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Theres a good review on Amazon.com, but Ill add my comments. Gottliebs wife gets angry at him for straying from Judaism (Reform) to Zen Buddhism. So Gottlieb starts writing this physician/rabbi Tatz in South Africa and they discuss Judaism and Buddhism. The book is a record of their edited correspondence. I write this review as neither a Jew nor a Buddhist. First, at one point in the book, Gottlieb (ironically meaning love of God) complains of the noise of scolding rabbis. While Tatz tries to refrain from that type of discourse, he certainly comes across that way at times. The book is much more about Gottliebs failure as a Jew than a comparison of Buddhism and Judaism though the failure of Zen as an ethical and religious approach is certainly incorporated. Tatzs knowledge of Judaism overwhelms Gottleibs knowledge of Buddhism and when it doesnt, Tatz quibbles about words. I finished the book this morning and noticed the quibble Tatz had over the word perfect used by a Buddhist priest Gottlieb had consulted. The priest had meant it in the sense of complete while Tatz insisted on quibbling about it in the sense of completely good. My thought was, If this is genuine Jewish dialogue with Buddhism, there is no point in having the discussion.I did find interesting the hermeneutic method of what I assume to be standard Orthodox Judaism. It is a mixture of literalism and quite allegorical interpretation. The emphasis on numerology (what numbers in two different words add up to--Hebrew letters are also numbers--connect two different words) and word play surprised me. I had known the Hebrew letters as numbers for Neros name added up to 666 and I was interested to see this tack taken seriously (I know the earliest manuscripts say 662 not 666--the numerological coincidence being a very likely reason for the change to 666). On the other hand, Tatz considers historical the stories back to at least Abraham and maybe Adam. Both approaches are different from the experience of a normal Catholic or sophisticated Protestant scholar who accepts the literary nature of the Bible and subjects it to historical criticism.Tatz denies any other branch of Judaism validity. He encourages Gottlieb to attend a Torah-teaching synagogue much the way evangelical Christians define churches with a literalist/fundamentalist approach as Bible-believing. He even gnashes his teeth that Jewish children dont always receive Jewish names these days. On the up side, he does encourage Gottlieb to study Hebrew, a worthwhile endeavor for its own sake, to understand the Torah. All this said, at times Tatzs insights into the relationship of humanity to the divine were powerfully articulated and argued. It certainly wasnt a worthless book. I read it because someone I met who had converted from a nominal Conservative practice to Orthodox Judaism had recommended it. I think it would be useful for anyone struggling with his Jewish faith, which I respect deeply. However, for one like me, who sees the essence of religion as doing good to others as the expression of love for the Deity and the path to a meaningful life, the books insights paled in comparison to Frankls Mans Search for Meaning.

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