insidious, how radical, how universal and evil racism is.” (Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom, p. 85-100) Heschel described himself when he said, “The words of the prophet are stern, sour, and stinging.” (Heschel, The Prophets, p.14) The people did not always want to hear what Heschel had to say. In order to combat the injustices in the world, he asked the different religions to work together. However, in a time of anti-semitism and anti-Christian thinking, the idea was foreign to many people. He saw that if the religions continued to separate themselves, they would end up being destroyed. “Our era marks the end of complacency, the end of evasion, the end of self reliance. Jews and Christians share the perils and the fears; we stand on the brink of the abyss together.” (Heschel, Moral Grandeur…, p. 235-50) Along with solidarity, Heschel called for moral reformation. The world was becoming more and more callous to injustice. “We live in an age when most of us have ceased to be shocked by the increasing breakdown of moral inhibitions. The decay of conscience fills the air with a pungent smell. Good and evil, which were once as

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