A new book that offers a spiritual look at recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse has skyrocketed to Jewish bestseller status in the span of just two weeks. Propelled by a slew of preorders from across the country, Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Shais Taub’s G‑d of Our Understanding is currently in its third printing since Ktav Publications released the book and Amazon.com ranked it as the No. 2 Jewish bestseller.

According to Taub, an expert on Jewish mysticism who founded the Jewish Recovery Fellowship in Milwaukee, Wis., and works as an in-house scholar at Chabad.org, the volume looks at substance abuse from a variety of angles, all influenced by Jewish teachings.

“This book is addressing an issue that is so terribly misunderstood,” said Taub, who has counseled addicts all over the world. “This book can save lives and improve the quality of life of so many people. I truly think that it will have a very tangible impact on whoever reads it, because addiction is an issue that destroys lives and families – more than most of us are ready to admit or be aware of.”

It covers a lot of ground, from defining the problem of addiction and indicating a spiritual-based solution to offering advice for codependents and exploring the theological underpinnings of the Twelve Steps popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous.

Taub began writing the book in Milwaukee, basing its conclusions on insights gained from seeing actual transformations in the lives of those in recovery. He’s since moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., where he runs the Conscious Contact prayer and meditation group sponsored by the Northeast regional headquarters of the Aleph Institute.

The book has earned the endorsement of another Milwaukee transplant to Pittsburgh, famed addiction expert Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

“I actually wrote to the rabbi before we moved to town and said, ‘I promise I am not trying to imitate your life,’ ” laughed Taub. “Rabbi Dr. Twerski is obviously a personal hero of mine. I am so honored that he approved of my book.”

Rabbi Shais Taub’s G-d of Our Understanding, bears an endorsement from Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski.
Rabbi Shais Taub’s G-d of Our Understanding, bears an endorsement from Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski.

Twerski’s endorsement states that G‑d of Our Understanding “should be read by all clergy, therapists, people in recovery, people who should be in recovery, and their family members.”

According to the book’s publisher, Jewish groups that support recovering addicts have been ordering it by the box-full.

For Taub, the book’s uniqueness lies in its presentation of a Chasidic perspective on recovery and its analysis of the spiritual principles at work in Twelve-Step programs. Its title refers to the concept of an addict needing to develop a personal relationship with G‑d.

“Recovery is a daily reprieve from the disease of addiction based purely on one’s spiritual fitness,” said Taub. “It’s a lifetime process which requires a lifetime of spiritual fitness. A Jew needs an understanding of the inner dimensions of Torah to maintain that spiritual fitness.

“The key to recovery is finding a Higher Power,” he continued. “All of the Twelve-Step literature says so clearly. Overcoming our sense of separation from G‑d is the primary challenge in life. This is what all of the great Jewish spiritual teachers have said.”