The Choice to Be
A Jewish Path to Self and Spirituality
By Jeremy Kagan
Feldheim Publishers, 2012, 452 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - September 5, 2012
Rabbi Jeremy Kagan, Principal of Midreshet Tehillah in Jerusalem offers religious and non-religious readers an introduction to the solutions to many questions from "the Torah worldview," a literal reading of biblical texts. The book has twenty-one chapters and three appendices. Kagan discusses subjects such as developing oneself, faith, free will, sin, repentance, our perception of the Creator, Divine judgment, the roots of exile, and the conflict between Torah and science. One of his three appendices summarizes his understanding of these and the other subjects that he discusses. Another discusses the miscommunications of modern technology. The third focuses on maintaining a close relationship with God. The book has over a thousand footnotes, many referring to biblical passages.
Kagan stresses the importance of faith and connecting with God. Humans, he writes, feel inadequate and desire to cling to God. He sees the observance of the biblical commands as a way to bring Jews to faith. He is convinced that Jews were named after the biblical Judah who sinned, recognized his error, and repented, and Jews received this name to encourage them to do the same.