There are many thoughtful thinkers who hold Simone Weil as high as the Holy Eucharist. There are others who think Weil lost her way in a distorted notion of inner and outer asceticism. Then there are those who truly take the time to heed and hear Weil, to welcome her probes into the depths of the soul, who weigh, in a judicious manner Weil’s insights and aberrations. Simone Weil: Awaiting God brings together some classical essays and letters by Weil, and a thoughtful and probing essay by Weil’s niece, Sylvie Weil. Brad Jersak’s Preface is more than worth the read as is his creative translations.
Most who read Simone Weil know little about her living niece, Sylvie Weil, but Sylvie Weil’s evocative and probing missive, At Home with Andre and Simone Weil (2010), brings into thoughtful dialogue fruitful and engaging reflections (with some surprising speculations) by Sylvie about her controversial aunt. Sylvie neither idealizes nor demonizes Simone Weil, but she does question some of her aunt’s dubious conclusions on a variety of topics. The article in Awaiting God by Sylvie Weil, “Simone Weil and the Rabbis: Compassion and Tzedakah”, is pure gold-----Sylvie certainly held her own against her demanding aunt in her many probes into the depths of the Jewish Tradition.
I mentioned above that Brad Jersak had done some innovative translations of Weil in the best tradition of dynamic equivalence. The essays Brad chose are quintessential Weil, and Weil’s Waiting for God was the well the essays were drawn from. The letters Brad has used reflect the unrelenting nature of Weil’s quest and the tough questions she insists on asking and pushing to their limits. The letters were from 1942 (when Weil was nearing the end of her life) and the final letter, “Letter to a Priest” is a must read keeper.
Simone Weil: Awaiting for God is a plough to soil book. Weil did have her limitations, but the good she offered should be gratefully received by one and all. T.S. Eliot wrote a fine Preface to Simone Weil’s The Need for Roots, and, in many ways, Eliot was a broader, deeper and subtler thinker than Weil, but he knew the makings of saint when he saw one, hence his generous Preface.
There can be no doubt Brad has been deeply impacted by Simone Weil, and his interactions with Sylvie Weil have enriched his understanding of Simone Weil. Simone Weil: Awaiting God is a book about what it means to be still, to await, to be receptive at a level few dare go. It is to such awaiting places that Weil points and the curious cannot help but travel.Ron Dart