Rabbi Alan Lew has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco since 1991. He is the author of One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi, a spiritual memoir in which he wrote about his practices of Jewish prayer and Zen meditation. Early in this new work, Lew states that it was Sigmund Freud who introduced "the single idea upon which all the significant developments of the twentieth century had rested: the invisible is more important than the visible." The author ponders the meaningful journey that Jews undertake into the invisible world through the High Holidays from Tisha B'Av to Elul, from Selichot to Rosh Hashanah to the Ten Days of Teshuvah, to Yom Kippur, and finally to Sukkot. All those who undertake this journey of the soul find that it is "one of self-discovery, spiritual discipline, self-forgiveness, and spiritual evolution." Whether writing about repentance, desire, confession, or death; Lew reveals his deep understanding of the Torah and the Talmud.
We appreciated his comments on the spiritual practice of reading the Book of the World and his inclusion of Rabbi Akiva's pithy observation: "All is foreseen, and free will is in our hands." This puts God in charge of everything and at the same time posits the importance of human responsibility for what befalls us.