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Herman, A.S. (1974). KIRSCH, JAMES. The reluctant prophet. Los Angeles, Sherbourne Press Inc., pp. xii + 214. $7.50.. J. Anal. Psychol., 19(2):208-209.
(1974). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 19(2):208-209
KIRSCH, JAMES. The reluctant prophet. Los Angeles, Sherbourne Press Inc., pp. xii + 214. $7.50.
Review by: A. S. Herman
The prophet's mantle is a heavy one and most of the speakers for God in the Jewish tradition have expressed their reluctance to be chosen for that kind of ‘holy work’. But, common to them all is that, once chosen, they go ahead and speak.
The injunction to speak or act out, in a special way, to the people of Israel the command ‘that they change their ways and obey the word of the Lord’ has been understood to be conveyed by many means. Since early days dreams have been accepted as a legitimate meeting between God and man. But despite the subjectively felt authenticity of the communication, being a ‘speaker for God’ has often meant at first rejection by contemporaries and only much later recognition for having spoken Holy words.
Out of the changing religious and political consciousness experienced in nineteenth-century western Europe, James Kirsch has rescued an orthodox rabbi, otherwise lost in obscurity, Hile Wechsler. This reluctant prophet had a series of dreams which he very unwillingly wrote down and published under a pseudonym, tacking to the dreams his own commentary, and calling the brochure ‘A word of warning’. Originally published in 1881, the manuscript was ‘lost’ until republished by family friends in 1962 for private distribution. This ‘accident* of fate, the discovery of the brochure and examination of its contents, is the subject matter of Kirsch's book.
The book, in two main parts, examines the Jewish sources of the rabbi's own dream theory; the contemporary world of post-1848 Germany; the conflicts of an orthodox Jew in a growingly rationalistic environment; and, most important, a thoroughly Jungian analysis of the dreams.
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