Well, this was interesting. The book reads like to separate pieces. Approximately the first half of the book is told in chronological order, relating...moreWell, this was interesting. The book reads like to separate pieces. Approximately the first half of the book is told in chronological order, relating Gil's spiritual search. The second half is short anecdotes, in no particular order, about his life (and sometimes adventures) as a religious Jew.
This book doesn't really fit into a particular genre. Locks tells of his spiritual search in an almost emotionless and detached manner. He relates his stories as a set of facts, and while it is certainly an interesting story, one isn't carried along emotionally with him on his journey. The reader is more of an outside spectator, taking note of all that goes on.
As Locks speaks of his Jewish life, however, he shows a bit more passion. I don't know that he portrays this passion to the Nth degree, but he certainly makes clear his enthusiasm for the life that he has chosen.
Locks is an interesting character, and it shows in his writing. He is unapologetic for his beliefs and his lifestyle throughout, although he does express regret about certain aspects of his past. He is a fellow who seems drawn to extremes, and who likes to be intensely involved in people and situations. This creates an atmosphere in his life that surely provides for the occurrence of the many (true) tales in this book, and leaves the reader with what are probably strong, yet possibly conflicting, opinions about its author.
There were several passages that stood out at me for various reasons and I'd like to share them here. (These passages were all culled from the second half of the book, as they related more to my day-to-day thoughts and experiences. But that doesn't imply a lack of interest in the first half of the book. On the contrary, the first half was a real trip!)
Without further ado...
"I've seen so many lives turn around from the spiritual experience that can come from putting on Tefillin (phylacteries) at the Kotel (Western Wall)...Certainly, if we would try the spiritual things with at least the same intensity and anticipation that we try the physical things, our lives would change quickly." (p. 230) This was really food for thought. Even someone who is committed to pursuing a spiritual life can easily be distracted by the physical details and lose sight of the goal. Spiritual pleasures are worth so much more, and we have to work for anything worthwhile in life. The pursuit of spirituality is not ingrained on our surface the way our search for physical pleasure is. (See Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)
Inconsiderateness is a definite sign of spiritual ignorance. When you see someone...tying his shoelace...by putting his shoe on a chair, you can bet he is a very self-centered, narrow thinker. Certainly, someone is going to come sit on that chair...and sit right in the filth that was on the bottom of the other guy's shoe." (p. 272) A person's character should not judged by one mistake, which, out of context, this quote seems to falsely imply. Locks does make an important point here, however - a spiritually aware and elevated person looks out for other people and their needs. [This, I think, is in direct contrast to his previous experiences of 'enlightenment' in which the spiritual person is withdrawn from the world and not concerned with the happenings and people around him.]
Torah practice eliminates intermarriage. The ultra-Orthodox have but a tiny percentage of children who intermarry. The Modern Orthodox, who keep all of the laws but not all of the customs, have a much greater percentage of children who drop out and intermarry." (p. 337) Although this is not his point, he seems to imply here that ultra-Orthodox DO keep all of the customs of the Torah, and that this is the defining difference between ultra- and Modern Orthodox. I wouldn't say I agree that this is the case in practice, but perhaps in theory it holds some truth. An interesting theory. I just finished reading Sliding to the Right: The Contest for the Future of American Jewish Orthodoxy which speaks a great deal about these two communities and the blurred line and distinction between them, as well as the relationship these 2 communities have. I'm not sure Heilman, author of Sliding to the Right, would agree with Locks' assessment, but it is something interesting to ponder.
Anyway, this was a quick and entertaining read with enough solid content (in my opinion) to justify the time spent reading. It has both entertainment and real messages of value, so although perhaps not the best book under the sun, I would say anyone Jewish would benefit from reading this book. (And perhaps non-Jews would enjoy it as well.)
Oh, and one more thing. I really liked his idea of the "Bum-packs." But you'll have to read the book to learn about those. (less)
I've read many books on the holocaust, but most were memoirs, and this is a book from an entirely different perspective. I find it remarkable that the...moreI've read many books on the holocaust, but most were memoirs, and this is a book from an entirely different perspective. I find it remarkable that the author was able to maintain such a level of scientific objectivity, and be able to put forth such an honest and revealing description of the human condition and what drives it.
Frankl's unique perspective is invaluable to anyone who is less than satisfied with his or her life.
Like Mitch Albom's other books, this one was an enjoyable easy read. It was, also like his other books, inspirational without being obligating. That i...moreLike Mitch Albom's other books, this one was an enjoyable easy read. It was, also like his other books, inspirational without being obligating. That is, it spoke well of people who lived their life(s) in an admirable way without a specific call to action or a nudge towards working to emulate this clearly desirable behavior.
I think therein lies his success (financially) and his failing (morally.) Certainly he'd have fewer readers if he included something about incorporating this inspirational person's behaviors into one's own repertoire; his books would be seen as somewhat preachy by many, and would thereby reach a narrower audience. On the other hand, an author who is guided by the moral high ground is more likely to go for quality over quantity in readership, and in this area I think he could have done better.
I'd like to think that this is his short term plan, that once he attains established authorship, he'll start adding that missing factor. Although one could argue that he's already there.
Anyway, this made the reader experience lacking for me. I'll go elsewhere for my inspiration to self-improvement.(less)