A Haredi Essayist on Finding Beauty Where You Least Expected It

Rabbi Avi Shafran is the public affairs director of Agudath Israel of America, the Haredi advocacy and social service organization. On the side he writes a weekly column that goes out by email and appears in various publications and websites. I get it in my mailbox and I almost always open it up to see where he’s going this week. Sometimes it’s a predictable polemic in defense of Orthodoxy and Orthodox Jews; sometimes it’s a not-so-predictable comment on current events. And every so often it is an observation about the world and humanity and the soul that can take your breath away.

His latest column is an example of the third category. It’s an observation about the majestic beauty of a waterfall he went to see that can be reached only by driving through the gritty downtown of Paterson, N.J., and what it taught him about human relations.

His lesson is that you can find beauty in places you least expect it, including in people who you’re inclined to dismiss because of what they’re like on the outside. The column is written for his fellow Orthodox Jews, and my guess is he’s referring at least partly to non-Orthodox Jews, but the lesson is pretty universal.

Written by

J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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A Haredi Essayist on Finding Beauty Where You Least Expected It

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