Praise for The Tragedy Test

“I have no doubt that readers will be better able to surmount their own misfortunes because of the example Rabbi Agler has set.”

—Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People


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Review from Rabbi Heidi Coretz at Amazon and Goodreads—5 stars

Rabbi Richard Agler has used the heartbreaking experience of the loss of his beloved daughter to reexamine his concept of God and God's role in the life of the individual. This understanding challenges the concept of a personal God who hears and responds to our prayers, but doesn't stop tragedy. This book speaks to people of all faiths open to understanding God in a new way. A deeply thoughtful and meaningful read.


From Rich at AmazonA compelling, understanding and singular memoir of loss and acceptance—5 stars

Rabbi Richard Agler has turned his grief at the tragic accidental death of his beloved 26-year-old-daughter into a quest for meaning, understanding, and a faith in which God could levy such a senseless devastation on her and her family in his thoughtful and emotionally thorough book, THE TRAGEDY TEST. Considering questions both theological and practical, personal and universal, biblical and secular, he compellingly and with much original thought covers the journey from challenge to acceptance, in a work that serves both as a touching memoir and guide for others. He is an expert on deconstructing and explaining complex teachings and ideas, and gets help along the way from Maimonides, the book of Ecclesiastes, Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.

I truly hope you never NEED to open this book. But if and when you do, there is a tremendous amount you will learn from it.


Review from Rabbi Moshe Tom Heyn at—5 stars

I am fortunate to have not suffered a loss anywhere close to what Rabbi Agler describes in these pages. Yet, I am keenly aware that the possibility is never far away, from one day to the next. And so, as a rabbi and a student of religion and philosophy, I have known that if I WERE to suffer such a devastating loss, whatever theology I choose to embrace would have to pass the "tragedy test."

I never thought about it in precisely those terms, which is why I am grateful to Rabbi Agler for reflecting on his experience so deeply and articulating it so clearly. It is a rare combination of skills that the writer possesses along with his firsthand experience of walking "through the valley of the shadow of death" that could result in such a valuable guide for others, sparing us from the agonizing process he went through to produce it.

I recommend buying this relatively short book and reading it slowly, keeping it within reach even long after reading it, to absorb its message. It is likely to transform any "pie-in-the-sky" wishful thinking we may still cling to into a more compassionate and spiritually-oriented realism. This inner transformation must necessarily bring about positive changes in one's mood, outlook, relationships and virtually every aspect of one's life and work. I have already begun to notice these changes in myself. Thank you, Rabbi Agler!


Review from Cantor Jan Sheer at—5 stars

Upon finishing Rabbi Agler’s beautifully written and sometimes painfully honest book,“The Tragedy Test”, I was extremely moved. Rabbi Agler definitely expanded my perceptions about life and death.
This brilliant book speaks through a Jewish perspective and yet it speaks in a very personal dialogue to all who have suffered a loss.

I think that probably means all of us.

Rabbi Agler honors all of us in all of our own struggles through life and yet he also offers us clear, step by step guidance on a path through them that he has traveled himself.

This book is a pure gem. I’m already thinking of who in my life I would like to buy it for...

Thank you Rabbi, for your sharing of such an unfathomable journey.
And thank you for your incredible insights every step of the way.
May you be blessed and may this book being to others some of the blessings it has already brought to me.

Cantor Jan Sheer
Temple Beth Emet
Cooper City, FL


Review from David Feder at—5 stars

When faith is shaken…

Rabbi Richard Agler offers thoughtful, frank, and compassionately accessible guidance while helping us navigate an evolving understanding of God in the face of life’s inevitable and world-shaking experiences. Highly recommended for everyone.


Review from Aley Sheer at—5 stars

I have just finished reading the Tragedy Test. It is easily one of the best books I have ever read. The book is an illumination… bringing great insight and understanding for all who struggle with tragedy and with God… and for those who do not.

The Tragedy Test is “When Bad Things Happen To Good People“ meets “Man’s Search For Meaning“. It is at the same time scholarly and spiritual… punctuated with commentary from Maimonides, Spinoza, Einstein and other sources, this Rabbinic treatise will be very helpful to Jews and to anyone else in the human condition.

The Tragedy Test leaves a host of myths, clichés and superstitions punctured in its wake. It untwists theology for a deepened clarity to help us meet the challenges of love, loss, life and faith. This book is a must read... insightful, moving, helpful and important. 


Review from Dr. Jan and Steve Hartz at—5 stars

Drawing upon the experience of his tragic loss of his daughter and his many years as a congregational rabbi, Rabbi Agler has produced a well written book that outlines in a concise way the theological issues that tragedy presents. Whatever one’s views on faith may be, this provocative and inspiring book will enable everyone to deal in a more effective and compassionate way with the tragedies with which life confronts all of us in different ways.


Review from Terry Hudson on—5 stars

This book is a moving tribute to the author's daughter, and a very worthwhile read. I agree with the author's estimate about the mindless platitudes that well-meaning people offer in times of loss.

I was particularly fascinated by the second half of the book on the nature of God as Law and Spirit. I agree that God’s spirit embodies kindness, justice and love. I also feel that prayer changes our behavior. I have long appreciated the words of a Unitarian minister: “Prayer doesn’t change things. Prayer changes people, and people change things.”

I share the author's view that although the world can be a dangerous place, it is also benevolent. Our role is to live in trust and love rather than in fear. Nevertheless..


Watch this space for further reviews

coming soon!