EIGHTY DAYS AND EIGHTY NIGHTS:
WISE WORDS FOR EVERYDAY
Because I am an honest person (see chapter 33 of this book) I have to confess the truth. I have an inbuilt bias. The book I am reviewing was written by me. I recommend it partly because of its content and partly because of its author.
Let me first describe the book. It is not a heavy tome, either in terms of size or style. It takes eighty themes ranging (alphabetically) from Adulthood to Youth – i.e. every age, stage, variety and challenge of everyday living, and makes pithy, sometimes provocative observations about them. It claims to offer “wise words for everyday”, but wisdom is as wisdom does.
Some people, perhaps many, will find the “wise words” worth noting and following; others will disagree with the author’s views, but will, hopefully, be stimulated to crystallise their own opinions and approaches.
I could quote at length, but that would be like reading the denouement on the last page of a detective story before working through the build-up. It would reveal in advance why the author is in favour of some things that some people are against – anger, death, doubt, fear, and a range of other emotions and experiences.
The book is not a religious work – indeed sometimes it takes an irreverent swipe at religious reverence – but it constantly refers to the Bible and contains quotations from a range of theologies. Most of them are Jewish, because the author is a believer, a religious leader, and a rabbi.
Who then is the author, that person in whose favour the reviewer admits to such bias? He was Australia’s highest-profile rabbi for many years. He was spiritual head of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, from 1972-2005, senior rabbi to the Australian Defence Force and a university teacher. He is a high-ranking Freemason, a historian and writer.
Because author and reviewer are one and the same person, I can acknowledge that someone recently asked my wife, “Is your husband Rabbi Apple? I saw him on TV! He’s famous!” I looked through this book to find out what I said about fame. Strangely, I don’t have a chapter on the subject. I do have a chapter on honour, and I recall the Yiddish saying that when God wants to destroy a person He makes him famous.
I am not in a hurry to be destroyed, and I don’t personally lay claim to too much fame. What I do admit to is a passionate concern for the quality of society. That’s why I have distilled a lifetime’s involvement with people and their problems into a piece of writing on wise living.
I recommend the book and hope everyone will acquire a copy. You don’t have to follow my prescription, but I hope the book will help you to mould your own (probably unwritten) volume of values.
The softcover and ebook editions of Eighty Days and Eighty Nights are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping). Selections from the book can be previewed on Google Books.