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I always looked forward to Rabbi Toba's stories and speeches when I went to synagogue growing up. When I saw she had a book coming out, I was immediately delighted and then unsurprised to find she's just as poignant and interesting written as she is speaking. Her metaphors about God and related spiritual practices are refreshing and interesting, good for non-believers or believers, as well as anyone else curious about the Divine.
Shana— From God is Here
Toba Spitzer's God Is Here is a transformative exploration of the idea of God, offering new paths to experiencing the realm of the sacred.
Most of us are hungry for a system of meaning to make sense of our lives, yet traditional religion too often leaves those seeking spiritual sustenance unsatisfied. Rabbi Toba Spitzer understands this problem firsthand, and knows that too often it is traditional ideas of the deity—he's too big, too impersonal, and too unbelievable—that get in the way. In God Is Here, Spitzer argues that whether we believe in God or fervently disbelieve, what we are actually disagreeing about is not God at all, but a metaphor of a Big Powerful Person that limits our understanding and our spiritual lives.
Going back to the earliest sources for Judaism as well as Christianity, Spitzer discovers in the Hebrew Bible a rich and varied palette of metaphors for the divine—including Water, Voice, Fire, Rock, Cloud, and even the process of Becoming. She addresses how we can access these ancient metaphors, as well as those drawn from rabbinic tradition and modern science, to experience holiness in our daily lives and to guide us in challenging times. In the section on water, for instance, she looks at the myriad ways water flows through the Biblical stories of the Israelites and emerges as a powerful metaphor for the divine in the Prophets and Psalms. She invites us to explore what it might mean to “drink from God,” or to experience godly justice as something that “rains down” and “flows like a river.”
Each chapter contains insights from the Bible and teachings from Judaism and other spiritual traditions, accompanied by suggestions for practice to bring alive each of the God metaphors. Rabbi Toba Spitzer has helped many people satisfy their spiritual hunger. With God Is Here she will inspire you to find new and perhaps surprising ways of encountering the divine, right where you are.
“A wonderful book! Toba Spitzer has made a very important contribution to the new Jewish God language that is beginning to emerge in our day. She offers a new Ten Sefirot for the contemporary Jewish seeker, doing so with warmth, honesty, and an open heart.”
—Rabbi Arthur Green, author of These Are the Words and Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas
"Toba Spitzer is a trustworthy spiritual companion, a rabbi’s rabbi. Her teaching spans disciplines and time. She makes spiritual practices concrete and doable even for amateurs at prayer! Her insights into Hebrew Bible texts stir the souls of believers and non-believers alike. Use this book for personal reflection and expect to be refreshed, renewed, recommitted to a better, more divine here and now."
—Mary E. Hunt, Christian theologian and co-director of the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual
“Through stories, practices, and teaching that are at once sophisticated and accessible, Toba Spitzer opens up new/old understandings of God, religion, and all that is sacred in ways that expand our minds, our hearts, and, indeed, our lives. I will return to this book again and again, as a rabbi and as a seeker of meaning.”
—Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., President, Reconstructing Judaism
"Wide-ranging and imaginative."
"Poetic and thought provoking . . . . While she founds much of her insight on the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as well as on Talmudic learnings from sages, Spitzer makes it clear that her writings are non-ecumenical, applicable to any human searching for a higher spirit as a life guide." —Booklist (starred)