BTBJ’s Book Club with Rabbi Saul I. Grife
As A Driven Leaf
This is one of those books that I couldn’t set down from cover to cover.
In 1939, Rabbi Milton Steinberg wrote As A Driven Leaf, a historical novel based on the story of Rabbi Elisha ben Abuya who lived in 1st-2nd CE Palestine. Over the course of his life, Elisha was greatly influenced by both Judaism and secular Hellenism, which gave rise to great conflicts in his mind and soul over the ultimate source of truth, justice and goodness. The book is about Elisha’s lifetime journey that wove through intense periods of dedication in and out of Judaism and Hellenism. His quest for certainty propels him from investing in one world or the other. After turning from Judaism, he is excommunicated because of his heresy. He never truly finds the one system or truth in which to completely believe. Hence, the title “As a Driven Leaf” based on the Biblical words of Job when tormented he asks God, “Why do You hide Your face and treat me like an enemy? Will You harass a driven leaf?” (Job 13:24-25)
Many of us are conflicted and torn over what principles to believe in that will serve us faithfully over the course of a lifetime, especially during moments of intense trial. Our faith can be greatly affected by the presence of joys and sorrows that affect our lives as well as the lives of others. As A Driven Leaf takes us through the journey of a man whose values and hopes are molded and shaken by tragedy and real life experiences. This story promises to resonate in everyone who is looking for doctrines by which to live while we are confronted by life’s often unforeseen challenges. I hope the tale of Elisha’s journey will prove informative, enlightening and inspiring as we forge our own pillars of faith to deal with the events of our lives!
I invite you to join me on Thursday, May 16th at 7:00 pm at BTBJ’s Adult Education Book Club to explore As A Driven Leaf!
Copies of the book are on sale in the synagogue office.