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Tom Segev's page-turning book casts the history of Israel and its founder in a bracing new light. Using previously unrevealed archival material, Segev demonstrates Ben-Gurion's power, skills and achievements, as well as his limitations and failures. He reveals for the first time Ben-Gurion's secret negotiations with the British on the eve of Israel's independence, his willingess to countenance the forced transfer of Arab neighbours, his relative indifference to the status of Jerusalem and Israel's nuclear programme, and his occassional nutty moments from UFO sightings to a plan for Israel to acquire territory in South America.
Many admired Ben-Gurion in his day, and many now miss his vision and inspiration, his boldness and integrity. Others have vilified him as an aggressive, divisive, dour, and often capricious politician. But only a few have really grasped the most intimate and guarded aspects of his complex character, the man behind the myth.
The essays collected here form a contribution to a half-century of Jewish public life. From the 1950s to the present day, Jacob Neusner has served as one of the public intellectuals of the English-speaking community of Judaism. The essays, beginning a half-century ago and continuing to the present day, claim a hearing for two reasons. First, the issues persist for a new generation to confront. Second, there is the story of a generation now passing that remains to be told. The essays collected here form a contribution to the narrative. These concern both Judaism the religion viewed in its own terms, and also Judaism the amalgam of religious and ethnic components viewed in the political setting of the Jewish People, with special reference to the English-speaking component of that People. These enduring issues are captured by the words 'Holocaust' and 'State of Israel'. The impact of the Holocaust has defined the condition and consciousness of world Jewry from the Second World War onward
Gershom Scholem stands out among modern thinkers for the richness and power of his historical imagination. A work widely esteemed as his magnum opus, Sabbatai ?evi offers a vividly detailed account of the only messianic movement ever to engulf the entire Jewish world. Sabbatai ?evi was an obscure kabbalist rabbi of seventeenth-century Turkey who aroused a fervent following that spread over the Jewish world after he declared himself to be the Messiah. The movement suffered a severe blow when ?evi was forced to convert to Islam, but a clandestine sect survived. A monumental and revisionary work of Jewish historiography, Sabbatai ?evi details ?evi's rise to prominence and stands out for its combination of philological and empirical authority and passion. This edition contains a new introduction by Yaacob Dweck that explains the scholarly importance of Scholem's work to a new generation of readers.
The True Identity of the Bible's Most Divisive Apostle
Paul is not the founder of Christianity or a zealous convert from Judaism, as is often claimed. Nor did he contend that Jesus superseded the Torah. Paul, Eisenbaum persuasively argues, remained a devout Jew who believed Jesus would unite Jews and Gentiles and fulfill God's universal plan for humanity. Meticulously researched and far-reaching in its implications, this is a much-needed corrective to misconceptions held by Christians and Jews, liberals and conservatives, alike.
In recent years, there has been an upsurge of interest in religion and religious issues. Some have linked this to a neo-liberal form of individualism, while others noted that secularism has left people bereft of a humanly necessary link with the transcendent. The importance of identity issues has also been remarked upon. This book examines how liberal forms of religion are allowing people to engage with religion on their own terms, while also feeling part of something more universal. Looking at liberal approaches to the Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Protestant and Roman Catholic Christianity and Islam - this book teases out how postmodern culture has shaped the way in which people engage with these religions. It also compares and contrasts how liberal thinking and theology have been expressed in each of the faiths examined, as well as the reactionary responses to its emergence. By considering how liberalism has influenced the narrative around the Abrahamic faiths, this book demonstrates how malleable faith and spirituality can be. As such, it will be of interest to scholars working in Religious Studies, Theology, Sociology and Cultural Anthropology.
Focusing on the Arab World and Turkey, the authors show how Christian and Jewish minorities survived and even prospered under Islam thus modifying the view of Islam as dogmatic and unbending. They demonstrate that the decline of these minorities occurred in the wake of confrontation with the Christian West, the Crusades, the Spanish Reconquista, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in North Africa and the Balkans as a result of colonialism and the First World War, and the creation of the state of Israel.
Making the rich narrative world of Talmud tales fully accessible to modern readers, renowned Talmud scholar Jeffrey L. Rubenstein turns his spotlight on both famous and little-known stories, analyzing the tales in their original contexts, exploring their cultural meanings and literary artistry, and illuminating their relevance. Delving into both rabbinic life (the academy, master-disciple relationships) and Jewish life under Roman and Persian rule (persecution, taxation, marketplaces), Rubenstein explains how storytellers used irony, wordplay, figurative language, and other art forms to communicate their intended messages. Each close reading demonstrates the story's continuing relevance through the generations into modernity. For example, the story "Showdown in Court," a confrontation between King Yannai and the Rabbinic judges, provides insights into controversial struggles in U.S. history to balance governmental power; the story of Honi's seventy-year sleep becomes a window into the indignities of aging. Through the prism of Talmud tales, Rubenstein also offers timeless insights into suffering, beauty, disgust, heroism, humor, love, sex, truth, and falsehood. By connecting twenty-first-century readers to past generations, The Land of Truth helps to bridge the divide between modern Jews and the traditional narrative worlds of their ancestors.
Ada Rapoport-Albert has been a key player in the profound transformation of the history of hasidism that has taken shape since the 1970s. She has never lacked the courage to question conventional wisdom, but neither has she overturned it lightly. The essays in this volume show the erudition and creativity of her contribution to rewriting the master-narrative of hasidic history. Thanks to her we now know that eighteenth-century hasidism evolved in a context of intense spirituality rather than political, social, economic, or religious crisis. It did not represent the movement's 'classic period' and was not a project of democratization, ameliorating the hierarchical structuring of religion and spirituality. Eighteenth-century hasidism is more accurately described as the formative and creative prelude to the mature movement of the nineteenth century: initially neither institutionalized nor centralized, it developed through a process of differentiation from traditional ascetic-mystical hasidism. Its elite leaders only became conscious of a distinctive group identity after the Ba'al Shem Tov's death, and they subsequently spent the period from the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century experimenting with various forms of doctrine, literature, organization, leadership, and transfer of authority. Somewhat surprisingly there was no attempt to introduce any revision of women's status and role; in the examination of this area of hasidism Rapoport-Albert's contribution has been singularly revealing. Her work has emphasized that, contrary to hasidism's thrust towards spiritualization of the physical, the movement persisted in identifying women with an irredeemable materiality: women could never escape their inherent sexuality and attain the spiritual heights. Gender hierarchy therefore persisted and, formally speaking, for the first 150 years or so of hasidism's existence women were not counted as members of the group. Twentieth-century Habad hasidim responded to modernist feminism by re-evaluating the role of women, but just as Habad appropriated modern rhetorical strategies to defend tradition, so it adopted certain feminist postulates in order to create a counter-feminism that would empower women without destabilizing traditional gender roles. The essays in this volume are a fitting statement of Professor Rapoport-Albert's importance to the study of hasidism, to Jewish studies as a whole, and to the academic scrutiny of religion. Written over a period of forty years, they have been updated for this volume with regard to significant detail and to take account of important works of scholarship written after they were originally published.
Samuel Bak's recent collection considers the hidden dialogue of generations, with the secret entanglement of different ages. It is indeed a playful cycle, whose playfulness, and even parody, becomes apparent to the beholder literate in Jewish memory and religious imagination. Bak's images are replete with allusions, citations, intimate references, playing with themes that are as intuitive as they are rooted in Jewish learning and tradition. In his illuminating essay, Lawrence Langer reminds us that Bak thinks of his work as `learned paintings' disclosing themselves, like sacred texts, in layers of meaning corresponding to the layers of learning. Langer beautifully unravels some of their themes, taking us through the worlds of Torah and Chassidism, to the `elsewhere' of the modern age."-Asher D. Biemann, professor of religious studies, University of Virginia
From Madonna's music videos to the glossy pages of celebrity magazines and back to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Jewish mysticism has stepped into the modern consciousness like never before. In this classic work, world-renowned scholar Adin Steinsaltz answers the major questions asked by modern Jews about the nature of existence in God's universe. The title "The Thirteen Petalled Rose" is taken from the opening of the classic Jewish text on mysticism, the Zohar, and refers to the "collective souls of the Jewish people," which scholars have likened to the fullness of a rose and its thirteen petals. Along with a new preface by the author, this edition contains a new chapter on prayer that provides the most up-to-date account of the Kabbalistic view of devotion. Another new chapter recounts and interprets the prophet Elijah's Introduction to the Zohar. "Steinsaltz possesses a mind of the quality that occurs perhaps once or twice in a generation, or several generations.... In ["The Thirteen Petalled Rose"] one can encounter the classical Jewish mystical view of reality, delineated lucidly, concisely, profoundly and, what is so rare, believingly. It is an utterly authentic expression of Judaism yet so unknown even among the well-informed and therefore so necessary, so welcome." (Herbert Weiner, Oxford University)
When non-Orthodox Jews become frum (religious), they encounter much more than dietary laws and Sabbath prohibitions. They find themselves in the midst of a whole new culture, involving matchmakers, homemade gefilte fish, and Yiddish-influenced grammar. Becoming Frum explains how these newcomers learn Orthodox language and culture through their interactions with community veterans and other newcomers. Some take on as much as they can as quickly as they can, going beyond the norms of those raised in the community. Others maintain aspects of their pre-Orthodox selves, yielding unique combinations, like Matisyahu's reggae music or Hebrew words and sing-song intonation used with American slang, as in "mamish (really) keepin' it real." Sarah Bunin Benor brings insight into the phenomenon of adopting a new identity based on ethnographic and sociolinguistic research among men and women in an American Orthodox community. Her analysis is applicable to other situations of adult language socialization, such as students learning medical jargon or Canadians moving to Australia. Becoming Frum offers a scholarly and accessible look at the linguistic and cultural process of "becoming."
According to a commonplace narrative, the rise of modern political thought in the West resulted from secularization the exclusion of religious arguments from political discourse. But in this pathbreaking work, Eric Nelson argues that this familiar story is wrong. Instead, he contends, political thought in early-modern Europe became less, not more, secular with time, and it was the Christian encounter with Hebrew sources that provoked this radical transformation.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Christian scholars began to regard the Hebrew Bible as a political constitution designed by God for the children of Israel. Newly available rabbinic materials became authoritative guides to the institutions and practices of the perfect republic. This thinking resulted in a sweeping reorientation of political commitments. In the book s central chapters, Nelson identifies three transformative claims introduced into European political theory by the Hebrew revival: the argument that republics are the only legitimate regimes; the idea that the state should coercively maintain an egalitarian distribution of property; and the belief that a godly republic would tolerate religious diversity. One major consequence of Nelson s work is that the revolutionary politics of John Milton, James Harrington, and Thomas Hobbes appear in a brand-new light.
Nelson demonstrates that central features of modern political thought emerged from an attempt to emulate a constitution designed by God. This paradox, a reminder that while we may live in a secular age, we owe our politics to an age of religious fervor, in turn illuminates fault lines in contemporary political discourse.
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.
Written by four outstanding Torah scholars, the JPS Torah Commentary series represents a fusion of the best of the old and new. Utilizing the latest research to enhance our understanding of the biblical text, it takes its place as one of the most authoritative yet accessible Bible commentaries of our day. The JPS Torah Commentary series guides readers through the words and ideas of the Torah. Each volume is the work of a scholar who stands at the pinnacle of his field. every page contains the complete traditional Hebrew text, with cantillation notes, the JPS translation of the Holy Scriptures, aliyot breaks, Masoretic notes, and commentary by a distinguished Hebrew Bible scholar, integrating classical and modern sources. Each volume also contains supplementary essays that elaborate upon key words and themes, a glossary of commentators and sources, extensive bibliographic notes, and maps.
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