Rabbi Leo Baeck

A Personal Appraisal and Appreciation

in European Judaism
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  • 1 Hebrew Union College
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In This People Israel, Leo Baeck observed that Jewish vision 'looks backward and forward simultaneously', that 'nothing exists solely for itself. Everything has its predecessor and its successor, its ancestry and its direction.' Judaism 'only knows relationship and totality'. Rabbi Baeck observed that while the Greeks viewed the past as 'historia, "investigation"', Judaism speaks of 'toldot, "generations"'. There is a sense of connection that binds the Jew to the past, even as it bids us as Jews to consider the present and look to the future. As we seek to hear the commandment of the living God in our own generation, we acknowledge our debt to the past as we simultaneously affirm our responsibility to ourselves and to generations yet unborn as we seek to leave our posterity - our toldot - a worthy legacy. Revelation is captured and God experienced in the ongoing moments of life and the deeds that the individual and the community perform. I am grateful to Rabbi Baeck for the model of his life and the insights and nobility of his teachings. They inspire and direct me – however imperfectly I act – as I struggle with the challenges of life.

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe


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