Rabbi Benjamin BlechRabbi Benjamin Blech, professor of Talmud, will publish a new book, Hope, Not Fear: Changing the Way We View Death, which explores the question of how to approach the end of one’s life.

The prompt for the book came from a diagnosis Rabbi Blech received that he had a fatal illness which gave him no more than the proverbial six months to live. Rabbi Blech is the author of many books on topics ranging from the Vatican and Hebrew words to all aspects of Jewish history, culture and spiritually. So, it was natural for him to pick up the pen and record his thoughts and feelings on a subject about which he had counseled many people over the course of a long career as teacher, guide and mentor.

“After the initial shock of receiving a death sentence from my doctor, I had to face the reality that we all seek to avoid in spite of its universal inevitability,” he recalled, “and this confrontation with my fatal diagnosis inspired me to search for meaningful answers.” After reviewing everything he knew about this topic from science, mysticism and theology, “what I did discover has given me a great gift that I want to share with others. I no longer fear death. Even as I treasure every moment of life more than before, I await my end with the certainty beautifully captured by the Roman philosopher Seneca that ‘the day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.’ What led me to this conclusion is the theme of this book.”

Advance praise for the book, which will be published in September 2018 by Rowman & Littlefield, includes moving words from former YU President Richard M. Joel, who congratulates Blech for drawing upon “his vast experience, personal encounters, and unparalleled knowledge to bring the world an awakening volume that will inspire us all,” as well as Elisheva Carlebach, Baron Professor of Jewish History at Columbia University, who notes that “his moving and accessible style transmits an indelible message: faith and love are stronger than despair and death.”

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