Filled with Fire and Light: Portraits and Legends from the Bible, Talmud, and Hasidic World

Schocken. Nov. 2021. 240p. ed. by Alan Rosen. ISBN 9780805243536. $27. REL
Readers likely identify the late Wiesel (1928–2016) with his speeches and books about surviving the Holocaust—particularly his memoir Night—but many of his 45-plus books address a wider range of topics. This new volume (edited by Holocaust literature scholar Rosen, who studied under Wiesel) is based on public lectures that Wiesel gave at Boston University, where he taught religion and philosophy for 40 years. Wiesel, who was a gifted storyteller, here examines seven historical religious leaders discussed in the Torah, the Talmud, and Hasidic sources, providing biographical information and reflecting on their contemporary relevance. The first section addresses the prophet Elisha and King Josiah, from the Torah; the second focuses on three Talmudic scholars; and the third discusses two Hasidic rabbis. Wiesel draws upon such sources as historical data, legend, statements from contemporaries, and narrative stories. Two additional chapters cover theological topics: one on the discussion of God in the Torah, and the other on the figure of Satan.
VERDICT People interested in Jewish history, tradition, and texts, as well as general readers interested in religion or historical narratives, will find this book to be informative and useful.
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