To modern man, the Middle Ages is a distant, mysterious and forbidding period. It is primitive in technology, brutal in violence, and superstitious and servile in society. But it was also a time of pageant and grandeur, of discovery and wonder, of great achievements and lasting progress, when men of genius and industry laid the foundations for our modern world. Those who have preceded us have in the main been neglected in our assessment of current life.
Jews in the Middle Ages achieved great heights of power, wealth, scholarship and creativity - the Golden Age of Spain, of Rashi and the Tosafists, R' Yehuda Halevi and Maimonides. The Jews were part of the Renaissance, the catalysts for the Reformation, sponsors of arts, exploration, and commerce. But it was also a terrible time for Israel. The Almohad persecutions, the Crusades, the Black Death, the burning of the Talmud in Paris, the bitter rivalries, and quarrels within Jewish society itself all combined to paint the era in blood and despair.
Rabbi Berel Wein, in this book, has woven an informative tapestry out of the events of the Jewish Middle Ages. Its historic figures come alive and we appreciate their greatness. The Sephardic world and the Ashkenazic society, the longing for Zion and redemption, the intrigues and truths of history are here faithfully explained. The story of the Jewish people in the Medieval Era is told with wit, knowledge, accuracy and emotion. As in Triumph of Survival, Rabbi Wein has not settled merely for a history of the Jews. Herald of Destiny will make our modern Jewish milieu and its problems more understandable by illuminating for us the great medieval Jewish world that preceded us.