A Life Story of Holiness and Audacity
The story features Abraham’s argument over the city of Sodom contributing to audacity. He argued with God over the question of justice as an important factor of the life of faith. According to Genesis chapter 18, Abraham has the boldness to challenge God’s Justice in order to defend innocent strangers (Krajewski and Lipszyc 130-131). Citizens are known for their wickedness; therefore, God plans to destroy the whole city, but Abraham fears that God might destroy those who are innocent along with the wicked. Here Abraham not only wrestles with God, but he wins. Therefore, Abraham has the audacity that if God is going to be God, then justice must be done. This paper discusses how Abraham Joshua Heschel applied audacity in his lifetime.
Born in Warsaw in 1907, a son of Hasidic rebbe from a distinguished Hasidic line was treated with respect, and he was called upon to teach others. Abraham Joshua Heschel engaged in secular studies and thereafter went to University in Berlin; however, such piety observes the nearness of God in self-respect of every person and in all creation. As Abraham Joshua Heschel moved from the 1950s to 1960s, his writing on Jewish spirituality and ethics turned into action since he was to revise his doctoral thesis for publication under the title prophetic consciousness that made him see the social unrest of his time as a call of action. Throughout his lifetime, he was highly concerned about the fight for civil rights, the protest against the law in Vietnam, and interreligious dialogue (Krajewski and Lipszyc 138-140).
Heschel became good friends with Martin Luther King at the conference on religion; here Heschel showed his boldness when the police blocked the entrance to FBI headquarters. He gained entry to present a petition protesting police violence against civil rights protesters. Henceforth, he went on to march with the king in Selma Alabama where he was received as a prominent leader with Dr. King among other leaders. He viewed holiness, compassion, and justice as different faces of the same reality, and he was dedicated to three spilled over from racial issues into Vietnam War. Herschel worked so hard to fight injustice; for him, no one is beyond criticism when it comes to justice. The greatest crime, according to the philosopher, is to know about injustice and do nothing about it (Krajewski and Lipszyc 146-147).
For Heschel, there is one God, one creation, and humanity. Thus, all things are mutually dependent; no religion is on island nor any person. The solution is not to be found in the dominance of one religion but in realizing that holiness is not the domination of any particular religion or tradition. Holiness is defined by the objective of the heart and the righteousness of the deeds. However, we encounter the presence of God by welcoming each other, sharing a common humanity despite our differences. No religion is an island means we are all concerned with one another, and whenever one is hurt we are all affected.
In conclusion, Abraham Joshua Heschel embodied the desire for holiness and justice, which he demonstrated in the capability for audacity. He enables the Jewish to understand holiness whereby he says that holiness is defined by the intention of the heart and the righteousness of deeds.
Krajewski, Stanisław, and Adam Lipszyc. Abraham Joshua Heschel: Philosophy, Theology and Interreligious Dialogue. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2009. Print.