A Talk with Rabbi Steve Leder about Pain and Transcendence in his new book

There are very few books you can turn to again and again. More beautiful than Before is a gentle tome with a powerful lesson about overcoming pain. You will want to buy two copies of this book: one for your shelf and one to pass on. You will find yourself reaching for Rabbi Steve Leder’s wisdom many times during your life.

A publicist for Hay House contacted me about reviewing Rabbi Steve Leder’s new book More beautiful than Before. So when the tiny tome arrived I sat down with a cup of tea and read it. This book is about understanding pain so we can trancend it. Leder writes, “Pain cracks us open. It breaks us. But in the breaking, there is a new kind of wholeness.” Leder is a Senior Rabbi at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles and has been a featured guest on CBS, ABC, NPR, PBS. Wendy Wasserstein, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright blurbed the book as well as Tavis Smiley and Pastor Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life.

I sat down with Leder over the phone and asked him why he wrote this badly needed book. “I wrote the book because I spent my entire life helping people endure suffering. I wanted to help far greater people than the couch of tears in my office,” Leder said. “This book is for anyone who has endured pain…so you can say it is for everyone.”

He then went on to talk about how this book will improve people’s mental health. “I want to let others know they are not alone, that others walked this road and came out with lives more beautiful.”

The book is divided into three sections Surviving, Healing and Growing. The message of this tomb is pain is a chance to examine your life. This little book is inspiring not depressing. It is a chance for us to allow the negatives in life to make us whole again. “We are not really whole until we are broken,” said Leder. Leder said it is important to be still and sit with the pain or we will fail to learn the lesson it wants to teach us.

“Like death, pain strips away a lot of the nonsense of life,” he said. We find out who our friends are by who sticks around when we are hurting. “Pain is an invitation to be kind to one another, show up and be present.” For the sufferer himself, pain is an invitation to change your life. “And, this book is also an important guide for those who have caused pain and need atonement,” he said.


Source: A Mile a Minute with Alexis Zinkerman


Founded in 1862 as Congregation B’nai B’rith, Wilshire Boulevard Temple is one of the most highly respected Reform congregations in the U.S. and the oldest congregation in Los Angeles. The temple building, built in 1929 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, features a majestic domed, Byzantine-style sanctuary encircled by a 320-foot mural depicting scenes of Biblical and Jewish history. The recent restoration of the temple building is the subject of the award winning documentary, "Restoring Tomorrow", and features Senior Rabbi Steven Leder as he shares the history and present temple, and its many outreaches to the communities in LA that they serve.  Rabbi Steven Z. Leder is the Senior Rabbi and Pritzker Chair of Senior Rabbinics. With a cum laude degree in writing from Northwestern University, study at Trinity College, Oxford, and his Masters in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College, RabbiLeder was ordained in 1987. He is the author of 3 books, numerous essays, and Torah commentaries. He is a fellow in the British-American Project, a think tank that brings together leaders from America and Great Britain, and earned the American Jewish Press Association’s Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary.