This past Shabbat, in my introduction to the Torah portion, I made reference to a historical novel called As A Driven Leaf. It is one of my all time favorite books and after seven years of working together, I found out on Shabbat that it is also one of Rabbi Shulman’s favorite books. Over the past few days, several of you have asked me more about it and one of you has even started reading it on your Kindle – what nachas!
The tie in to the parahshah was to the mitzvah of Shiluakh Ha Ken, sending forth the mother bird. This means that if you come to “take” the eggs or baby birds, you should first chase away the mother bird so that she should not see her children taken from her. As A Driven Leaf is the story of Elisha ben Abuya, a rabbi in the time of the Talmud who has a crisis of faith when he sees a child die after performing this mitzvah.
Rabbi Milton Steinberg, the book’s author, explores the interplay of faith and doubt and how we find religious meaning in challenging times. It is the perfect read for the month of Elul leading up to the high holidays and I also found it to be a poignant re-read surrounding the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
I’ve got two copies available for borrowing if you are interested. And trust me, you should be.