Review by Judd Kruger Levingston
David Jaffe has written the book of choice for established and aspiring activists who are ready to do the hard work of introspection to understand their own motivations before setting out to change the world. This book doesn’t merely exhort readers to engage in psychological self-examination: it calls upon readers to understand develop a clear understanding of how several midot, or moral qualities, can make us more insightful people and better activists.
The Nature of Jewish Social Change: A Review of David Jaffe’s Changing the World from the Inside Out By Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz
One of the most pressing realizations of life in the hustle and bustle of the modern world is that society lacks a mechanism for self-reflection. Our culture seems to almost shun inner contemplation in favor of a constant barrage of outer instant gratifications. In this way, people are less focused on cultivating their best inward-looking selves than they are their exteriors; this is a camouflage that hides our path towards full actualization. In times like these, it is always best to turn towards thinkers who go beyond the routine, who look broadly at the world, and sense how we can improve the many challenges that we face on a daily basis.
This year’s winner of the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice is a book titled Changing the World from the Inside Out: A Jewish Approach to Personal and Social Change by Rabbi David Jaffe. The book is an inspiring integration of Musar literature and practice with numerous examples of how one can take the insights of that “inner” discipline and use it to make a difference in the world.