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Over a span of thirty years, twentieth-century French philosophers Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida held a conversation across texts. Sharing a Jewish heritage and a background in phenomenology, both came to situate their work at the margins of philosophy, articulating this placement through religion and literature. Chronicling the interactions between these thinkers, Sarah Hammerschlag argues that the stakes in their respective positions were more than philosophical. They were also political. Levinas's investments were born out in his writings on Judaism and ultimately in an evolving conviction that the young state of Israel held the best possibility for achieving such an ideal. For Derrida, the Jewish question was literary. The stakes of Jewish survival could only be approached through reflections on modern literature's religious legacy, a line of thinking that provided him the means to reconceive democracy. Hammerschlag's reexamination of Derrida and Levinas's textual exchange not only produces a new account of this friendship but also has significant ramifications for debates within Continental philosophy, the study of religion, and political theology.
Jacob loves his autistic brother, Nathan, but when Hanukkah comes, Jacob worries that Nathan might embarrass him in front of his new friend. What if Nathan blows out the Hanukkah candles?!
This is a commentary and guide to reading the Book of Psalms as literature. After an introduction, each psalm is interpreted in light of biblical scholarship, ancient and modern, with an emphasis on the poetic presentation. The commentary elucidates the spiritual quests, insights, and struggles of generations of men and women confronting their world and their place in that world, with no subject, be it faith or non-belief, good or evil, hope or despair, God or man, the individual or the society, the nation or the nations, left unexplored. Sophisticated poets who knew how to speak to both their peers and the masses, the psalmists used words creatively to allow their readers to search their own hearts. The words are ancient, but the questions are immediate and modern. The Psalms has contributed to the thinking and search of people across the millennia. It is truly poetry of the heart. In this commentary, modern research and insight allow the poems to sing once again. No other commentary brings a combination of classical and modern interpretations to the Book of Psalms, along with a real appreciation for the poetic skills of the poets and an acknowledgement of their own struggles and strivings. Uniquely identifying the literary techniques used by the psalmist, the author opens the psalms to the reader through an integrated appreciation of form and content.
What's the problem with Messianic Judaism? Stan Telchin, a Messianic Jew and former pastor, explores in depth the heart and soul of Messianic Judaism. He exposes the motive behind its creation, its controversial doctrines, and its ineffectiveness in Jewish evangelism. Messianic Judaism has grown significantly in fewer than four decades. While intended originally to appeal to Jewish people, unexpectedly it appeals also to Gentiles. Telchin, in following the teaching of the apostle Paul, sees Messianic Judaism as divisive. With a firm and loving approach, he addresses the dangers of this movement, reiterates God's intention for his church to serve as "one new man" and, most importantly, advocates unity among the body of believers. Perhaps you're a pastor concerned with the enticing pull of Messianic Judaism on your congregation. Perhaps you've merely wondered about the validity of this movement. Or maybe you're a Gentile who has been made to feel less than worthy. Whatever the reason, if you believe that God sees a difference between Jews and Gentiles in the Body of Christ, then this book will help you think again. "It took courage for Stan to write so pointedly from his broad and insightful experiences within the Messianic movement. Forthright and comprehensive, these chapters deal with a problem all followers of Jesus face-the desire to be accepted by those who have yet to experience God's transforming love."-Arthur F. Glasser, Ph.D., dean emeritus, School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary "What Stan tells you in this book may come as a revelation. Certainly it will be controversial. Questions should arise, and much discussion should be the result."-Moishe Rosen, founder, Jews for Jesus "Whether you agree with everything he says or not, you will find the book interesting and enlightening."-D. James Kennedy, Ph.D., senior minister, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
The second volume of The Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy provides a comprehensive overview of Jewish philosophy from the seventeenth century to the present day. Written by a distinguished group of experts in the field, its essays examine how Jewish thinking was modified in its encounter with modern Europe and America and challenge longstanding assumptions about the nature and purpose of modern Jewish philosophy. The volume also treats modern Jewish philosophy's continuities with premodern texts and thinkers, the relationship between philosophy and theology, the ritual and political life of the people of Israel and the ways in which classic modern philosophical categories help or hinder Jewish self-articulation. These essays offer readers a multi-faceted understanding of the Jewish philosophical enterprise in the modern period.
T. M. Rudavsky presents a new account of the development of Jewish philosophy from the tenth century to Spinoza in the seventeenth, viewed as part of an ongoing dialogue with medieval Christian and Islamic thought. Her aim is to provide a broad historical survey of major figures and schools within the medieval Jewish tradition, focusing on the tensions between Judaism and rational thought. This is reflected in particular philosophical controversies across a wide range of issues in metaphysics, language, cosmology, and philosophical theology. The book illuminates our understanding of medieval thought by offering a much richer view of the Jewish philosophical tradition, informed by the considerable recent research that has been done in this area.
In the Spring of 2015, a post-modern version of the Salem witchcraft trials took place at Connecticut College on the Thames River. Only this time instead of sorcery it was Zionism; instead of punishing in the name of God's law it was in the name of anti-hate speech and inclusive excellence; instead of young teenage girls leading the hysteria it was college-aged social warriors stampeding 200 professors into sacrificing one of their colleagues, and thereby contributing to a wave of administration-promoted hate-speech at their college.The Pessin affair offers us a case study in a tendency towards "public shaming" that not only deeply compromises the integrity of academia, but increasingly spreads to many aspects of our society, so susceptible to media-driven feeding frenzies.
The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (1902-1994) was perhaps the twentieth century's most well-known Jewish religious leader, best identified for spearheading the world-wide reconstruction of post-Holocaust Jewish religious life and inspiring a re-awakening of Jewish awareness and observance. Overseeing a primarily educational organization in over fifty countries, he addressed a vast range of educational matters in his correspondence, essays and public addresses. This book, the fruit of the author's exhaustive research, closely examines Rabbi Schneerson's substantive corpus and identifies the cohesive educational theory that underlies it. The defining elements of that innovative theory are shown to provide a vision for education that is of practical relevance to communities and individuals far beyond the Jewish community and for the wider world. After illustrating how Rabbi Schneerson's practical agenda is a consequence of his theory, implications of his educational theory for current educational practice and policy in the wider setting are found to frequently surpass the limitations of popular educational thinking about religious and moral education. Cosmic Education illustrates a new, sometimes radical, model of "theosocial" education.
This is the first full-scale, verse-by-verse commentary on 4 Baruch. The pseudepigraphon, written in the second century, is in large measure an attempt to address the situation following the destruction of the temple in 70 CE by recounting legends about the first destruction of the temple, the Babylonian captivity, and the return from exile. 4 Bruch is notable for its tale about Jeremiah's companion, Abimelech, who sleeps through the entire exilic period. This tale lies behind the famous Christian legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus and is part of the genealogy of Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle." Allison's commentary draws upon an exceptionally broad range of ancient sources in an attempt to clarify 4 Baruch's original setting, compositional history, and meaning.
The greatest contemporary Kabbalists, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, and his son and successor, Rav Baruch Ashlag provide an eye-opening answers to life's most fundamental question: "What is the meaning of my life?" Based on their interpretations of 'The Book of Zohar', and 'The Tree of Life', we can now learn how to benefit from the wisdom of Kabbalah on a day-to-day basis. In addition to authentic texts by these great Kabbalists, this book offers illustrations that accurately depict the evolution of the Upper Worlds as Kabbalists experience them, as well as several helpful essays to enhance our understanding of the texts. Rav Michael Laitman, Ph.D., Rav Baruch Ashlag's personal assistant and prime student, compiled all the texts a Kabbalah student would need to attain the spiritual worlds. In his daily lessons, Rav Laitman bases his teaching on these inspiring texts, thus helping novices and veterans alike to better understand the spiritual path we undertake on our fascinating journey to the Higher Realms. If you truly seek the meaning of life, your heart will lead you through the writings of these great Kabbalists, who wrote them from their hearts to yours. Through their words, you will discover lifes essence and power, and your own eternal existence.
The Psalms have long brought comfort to those who mourn and have helped us find the spiritual in everyday life. This edition presents a translation based on the original Hebrew text, as well as the entire range of Psalms interpretation and modern linguistic scholarship.
You are invited to enter the new-old pathway of Neo-Hasidism-a movement that uplifts key elements of Hasidism's Jewish revival of two centuries ago to reexamine the meaning of existence, see everything anew, and bring the world as it is and as it can be closer together. This volume brings this discussion into the twenty-first century, highlighting Neo-Hasidic approaches to key issues of our time. Eighteen contributions by leading Neo-Hasidic thinkers open with the credos of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Arthur Green. Or Rose wrestles with reinterpreting the rebbes' harsh teachings concerning non-Jews. Ebn Leader assesses the perils of trusting one's whole being to a single personality: can Neo-Hasidism endure as a living tradition without a rebbe? Shaul Magid candidly calibrates Shlomo Carlebach: how "the singing rabbi" transformed him and why Magid eventually walked away. Other contributors engage questions such as: How might women enter this hitherto gendered sphere created by and for men? How can we honor and draw nourishment from other religions' teachings? Can the rebbes' radiant wisdom guide those who struggle with self-diminishment to reclaim wholeness? Together these intellectually honest and spiritually robust conversations inspire us to grapple anew with Judaism's legacy and future.
During his long career, Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise received letters with only two words written on the envelope: "Rabbi USA." But the United States Postal Service was never in doubt about the intended recipient: there was only one "Rabbi USA." No other rabbi before or since Wise has dominated the American and the international scene with such passion and power. Both his admirers and opponents-there was no shortage of either group-acknowledged him as the premier leader of the American Jewish community and a major political figure. Pillar of Fire goes behind the headlines and the once-closed archives of the White House and the State Department to reveal the complex and controversial personal relationship between Wise and President Franklin D. Roosevelt when millions of lives hung in the balance during the Holocaust. It also explores Wise's remarkable relationships with both President Woodrow Wilson and United States Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis. Finally, the book describes how Wise's extraordinary actions in the realm of social justice and human rights permanently influenced every clergyperson, seminary, and house of worship in America.
In this unique collection of essays, some of today's smartest Jewish thinkers explore a broad range of fundamental questions in an effort to balance ancient tradition and modern sexuality.
In the last few decades a number of factors--post-modernism, feminism, queer liberation, and more--have brought discussion of sexuality to the fore, and with it a whole new set of questions that challenge time-honored traditions and ways of thinking. For Jews of all backgrounds, this has often led to an unhappy standoff between tradition and sexual empowerment.
Yet as The Passionate Torah illustrates, it is of critical importance to see beyond this apparent conflict if Jews are to embrace both their religious beliefs and their sexuality. With incisive essays from contemporary rabbis, scholars, thinkers, and writers, this collection not only surveys the challenges that sexuality poses to Jewish belief, but also offers fresh new perspectives and insights on the changing place of sexuality within Jewish theology--and Jewish lives. Covering topics such as monogamy, inter-faith relationships, reproductive technology, homosexuality, and a host of other hot-button issues, these writings consider how contemporary Jews can engage themselves, their loved ones, and their tradition in a way that's both sexy and sanctified.
Seeking to deepen the Jewish conversation about sexuality, The Passionate Torah brings together brilliant thinkers in an attempt to bridge the gap between the sacred and the sexual.
Contributors: Rebecca Alpert, Wendy Love Anderson, Judith R. Baskin, Aryeh Cohen, Elliot Dorff, Esther Fuchs, Bonna Haberman, Elliot Kukla, Gail Labovitz, Malka Landau, Sarra Lev, Laura Levitt, Sara Meirowitz, Jay Michaelson, Haviva Ner-David, Danya Ruttenberg, Naomi Seidman, and Arthur Waskow.
Religious Studies and Rabbinics have overlapping yet distinct interests, subject matter, and methods. Religious Studies is committed to the study of religion writ large. It develops theories and methods intended to apply across religious traditions. Rabbinics, by contrast, is dedicated to a defined set of texts produced by the rabbinic movement of late antiquity. Religious Studies and Rabbinics represents the first sustained effort to create a conversation between these two academic fields. In one trajectory of argument, the book shows what is gained when each field sees how the other engages the same questions: When did the concept of "religion" arise? How should a scholar's normative commitments interact with their scholarship? The book argues that if scholars from Religious Studies and Rabbinics do not realize they are addressing the same problems, they will not benefit from each other's solutions. A second line of argument brings research methods, theoretical claims, and data associated with one field into contact with those of the other. When Religious Studies categories such as "ritual" or "the sacred" are applied to data from Rabbinics and, conversely, when text-reading strategies distinctive to Rabbinics are employed for texts from other traditions, both Religious Studies and Rabbinics enlarge their scope. The chapters range across such themes as ritual failure; rabbinic conceptions of scripture, ethics, food, time, and everyday life; problems of definition and normativity in the study of religion; J.Z. Smith's writings; and the preaching of the African-American Christian evangelical social justice activist John Perkins. With chapters written by world-class theorists of Religious Studies and prominent text scholars of Rabbinics, the book provides a unique opportunity to expand the conceptual reach and scholarly audience of both Religious Studies and Jewish Studies.
One of the best-kept religious secrets has been the revolution that has been quietly taking place within Judaism over the last two decades, as it has sought to grapple with contemporary issues. These include mixed-faith marriages, gay relationships, women's empowerment, declining numbers, atheism and being trans. It has involved a willingness to abandon biblical laws that conflict with modern values. Most ground-breaking of all, it has meant re-defining what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. Inclusive Judaism not only uncovers this religion revolution, but presents a challenge to all people of faith on how best to marry tradition and modernity. The book also reflects the soul-searching that has prompted rabbis to chart a new course, both out of principle and as a practical way of rescuing British Jewry from possible collapse if it did not adapt to the new social trends that affect us all.
When first published in 1987, The American Synagogue quickly established itself as the standard work on the subject. The strength of the book lies in its combination of broad overviews of denominational differentiation that took place and case studies drawing from many geographical regions and emphasizing themes ranging from effects of immigration on synagogue life to changing roles of women. The book has become an important comparative resource for students of American religious life, particularly in its examination of how religious communities change over time.
After One-Hundred-and-Twenty provides a richly nuanced and deeply personal look at Jewish attitudes and practices regarding death, mourning, and the afterlife as they have existed and evolved from biblical times to today. Taking its title from the Hebrew and Yiddish blessing to live to a ripe old age--Moses is said to have been 120 years old when he died--the book explores how the Bible's original reticence about an afterlife gave way to views about personal judgment and reward after death, the resurrection of the body, and even reincarnation. It examines Talmudic perspectives on grief, burial, and the afterlife, shows how Jewish approaches to death changed in the Middle Ages with thinkers like Maimonides and in the mystical writings of the Zohar, and delves into such things as the origins of the custom of reciting Kaddish for the deceased and beliefs about encountering the dead in visions and dreams. After One-Hundred-and-Twenty is also Hillel Halkin's eloquent and disarmingly candid reflection on his own mortality, the deaths of those he has known and loved, and the comfort he has and has not derived from Jewish tradition.
In this historical and theological study, John G. Gager undermines the myth of the Apostle Paul's rejection of Judaism, conversion to Christianity, and founding of Christian anti-Judaism. He finds that the rise of Christianity occurred well after Paul's death and attributes the distortion of the Apostle's views to early and later Christians. Though Christian clerical elites ascribed a rejection-replacement theology to Paul's legend, Gager shows that the Apostle was considered a loyal Jew by many of his Jesus-believing contemporaries and that later Jewish and Muslim thinkers held the same view. He holds that one of the earliest misinterpretations of Paul was to name him the founder of Christianity, and in recent times numerous Jewish and Christian readers of Paul have moved beyond this understanding. Gager also finds that Judaism did not fade away after Paul's death but continued to appeal to both Christians and pagans for centuries. Jewish synagogues remained important religious and social institutions throughout the Mediterranean world. Making use of all possible literary and archaeological sources, including Muslim texts, Gager helps recover the long pre-history of a Jewish Paul, obscured by recent, negative portrayals of the Apostle, and recognizes the enduring bond between Jews and Christians that has influenced all aspects of Christianity.
Born in Slutzk, Russia, in 1805, Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik is a largely forgotten member of the prestigious Soloveitchik rabbinic dynasty. Before Hayyim Soloveitchik developed the standard Brisker method of Talmudic study, or Joseph Dov Soloveitchik helped to found American Modern Orthodox Judaism, Elijah Soloveitchik wrote Qol Qore, a rabbinic commentary on the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Qol Qore drew on classic rabbinic literature, and particularly on the works of Moses Maimonides, to argue for the compatibility of Christianity with Judaism. To this day, it remains the only rabbinic work to embrace the compatibility of Orthodox Judaism and the Christian Bible. In The Bible, the Talmud, and the New Testament, Shaul Magid presents the first-ever English translation of Qol Qore. In his contextualizing introduction, Magid explains that Qol Qore offers a window onto the turbulent historical context of nineteenth-century European Jewry. With violent anti-Semitic activity on the rise in Europe, Elijah Soloveitchik was unique in believing that the roots of anti-Semitism were theological, based on a misunderstanding of the New Testament by both Jews and Christians. His hope was that the Qol Qore, written in Hebrew and translated into French, German, and Polish, would reach Jewish and Christian audiences, urging each to consider the validity of the other's religious principles. In an era characterized by fractious debates between Jewish communities, Elijah Soloveitchik represents a voice that called for radical unity amongst Jews and Christians alike.
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