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What is sin? Is it simply wrongdoing? Why do its effects linger over time? In this sensitive, imaginative, and original work, Gary Anderson shows how changing conceptions of sin and forgiveness lay at the very heart of the biblical tradition. Spanning nearly two thousand years, the book brilliantly demonstrates how sin, once conceived of as a physical burden, becomes, over time, eclipsed by economic metaphors. Transformed from a weight that an individual carried, sin becomes a debt that must be repaid in order to be redeemed in God's eyes.
Anderson shows how this ancient Jewish revolution in thought shaped the way the Christian church understood the death and resurrection of Jesus and eventually led to the development of various penitential disciplines, deeds of charity, and even papal indulgences. In so doing it reveals how these changing notions of sin provided a spur for the Protestant Reformation.
Broad in scope while still exceptionally attentive to detail, this ambitious and profound book unveils one of the most seismic shifts that occurred in religious belief and practice, deepening our understanding of one of the most fundamental aspects of human experience.
An intimate and moving portrait of daily life in New York's oldest institution of traditional rabbinic learning New York City's Lower East Side has witnessed a severe decline in its Jewish population in recent decades, yet every morning in the big room of the city's oldest yeshiva, students still gather to study the Talmud beneath the great arched windows facing out onto East Broadway. Yeshiva Days is Jonathan Boyarin's uniquely personal account of the year he spent as both student and observer at Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem, and a poignant chronicle of a side of Jewish life that outsiders rarely see. Boyarin explores the yeshiva's relationship with the neighborhood, the city, and Jewish and American culture more broadly, and brings vividly to life its routines, rituals, and rhythms. He describes the compelling and often colorful personalities he encounters each day, and introduces readers to the Rosh Yeshiva, or Rebbi, the moral and intellectual head of the yeshiva. Boyarin reflects on the tantalizing meanings of "study for its own sake" in the intellectually vibrant world of traditional rabbinic learning, and records his fellow students' responses to his negotiation of the daily complexities of yeshiva life while he also conducts anthropological fieldwork. A richly mature work by a writer of uncommon insight, wit, and honesty, Yeshiva Days is the story of a place on the Lower East Side with its own distinctive heritage and character, a meditation on the enduring power of Jewish tradition and learning, and a record of a different way of engaging with time and otherness.
It is commonly asserted that heresy is a Christian invention that emerged in late antiquity as Christianity distinguished itself from Judaism. Heresy, Forgery, Novelty probes ancient Jewish disputes regarding religious innovation and argues that Christianity's heresiological impulse is in fact indebted to Jewish precedents. In this book, Jonathan Klawans demonstrates that ancient Jewish literature displays a profound unease regarding religious innovation. The historian Josephus condemned religious innovation outright, and later rabbis valorize the antiquity of their traditions. The Dead Sea sectarians spoke occasionally-and perhaps secretly-of a "new covenant," but more frequently masked newer ideas in rhetorics of renewal or recovery. Other ancient Jews engaged in pseudepigraphy-the false attribution of recent works to prophets of old. The flourishing of such religious forgeries further underscores the dangers associated with religious innovation. As Christianity emerged, the discourse surrounding religious novelty shifted dramatically. On the one hand, Christians came to believe that Jesus had inaugurated a "new covenant," replacing what came prior. On the other hand, Christian writers followed their Jewish predecessors in condemning heretics as dangerous innovators, and concealing new works in pseudepigraphic garb. In its open, unabashed embrace of new things, Christianity parts from Judaism. Christianity's heresiological condemnation of novelty, however, displays continuity with prior Jewish traditions. Heresy, Forgery, Novelty reconsiders and offers a new interpretation of the dynamics of the split between Judaism and Christianity.
A revelatory account of a spiritual leader who dared to assert the value of rabbinic doubt in the face of messianic certainty In 1665, Sabbetai Zevi, a self-proclaimed Messiah with a mass following throughout the Ottoman Empire and Europe, announced that the redemption of the world was at hand. As Jews everywhere rejected the traditional laws of Judaism in favor of new norms established by Sabbetai Zevi, and abandoned reason for the ecstasy of messianic enthusiasm, one man watched in horror. Dissident Rabbi tells the story of Jacob Sasportas, the Sephardic rabbi who alone challenged Sabbetai Zevi's improbable claims and warned his fellow Jews that their Messiah was not the answer to their prayers. Yaacob Dweck's absorbing and richly detailed biography brings to life the tumultuous century in which Sasportas lived, an age torn apart by war, migration, and famine. He describes the messianic frenzy that gripped the Jewish Diaspora, and Sasportas's attempts to make sense of a world that Sabbetai Zevi claimed was ending. As Jews danced in the streets, Sasportas compiled The Fading Flower of the Zevi, a meticulous and eloquent record of Sabbatianism as it happened. In 1666, barely a year after Sabbetai Zevi heralded the redemption, the Messiah converted to Islam at the behest of the Ottoman sultan, and Sasportas's book slipped into obscurity. Dissident Rabbi is the revelatory account of a spiritual leader who dared to articulate the value of rabbinic doubt in the face of messianic certainty, and a revealing examination of how his life and legacy were rediscovered and appropriated by later generations of Jewish thinkers.
In face of the age-old slander against Jewish business ethics, noted economist and rabbinic scholar Meir Tamari puts forth a rigorous defense of Jewish economy as a highly ethical system combining free-market practices with social welfare, competition with compassion. From the biblical story of Ruth to modern taxation responsa, With All Your Possessions demonstrates how the Jew's economic life, attitude toward material assets, and mercantile conduct all reflect strict ethical principles. Detailing the history, laws, and customs of Jewish economic activity, Tamari presents an overview of the world's oldest system of economics still in use and the uncompromising moral code that underlies it.
A clear and concise handbook to the TANAKH
Named one of the "Best of the Best from the University Presses: Books You Should Know About" by the Association of American University Presses.
This new volume in the acclaimed JPS Guides series is an invaluable companion to the Jewish Bible, providing readers with ready access to important facts and Bible basics: how the Bible became the "Bible"; its origins, content, and organization distinctions between the Jewish Bible (the TANAKH) and Christian Bibles a short history of Bible translations, and how they differ Bible commentaries storytelling, poetry, law, prophecy, and Wisdom literature popular methods of Bible study finding meaning through midrash. In addition, there are summaries of all the biblical books; dozens of text boxes; an extensive glossary of Bible terms, places, and people; maps, charts, and tables; and large foldout timelines and family trees--all in color.
Contributions are by leading Bible scholars and educators: Marc Zvi Brettler, Joyce Eisenberg, Michael Fishbane, Michael V. Fox, Leonard Greenspoon, Jill Hammer, Stuart Kelman, Adriane Leveen, David Mandel, Lionel Moses, Shalom Paul, Benjamin Edidin Scolnic, Ellen Scolnic, David E. S. Stein, Barry Dov Walfish, and Andrea Weiss.
A groundbreaking examination of a little-known but defining episode in early modern Jewish history A refugee crisis of huge proportions erupted as a result of the mid-seventeenth-century wars in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of Jews fled their homes, or were captured and trafficked across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Rescue the Surviving Souls is the first book to examine this horrific moment of displacement and flight, and to assess its social, economic, religious, cultural, and psychological consequences. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources in twelve languages, Adam Teller traces the entire course of the crisis, shedding fresh light on the refugee experience and the various relief strategies developed by the major Jewish centers of the day. Teller pays particular attention to those thousands of Jews sent for sale on the slave markets of Istanbul and the extensive transregional Jewish economic network that coalesced to ransom them. He also explores how Jewish communities rallied to support the refugees in central and western Europe, as well as in Poland-Lithuania, doing everything possible to help them overcome their traumatic experiences and rebuild their lives. Rescue the Surviving Souls offers an intimate study of an international refugee crisis, from outbreak to resolution, that is profoundly relevant today.
This book explores a series of powerful artifacts associated with King Solomon via legendary or extracanonical textual sources. Tracing their cultural resonance throughout history, art historian Allegra Iafrate delivers exciting insights into these objects and interrogates the ways in which magic manifests itself at a material level. Each chapter focuses on a different Solomonic object: a ring used to control demons; a mysterious set of bottles that constrain evil forces; an endless knot or seal with similar properties; the shamir, known for its supernatural ability to cut through stone; and a flying carpet that can bring the sitter anywhere he desires. Taken together, these chapters constitute a study on the reception of the figure of Solomon, but they are also cultural biographies of these magical objects and their inherent aesthetic, morphological, and technical qualities. Thought-provoking and engaging, Iafrate's study shows how ancient magic artifacts live on in our imagination, in items such as Sauron's ring of power, Aladdin's lamp, and the magic carpet. It will appeal to historians of art, religion, folklore, and literature.
In an age when physical books matter less and less, here is a thrilling story about a book that meant everything. This true-life detective story unveils the journey of a sacred text - the tenth-century annotated bible known as the Aleppo Codex - from its hiding place in a Syrian synagogue to the newly founded state of Israel. Based on Matti Friedman's independent research, documents kept secret for fifty years, and personal interviews with key players, the book proposes a new theory of what happened when the codex left Aleppo, Syria, in the late 1940s and eventually surfaced in Jerusalem, mysteriously incomplete. The codex provides vital keys to reading biblical texts. By recounting its history, Friedman explores the once vibrant Jewish communities in Islamic lands and follows the thread into the present, uncovering difficult truths about how the manuscript was taken to Israel and how its most important pages went missing. Along the way, he raises critical questions about who owns historical treasures and the role of myth and legend in the creation of a nation.
The Long Shorter Way is a major interpretation and exploration of Chasidism, based on a series of lectures delivered by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz on Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi's classic Chasidic work, the Tanya. Like the Tanya itself, The Long Shorter Way focuses on the profound dilemma of the beinoni, the intermediate person who, neither purely wicked nor purely good, must struggle with evil and temptation throughout his or her life. In each chapter, Rabbi Steinsaltz elucidates the complex nature of man as he strives to attain unity with the Divine One, compelling the reader to deep personal inspection.
Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz's Reference Guide to the Talmud is the original Talmud study aid. An indispensable resource for students of all levels, this fully revised, English-language edition of the Reference Guide clearly and concisely explains the Talmud's fundamental structure, concepts, terminology, assumptions, and inner logic; provides essential historical and biographical information; and includes appendixes, a key to abbreviations, and a comprehensive index.
For improved usability, this completely updated volume has a number of new features: topical organization instead of by Hebrew alphabet, re-edited and revised text to coordinate with the language used in the Koren Talmud Bavli, an index of Hebrew terms to enable one seeking a Hebrew term to locate the relevant entry. An excellent companion for anyone studying any edition of the Talmud.
Michael Levi Rodkinson (1845-1904) was a journalist, author, and publisher whose literary projects spanned numerous countries and continents. Hero to some and scoundrel to others, Rodkinson was a polemical figure whose beliefs underwent many transformations over the course of his life, most significantly from Hasidism to combative Haskalah to eventually anticipating the neo-Romantic trends of the early twentieth century. Throughout his career, Rodkinson's writing challenged the familiar genres of the literature of Hasidism and the Haskalah, shaping the religious realities of his readers and articulating a spiritual and community life among Jews, who took his ideas to heart in surprising ways. Today, Rodkinson is frequently referred to as a minor Hasidic author and publisher, a characterization based on the criticism of his opponents rather than on his writings. In Literary Hasidism, Meir draws upon those writings and their reception to present a completely different picture of this colorful and influential writer. Examining Rodkinson's lifelong role as a catalyzing agent of different cultural phenomena, his diverse publishing activities, and his writings in their respective stages, Meir grants readers a provocative new vantage point from which to consider this divisive, enigmatic figure.
Celebrating one of the greatest Jewish scholars of our time, Radical Responsibility brings together thirteen luminaries of Jewish and Western thought to explore the intellectual legacy of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Centered on the fundamental themes of his work, ethics, justice, religion, and leadership, this collection advances Rabbi Sacks's lifelong quest to bridge Torah
and secular wisdom, highlighting the relevance of the Jewish tradition to the challenges of the twenty-first century.
This carefully researched study on the tabernacle of the Old Testament draws from both Christian and Jewish sources. The author not only probes the nature of the construction of the tabernacle, but also explores its theological meaning in the Old and New Testaments.The unavoidable conclusion the author draws is that the divinely instructed building of the tabernacle was evidence of God's desire to dwell with his people and to lead them. 216 Pages.
In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Sara Davidson was surprised by a call from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, asking her to engage with him in what he called "The December Project." At eighty-five, Reb Zalman wanted to teach people how to navigate the December of life and to help them "not freak out about dying."
Davidson jumped at the chance. She feared that death would be a complete annihilation, while Reb Zalman felt certain that "something continues." For two years, they met every Friday to discuss this and how getting "up close with mortality" quickens our ability to relish every day.
Woven through their talks are sketches from Reb Zalman's life: escaping the Nazis; becoming an orthodox rabbi in the U.S.; landing in San Francisco during the sexual revolution; taking L.S.D. with Timothy Leary; befriending other faith leaders, including Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama; and founding the Jewish Renewal movement.
During their time together, Davidson was nearly killed by a suicide bomb and Reb Zalman faced a steep decline in health. They created strategies to deal with pain and memory loss and found tools to cultivate fearlessness and joy--at any age. Davidson includes twelve exercises so readers can experience what she did, a sea change in facing what we all must face: mortality.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810) is widely considered to be one of the foremost visionary storytellers of the Hasidic movement. The great-grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov, founder of the movement, Rabbi Nachman came to be regarded as a great figure and leader in his own right, guiding his followers on a spiritual path inspired by Kabbalah. In the last four years of his life he turned to storytelling, crafting highly imaginative, allegorical tales for his Hasidim. Three-time National Jewish Book Award winner Howard Schwartz has masterfully compiled the most extensive collection of Nachman's stories available in English. In addition to the well-known Thirteen Tales, including "The Lost Princess" and "The Seven Beggars," Schwartz has included over one hundred narratives in the various genres of fairy tales, fables, parables, dreams, and folktales, many of them previously unknown or believed lost. One such story is the carefully guarded "Tale of the Bread," which was never intended to be written down and was only to be shared with those Bratslavers who could be trusted not to reveal it. Eventually recorded by Rabbi Nachman's scribe, the tale has maintained its mythical status as a "hidden story." With utmost reverence and unfettered delight, Schwartz has carefully curated A Palace of Pearls alongside masterful commentary that guides the reader through the Rabbi's spiritual mysticism and uniquely Kabbalistic approach, ultimately revealing Rabbi Nachman to be a literary heavyweight in the vein of Gogol and Kafka. Vibrant, wise, and provocative, this book is a must-read for any lover of fairy tales and fables.
This title offers concise and practical insight into the foundations of Kabbalah and explores how it aims to deepen our connection with the universe and contribute to the search for awareness and true enlightenment. It is a comprehensive illustrated reference guide to the origins, history, principles, symbolism, content and nature of the sacred wisdom of Kabbalah, with guidelines for its practical application to everyday living. You can discover the fundamental ideas of Kabbalah through its best-known images, the Tree of Life and Jacob's Ladder. You can explore Kabbalah's links with Western mystical traditions - hermeticism, alchemy, occultism, the tarot, and magic. It contains authoritative, informed coverage of the fascinating history and development of Kabbalah from its ancient roots to its popularity in the 21st century. Kabbalah is an ancient mystical, or esoteric, tradition deeply rooted at the heart of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. It has been a source of wonder, mystery, and controversy for more than 2000 years. This lavishly illustrated book covers this fascinating tradition, from its beginnings to its modern incarnation as a mystical path followed by many celebrities. It explains how the Tree of Life and Jacob's Ladder are at the heart of Kabbalistic teaching, bridging the gap between humans and the divine. Beautifully illustrated with over 200 images, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the intriguing ancient wisdom of Kabbalah.
The Wisdom of the Jewish Mystics is a selection of the most important writings, commentary, and ideas of the Jewish mystical tradition through the ages. The sayings are drawn primarily from the great Hasidic writers, like the Baal Shem Tov, who produced a new genre of mystical literature for laypeople. In his introduction, Dr. Unterman explains the background of kabbalistic thought and distills the quintessence of the mystics' wisdom.
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