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Starred Review. When life does not unfold as planned, Rabbi Kushner (When Bad Things Happen to Good People) strongly but sympathetically urges his readers to take inventory, learn from their experiences and move on with an open heart. Who better to learn from, he contends, than Moses, the greatest hero of the Jewish people? Moses not only led the Jews from slavery in Egypt and through the desert for 40 years to receive the Torah, but had to continually bear the ingratitude and complaints of his people, and relegate his personal life to a distant second place. Threading vignettes of Moses' resiliency into his discussion, Kushner advises that when personal difficulties arise—whether in the form of illness, marital problems or job frustrations—readers should not allow their faith and dreams to die. Rather, they should draw upon hope and forgiveness to become stronger, channeling their love and fear toward a dream that incorporates the best of who they are. Kushner does not shy away from difficult issues and awkward dilemmas, and his years of rabbinical experience in dealing with congregants' troubles make him well suited to offer advice. This readable and sensitive discussion of "Life is tough; let's be strong enough not to be broken by it" should appeal to anyone who has ever been disappointed. (Aug. 16)
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Rabbi emeritus Kushner, author of, among other titles, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981), scores another hit with book number 10, which is based on the theme and philosophy of his previous best-sellers. His idea is to explain the inexplicable in terms that turn negatives into ways of coping. Kushner skillfully uses the tale of Moses to manage the oh-so-true statement, "Nobody gets everything he or she yearns for." Forbidden to enter the Holy Land? Having wandered for 40 years and endured complaints and rebels, Moses was tired; another leader deserved to take the lead. Plus, reading into the Bible and other religious tomes, the author finds that Moses ignored his family--a critical element comprising the complete life. Moses is not the only example used. Abraham Lincoln was weighed down by depression--or, in his case, what doesn't kill us makes us strong. Sondheim's second act of Into the Woods underscores the importance of assessing broken dreams and forging new ones. Joseph Campbell of mythology fame is cited, as are Tevye and wife from Fiddler on the Roof, among many others. In all, the universal lessons for overcoming disappointment remain simple yet profound: remember who you're working for, substitute new dreams for old, keep promises, be humble, maintain life's priorities, forgive and forgive, and always dare to dream. Amen. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.