Selected as a Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC)
“Significant Jewish Book”
“Rabbi Kushner is a beautiful storyteller.” —Los Angeles Times
Jacob was running away from home. One night he lay down in the wilderness to sleep and had one of the great mystical experiences of Western religion. He dreamed there was a ladder, with angels ascending and descending, stretched between heaven and earth. For thousands of years, people have tried to overhear what the messengers came down to tell Jacob, and us.
Now in a daring blend of scholarship and imagination, psychology and history, Lawrence Kushner gathers an inspiring range of interpretations of Genesis 28:16 given by sages, from Shmuel bar Nachmani in third-century Palestine to Hannah Rachel Werbermacher of Ludomir who lived in Poland two hundred years ago. Through a fascinating new literary genre and Kushner’s creative reconstruction of the teachers’ lives and times, we enter the study halls and sit at the feet of these spiritual masters to learn what each discovered about God’s Self and ourselves as they ascend and descend Jacob’s ladder.
In this illuminating journey, our spiritual guides ask and answer the fundamental questions of human experience: Who am I? Who is God? What is God’s role in history? What is the nature of evil? How should I relate to God and other people? Could the universe really have a self?
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner brilliantly reclaims a millennium of Jewish spirituality for contemporary seekers of all faiths and backgrounds. God Was in This Place & I, i Did Not Know is about God and about you; it is about discovering God’s place in the universe, and yours.
“Kushner has taught me more about God and my own Christianity than any other teacher I have known…. A bold attempt to translate the flavor of mystical Judaism into the life of the twentieth-century person, Jew and non-Jew alike, and he has been successful.”
—Rev. Robert G. Trache, rector, Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill
“A brilliant fabric of classic and rabbinic interpretations, medieval commentary, Hasidic insights, and literary criticism which warms us and sustains us.”
—Dr. Norman J. Cohen, dean and professor of midrash, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, New York
“We have another Buber here, a Heschel…. [Kushner] expresses the truly profound with joy, lightness and humor…. Anyone who loves the Book will love this book.”
—Father M. Basil Pennington, Saint Joseph’s Abbey
“This strong, imaginative, open and profound book invites reading, rereading, talking and absorbing. Readers will be amazed and moved by the depth of insights that one biblical phrase has evoked in Jewish consciousness throughout the centuries.”
—Rabbi Rachel Cowan, director of Jewish life, Nathan Cummings Foundation
“A beautiful book which uses both reason and art…to bring the author and the reader closer to God.”
—David Mamet, playwright
“A rich and intriguing book which, like the ladder of its metaphor, contains both many rungs of meaning as well as insights into the process of Jewish theology.”
—M. Scott Peck, M.D., author of The Road Less Traveled