A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible.
A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible.
This collection makes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' brilliant essays on the weekly Torah portion available in book form for the first time. Rabbi Sacks fuses Jewish tradition, Western philosophy and literature to present a highly developed understanding of the human condition under God's sovereignty.
A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible.
The newest book in Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg’s award-winning series of commentaries on the hebrew bible. The book of Numbers is the narrative of a great failure. What should have been for the Israelites a brief journey from Mount Sinai to the Holy Land becomes a forty-year death march. Both before and after the devastating report of the Spies, the narrative centers on the people’s desire to return to Egypt, to undo the miraculous work of the Exodus. At its heart are speeches of complaint and lament, expressing a profound existential skepticism. But by contrast, in the narrative of the book of Numbers that is found in mystical and Hasidic sources, the generation of the wilderness emerges as one of extraordinary spiritual experience, receivers of the Torah to the fullest extent, fed on miracles and nurtured directly by God: a generation of ecstatic faith, human partners in an unprecedented conversation with the Deity. Drawing on kabbalistic sources, the Hasidic commentators on the book of Numbers depict a people who transcend prudent considerations in order to follow God into the wilderness, where their spiritual yearning comes to full expression. This view of the wilderness history invites us into a different kind of listening to the many cries of distrust, lament, and resentment that issue from the Israelites throughout the book of Numbers. Is there a way to integrate this narrative of dark murmurings, of obsessive fantasies of return to Egypt, with the celebration of a love-intoxicated wilderness discourse? The question touches not only on the language the Israelites speak but also on the very nature of human utterance. Who are these people? Who are we who listen to them? What effect does the cumulative trauma of slavery, the miracles of Exodus, the revelation at Sinai, have on a nation that is beginning to speak? In Bewilderments, one of the most admired biblical commentators at work today posits fascinating answers to these questions through the magnificent literary, scholarly, and psychological analysis of the text that is her trademark. From the Hardcover edition.
"Demonstrates how the Jewish Bible radically changed the course of ethical thought and as a result has had enormous influence on later Jewish thought and law, as well as on Christianity and the development of modern Western civilization"--
In this companion volume to his celebrated series Covenant & Conversation, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks mines the weekly Torah portions for insights into the nature of power, authority, and leadership. Based on the understanding that no man is born a leader, the book explores the principles, and perils, of becoming one. Profound, eloquent, and deeply inspiring, Lessons in Leadership reveals the biblical secrets of influence, as relevant now as they were three thousand years ago.
Between 1952 and 1976, a young, erudite synagogue rabbi named Norman Lamm captivated his congregants with dynamic pulpit sermons. He challenged his audiences to filter out the noise and distractions of modern American life by listening to the divine voice, delving into the wisdom of the Torah. Derashot LeDorot is a selection of essays based on these stirring sermons, culled from the files of the Lamm Archives of Yeshiva University. Each essay features reflections on the weekly parasha, brilliantly illustrating Rabbi Lamm's masterful pedagogy, deep intellectual rigor, and staunch commitment to the word of God. Today, Rabbi Lamm's words remain as inspiring as they were when first delivered, passing on his wisdom to the next generations.
Writing with his usual grace and fluency, Jonathan Sacks moves beyond the tired arguments of militant atheists such as Dawkins and Hitchens, to explore how religion has always played a valuable part in human culture and far from being dismissed as redundant, must be allowed to temper and develop scientific understanding in order for us to be fully human. Ranging around the world to draw comparisons from different cultures, and delving deep into the history of language and of western civilisation, Jonathan Sacks shows how the predominance of science-oriented thinking is embedded deeply even in our religious understanding, and calls on us to recognise the centrality of relationship to true religion, and thus to see how this core value of relationship is essential if we are to avoid the natural tendency for science to rule our lives rather than fulfilling its promise to set us free.
The argument of this book can be stated simply. Ther are two concepts of a free society, one liberal, the other libertarian. For the past fifty years the libertarian view has prevailed. Shared by politicians of the left and right, it maintains that a free society is ideally one in which individuals are free to pursue their own choices, both political and moral. The view has been tried and failed and has given rise to a social disorder more bleak than any within living memory. In 'The Politics of Hope' Jonathon Sacks proposes a new politics of responsibility in which families, neighborhoods, communities, voluntary organisations and religious groups have all part to play, a politics not of interest, but of involvement. How, he asks, as a society, do we move from the politics of despair to the politics of hope?
The Jews have ever been a people molded by the written word. It is no coincidence, therefore, that certain texts have come to play key roles in the continuum of Jewish discourse. Books of the People: Revisiting Classic Works of Jewish Thought presents ten foundational books written between the tenth and the twentieth centuries that have dramatically influenced the development of Jewish thought, examined by contemporary scholars of Jewish studies. Each scholar revisits a particularly salient work and discusses its themes, its historical context, the circumstances and background of its author, and its relevance to contemporary society. A thousand years of Jewish thought, seen through the lens of modern thinkers, in one accessible volume.
In The Heart of Torah, Rabbi Shai Held’s Torah essays—two for each weekly portion—open new horizons in Jewish biblical commentary. Held probes the portions in bold, original, and provocative ways. He mines Talmud and midrashim, great writers of world literature, and astute commentators of other religious backgrounds to ponder fundamental questions about God, human nature, and what it means to be a religious person in the modern world. Along the way, he illuminates the centrality of empathy in Jewish ethics, the predominance of divine love in Jewish theology, the primacy of gratitude and generosity, and God’s summoning of each of us—with all our limitations—into the dignity of a covenantal relationship.
For too long, Jews have defined themselves in light of the bad things that have happened to them. And it is true that, many times in the course of history, they have been nearly decimated: when the First and Second Temples were destroyed, when the Jews were expelled from Spain, when Hitler proposed his Final Solution. Astoundingly, the Jewish people have survived catastrophe after catastrophe and remained a thriving and vibrant community. The question Rabbi Jonathan Sacks asks is, quite simply: How? How, in the face of such adversity, has Judaism remained and flourished, making a mark on human history out of all proportion to its numbers? Written originally as a wedding gift to his son and daughter-in-law, A Letter in the Scroll is Rabbi Sacks's personal answer to that question, a testimony to the enduring strength of his religion. Tracing the revolutionary series of philosophical and theological ideas that Judaism created -- from covenant to sabbath to formal education -- and showing us how they remain compellingly relevant in our time, Sacks portrays Jewish identity as an honor as well as a duty. The Ba'al Shem Tov, an eighteenth-century rabbi and founder of the Hasidic movement, famously noted that the Jewish people are like a living Torah scroll, and every individual Jew is a letter within it. If a single letter is damaged or missing or incorrectly drawn, a Torah scroll is considered invalid. So too, in Judaism, each individual is considered a crucial part of the people, without whom the entire religion would suffer. Rabbi Sacks uses this metaphor to make a passionate argument in favor of affiliation and practice in our secular times, and invites us to engage in our dynamic and inclusive tradition. Never has a book more eloquently expressed the joys of being a Jew. This is the story of one man's hope for the future -- a future in which the next generation, his children and ours, will happily embrace the beauty of the world's oldest religion.
Why was Abraham ordered to sacrifice his son? Was Jacob right in stealing the blessings? Why were we commanded to destroy Amalek? What was Moses' sin in hitting the rock? And how did the Ten Commandments change the Jewish people, and humankind, for good? Essays on Ethics is the second companion volume to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks's celebrated series Covenant & Conversation. Believing the Hebrew Bible to be the ultimate blueprint for Western morality, Rabbi Sacks embarks upon an ethical exploration of the weekly Torah portion, uncovering its message of truth and justice, dignity and compassion, forgiveness and love.
Winner of the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature A thousand years ago, the most perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible was written. It was kept safe through one upheaval after another in the Middle East, and by the 1940s it was housed in a dark grotto in Aleppo, Syria, and had become known around the world as the Aleppo Codex. Journalist Matti Friedman’s true-life detective story traces how this precious manuscript was smuggled from its hiding place in Syria into the newly founded state of Israel and how and why many of its most sacred and valuable pages went missing. It’s a tale that involves grizzled secret agents, pious clergymen, shrewd antiquities collectors, and highly placed national figures who, as it turns out, would do anything to get their hands on an ancient, decaying book. What it reveals are uncomfortable truths about greed, state cover-ups, and the fascinating role of historical treasures in creating a national identity.